The road trip from hell

slisk250

Straight Flush
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
7,597
Reaction score
12,460
Location
Rocky Mountain High
The people here I've known a long time and understand just a bit of the challenges you face when living in Saudi Arabia can appreciate this story. Maybe the rest will be bored. Either way, this is a not so short story of the last 40 days of hell with a happy ending and I've been waiting for this day for 13 years.

That Exit Only Visa I've been looking for came 6 months early on Father's Day when my employer, Saudi Aramco laid off perhaps 1000 Americans. They beat me to the punch. It was the perfect storm, company goes public, then the oil price wars, then COVID. Never mind the past 5 months of draconian measures far exceeding what any country has done thusfar. You guys are out, forced to risk the travel with all borders closed. In the end we were offered a one way Riyadh/Washington DC Saudia Airlines flight arranged by the US Embassy. There were several. Americans are fleeing the place by the thousands, either by force or after quitting their jobs. There are about 200,000 of us working in the Kingdom.

Once the rumors started in June, I knew I would get the axe. I was the second highest paid K-12 classroom science teacher on the planet with opinions contrary to management. I had one foot out the door. No problem except for the 6 cats I rescued and are part of our family...fuck. No way to get them out and a 60 day ticking clock on the horizon. With KLM & Lufthansa shuttering their pet services due to COVID until November and the brutal Arabian heat stopping any other carrier from hauling animals, we were fucked.
Under normal circumstances, getting all the red tape in order is challenging. You never know if you will be able to exit with them until you get to check in. We had to go with Saudia Cargo with this many pets. They would be in the crates for 30 hours.

We Loaded then up for the 5 hour drive to Riyadh arrived at Cargo to some surly men with no patience and margin English skills. Went from Ministry of Agricultural to airport veterinarian back cargo all the while paying cash bribes of a couple thousand bucks. That took 3 hours and we made the midnight closing time by a few minutes. Then back to the terminal to wait in line for the 5:30am flight. I bet there were another 50 pets checked as excess baggage. No rules were following, these were evacuation flights and Aramco wanted us out so they can start the next round soon.

When I learned there was a July 29 chance to get out, we jumped at it. I knew we needed help with the cats in Dulles. No pets are flying in the states and it is a 25 hour drive to Aspen Park. I sent a PCF pm to several people here pleading for help with supplies so we could get on the road immediately.

That story will come in part two tomorrow...
 

Ben8257

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
5,490
Reaction score
15,646
Location
Finksburg, maryland USA
I truly hope this story has an amazing finale, and that this journey is behind you guys at this point... that everyone including the kittys made it all the way home!! Then it can start being an awful memory buddy!!
 

12thMan

Full House
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
3,362
Reaction score
3,054
Location
under Freemont St bridge
Thanks for going through hell to stay true to your fur family bud. There’s lots of people in this world who would have no problem abandoning, or killing, pets when it gets hard like that. I’d rather not say what I think of those people and instead just focus on the people like you. Congrats on the Exit Only.
 

inca911

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2015
Messages
4,176
Reaction score
14,246
Location
Minneapolis, MN
My name is Charlie, and this human @slisk250 belongs to me. My story starts deep in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, where my parents had deserted me (pun intended) long ago. I was getting fed up with the nomadic lifestyle I had been living, and after a few months of being stung by scorpions (yes, they do taste like chicken) I had reached the conclusion that there must be a better life for me out there, somewhere. I had heard tales of the upright walkers bringing members of my clan into their homes for us to rule over them, stories whispered in hushed tones amidst the dunes. This is my tail. I never thought it would happen to me, and it’s all true.

Several years ago, on a cool 100F day I was hanging around the human encampment, looking for food that doesn’t leave you buzzed after a few stings. I stumbled across one of the dwellers I had seen several times before. They call themselves “humans” (and I thought “dog” was a stupid name). Anyway, it might have been the venom, or the heat, or the outrage of my life that gave me the final motivation to do something. I had to act, NOW! I screwed my courage to the scratching post and decided it was time for this girl give it a shot. Yes, Charlie is a girl’s name. Shame on all of you who though I was a guy. I caught the attention of the human, and Jedi-mind-tricked the halfwit into picking me up. I’m no Shahrazad, but the human was no match for me once contact had been made.

I had made it INSIDE! I don’t know what sorcery the humans possess, but not-hot-air is everywhere. I have since learned they call this “cold”. I quickly learn that five members of my clan are also inside, as well as some of the infidel “dogs”. We have made a blood oath pledge against the one called “chihuahua”. He will feel our wrath one day, vanishing into the shifting desert sands. This is what we do. These human wizards have great powers, and can conjure fresh water from metal posts located in the feeding room. It took me no time to learn that they dispense food here several times a day. Food that doesn’t sting, and also tastes like chicken. If you ingratiate yourself to these lesser humans, you can receive favorable treatment. Although such acts are beneath our cat nobility, the “treats” you can con from these ignorant humans are worth the temporary embarrassment. I have decided to adopt one of them for myself.

