Well, it is about time for another installment of my never-ending series chronicling the misadventures of an InterVarsity staff-worker.
Part one involved a canceled ferry to Catalina Island, an overnight stay on the floor of a church with 40 other staff, and a 4am wake up call. And no one complained or even questioned it.
Part Duex involved a last minute attempt to cross the midwest where the next step never seemed to be known until, well, the last minute. To be fair, it wasn't an official "I have a hilarious life" but it will be an honorary member of the club.
And now, part 3.
Every three years, InterVarsity puts on a giant student missions conference in St. Louis called Urbana. (It used to be held in Urbana, Illinois. Hence the name.)As a staff for IVCF, I get to help put it on and work at it. This year I was going to help with the morning Bible Studies. Staff need to show up a day early for a banquet and training.
A few days before I needed to leave, I started to hear reports of bad storms hitting the midwest. That would worry some people, but not me. Can anyone name anything I can do to change the weather? Nope. Didn't think so.
I left my house for the airport on the day after Christmas dark and early at 4am. Usually, when there is a big IVCF conference, you can count on running into other staff. This time was no different. I actually ran into someone who was with me during the part 1 debacle.
That should have been my first warning.
There were no problems for the next 6 hours. I watched some of Lost season 5 on the plane and tried to sleep a bit. As soon as the plane landed in Chicago I checked my messages and got one telling me the flight to St. Louis had been canceled. Now, this has never happened to me before and honestly, I don't really know what to do about it.
The other staff and I tried to get on standby for the next flight but as the afternoon continued, two things happened. Each upcoming flight got canceled and more and more staff joined our posse. By about 6pm, we had over 20 people with us and no hope of flying for at least another day.
Some in our group were frantically trying to figure something out. I was not one of them. Welcome to my problem solving strategy. I was sitting reading a book most of the time waiting for someone to come up with an idea. I am not saying this is the best way to handle things. It isn't. But it was what I did and would you know it, someone came up with something.
An overnight bus ride leaving from Grand Central Station at 11:55pm. 20 bucks. Let's do it.
We hopped on the train to Chicago where we hung out for the next several hours. I ate really bad pizza, tried to sleep on a bench, listened to music from Glee, and played freecell on the dirty floor.
The bus was a double decker and we heard people comment that they had never seen so many people on it. I think there were upwards of 36 of us at that point. After a scuffle involving a drunk passenger that ate up a half hour, we were on our way. Miraculously, I was able to sleep for some of it.
I made it into my hotel room in St. Louis exactly 24 hours after I left.
Oh yeah, did I mention that I didn't receive my checked luggage for two days? That will put a damper on any trip. I spent a good deal of energy trying not to physically exert myself or lift my arms up.
While I was in it, this whole thing seemed hilarious, ridiculous, and frustrating. But when I stepped back and had a little perspective, this didn't seem that rough. There are TONS of people who have been in way worse situations than that and I do not envy them at all. Take, for example, my new staff friend from the Bay Area who got his luggage on the last day of the conference. That was a full five days after he left for it. Now that sucks!
So now my misadventures have taken the form of boats, trains, and planes! Bring it on automobiles! BRING IT!!!!
Stay tuned for my decompression from Urbana.
Happy New Year!