Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I decided yesterday afternoon to go to Miami and close the deal on this jeep I've been looking at. The routing number didn't match, the name for the draft was a different name, and I was just a little uneasy about all that. So instead I made a big fat withdrawal and jumped on a plane to Miami. I got in and called the guy, and he said “lets do this in the morning” so we agreed to meet at 9:00 at his office. I coulda stayed home last night and flew up first thing this morning and made that appointment, but whatever.

I went to Alamo rent a car, because I remembered hearing something about a discount there or something. 38.75/day wasnt much of a discount, but whatever. She asked me if I was going to be bringing the car back empty or full, and I said “empty, I doubt I'll have time to stop at a gas station” it was like 2.15 a gallon, but that's almost half the price of gas down here, so I wasn't too arsed about it. When she handed me the contract to sign, it had the 38.75 rental charge, and another 36 dollars for gas. I called her on it and said “why are you charging me now for gas that I might use?” and she said that if I only use 1/4 tnak, then they adjust it when you check in. WRONNNNNNNNNNG. My bill today was for 77.00. for 24 hours. Arse. That was for the compact car, no less. They did upgrade me to a Buick Rendezvous, which fortunately DID NOT come with three kids that needed to be dropped off at ballet, band, soccer and gymanstics practices.

So I got out of the rental lot and headed for Tiger Direct on Flagler. good place to start shopping, it was about 8:00 by now. I didn't know where the nearest Best Buy or Circuit City was, but figured it had to be around International Mall. After Tiger Direct, I drove around a bit looking for Best Buy and decided to stop at a McDonalds and have some fries and a Big Mac. mmmmmm Big Mac. SO, with 9:00 having come and gone, I figured that the mall and best buy were closed so I headed back for Blue Lagoon. I got lost. :-) Im sorta figuring out the street numbering system to find my way around Miami now, but I got stuck on the backside of the airport. I also couldnt remember the address of the hotel, other than it was on Blue Lagoon. I called my boss, and said “help! I'm lost!” and he laughed. (Note to the ladies: I WILL stop and ask for directions!) and he told me where the hotel was, and I headed over there. They were sold out for the night.

I called him back and said “OK, where else?” (we get a special rate with our company ID cards at AmeriSuites) and he said there was another AmeriSuites nearer to Doral, but it was a little bit more expensive. Fine, whatever, it's nearly 10:00 by now and Im getting tired and my nose is starting to run (must be something about airplanes).  I get there, and THEY'RE sold out, too! Courtyard Marriot was sold out, Deerfield Inn was sold out (the guy ahead of me got the last room, for $109/night and it was a DUMP, too!) and even La Quinta on Doral Blvd was sold out! Turns out there's a NASCAR race in Miami this weekend, and all the hotels were booked for the week. 

Finally I got the last room available (and lucky for me it was a non-smoking room) at the Hampton Inn. Free high-speed internet access (wired and wireless) in the room, too! Unfortunately, due to the last-minuteness of the trip I didnt bring my laptop. I went upstairs, took a loooooooooooong hot shower and hit the sack before midnight. I didn't sleep well, and woke up before the alarm went off at 7:00. Breakfast at the Hampton Inn was pretty good, too. I checked out and went to their courtesy internet terminal to print off a Yahoo Map of the place where the Jeep was.

Wouldn't you JUST KNOW IT, that they were about a half/block from where I was. Talk about your coincidences!

I got there right at 9, and the sales guy wasn't in yet, he did call though and say he was caught up in traffic and would be there soon. I went and looked at the Jeep and Oh My Head was it nice. it's a 95 Wrangler Rio Grande, which has sorta metallic sand-colored paint, and it was still metallic and glossy. No rust, no leaks in the engine, no dribbles of fluid underneath, ran smooth and has coooooold A/C. Nice. I took care of the paperwork and waited for a tow-truck to come by and take it to Port Everglades for me (it had no plates or insurance or anything, so I couldn't drive it there)

