oh trust me lady, I’ve got options

Not gonna lie, I feel like a total warrior for exercising each day last week, despite the live exorcism taking place inside my stomach.

If I’m really being honest though, it was less about a deep-seated desire to be a warrior, and more a rebellion against that blasted stomach flu for daring to insinuate I couldn’t complete my 365 days of sweat challenge.

There was only one other occasion when I remember reacting this way upon being told that I couldn’t do something.

It was Thursday December 20th, 2007, and I was just getting ready to fly home to Toronto from a business trip to Fargo, North Dakota.

I arrived at the airport, dropped off my rental car, and walked towards the check-in counter.

My first clue should have been the fact that the airport was dead quiet. There were a handful of people milling about aimlessly, but all in all, a general absence of movement or urgency. Or any sign that I was actually in an airport.

I walked up to the kiosk and tried to print my boarding pass, but was denied with a message that I needed to go see an agent. Clue #2.

Photo credit: Paramount/Getty Images

Source: Paramount/Getty Images

So, I walked up to the United counter and the super cheerful representative. I jest. She was far from cheerful.

She looked up with dead eyes and glibly uttered one word, “Yes?”, making it clear I was imposing on her in the worst way.

Me: Oh hi, I was trying to print my boarding pass but the screen said I had to come talk to you.

Dead-eyed United Agent (henceforth known as DUA): Where are you going?

Me: Toronto, via Chicago

DUA: No.

Me: No?

DUA: You aren’t going anywhere today. Haven’t you heard the news? All the planes are grounded in Denver due to a snowstorm.

Me: No. What? Wait. What?

DUA: Give me a second, I’ll see the earliest flight I can book you on, but you won’t be getting out today.

Me: No. No. NO. It’s Dec 20th. I haven’t bought a single Christmas gift yet. I need to get home. I need to do my Christmas shopping.

DUA: [ignoring me, typing, and after a few minutes] Okay, I can get you on a flight to Chicago on Sunday. With any luck, and no delays or cancellations you could get home that day.

Me: You might be able to get me home on the 23rd?? NO.

DUAYou. Don’t. Have. Any. Other. Option. [delivered in high pitched staccato]

Something snapped inside me at that moment.

MeOh really??? I think I DO have options.

And off I stormed in an indignant huff. All the while wracking my brain for what my options were.

Graphic courtesy of Bitstrips

Source: Bitstrips app

But then the light bulb moment.

Wait a minute… I can drive to Winnipeg and then fly nonstop Winnipeg to Toronto using Air Canada. No grounded fleet of aircraft in Denver. No problem.

I am a fucking genius!

So I called my assistant and asked her to see if she could get me on a flight out of Winnipeg that night. She told me there was one flight leaving Winnipeg at 8:30 pm. Without hesitation I asked her to book it. She asked if I was sure I could make it in time. Having no clue exactly how long it would take to drive from Fargo to Winnipeg, I simply said, “Yes.”

She booked it.

The time was approximately 4:45 pm. And I guess, for whatever reason, I had somehow convinced myself it was a 2.5 – 3 hour drive to Winnipeg.

Feeling completely smug, I debated walking back over to DUA to tell her that not only did I HAVE options, but I was exercising my options, and would be home by midnight.

Instead I decided to focus on the task at hand and headed back to the car rental counter where I was greeted far more cheerfully than had been my experience with the wretched DUA.

Hey, remember that SUV I just returned? I need it back!, I exclaimed excitedly.

Young, cheerful Alamo agent (henceforth known as YCA): Oh, you’re staying for a few more days?

Me: God no! I’m getting the hell out of Dodge. But I need a car. Stupid DUA told me I have no option. But I DO have options. I am going to drive your SUV to Winnipeg and then fly home from there.


Source: Alamo.com

YCA: That’s so great ma’am. Let me get that car for you right away.

He began clicking away on the computer…then his smile disappeared. And my heart sank to my stomach.

YCA: Oh no ma’am, unfortunately we can’t let you do a one-way drop off to another country.

Me: No. God no! PLEASE???

YCA went to the back to fetch his manager, all the while muttering how sorry he was.

The Manager joined YCA in expressing his sorrow that I could not take one of their cars across the border.

I suddenly remembered that I was the proud owner of a a non-refundable airline ticket leaving from Winnipeg in less than 4 hours. And I had no way of getting there.

I implored the manager, to please, please, please help me out. I told him I would get fired for the wasted ticket. I told him how nice he and YCA were for helping me. I begged them to let me drive any vehicle (tractor, covered wagon, anything they had) up to Winnipeg.

