Dude, Where’s My Car?

It was a long day of travel, interviews, and a bookstore event. I get back to the hotel room I have not really seen, and I collapse into bed around 11:00. Before I know it, my phone alarm is going off. And there’s my father calling me on Skype. We try to connect, but the signal is too weak. I need to get ready, anyway.

I jump in the shower, get dressed, pack everything away. Glancing at my watch, the minute hand is at only half-past. The car is coming for me at 7 to take me to the airport. Enough time to fire off a few emails, so I sit down and do that, my brain in a fog.

I’m so exhausted that I almost feel jetlagged, even though I’ve been in this time zone for three weeks now. I could so easily go right back to sleep. But it’s time to get downstairs and head to the airport. I’ve got three flights today: Barcelona to Madrid, Madrid to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen to Helsinki. I feel like the crazy lab assistant at the end of 12 MONKEYS.

I check out of the hotel, turn in my room key, and the guy behind the front desk rushes around to get the door for me. “I can get it,” I assure him. Then he shows me the key. The front doors are locked. He has to stoop down and open them manually for me.

Outside, the car isn’t here yet. Strange. They are usually 15 minutes early. No matter, I sit down on the curb and read the paper. I wait. Taxis drive by and look at me beseechingly. Unbelievably, people are still staggering home from bars. I glance up and down the street for some place to grab a cronut, but the cafes aren’t open yet. Damn, I’m tired. I could seep on the sidewalk. The minute hand has swung around, and now the taxi is late.

Wait a minute.

It’s two o’clock in the morning.

My half-asleep brain starts piecing it together.

I went to sleep exhausted, dreading the early alarm. My father called me via Skype. I thought it was the alarm. I tried to talk to him, tried to call him back, then jumped in the shower, got dressed, packed up. The man at the front desk had looked at me strangely. The hotel had been eerily quiet. The key to open the door. People staggering home. So tired. And I’ve already checked out of my room!

I bang on the door, desperate. Thankfully, the doorman not only lets me in, he gives me a new room key. My heart is racing, and I feel that pressure to get back to sleep. Jumping in the bed, I figure the alarm will come for me quickly again. Though not as quickly as last time.

Love you, Dad. Call me back.

20 responses to “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

  1. That’s terrible, you definitely need some rest. Have fun in Helsinki. It is a nice city. Too bad you don’t get to spend some time in Copenhagen.

  2. I’ve done this before. It stinks every time.

  3. That’s the funniest thing EVER! Dude, get some sleep!

  4. Poor Hugh! I hope you’re feeling better now.

  5. This reminds me of what happened to a friend of mine who traveled from Tokyo to US:

    His group was to take a shuttle bus at 7AM to the airport after staying for a couple of days in Las Vegas. He woke up close to 7 o’clock, thinking he overslept, and dashed to the lobby. No bus in sight. Wasting no time he took a cab to the airport (thank god it was Las Vegas) to catch up to the group and not to miss his flight to another US city. Only when he arrived at the ticket counter did he realize what happened. The agent said, “Your flight is for tomorrow morning.” He woke up at 7PM the night before thinking it was morning. Must be all the lights and fake skies in the casinos . . .

    But you know what? The best part of the story was that he got a complimentary upgrade to the first class on the next day’s flight, unknown to him at the 12-hour early check-in attempt, thanks to the sympathetic agent.

    Have a pleasant, smooth trip to Finland!

  6. Awww. I’ve only touched that kind of exhaustion + disorientation once or twice. I imagine you’re going to be incredibly happy to be back at home once this trip is all over.

  7. You’re not that lady who slept walked onto the subway tracks earlier in the week, are ya?

  8. Say… has anyone ever tried a cronut burger? I’m guessing those who have didn’t live long enough to tell the tale.


    Get some sleep, Hugh!

  9. I read your story with a mixture of sympathy – and horror! AND laughed my head off.

    Your success has led to something as bad as a reaction to drugs and alcohol poisoning – oops! Absolutely heady – but rock-star quality!

    Now I will go back to wishing for MODEST success, and telling myself if I get it when I publish, it will be much more something I can handle. I may even resurrect the pseudonym and do it anonymously.

    Enjoy every minute of it – but try to take a little better care of yourself? You do have the power to say no, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Do I sound old and crochety? So be it. Also, spend some money and get a minion whose job it is to wake you up. I don’t think you can always trust yourself. Of course, then you have to trust the hired minion…


    1. Believe it or not, I was entirely sober. I’ve been drunk twice in my life, and the last time was over 20 years ago.

      1. what? yeah….you need to come to st louis!

        1. I tried! But some guy from Boston threw himself in front of me, kicked up his legs, and obstructed my path.

      2. I have no trouble believing you.

        I remember college – and they tell me I won the chess game I was playing the one time I was drunk. I have no memory of anything except the horrible ride home, which shall be left to the imagination.

        Stress’ll get you – I hate that feeling of worrying about getting to the airport on time from a strange place.

  10. Last time something like that happened to me I cleaned off the snow and ice from my car windshield before I finally realized it was 1:00 a.m., not 7:00 a.m.

  11. Well I recently got back ( to the UK) from a tour of the USA and I can certainly feel what you’re going through; time means nothing sometimes!

    On the same token I have just this minute finished reading the last of the Silo series. Amazing work. You should tell yourself what I tell myself, your hard work is worth it man, don’t stop!!

    Kind regards,


  12. The story “In the Air” is shown as 100% done. So where can I get a copy to read?

    1. I have an exciting announcement to make about that story soon. It’s going to be part of an anthology with an all-star lineup and an amazing editor. The book is going to be self-published, and there are some other great little features that we’ll spill before too long. :)

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