Monday, March 03, 2008

Gateway to limbo?

so on the last night of a wonderful Madrona trip, the decision was made to go to Gateway to India for dinner. the restaurant was not within walking distance - based on total distance but also general shadiness of the intervening area - but it was anticipated to be worthwhile since Denise drives in with Mr CPA to Tacoma from Olympia to partake.

Hope, Vanessa, Jen and i all trundled out to await the taxi requested by the bellman. [Jen should have already been back in New England by then, but her flight had been canceled and she had spent much of the day finding another flight home.] said taxi was roughly on time though curiously inhabited by both the driver and a 'friend' he was giving a ride. negotiations ensued within the cab (eg out of our earshot) that resulted in said 'friend' being left on the sidewalk until he could return from the call. secretly, we regretted not waiting for another option since the cabbie blared bad hip hop and had a penchant for running red lights with oncoming traffic. he totally missed the restaurant - good thing Hope and Van were keeping a close eye - and we were quite happy to escape the cab.

unless i am seriously mistaken, we all silently thought, 'Thank heavens we'll have a different driver for the ride back.' big mistake.

the restaurant was charming, the food killer and the staff quite friendly. as we started to concede defeat to enormous portions, we requested the hostess call for a taxi, which she did quite promptly. '10-15 minutes wait time.'

no problem.

it was only 7, we were with friends, and Jen's shuttle to the airport wasn't due till 9:25.

as is often the case when knitters unite, 15 minutes easily turned into 30 before we noticed. we asked the hostess whether she would check on the cab, since it had been so long. 'They said they hadn't forgotten. 10 minutes wait time.'

okay... obviously the cab company measures in 'football' minutes, not real time, but it was only 7:30 and we were a fun group indeed.

tick tick tick

come 8 o'clock and no cab, concern began to set in. i was displaced to follow-up with the hostess and arrived to discover her hard at work and highly stressed. 'I don't know what the problem is. I have called the other two main companies and they all say 15 minutes. I got a number for a 4th company I am trying right now.'

our waitress offered us her car, but it was only a two-seater and we were fuzzy on the area.

the hostess came back to our table. she looked like she was going to cry. 'They all say 15 minutes. I have requested them all. I don't know what else to do. I would take you myself but I don't have a car. I take the bus.'

tick tick tick

Jen's blood pressure was increasing visibly. as 8:15 rolled around, we started eyeing customers we could pay for rides. a fairly clean-cut guy came in that looked like he had potential, but then he began twitching and arguing with himself at his table. Hope began getting instructions on the public bus. we began quietly missing our suicidal cabbie from earlier that night. Vanessa called the hotel. they said they would send someone but called back to say the bellboy had no car and there was no one else to send... but not to worry because Yellow Cab crankily said someone was on the way and due within 10 minutes.

we decided to wait outside, continuing to eye potential customers/chaffeurs through the window. crazy man starting yawning but then his face seemed to get stuck in a half-open grimace. we rethought our second thoughts about approaching him. Hope and Jen hailed the public bus, but it was headed the wrong way. they were sent across the street and down the block to wait for the right bus. Vanessa waited at the restaurant in case a cab showed up. i stood in the middle as a communications relay.

tick tick tick.

8:35. the bus was coming, the bus was coming!! i yelled to Vanessa. Vanessa started running. Hope conferred with the driver. Vanessa kept running. 'I'm COMING!' we payed slowly. Vanessa arrived.

Hope and Jen sat down. i plopped into the third remaining seat at the insistence of Bruce, one of the passengers. (Bruce was very nice and cleanly.) Vanessa grabbed onto a bar for stability then suddenly a (quite unsanitary) vagabound lurched forward and rustled about. he'd loosened a bench for Vanessa's use, leaving her no choice but to settle into the path of his consumptive cough. (cough cough)

our driver was a friendly chap. he'd driven for the Black Cabs in London and also driven double-decker buses. (did you know it is a four year rigorous training and testing program to drive Black Cabs?) he'd let us know when we reached our stop - 9th and Commerce. Bruce shook his head No and explained we needed 12th and Commerce. 'He's a new driver.'

Vanessa's phone rang. 'Hello?... Oh, thank you. We're on the public bus... YES, I'm serious...'

it was the hotel, calling to check on us. the bus rolled to a stop and the vagabond gathered all his parcels and bags. after one last hack on Vanessa, off he stumbled into the night. two more stops and we were let off 1/2 block from the hotel. we scurried on in. 8:45. Vanessa, determined to wash immediately, darted to the only bathroom on that floor to find it closed for cleaning. the hotel desk manager, relieved his marooned customers had arrived unscathed, sent us to the bar for a complimentary drink. he assured Jen that he would hold the shuttle for her should she be a titch late in coming.

we trundled into the bar no worse for the wear. the bartendress recognized us immediately as the stranded guests and pampered us well. we all shared a laugh and glass of wine while recounting our tale to some of the Blue Moon crew before calling an end to our last night at Madrona.

as for next year, the Indian restaurant was too good to forgo - we have agreed to take the bus from the start to avoid all the drama...

that is, provided Vanessa doesn't succumb to consumption.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

You got to meet Vanessa? How cool is that!!

The rest of it makes a better story then a way to spend time, doesn't it?

Glad it ended well.