Suddenly a light bulb went on in the Manager’s head. He asked YCA, “Hey, do we still have that Camry with the Alberta plates on it? YCA responded, yes! I did a happy dance, tears of joy streamed down my cheeks.

As the manager prepared the paperwork, I asked YCA if he would print out directions to the Winnipeg airport. This was 2007, and I had no GPS and no smart phone.

15 minutes later I found myself behind the wheel of one Camry with Alberta plates, and a set of printed directions.

When I glanced down to get the first set of turns, I noticed the length of the trip at the top of the page: Estimated 3 hr, 40 mins driving time. Again my heart sank. How could I possibly make the flight? The time was now 5:10 pm.

I decided that nothing ventured, nothing gained was an adage to live by. So I started driving. And I drove fast.


Source: Alaska-in-pictures.com

It was December 20th, it was pitch black out, I was on a 2 lane highway with no overhead lights and the very real possibility I could hit a patch of black ice. Or a moose. Or both.

Did I mention my night vision is… a tad iffy?

If you’d call not being able to see anything, a tad iffy.

The headlights of oncoming cars rendered me legally blind, I think.

For just under two hours I was lucky to have a car driving ahead of me, so I needed only to concentrate on following his tail lights. This car was like a light house for me. A beacon of hope that I wasn’t driving into a ditch.

I knew I was driving fast, but not being familiar with MPH speeds (as it’s KPH at home in Canada), I couldn’t tell exactly how fast. And since I was following the pace car, I felt safe.

But then I watched as my partner turned off the highway around Grand Forks, ND, taking with him my only source of light. I was left in the cold, dark, desolate wasteland known as Hwy 29 in northern North Dakota.

I tried calling my husband to let him know what I was doing. I got voicemail. He was out Christmas shopping.

My blood boiled.

I tried to chill out. I tried not to think of how close I was cutting it to make the flight. I tried not to do the mental math.


Source: zazzle.com

Eventually he called me back, and after giving him the quick and dirty on what I was up to, I casually asked him how fast 85 MPH was. His response, “Too fast. SLOW DOWN NANCY.” in a firm, don’t-fuck-with-me tone.

I eased off the gas pedal.

We hung up and I started to think more realistically about what my options would be if I missed my flight. Look, worst case scenario, I’ll be in Canada, I told myself, I can grab a flight first thing Friday morning, and still be home way sooner than the one and one option DUA had offered up. Bitch.

My border crossing was the fastest ever. I prattled out my whole saga, and the border agent just waved me through, saying, “Drive safe and good luck!”.  More good luck and good Karma for me!

I estimated that I had another 15-20 minutes before I’d arrive at the airport, so I looked at the dashboard clock. Defeated. My heart sank as I realized my flight was already in the process of boarding.

Okay, this is not the end of the world, I told myself. I can just hold onto the rental car, find a nice hotel near the airport, and then order room service, a big fat bottle of wine and chill for the night. Silver linings.

I dialed Air Canada to get myself booked on the first available flight in the morning.

When the rep answered I launched into my diatribe, but she stopped me mid sentence, “Whoa…what flight are you on ma’am?”  I gave her the flight number, and she said, “Ma’am that flight was delayed 3.5 hours. It’s presently scheduled to depart at 12:47 am, arriving in Toronto at 5:32 am.

I may or may not have told her I love her.

And then, with every fiber of my being, I wanted so desperately to figure out a way to find DUA so I could gloat. I did not. It was enough to bask in the knowledge that on this day I was a total baller.

A baller with options.

The next time someone tells you that you are of out options, I will be the first to cheer you on when you prove them wrong.

Get moving,

xoxo nancy

59 thoughts on “oh trust me lady, I’ve got options

  1. Awesome 🙂 you (nearly) always have options 😀

    and yes 85MPH is too fast for a snow storm…but I have been known to drive that fast in better conditions…(shhh…don’t tell the traffic police)

    Mind you the chances of hitting a moose around here are fairly remote…

  2. That was hilarious and disturbing at the same time. I can so relate to the little Hitler in your story who has the teeniest bit of power and exercises (Ha! linked back to your general theme) that power to try to ruin your day. Result! You won!

  3. Awesome story….loved it and the photo with the moose on the side of the road like that made my stomach flip. Folks in Colorado get severely injured or even killed when they hit an Elk…..a Moose? Yikes! And who says we need smart phones or GPS’? We all managed quite nicely for years without them, as evidenced by your little adventure 🙂

    • Ingrid, I don’t even know if moose are indigenous to the area, but in my mind it was a real possibility. I know they have buffalo. Or is it bison? At any rate, I’m just glad I didn’t hit anything!

