Here's a story for your strange travel stories section.
We spent three days in London, and then it was time to go back out to Heathrow Airport to pick up our rental car. The problem was, we had to pick it up before noon. The Underground was very slow that day, and it was a close thing. When we finally arrived at the Heathrow tube station, I told my wife to run on ahead and get the car; I would follow with the luggage.
To understand this story, you have to know that the Heathrow Central station serves Terminals 1, 2, and 3 -- all through different tunnels. You also have to know that Hertz has FIVE different desks: one in each of Terminals 1, 2, 3, and 4, plus the one out where the cars are kept. You can see it coming, right?
I figured she would go to Terminal 3, the international terminal, because that was the only one she had ever seen. However, she asked a friendly Brit how to get to the Hertz desk. He took her with him, and off they went... to Terminal 2. Of course, she didn't know there was a difference.
Meanwhile, I put all the luggage in a cart and headed out to Terminal 3. I got to the Hertz desk and there was no sign of her. I asked about her, and they checked in the computer. They told me she'd taken the car and gone!
Well, I couldn't help but laugh. For one thing, I knew my wife would never do something like that, and besides, she had never driven on the left before. No way did she "take the car and go." On the other hand, there wasn't any sign of her.
So I had her paged. No response. I trundled the luggage cart back down into the Underground, thinking maybe she'd go back to the last place we had been together. No luck. I trundled it back. No sign. I had her paged again. Still nothing. I ask the Hertz people to try the other desks. They do, but all the other people know is that had been at the Hertz desk in Terminal 2, but she isn't there any more.
[Meanwhile, my wife is sitting in Terminal 2, having me paged over and over... but I can't hear the pages because I'm in Terminal 3.
Eventually she figures that if I'm not at the desk, maybe I'm out where the cars are. She gets on the Hertz shuttlebus and takes it out there. But I'm not there. She gets back on the bus and goes back to Terminal 2.]
Eventually *I* figure if she's not in Terminal 3 and she's not in the Underground, the only other place she can be is out where the cars are. I get on the Hertz shuttlebus (a different one) (with all the luggage) and take it there. She's not there. I get back on the bus (with all the luggage) and go back to Terminal 3.
Now the people at the Hertz desks at Terminals 2 and 3 and the car park all know we are looking for each other. They're on the phone. They're on the walkie-talkies. I hear on the driver's walkie-talkie that she's been seen, and I'm told that she's at the car park, although I've just been there and I know she isn't. However, I stay on the bus. My wife arrives at Terminal 2 and the Hertz lady comes running out screaming, "Get back on the bus! Get back on the bus! He's out at the car park!" My wife gets back on the bus. My driver informs her driver that I am on the other bus. All the passengers on both shuttlebuses get to hear all about it on the radio chatter.
Finally, three hours after we separated, we are reunited at the Hertz car park... frazzled, exhausted and ready to start to learn how to drive on the wrong side of the road.
Fourteen years later, we're still happily married.
Ernest W. Adams