Friday, July 3, 2009

The Fastest way from Toronto to Syracuse is not through Philadelphia

Two friends from my own 1998 Wheels bus were getting married during my summer as a Wheels group leader. It was on July 3rd and my trip would be in Toronto, fairly close to their Syracuse wedding. I convinced the powers that be to let me take 24 hours off to attend the wedding. My friend David, a former Wheels group leader offered to come in and cover for me during the 24 hours I was gone. The plan was to meet back up with the group in Chicago the next day.

The first thing I learned was that a flight directly from Toronto to Syracuse did not exist. They were right across Lake Ontario from each other, but there was no way to find a flight that didn't go through somewhere entirely out of the way. It would have probably been more direct to take the four and a half hour bus ride, but I wanted to get their as fast as I could.

I had an early flight out of Toronto through Washington DC. I got through customs and was waiting by the gate when the flight was canceled due to plane mechanics. It was certainly an inconvenience, but I'm sure it would have been more so if the pilot decided to chance it and the mechanics became a problem mid-air.

I had to go back out to the main ticketing area and attempt to find a new way to Syracuse. At this point it was nearly 10:00 a.m. and the wedding began promptly at 5:00 p.m. I was supposed to originally land there at 1:00 pm, get picked up and have time to hang out with some of my old friends, but that was looking very unlikely.

Already had gone through customs. Had to come back out and go again later.

I was put on a 12:00 flight to Philadelphia, PA. I would arrive around 1:35 pm. The only flight to Syracuse was at 3:00, but since it was with a different airline, I had to pick up my back and re-check it before getting on the plane. I had no other choice but to comply even though arriving 40 minutes before the wedding started was going to be tough to pull off.

Visual Aid! Toronto to Philadelphia to Syracuse.
The plane touched down in Syracuse at 4:25 and I instantly grabbed my phone. I tried to plead with all my friends who were in town for the wedding. I hoped one of them had rented a car and could get me. Unfortunately, the synagogue wasn't right in the middle of Syracuse, it was out in a suburb called Manlius, about 20 miles away. All of my friends were already dressed and on their way there. My roommate had brought my suit with her from California and I told her to bring it to there and hang it in the coat room.

As we waited to deboard a couple in the row behind me asked if everything was alright. I told them the short, flustered version of my day. As it turns out they knew Jaclyn's father and wished me luck on my journey.

I ran ahead to the cab stand but none of them could understand what I meant nor did they seem to want to drive out to the suburbs. I hung up the phone, starting to feel defeated when the same couple from the plane approached me again. They offered me a ride and said it was only a little out of their way. I offered them money and they declined. They also declined the next offer of me naming my first born child after them.

We pulled up to the shul at 4:51 pm. All of the formally dressed guests were arriving and here I was, a 23 year old sweaty mess wearing jean shorts, a t-shirt and a baseball cap. I arrived at the door the same time as my roommate happened to be walking up. I yelled at her "I got here before you! Will explain later, where's my suit?" She told me it was in the coat room. I grabbed it and ran into the tiny synagogue men's room.

In the next five minutes I felt extremely fortunate that nobody entered the two-stall men's room to find me in my underwear changing into a suit. I splashed water on my face and threw on some extra deodorant before throwing my other clothes in a duffel bag and hiding it in the coat room. I sat down at 4:57 for the wedding. By the time the reception rolled around, my heart rate had slowed and I had finally stopped sweating. It was a great night.

I ended up staying in Syracuse for less than 14 hours, with a flight that left the next morning around 6:00 am. I was meeting back up with my group in Chicago, which, out of Syracuse meant a connecting flight in Washington D.C. I landed at O'Hare, took a cab to the Museum of Science and Industry and proceeded to fall asleep on a bench waiting for them to arrive.

Happy 4th Anniversary Ben & Jaclyn and congratulations on baby Ari!


Anonymous said...

thank you!!!! the two of us still can't believe all you did to make it in time :) we miss you!

Andrea said...

Did you wake up enough to see the human slices and wall of terrifying fetuses?