I made a quick detour on my way home from Florida and the Scion iQ event last night. I flew in and out of Atlanta on this trip. After landing, I made the 30-mile trek up to Marietta where the Greater Atlanta Automobile Media Association (GAAMA) was hosting its annual holiday party.
Never one to miss a party, I arranged my flight's arrival into Atlanta to provide me with just the right amount of time to land, taxi to the gate, make the journey from my arrival gate to baggage claim, retrieve my bag, get to Park N Fly Plus, pick up the GMC Terrain SLT I had booked for this week, and then slug my way through the city to reach Marietta, making my grand appearance at the GAAMA gala.
I allowed nearly two hours for all of this.
So far, so good.
Regrettably, a couple of factors escaped inclusion in my planning.
I didn't realize until I was boarding the plane in West Palm that I wasn't dressed for a party. Even an automotive media group has the basic standards of propriety. Here I was decked out in sneakers, beach pants and a tee-shirt from the Blue Star Brewery in San Antonio. The temperature was in the 80s when I left Florida, but in the 40s in Atlanta.
So there I was in my underwear in the men's room at Park N Fly Plus with my suitcase balanced on the sink trying to fish the appropriate shirt, pants, boots and sport coat from it. Removing shoes and socks then putting on socks and boots without your bare feet touching the floor is no small challenge. I'm a guy; I know what goes on in public men's rooms; I'm not putting my feet on that floor!
Having managed to don more appropriate attire, I got in the Terrain and headed out, only 20 minutes behind schedule.
Inputting the address of the Hilton Marietta Conference Center where the party was located into the Terrain's Nav unit scrubbed another five minutes off my time. I also had to set the Terrain's outboard mirrors, tune the stereo and adjust the seat. My watch's second hand continued its relentless sweep around the dial.
Finally underway, in my planning I had not paid proper respect to Atlanta's rush-hour traffic into which I was miserably mired. Rather than try to take the direct route through downtown on I-75, I hit I-285 in the hope of avoiding at least some of the slug-like flow.
For the most part the traffic kept moving, but not as rapidly as the hands on my watch. Coming over a small hill, all I could see for miles was the red glow of blinking brake lights engaging.
North of the city I did merge onto I-75 and was making somewhat better time, but it was all relative.
GAAMA thought it would be a nice gesture and a bit of community service for all the party's attendees to bring an unwrapped toy to contribute to the Marines Toys for Tots. Because I was traveling, I hadn't purchased a toy ahead of time. My suitcase had already been stuffed to capacity.
Until now, I hadn't really thought much about the toy, figuring I'd just buy one between the airport and the party. Not terribly good planning, but workable. The issue, though, where to buy a toy? I am now within five miles of the party and have yet to pass a Target, Walmart or much of anything else.
Now I'm panicking. I'm having serious Christmas panic. Despite the temperature hovering around 40, I break out in a sweat. I'm trying to pay attention to the strident voice of the chick from the Nav unit shouting out directions, keep an eye on traffic around me to avoid bending the Terrain and look for somewhere, anywhere to buy a toy.
As the female Nav voice announces that my destination is 600 feet ahead on the right, I pass a CVS drug store. I whipped into the lot, jumped from the Terrain and dashed into the store.
Its collection of toys seemed to be mostly $9 radio-controlled cars. How good can a $9 radio-controlled car possibly be? Refusing to abandon the search, I finally found a doll that looked pretty good. I carried it up to the checkout counter where a smiling clerk rang it up and announced the price.
I was hit with my second bout of panic in 20 minutes. Where was my wallet? Not in this pocket where it usually is. Nope, not there either. Crap! It was in my suitcase still in the pants that I changed out of at the airport.
Thankfully, the store wasn't busy as I dashed back out to the Terrain and retrieved my wallet.
I eventually arrived at the GAAMA gathering about 50 minutes later than planned, but I was nattily attired with a toy in hand.
Just another day in the life of an auto journalist.