While I hoped to make a really great impression by being in the office fairly early the next day, I also wanted to be effective which meant getting a little more sleep and getting to the office slightly late. Every person who introduced themselves to me expressed surprise at my presence and must’ve expected me to cancel. It was a beautiful day Monday with no indication, other than the news and everyone around me, there was anything but clear skies and a soft warm breeze in the future. As the day went on, a couple of folks in the office continued to express worry for me and if I already had a hotel room and car and suggested I consider flying home. As we discussed it we decided we’d wait ‘til Tuesday morning and see what the path of the storm was projected then.
Monday night I went to dinner with a couple very dear friends who happen to live in Baton Rouge and also expressed much concern for me being there and urged me to head home although if I didn't offered to come pick me up and take me to their house. Then more phone calls from friends and family.
Tuesday morning, first thing, 2 co-workers came by my desk to give me some tips in case I really did decide to stay. Tips like go get cash, fill the rental car up with gas, get enough water and maybe food to last 3 or 4 days. That's it!, I called the travel agent and was able to change my flight to 1:30 the same afternoon.
Everyone seemed relieved I was leaving. Silly, naive me, still wasn’t grasping the extent of concern. Even with talk of the office servers going down the office being closed the next day, I just kept thinking, I'll work from the hotel or maybe it would be interesting.
I packed up my things, headed to the hotel to pack up there then head to the airport. I remembered seeing a gas station very close to the airport and since all the others were completely packed with cars I thought it would be a better option.
As I pulled up to the pump there was tape across each of the credit card slots meaning you had to go in. I really don’t like going in and have been known to drive to a whole other gas station to avoid that very thing. Reluctantly, I grabbed my wallet, got out of the car and headed in. There was one gentleman standing outside the door but other than him, it was pretty quiet. When I opened the door it was like I walked into a bank robbery. I stopped in my tracks, didn’t even let the door close all the way behind me just in case. There were two women behind the counter and about 6 guys on the other side of the counter, huddled to one side, looking like they were just standing there waiting. The cash register was open and there were stacks of cash everywhere, with rubber bands around them. I mean everywhere, in the drawer, on the side of the drawer, on the top of the register, on the counter. It was quite the site. Pretty soon I realized one of the women was talking to me and asking if she could help me. As if in a daze I sort of stuttered, looking slowly back at my rental car, gauging the distance I would need to run, “uh, can I get gas?”. She said yes but you have to pay in cash and there’s an ATM over there if you need it. I got my cash out and heard myself saying, what seemed like very slowly, “$3 on number 4, please”. As I sat waiting for my change, the first thought through my head, I swear, was “I have not been to the horse races in forever, $3 on number 4 to win, please!”
The scene inside the gas station stuck with me as I sat in the airport waiting to board my flight home. It was so surreal and now, hearing flights getting canceled all around me combined with thinking about all the different advice, cautions and thoughts of concern, I felt both foolish and truly relieved to be going home.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Isaac’s path!