Yesterday I tried to talk an Uber driver into taking $200 to drive me from Washington, DC to Norfolk, VA because I had a family emergency. Along the way, I got a better understanding for the stress and sense of urgency displayed by the mom from Home Alone when she was in a similar situation. But let’s go back to the beginning first.
Let me start off with two things. First: this is entirely factual. Second: my wife is doing well in the hospital and is looking like she is on the path to recovery. I felt that was important to note because this story is meant to be humorous (retrospectively, extremely stressful in the moment) and that can only be the case with an ending that is, at the very least, optimistic for future well-being of my loved ones.
That being said, this weekend was supposed to be an awesome (Get it? Well, you will.) experience for me. Having recently partnered up with my friend Tara Moeller, the head of the DreamPunk Press co-op (a small publishing group in my area), I was all set to bring my Toonopolis books to AwesomeCon in Washington, DC under the DreamPunk Press banner alongside the rest of the DreamPunk library. I’d never been to AwesomeCon, as an author or as a fan, so I was very excited to say the least.
A few weeks before the event, my wife had to schedule a surgery for a bile duct issue (the tubes connecting your organs like gallbladder, liver, pancreas, etc.). So yeah, guess when the surgery was? Thursday, the day before MarsCon. No big deal, my wife and I presume. It’s a simple outpatient procedure and she should be home and resting by the evening. The DreamPunk Press team would go up to DC Thursday evening to get set up, I’d take a train from Norfolk to DC Friday morning and be a little late to the start of the first day but otherwise be there to man the table, sell books, and try out a new cosplay (Greg Universe from Steven Universe!). Plan set. All parties on board.
Proceed to the day of the surgery. Everything goes fine, doctor is happy with the procedure, my wife goes into recovery and we are just waiting for anesthesia to wear off and her pain to be controlled. Only her pain never got controlled adequately so they opt to admit her to the hospital for observation, run a few scans, check some bloodwork, and she’d likely go home the next day. This leaves my wife and I with a dilemma: should I travel to DC the next morning? After evaluation and discussion, we decide that I would in fact go but keep in touch. Her parents were around for childcare backup, she was just waiting out her weird pain issues, and she’d probably go home Friday afternoon.
So I hop on my train from Norfolk at 9am Friday morning (after getting all three kids off to school so they were covered for the day), and thus begins the real adventure that would end up with me approximately thirteen of the subsequent thirty-three hours traveling between Norfolk and DC. At about 9:30am, I receive a phone call from my wife that the doctors may want to do more surgery but weren’t sure. Her gallbladder was apparently retaining the IV contrast used during the surgery. I don’t know what this means but she sent me a picture and told me “that white part isn’t supposed to be visible on X-Ray”.
So at this point, I have 4.5 hours left on my train ride to DC to worry about what this might mean for my wife, am already late to the beginning of the convention, and not even sure if I am going to have to turn right back around and go home (or jump off the train, hobo style somewhere in the middle of Virginia). We opted for me to go the Con and just stay in touch in case another surgery was necessary or something else went amiss.
After arriving in DC around 1:30pm, I get to the convention, get set up, throw on my Ash Ketchum costume, and find our table, which was awesome and the first time I got to use my new Toonopolis freestanding banner! Check it out:
After a fun first day (slow foot traffic at the con but DC had a tornado warning and Endgame was releasing), we packed up from Day 1 looking forward to Day 2. In the interim, a friend dragged me to a panel at 9pm on strange aquatic animal sexual activity hosted by a bunch of drunken marine biologists, so that was a thing.
But what about the unsuccessful propositioning of an Uber driver that was promised at the beginning of this blog post? I’m getting to that part! Let me tell my story, geez. Fast forward to Saturday morning. I’m all dressed and ready to start Day 2 of AwesomeCon in my Greg Universe cosplay (essentially a white tank top, jean shorts, blue flip flops, and a long brown wig down to my lower back), when I get the call from my wife at 10:01 (the doors opened at 10:00) that she was going into emergency surgery to have her gallbladder removed that afternoon. And now the fun begins.
I found an 11:15 Greyhound bus leaving from Union Station that would get me back home in time to be there before she came out of surgery and immediately bought a ticket. This was perfect! I apologized to my partner (who understood and was more concerned about my wife than my having to leave, because she is a good person), ran to the hotel room, packed my stuff, and took off for the bus station. I arrived at 11am and found out that the bus was delayed nearly 2 hours. This was unacceptable.
I checked my other options. Flying? No flights home until evening. Train? Same thing. Rental car? It was Saturday on a busy day in DC and none of the rental places had any cars available even if I wasn’t trying to take it one-way to home. I even pulled up Uber to see what would happen. Lo and behold, it popped up an option for a driver to take me to Norfolk for about $175. That was crazy but, you know, I was getting desperate. I was shocked when the driver actually pulled up and I got in the car. I didn’t realize that Uber drivers didn’t know the extend of the expectations until after they picked up the passenger. He told me that it was too far for him and I really couldn’t blame him. I offered to tip him well but he still didn’t want to do so.
I tried two more times to find an Uber driver to pick me up and drive me all the way to Norfolk but I really couldn’t expect that to be reasonable. DC was completely packed, so for them to take at least 7 hours for a single rider was just not realistic for them.
So after all these chaos, I had to trudge back to the bus terminal and wait, eating pizza at Sbarro’s, wishing I was home and wishing I was at my table at AwesomeCon all at the same time. Frustrated about the situation, scared for my wife, angry at my wife’s gallbladder, and feeling disappointed that I felt I was letting my partner down by leaving her to man our table by herself (not that she would ever say that, but internal feelings you know).
Since I’ve rambled long enough about all this chaos, I’ll just close it up. Luckily Greyhound hustled after the delay, cutting out a scheduled 1 hour stop in Richmond on the way home and I was able to make it to the hospital before she came out of surgery. Surgery went well, she will be home tomorrow, and things are looking optimistic. My first AwesomeCon experience may have been cut short, but I enjoyed the time I had there. Hopefully we’ll plan on being back next year, but until then I do have some local events coming up (including a few other ComiCons in Virginia Beach [May] and Hampton [October]), so I hope local folks will come say hi! [check my Facebook page for events!]
And if my wife decides she doesn’t need any more organs during those events, I’ll be sure to let you all know! 😀