Guest Blogger

#PLA2018 – getting there is half the adventure!

In case you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, there’s a huge storm bearing down on Philly and #PLA2018 as we speak, complete with an ice glaze and 9-13 inches of predicted accumulation.  Or at least, I keep hearing it’s a big storm…so far it seems more like a typical storm we’d get back home in Ohio.  But I suppose if it *keeps* snowing all day and into the wee hours of the morning, it will shape up to be pretty hefty.

The slow start to the storm isn’t lessening the snowmageddon vibe, that’s for sure.  Yesterday (Tuesday), three colleagues and I were scheduled to fly out of Columbus, Ohio at 2:20, have a brief layover in Chicago (yes, Chicago, the literal opposite direction from Philadelphia – flight patterns are weird), and board our final flight to Philly at 3:30. (Because time change.  It really would have worked very smoothly, I promise.)  That morning I heard that one of our group had a medical emergency and wouldn’t be able to join us until Thursday at the earliest.  Thank goodness for easy rescheduling with Southwest, am I right?  Then, while I was packing my final items I got a call from the company with whom I’d reserved us airport transfers.  They were very sorry, but they had to cancel our shuttle to the hotel due to the impending storm.  I tried not to scoff – it hadn’t even started snowing yet, weren’t they jumping the gun just a little?  But alas, I guess that’s what Uber’s for, and with only three of us instead of four at least we’d all fit in one car.


We met at the airport in plenty of time, checked our bags, and grabbed a quick lunch.  At which point we were alerted that our plane to Chicago was coming from Maryland and was delayed until 3 due to icing issues.  That’s cool, you go ahead and de-ice that plane, because no one needs to die so I can get to PLA.  But man that cut our nice reasonable layover down to panic inducing brevity.


We boarded the plane at about 2:35, and I was thinking we’d still make it no problem.  Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Apparently, the headcount didn’t match the manifest, which is kind of a huge deal.  While the flight attendants went row to row checking names against the list, I anxiously awaited my turn to ask them to call ahead and see if they’d hold our connecting flight.  Because I just KNEW if we didn’t get to Philadelphia last night we probably wouldn’t get there until Thursday.  Finally they got it figured out, we took off, and I let them do their thing until we reached our cruising altitude at which point I signaled the first flight attendant that came within 10 feet of me.  I explained our situation, and the flight attendant made no promises but marched off to make some calls.


He didn’t make it back to me until we were making our descent into Chicago, and he still made no promises.  Gah!  We were going to be stuck in Chicago for 2 days, I just knew it!  Good thing I’d packed a swim suit! But then there must have been a small miracle because maybe a minute later the same flight attendant announced that our flight, along with another with a tight turn around, was being held for us!  Then he stopped by to let me know the gate we needed to get to was a hike – on the other side of the airport, down a secret corridor, past the candy cane forest, and through the wardrobe.  I might have added some of those details myself…but I digress.  So began our long, breathless journey to Mordor, I mean Gate A4B.  I gazed longingly at the restroom as we jog-walked by and told my bladder to just chill, okay.  We may have all broken a sweat, and I may have closed my exercise ring in the process.  But we made it!  We were actually going to make it to Philly for my first PLA!


Our flight to Philly was uneventful.  We landed and all three of us rushed to the restroom.  While we waited at baggage claim I called an Uber.  We were still waiting on our bags when he arrived.  When we didn’t appear in three minutes, he canceled our trip.  Seriously, dude?  Give a girl a break.  And still our luggage wasn’t showing up, and now our flight wasn’t even on the screen listing the carousels!  While I was wandering around trying to figure out what the heck was taking so long, my brilliant co-worker Suzanne noticed, hey, our bags are in the little Southwest office right behind us.  How did they get there?  How could we possibly have missed a whole flight’s worth of luggage?  The world may never know.


At this point we were thinking our epic journey might be nearing an end.  We called another Uber, he arrived in minutes, and we headed to the hotel…where we had a snafu at check in that required two customer service phone calls and another 45 minutes or so of my time.  Did I mention none of us had eaten since about 1 o’clock and it was nearing 9?  I’ll just cut to the chase and say we finally got checked in, and headed across the street to a delightful restaurant called Bank and Bourbon where we filled our empty bellies and bonded over booze…because librarians need booze, too, sometimes.  It had been quite a day, we deserved it!


It’s about 7:30 now, and we’ve still only gotten a couple of inches. That didn’t keep nearby stores and restaurants from closing early en masse, though.  The Reading Terminal Market was closed all day, which is a huge bummer because I was really excited to eat there for pretty much every meal.  Panera – ditto.  We headed to Starbucks at lunch time to grab a sandwich or salad and they closed the doors not 2 minutes after we got there – they were closing early, too.  I mean, I know this was predicted to be a huge storm and all, but I’m a little surprised.  I thought Philadelphians would be a little more hardy?  Here’s a pic from the walkway from the Convention Center to the Marriott Hotel at about 7PM tonight.  Doesn’t look too bad, right?  Side note: I am particularly thankful to be in the Marriott with this weather – I don’t have to go outside at all if I don’t want, and no carrying a bulky coat around with me!


Taken from the walkway from the Marriott to the Convention Center at around 7 PM – nowhere near the 9-13 inches predicted!


On the bright side, the Exhibit Hall was operating as usual this evening, and it was every bit as awesome as I anticipated.  Overdrive provided free fancy cheeses, fruits, and crackers in various locations around the hall.  Ingram had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries.  And I only made it through half the hall and I still came away with so many freebees and great resources for all the projects I’ve got coming up this year, including a full Youth Department overhaul, and a grant for a combo MakerSpace/Homework Help Center!  I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and hit the rest of the booths!


We met Baker and Taylor! They were a little scary.

Anyway, that’s my PLA adventure so far in a nutshell.  I am SO THANKFUL we were able to get in last night, and so sorry for those who were #LeftBehind due to travel snafus.

And now I’m about to go out to dinner with my co-workers and compare notes.  I positively cannot wait for sessions to start tomorrow – I am ready to walk away on fire and full of ideas to improve my library!  Go ahead, PLA, inspire me!  I dare you!

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