Nigerian Spam Scam Scam show in Jackson, MI – at a small college a little over an hour from Detroit.

Curtain is 8pm Friday, Rocktober 23.

9:30pm Thursday, Rocktober 22
Thursday night – arrive at LAX 9:30pm for a 10:30pm flight on Spirit Airlines. Spirit was chosen for their non-stop to Detroit, which saved us from sitting in an airport in Dallas for an hour. Heh.

Spirit Airlines has cancelled a flight to Ft. Lauderdale. The counter looks like the US Embasy during the fall of Saigon. Victor, Paul (the tech guy) and I move to three separate lines. I get close. A woman in front of me begins yelling at me after I tell her that the Ft. Lauderdale flight is cancelled. She doesn’t, apparently, understand the “don’t kill the messenger” concept. Ah well. The two people who are behind the counter are mobbed. We can’t get to them. Finally one guy comes out and yells at everyone who is yelling at him about Ft. Lauderdale. I signal Victor to aks him about Detroit.

“That plane has departed. We made an announcement.” and he leaves. He vanishes.

10:30pm – We are stunned. Shocked. Pissed. We had plenty of time. Okay. We’ll deal with Spirit at another time, they are crushed by the pissed Ft. Lauderdale folks.

We look for departing flights. I call the savior, Colin Summers as we scurry through the airport looking for flights. It’s late. We’ve just missed a flight on United. I’m talking to Colin as we look at the displays. We see a flight to Cleveland. Victor calculates that it’s a three hour drive to Detroit. We could get in at 6am and then drive to Jackson… we wouldn’t get much sleep but we’d be okay.

Colin’s talking about different flights. I mention Cleveland. There’s an American flight to Detroit for 2grand. No. We can’t do that. Colin mentions a flight on some other airline that gets in at 5pm the next day. That gives us time to at least drive to the venue… it’s a bit over an hour from Detroit. The show is a breeze to set up. We’d get in at 5. Get to the venue by 6:30-7pm. We’re golden. Colin books the flight.

“Okay, you’re set on flight such and such arriving in Cleveland at 5pm.”

“CLEVELAND?!?! WHAT?!?!?!”

In the confusion, I’d confused poor colin and… yeah…

Victor finds a flight on Southwest that gets us to Detroit at 5pm the next day. Colin manages to cancel the ticket and tells me he’s going to bed. We’ll be fine. We’ve found a flight.

Victor gets on the phone with Southwest to book the tickets. He’s on hold for 17 minutes. Finally he gets an agent and begins going through the process. He puts the phone against his chest to aks me a question and hangs up the phone.

12am – We’ve gone to Northwest to see if there’s anything.

In Aye Jaye’s schmoozing book, he has the best line to use on someone like a harried ticket agent or some public servant who hates people. I’ve used it in the past and it is a terrific ice breaker that immediately puts them on your side. You have to say it the right way, or you could come off like a condescending (that means “talk down to”) prick.

I’ve used the line “Hi there… I tell you what, if you can help me out, you can take the rest of the day off, deal?” on the Northwest Ticket agent and she had gone through every airline’s schedule for us, trying to find a flight that gets us to Detroit at a reasonable hour.

She wasn’t able to find us anything that we were satisfied with so we thank her profusely, I tell her to let them know that she can go home she laughs and we split.

About 10 minutes later, I realize that I’ve left my backpack at the counter. We head back and it’s gone. One of the “security people” says that the cops came with dogs and they took it away. “You’d better hurry, they usually destroy those.” (she actually said this to Victor who, wisely, didn’t tell me this until much later)

Oddly, she’s not able to get in touch with the police. That makes sense. We go to my buddies at the TSA who, also aren’t able to contact the police but a teenager with a TSA badge sternly akses me about the bag and why I left it. He departs.

The bag is important, by the way, because it has the two iPods that control the show. Yeah.

He comes back and says that it was cleared and is now down at the Northwest lost baggage area.

I head down there. Victor and Paul continue searching for flights on Victor’s iPhone while I wait with three others in line as an old woman tells her sob story about her bag and how important it is to her. The other two have learned to just describe their bags and get on with it. As I approach the counter I see my bag, point to it and it’s returned. Whewwww. I’m an idiot.

