Back about 7 years ago, I had the opportunity to leave my hospital job for a large promotion to become the Administrator of a local plasma donation center. Unknown to me, when I accepted the job, it involved the most intensive training I EVER had to do on a new job.
Because of the very stringent standards and regulations involving the collection, storage and shipment of human plasma, this organization had the philosophy that all people hired (even if it was in Administration) had to learn EVERY job in the organization first. That meant reading about each position, interning into each position and taking both a written and performance test for EACH position.
Nice philosophy. Can you imagine it where you work? Having your CEO learning and being tested on every single job done in your organization before they start in their job (including the Janitor's position?)
To accomplish this, I had to go away from home to another major plasma center (three separate times for 2 weeks at a time). I trained mostly in a town called Ames, Iowa and flew in and out of Des Moines to get there.
The Des Moines airport is not intimidating and it is fairly easy to find. After the first two trips back and forth, I was getting quite comfortable about finding the airport and driving my rental car back and forth between Ames and Des Moines.
On the next trip, I was running a little late getting to the airport to fly home.
Wouldn't you know it?: Right before my final turn into the airport drive, I saw a detour sign up ahead. A big flashing sign saying to take the next right (smaller road) as the airport entrance rather than the regular intersection with the stoplight at it. I quickly turned onto the first right hand road immediately after seeing the detour sign's directions.
"Hmm...funny", I thought. I don't see very many other cars taking this road into the airport. "Must be a slow travel day out of Des Moines."
The road curved.
As I rounded the curve, the road suddenly seemed much more "remote". To my left was the airport fence. I could see the runway. To my right, was a patch of woods.
One more curve.
Where I suddenly see (to my left inside the fence) a HUGE jet, parked right next to the fence.
"Wow!" I think to myself, (now suddenly suspicious that I perhaps turned on the wrong road), "What a large airplane. Wonder what airline it is?"
"Guess I took the wrong road, I must be at the edge of the airport instead."
I no sooner have these thoughts (also being pissed, because that is going to make me even later!) and I look ahead, and slam on my brakes.
In front of my car are 4 armed army men, guns raised and pointed at me!
Shaken, I immediately quickly assess my environment.
I look again at the jet, just inside the fence to my left.
Then, I began to understand.
On the side of the jet, in frickin' HUGE letters, (beside the painted-on American flag which is also on the side of the jet) , it says:
"AIR FORCE ONE".
The army guys are now motioning for me to roll down my driver's side window. They are still pointing their guns at the car and me. I smile (weakly, because it is hard to smile when you've almost shit your pants) and say hello.
They tell me to get out of the car, (with my hands up!), which I quickly obey.
They ask me what I am doing there.
I tell them that I saw a detour sign going into the usual entrance into the airport, and so I took the road which I thought was the detour-instructions-one and ended up there.
They tell me: "Ma'm, the main entrance is blocked for security because it was too close to where Air Force One would be parked and to where the President would be getting in and out of the plane". "You were supposed to take the right turn AFTER the blocked road, not this one".
They asked me for my driver's license and to pop my trunk.
They pat me down.
They searched my luggage.
They told me to go back into my car and went into a army truck and made a call to someone (not sure if it was National Security, the FBI, the local police or the President!)
I was sure I was either going to jail or going to be on the national news.
After about ten minutes, they came up to my car again and said, "You are clear to leave, but we must escort you to the airport."
So, I was instructed to back out my car until a certain point and then turn it around, and they led me to the airport.
Once at the rental car driveway, they waved me goodbye.
Shaken, (and damned sure I missed my plane by then), I returned my car to the rental car facility, and ran to the airline counter to show them my ticket and find out if I missed my plane.
Surprisingly, it hadn't taken off yet.
I ran to my gate, to see everyone boarding.
Out of breath, I say to someone in line: "Whew, I was SURE I was going to miss this flight!"
The guy says: "No...the President was at the university and was coming back here to board Air Force One, so flights were delayed until he got into his plane. Besides, we also heard there was some sort of security delay which delayed ALL FLIGHTS for about fifteen extra minutes, too." "With all the 9-11 shit, who would be crazy enough to be a "security risk" regarding Air Force One these days?"
So................. if you were there on a February day and heard about a (ahem!) delay.......well.........lets just say that you now know "the rest of the story"..........