Let me tell you a little story now, about what a friggin circus Port Everglades is. Nothing is marked. there are chain-link fences and containers as far as the eye can see, and here and there are security guards, auto-barriers and a trailer/office. I FINALLY found the right office (after doing two laps around the Cruise Ship Terminal and coming across The Octopus, Paul Allen's newest mega-yacht that's so big, it was tied up at a cruise ship slip) and entered the Spanglish Fracas that was going on inside. It took me 90 mins to get my paperwork looked at and filled out. During that time, the whole office shut down for lunch, leaving me standing there like an idiot. Once all my export paperwork was in order, then I had to go to Customs and clear the title/vehicle for export. Except no one told me where it was. I just assumed it was the big office building at the entrance to the port. Nope. Not it. No one seemed to know where it was one of the many times I stopped to ask directions (read that again, ladies ;-) Finally someone told me to hang a right at the first light inside the port compound. I headed down there and was stopped by a Sherriff's deputy who told me I was going the wrong way and sent me to a building back outside the gates. I finally found the US Customs office and had to wait for two bureaucrats to finish their discussion about GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE before they came over and asked if I needed help. (No, I was just standing here trying to poach your green bean casserole recipe. I flew up from Cayman JUST FOR THAT) I told them I was exporting a car and they told me I was in the wrong place! Back into the port, hang a LEFT at the light, go past the fire hall about a quarter of a mile (it was actually closer to 3/4) and I'll find the AMMAN building. I finally did, and found export, and got all my paperwork stamped, punched and everything else. THEN I had to go back to the shipping company.

By now they were all back from lunch and there were about 30 people waiting in line now because they all knew to come after 1pm. I cut the line and said “everything's done, here's the keys. what else do I need to do?” and they said “that's it, partner” so I left and high-tailed it back to Miami.

I stopped in at Brandsmart, I still had a few things on the shopping list for people: a Logitech trackball and Linksys wireless g card for Seb, a video card for Zac and a pocket rocket for Little Bucket. I was also looking for a  Canon S70 for me since i sold my S40 last week. They didn't have the camera so I left there and was REALLY pushing the clock now. It was 1:45 and my flight was at 3:45 and I had to be back at the Miami Airport by 2:45 at the latest. I was on 826 South and I knew there was a best buy around there somewhere, and I said to myself “If I find best buy before 2:00, I'll stop” and I did! right on the nose! I picked up the camera, video card, mouse & wireless card and because it was right there in front of me, a copy of Half Life 2.

I hit McDonalds (again) and got some to-go-goodness and ate it in the car on the way back. What I forgot was that 836 is a toll road, and I used my last 5 dollar bill for lunch. I can't imagine the look I would have gotten if I pulled up to the toll booth and handed her a $100 bill. So I tried to make my way to the airport other than on 836. That didn't work too well, either. I ended up behind the airport in the cargo section AGAIN! At least I'll know how to find Cargo when I actually have to go there some time. Eventually I hit Flagler and hung a louie and headed east. Flagler isn't exactly a traffic-free zone. It's now 2:45 and I'm about a mile from the turn for the rental return. I made it to the rental return at 3:01 and jumped on a shuttle bus to the terminal. I got to the terminal at 3:12 thanks to a bus driver who did not touch the gas pedal ONE TIME but rather kept his foot hovered over the brake pedal. The speedo didnt top 15mph the whole time. I got out at the American gate and ran down to the Cayman gate and FORTUNATELY, they were still checking people in for my flight. I got up to the counter and handed her my NR ticket and passport and she shoved it back at me saying there was no room, and there were already 6 people on the standby list. (sigh)

At 3:32 they closed the flight, after putting a few standby people on the flight. I stood to the side of the counter trying to look pathetic (it wasnt hard at that point) and then she saw me and said “OH you're still here! do you have any bags to check?” 'no' (I left the island yesterday without even a toothbrush) so they re-opened the flight, put me on, handed me a boarding pass and said “Run.” I made it through security at a good clip as they were calling final boarding for my flight and ran to the gate with untied shoelaces and trying to put my belt back on.

Im back, I coasted through customs and since today was a holiday, there was no traffic heading home to West Bay. It's shower, advil and nap time!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004 4:20:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman#
Friday, November 19, 2004 10:43:05 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
"They did upgrade me to a Buick Rendezvous, which fortunately DID NOT come with three kids that needed to be dropped off at ballet, band, soccer and gymanstics practices."

oh how cute! I'm totally rofl just thinking about you in that kind of situation! hahaha, good story tho...I guess it's funnier looking back on it rather than being in the moment of it :)
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