1am – Victor’s found a 7:30am flight from Burbank to Detroit. It gets us in at 5:05pm. 5:05pm. At this point, it’s our only shot. If it’s on time and everything goes smoothly, we get to the venue in time to set up and go before curtain time. The problem is, the return flight on Spirit gets takes us back to LAX, so we’ll have to find a way to get from LAX to my car at BUR. Ah well. We just need to get to the DTW.

2am – Back at the house, Victor heads home, Paul sleeps on the couch. The good thing is I get to see Duncan and feed him and then go to sleep.

5:45 am – Victor arrives at the house we head to BUR.

7:00 am – We board the flight to Phoenix to get our 10:10am connecting flight to DTW.

8:45am – Arrive EARLY in Phoenix. Yes, of course, the flight to DTW is delayed by 1/2 hour. It gets us there at 5:30. Okay. Still we have time to get the rental car and drive quickly to Jackson. Sure. Okay…

11am – Wheels up to DTW. The plane has been delayed longer than 1/2 hour. Fine. We can still make an 8pm curtain. We just need to be on the road from Detroit by 6:30pm.

5:30pm – DTW. Victor y Paul go to baggage claim to get the show bag (we haven’t entertained the idea of the show bag getting lost. We can’t fathom it.) I catch the SHUTTLE?!?!?! to Budget Rent-A-Car.

5:45pm – Budget Rent-A-Car – There are 10 people in line in front of me. 10. I’ve now looked up the distance on my phone and it’s 65 miles. We are right by the freeway and the venue is right off the freeway, so there’s not *that much* surface street time. But. These fuckers in front of me need to hurry or die. They don’t. There are four rental agents. Well, until one goes on her break.

The night before, I’d emailed our contact at the venue about our situation and assured her that we’d be there and all would be fine.

Paul y Victor arrive with the bag and Paul gets on the phone with his tech contact and they go through the lighting set up. He sort of techs the show over the phone. Nice.

6:15pm – Apparently, the two sistas in front of me who have never rented a car before today, had reserved a Ford Expedition and weren’t getting one. Instead Budget was renting them a mid-sized SUV (like we were getting), but they had their hearts set on that Expedition. Okay.. at least the other agent is finished… wait what? That agent is now helping the guy get them their fucking Expedition. She saunters away and the sistas chat with the agent about the weather. I am muttering. I have begun muttering and am very close to being “that crazy guy who went nuts” so I begin deep breathing and trying to relax. We are now going to miss our 8pm curtain. It is obvious.

Victor calls our contact to tell her. It looks like we’ll be rolling in about 7:45 at the earliest, 8pm at the latest. We’ll only need 10 minutes to check levels and plug everything in. Victor says “So I guess we’ll need to hold the curtain.” She says “Yeah, you think so?!” in a strangely snide way.

The Expedition sistas are now aksing about EVERY option on the rental car contract and the Budget guy is doing his best to Upsell them on said options. The sistas have actual discussions about the pros and cons of getting the GPS upsell, the gas upsell, the insurance upsell. Then, they have that “argument” about who is going to pay for the Expedition.

I’m hugging myself and rocking back and forth. Really.

The sistas finally get their car. I am conscious of not being “that fucking asshole” so I wait until the agent calls me. I don’t want to rush him. He is quiet and seems skittish and I can tell that if I get at all aggressive with him, he cares so little that he will make my life much worse than it is at this moment, so I get calm and direct and smiley.

I gently convey that we are having a really hard time and if we can get this over with faster than slower, it’s fine with me. He doesn’t really seem to hear me. Okay. That’s fine. Strap in. Stay the course.

I get all the shit done, the good news is that since we didn’t pick it up at 5am like we were supposed to, we won’t be charged for the day, so I apply that money to the foolish upsell insurance because I am suddenly superstitious that something is going to happen to the car.

6:50pm – We are on the road. The dark, windy and rainy road. Victor brought his GPS and has it set. He relays the conversation with the woman and how she seemed strangely pissed. “I wonder if curtain was actually at 8pm…” He checks that web site. Curtain is at 7:30pm. Ah. Okay. That makes sense now. Of *course* we have to hold the curtain. Double doi.

My two friends, Colin y Kramer, who both drive like drunken teenagers late for their SATs would be proud of my driving from DTW to Jackson. Oddly, we didn’t get in a crash, have a blowout or get pulled over by the fuzz and we arrive at the venue at 8pm.

… to be continued…