      And re: the printed directions option — it was pretty tricky actually. The car was very dark (unless I turned interior light on, which I didn’t want to leave on for the glare to other drivers), and even when I did turn light on to read the directions, it took me forever to find what point/step I was on. In the dark. While driving alone. At 85MPH. Not the best example of safe driving… But I made it there in one piece and no wildlife was hurt in Nancy’s little adventure. 🙂

  4. Damn Lady! Remind me to never piss you off !! You do have ovaries for sure! This is a GREAT story and an excellent reminder. I always like to tell myself when I seem to be out of options that it is just a “failure of imagination.” Most people give up way too soon, but not you!

    BTW…how are you feeling? Hopefully over that spawn of satan stuff! ~Kathy

    • Hey Kathy, I didn’t even get into what a scaredy cat I was back then, as it relates to anything car rental/driving in a foreign place oriented. I thought it was a big, big deal that I was driving around in Fargo in the first place (versus just taking cabs). Which is hilarious if you know Fargo. (Not a big city…)

      So for me to have done what I did that night… it was a big, big, big deal. (To me.) And it’s funny because I didn’t realize until much later how impactful this was on my future decisions to try things. So, in a way, I’m glad for that snowstorm in Denver, and for DUA. That set of circumstances helped me prove to myself that I’m capable of taking care of myself and making things happen. And I can overcome my fear.

      Re: stomach flu – happy to report I’m nearly back to normal. My energy is still zapped, but other than that, symptom free. Thanks for asking!

  5. Given I hail from Grand Forks, North Dakota, I can attest that your wintery drive must have indeed been stark. That place is not fit for humans come winter time. But I’m surprised you had such a poopy-butt agent. What North Dakotans lack in temperature, they make up for in friendliness. 🙂

    I love when people make things happen when they’re told there’s no way they can do it. What better motivation to succeed?!

  6. Proof positive that you DO NOT fuck with a Canadian woman! Well bloody done. I can only imagine how white knuckle that breakneck speeding drive in the dark must’ve been though – my night vision is similarly lousy – so yikes! But I love it when a plan comes together that well. Awesome.

    • I know I made it sound like I was some brave bad ass doing it, but I was literally talking to myself (aloud), reassuring myself, “you’re okay Nanc, you’ve got this”, etc. it was quite pathetic. 🙂

      • Pretty damn lucky not to have spun out on some black ice… or just ice, ice (baby) too! You’re hubby prob gives you a fair amount of hell about this one I bet. — Still, as Canadians, you, me, my wife, your hubby, have all sped during bad road conditions… because of course all Canadians, man or woman, have balls of steel 🙂 (or we’re a bit crazy… or both)

      • It’s all in controlling the gas pedal and avoiding using the brakes. It’s the brakes that’ll cause the spin out or ditch situation. But you already knew this. 🙂
        Now if only we could educate the other idiots on the road.

  7. Glad this one turned out without you impaled on a moose rack.

    We had a similar problem. Last Christmas. Montreal. We managed to get the only French Canadian taxi driver who could not navigate in a blizzard. Missed our flight. Took us two whole days to reach our final destination.

  8. Pingback: …there will come a time, when love will not break my heart… | Winding Road

  9. As for me, I would’ve done to DUA exactly what Steve Martin did – “You can start by fixing that dead fucking eyes of yours. Then I want a fucking seat on a fucking plane to fucking Toronto. A fucking any seat with a fucking tray in front and two fucking arm rests on the fucking sides. And. I. Fucking. Want. It. Now.”!!!

    • Snort! As much as I would have loved to do that (and def have it in me), I had to accept the fact that DUA was powerless. Not a single plane was sitting in that tarmac. Fargo isn’t what you’d call a big city, so even when planes started to leave Denver, Fargo wouldn’t be the first order of business. 🙂

  10. Way to get it done! I am so damn proud — as you said, there is a solution to every problem, sometimes you just have to be willing to do something a little insane and hope that the universe gives you a helping hand.

  11. Pingback: Freestyle Fridays Guest Post: Slowing the Swinging the Pendulum | Winding Road

    • aww – sucks! It was the clip from Planes, Trains and Automobiles when Steve Martin approaches the Car Rental chick and explodes on her ass. Wonder what’s up with all these youtube videos no longer being active. 😦

Talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s