At the airport we followed the "rental car return" signs for about eight times through the terminals. The signs were only marked "rental car return," and did not have the rental car companies' name on them. Then when you got to a terminal, it would say, "rental car return" and have the company. We saw every company but Dollar.
After the third or so time through, we finally saw a Dollar sigh. It said to follow the 44th St. exit, and then take Washington. The next exit for 44th street was closed, with a detour sign in front of it. We looped back around, back to the other company rental car places.
Time was getting of the essence now. I finally pulled into the Budget rental return place, and asked where the Dollar return was. She told us to take the 24th St. exit, and then follow, I forget the name of the road now. Well we followed that further and further out of town, and found no signs of the Dollar return.
At this point we got the contract out, and I called the number on it. VRU option to VRU option to VRU option to being put on hold for the next available attendant. We waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, I hung up.
At this point it was getting to be about 20 till. (Our flight was at 10:30, and we had to return the car, take a shuttle bus from the car return to the airport, and get in line to check in yet.) I started getting totally pissed off, and decided that I was just going to pull into one of the other car places, leave the car there, and call Dollar to tell them that their signs suck, and the car is at such and such. I was not about to miss my flight over this.
I pulled into a Budget place, which turned out not to be a return place, but an office or something with a sentry at a locked gate. Knowing I wouldn't be able to return the car there, I asked him where the Dollar return was.
"Go out here. Turn left at the light. Cross the next intersection, and then take the next right onto Jefferson. That will turn into Washington, and Dollar is up Washington on the right."
Great. We set out -- I'm driving like a madman now. Up ahead we see the traffic stopped, and backed up. There is a fucking train crossing the road. This train was moving so incredibly slow (it was a freight train, fully loaded, not a passenger train), and it went on and on and on and on. Cars started crossing over the median to get out of the line. There was a cab next to us, and after a few minutes, the woman in it grabbed her baby and got out of it.
Now it's getting to be about quarter till. We wait, and we wait, and we wait, and as people are pulling out and crossing the median, we move up far enough in the right lane to open into a turn lane. I zoomed up there, and turned right, thinking if I could go down that road some and turn left, I could get over to where we need to be.
I raced to the next intersection, and put my turn signal on to turn left. The road is blocked off with road repair folks, and a big "no left turn" sign is up. I got livid. Looking further down the road, a next left turn was not visible.
I turned back around, and we eventually caught up again with the end of the train. We got to that same light again, and waited for it to pass. While waiting for its slow ass, Robert says, "I haven't wanted to say anything, but I have to go to the bathroom so bad."
The train finally passed, and I took off like a bat out of hell as soon as the arm went up. We got to the return at about 5 after 10. Robert took off to use the bathroom, while I emptied the car, and checked it back in. The shuttle bus arrived while Robert was in the bathroom, but he made it out before it left.
We left the rental return at 10 after 10. Thank God, the first stop was at Terminal 4, which is where Southwest was. The line to check in curbside was so long! We went inside instead, and there were about five parties in front of us. We were yelling at the people at the front of the line when an attendant became available and they weren't paying attention.
We got to an agent at 10:20, handed him our licenses, and said, "We're late."
"You're very late," he said. He made me sign to green "Late" tags that he put on our bags, and informed us that they probably wouldn't make this flight, but would arrive on the next one. We ran to the gate, were two of the last folks to get on, and ended up not being able to sit together of course. Gotta love Southwest for that.
Before we took off, Robert asked the man sitting in the aisle seat next to me (I was in the middle), if he wouldn't mind switching seats with him. (Robert had an aisle seat on the other side.) Unfortunately, the man had a bum knee, and needed to sit on this side of the aisle to be able to stretch that leg out into the aisle.
I wrote Robert a note that said, "Let's each do the crossword puzzle (in the flight magazine), and then switch them when we get stuck. Thanks for trying to get a seat next to me. I love you."
We did that, and it was pretty neat. When we swapped magazines, I had pretty much got the upper right corner of the puzzle, and he had pretty much got the bottom left. Together, swapping back a couple of times after making as much progress as we each could, we got all but about four answers.
We arrived back in Raleigh about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I called Steve as soon as we landed, and he came right away. He was at Crabtree shopping at the time. Much to our surprise, our luggage came off the belt along with everyone else's!
Steve dropped us off at my place, and then Robert and I went to Snoopy's for dinner. We met a co-worker of his there, and saw the cutest little Corgie. Once home, we said our goodbyes and thanks for a great vacation.
It really was.