Wombathon Part I: Getting Queen Wombat

I am taking part of an August blog challenge. The glove was thrown by Dani with Blogbooktours Silly me, I picked it up and now have to try and blog as often as possible and bring this blog together in a cohesive manner. So I’ve decided to focus on anything to do with writing, which makes sense as this is a writer’s website. I admit to forgetting that at times and use my blog as more of a personal journal.

I’m going to cheat a bit for my first August post and use something I wrote for my Gather group The Writing Wombats. We had a get-together last Saturday of those Wombats who could convene on the West Coast and it was just a blast. This is the first of my posts about the event, written for the edification of my fellow Wombats and fellow writers.

Friday night Lisa, Queen Wombat, was due in at SFO at 9:30. She was flying Southwest, no carry-on, so Dave and I figured on an easy swoop and grab retrieval around 9:35-9;40 from Terminal 1, arriving back at home by 10:00, easy. I arranged with Lisa to meet her outside at Arrivals, in front of the Southwest baggage claim. “Jerry Brown always wanted to be picked up at Departures,” said Lisa. “He said it was faster.” As I’d never had a problem picking someone up from Arrivals, I thought we should just stick to the original plan. Nothing against Jerry Brown, mind you. I voted for him.

Once we reached SFO, however, the wisdom of Jerry’s words became apparent. The traffic on the right side was flowing freely, not too many cars branching off towards Departures. The traffic to the left, Arrivals, however, was backed up nearly to the freeway off-ramp. “This is what we get for not listening to Jerry Brown,” I said glumly as we crawled along towards Terminal 1.

I looked out for cars trying to merge over into my lane while Dave kept an eye out for Lisa amongst the crowds lining the sidewalk in front of Southwest, Continental and the other Terminal 1 carriers. I pulled over to the curb and he called her cell. Message only. Maybe her plane was late. “Tell her to meet us at Departures! Tell her Jerry was right!”

Dave left the message and we pulled away from the curb before the traffic cops could chase us away. They were out in force for what I could only assume was typical Friday night madness at SFO. We’re talking the little ticket carts, black and whites, and motorcycle cops. I felt guilty just by proximity.

As we inched our way around the rest of the terminals, I worried Lisa wouldn’t get the message. “Maybe we should park and just go look with her. We all have cell phones.” Dave concurred with the wisdom of this new plan and I pulled into a parking lot. We called Lisa, who said she was in front of baggage claim at Continental. “It’s not crowded her at all,” she told us. Hmm, I thought. Maybe her jaded Los Angeles traffic sense had a different notion of crowded. Oh well. We told her we’d see her in five minutes and headed out.

What neither Dave nor I realized until we were riding up to the terminal in the elevator that I’d somehow parked us in International Garage A, which led (logically) to the International Terminal. I also realized I was wearing baggy flannel pajama bottoms, Ugg boots, a GAP Red shirt without a bra and had my hair clipped on top of my head, most of it flopping down on one side of my face. Hey, I wasn’t planning on getting out of the car. Dave looked at me. “Maybe if you take the clip out?” I did and ran a brush through my hair. It helped. A little.

We looked at an airport map and figured out where we were in conjunction with Terminal 1. But translating the points on the map with where we were in the three dimensional world was more difficult. This was another Spinal Tap in Cleveland situation as we rode an escalator down one long hallway and found ourselves surrounded by Japanese tourists. Dave and I were both getting grouchy, so we found an information desk and got what sounded like simple directions from a smiling woman: “Go down this hall, down the escalator, turn right, go out the doors.” Or something like that. We did just that, grousing at each other most of the way about writing collaborations (ours) and peeked out some doors to find nearly empty lanes of traffic. I asked a uniformed guy (I don’t know what kind of uniform, but it looked official so I went for it) where Continental Arrivals were. He pointed to another ‘down’ escalator. We found ourselves in the middle of the baggage claim section for Terminal 1 (Yay us!) and went back outside to scan for Lisa. No sign of her.

We called her again. She was still cheerfully waiting in a mysterious curb with no real traffic. “Could you be at Departures,” I asked.

“Could be! Signage here sucks. I followed the signs that said ‘baggage claim’ and walked straight outside. It’s a nice airport!”


We went back up the escalator and out the door where we’d spoken to Uniformed Dude. It took us all of a minute to spot Queen Wombat and then another five-10 minutes to hike back to International Garage A. Lisa is right. The signage DOES suck at SFO.

We pulled into our driveway in the Outer Sunset at 11:00, an hour later than planned, but not to late to feed the hungry Queen a bowl of gumbo and crack open a bottle of ’05 A. Rafanelli Zinfandel (‘ll spare you the horror of discovering I’d poured some into a glass with Castille soap suds at the bottom and had to toss it out) and then a bottle of nice (but not as spectacular) Pezzi King Zin. Didn’t get to bed till 12:30.

What is the lesson here? Listen to Jerry Brown!

Okay, part two tomorrow!

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