The first day of my trip didn’t turn out as expected.
My overnight layover in Dallas prompted me with the idea of checking out the surrounding downtown area. I’d never spent any time in Dallas, other than being at the airport for shorter layovers, so I thought, why not make an adventure out of it. And it may have been a great concept in theory, but the problem is that DFW (Dallas Fort Worth airport, which is located in Irving) is more than 30 minutes away from downtown Dallas.
I’d done my research, though, to figure this out ahead of time, and I decided to book a hotel somewhere between downtown and the airport. The hotels surrounding Love Field airport seemed like the least expensive choice. From what I’d read online, Love Field was only about 10-15 minutes from the wine bars and gastropubs of Downtown, Uptown and Lower Greenville (the latter being a bit farther north of the others). Some of the places I’d looked into serve late-night dinner, as well, and since my flight from Orange County arrived after 9pm, I knew I would have to consider a place that took orders beyond 10:30pm.
Here’s what actually ended up happening:
1. I discovered that taxis from DFW to the Love Field area can run up to $45, and since I’m on a budget trip, that simply wouldn’t work for me.
2. The next option was going through a shuttle service. What I found, which I was somewhat familiar with, is that even though shuttles are sitting outside an airport terminal seemingly waiting for passengers to disperse from the airport doesn’t mean they’re going to take you to your destination. Apparently, each van has specified locations they’ll travel toward. So, if you’re going, say, east and van #258 is heading west, you can be sure that van will not take you where you need to go. I was told to wait for van #101 with a younger, timid-looking woman who was standing by with her bags.
About eight minutes went by and I noticed a second woman — with scraggly blond hair who appeared to have been traveling a distance by the look of the dark circles under her eyes — walking toward the second waiting shuttle to let him know she had just made a reservation. She told him she was heading downtown. For the most part, I ignored the conversation, but happened to overhear, “Why can’t you just take me? I don’t understand what the point is of making a reservation if the van that’s waiting outside can’t just take you.” Soon after, the driver moved his van about 30 feet forward, in what I’d assumed was an attempt to escape the “annoying” passenger.
The driver then stepped out of his car and asked me where I was heading and if I had a reservation. I didn’t, but he took down my information and explained that I’d be waiting for van #101. And, as you might have guessed, Ms. Annoying came over and said, “Excuse me, but should I just cancel my reservation?” The man turned to her slowly and said, “No, ma’am. There’s no need to do that.” She shuffled her oversized bag from one shoulder to the other. “Well, what’s the hold up then? I noticed that you drove your van away from me right when I was in the middle of talking to you and now you’re out here asking these ladies where they’re going.”
As you can imagine, it was an awkward situation.
“Lady, I mean no disrespect,” the driver responded, “but these ladies do not have reservations, so I am trying to get them checked in.”
That was apparently, not the kind of response the annoyed woman was looking for. “So, they don’t have reservations, and I have a reservation, but you’re more concerned with them than me? That just doesn’t make sense.” The poor man looked exhausted trying to explain the way the shuttle service worked. I felt bad, to say the least.
Fast-forward to my shuttle ride, now with a different driver from van #101. The driver loaded me and my heavy bags into his van, along with the other customers, including, you guessed it, Ms. Annoying.
I piled in to the back, last row, thinking I’d get as far away from the negative energy of Ms. Annoying as possible. Boy was I mistaken. As it turned out, I would be the first passenger dropped off, so this automatically made me the “bad guy” by association. Ms. Annoying asked the driver, “Excuse me, but can you tell us your order of drop offs?” He went through the list, which only wasted time, as far as I could see.
We drove a while, 25 minutes or so, and everyone seemed calm, quiet and generally contented, until we started passing by numerous gentlemen’s clubs just north of Irving.
First, there was The Lodge. Then, the Cabaret Club. Next, I saw a sign that simply said Gentleman’s Club, as if the name of the place really didn’t matter — it probably didn’t. Knowing that I was numero uno on the drop-off list, I began wondering if I had mistakenly chosen a hotel that was right next to the nameless gentleman’s club, though at that point I was so hungry I also began to consider if they served food. We passed by one club after another, and I saw a couple of women ready to head into one place, so I thought, maybe it’s not that awful. Okay, so I was starved!
But, I had no way of finding out what was inside the gentleman’s club because, as it turned out, our driver had been given the wrong address by driver number two (who had taken my info at the airport). Now, you might easily guess who wasn’t pleased with this delay. In her seemingly nicest possible voice, Ms. Annoying turned around and asked me, “Where’s your hotel? Do you know the address?”
I pulled out my iPhone, which is still a 3G and doesn’t really load as quickly as the lady would’ve wanted, and I opened my last search for the hotel. “It’s in here somewhere,” I said. Not fast enough, apparently, because Ms. Annoying and the young man with his ear buds sitting next to her started whispering about how ridiculous it was that our driver had no idea where he was going. “By the calculations on my phone,” Ms. Annoying told the driver, “the hotel in this area has been closed for at least a year.”
I spoke up, giving the address to the driver, which was fairly close by. He input the info into his GPS system, and said, “I’m sorry.” Poor guy, I thought. As you might imagine, the “sorry” gave Ms. Annoying the perfect in to respond rudely. “Sir, maybe you should’ve verified the information before hand, then we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Did I feel like I had just been used as the excuse for inner-van war? You bet! The conversation went on between the driver and you-know-who until we arrived at my hotel. I was just happy I was the first to be let out.
3. By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was 11:30pm. I was tired, worn out from the van ride, famished, at that point, and wishing for a relaxing glass of wine. But, alas, Dallas doesn’t sell alcohol on Sundays, at least at any grocery or convenience store. And, it didn’t seem as though any grocery stores would be open at that time of night, anyway. So, thanks to Jason Borne (who entertained me until I dozed off), I found myself at least somewhat contented in my quiet room — sober and starving.
Lesson Learned: I’d rather not mess with Texas!
Oh, and I also learned to completely separate red clothing (read: articles of clothing that can bleed) from light clothing in a suitcase! As it were, the ridiculous downpour of rain in Orange County on the day of my flight soaked my suitcase so much while being loaded on the plane that my brand new white jacket is now spotted with pink stains. Ce la vie.
On to Paris…