The humans have recently become restless. I’m nervous they are up to something. They have started wearing masks, and the rumor is that they are all confined to the small area of our compound due to some danger. They rarely go out, and stories of a creature called COVID are whispered every day. The humans are now putting all of their belongings into our play boxes. Don’t they understand that full boxes aren’t fun? I narrowly avoid getting packed into one of the boxes. Things have turned serious, and I’m scared.

Today, my human scooped me up and put me into a plastic box with iron bars. My brothers and sisters used to speculate about why our humans decided to make us their rulers. Maybe they have just been fattening us all up for some evil Hansel and Gretel fantasy dinner? Oh no, everyone is being packed into crates! We are all getting loaded into cars with the full play boxes. I fear the end may be upon us all. We thought the humans were weak, is it possible they had a plan all along?

We ride deep into the desert for many hours. I suspect they will dump us into the desert soon. I was born in the desert, I have no fear of such things. The car slows, and the human is giving the other humans small pawfuls of the magic paper. They are loading us into a great silver tube with wide silver arms. It’s dark, so very dark. There is great rumbling noise, and I feel funny, as if being dropped and picked up again and again. What is happening to me, how could I have been outwitted…?
 
Last edited:

Hornet

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2017
Messages
2,581
Reaction score
6,624
Location
Columbus
3F7CB456-11D5-467F-AF59-AE05EECE4C97.gif
 

Thomacetti

Full House
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2014
Messages
3,763
Reaction score
6,584
Location
Belgium
I truly hope this story has an amazing finale

Mike ALWAYS has an amazing finale...just sit tight an be ready for some awsome sauce in part 2
@slisk250 hope all is well with you and the family (incl cats obv), now take a breather and chill out asap

i'm sooo sad about missing out on GDWCC :(


FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU Covid :mad:

But knowing you & family are safe & sound is most important now
 
Last edited:

slisk250

Straight Flush
Joined
Dec 9, 2014
Messages
7,597
Reaction score
12,460
Location
Rocky Mountain High
OK part 2

The best part (and the only real reason to post this) is what I discovered when seeking help from any human who would grant me an audience. All the misdirection thrown at us on the Saudi side was thwarted by grit and intelligence gathered from others in our shoes. We beat the odds. Six cats were boarded, we were pushing back from the gate and after 14 hours would be "home."

When the Dulles option became a reality, I sent a few PCF messages pleading for help in Virginia. After that long haul we needed some help to get rolling right away. No pet service available. No checking into hotels with 6 semi feral cats. 25 hour drive to Aspen Park was the only option. Fun!

Almost immediately after sending the SOS, I read replies from @Lil Tuna @FordPickup92 and @Ben0586 . I had met them a few months earlier in social media. All 3 offered help and I really thought we had a shot to pull this off. We needed help loading these guys and pet supplies for a non stop smokey and the bandit run.

We met Ben, Brie, and Matt at Dulles and split to car rental and cargo. We Loaded up a litter box and supplies brought by our saviors. It was a short meeting but we will see each other again soon. I can't thank them enough. Truly great people to know. I'll be in their debt forever.

We pulled away from the airport and discussed how surreal everything had been so far. I thought the hardest part was over...but I never did a road trip with 6 cats that were just a bit unhappy before. We were 30 hours into the trip, just about halfway.

I wasn't prepared for the cat turf battle...

We had to pull over 3 times before even getting to Leesburg to try and chill these terrified kitties. They all wanted the floorboard space next to brake pedal ...and the wife was having none of that. Great, now six angry cats plus wife...things were escalating. The cats were relentless and the alpha took his spot next to my legs. The rest would fight on and off for the next 25 hours trying to get their spot. Wife would remove excess cats from my lap, claws would penetrate. I was the pin cushion. We stopped outside Indianapolis for 1 hour but otherwise kept rolling the whole time. 5 gas stops, 1 food, 1 rest area, 3 cat discipline stops, 1800 miles after a 14 hour flight and complete missed night of sleep. It was a fun 56 hours.

...and I could NOT be happier.

Thanks again for the help in Dulles Ben Brie Matt

Energy drinks FTW
 

TheBigTater

4 of a Kind
Supporting Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2014
Messages
5,255
Reaction score
8,311
Location
Deep In The Bible Belt
Wow, desperation makes us do amazing things. Quite a road trip til' the bitter end & running on fumes. Glad everyone is safe and sound. Sleep for days, you deserve it! :D
 

BGinGA

Royal Flush
Tourney Director
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 29, 2014
Messages
25,210
Reaction score
38,402
Location
Atlanta
My response to this story -- especially the incredibly generous hands-on support provided by @Lil Tuna, @Ben0586, and @FordPickup92 -- really belongs in the "Things that make me happy" thread.

I mean, seriously -- three people, gather multiple supplies, drive to another city, at the online request of somebody they'd never met, to assist with the travel preparations and plane-to-auto transfer of a half-dozen cats (and feral cats, at that). You can't make this stuff up; I dare ya to even try. :)

Bless you all. Brie, Ben, and Matt all earn lifetime karma awards in my book, and a special place in my heart.
 

FordPickup92

Royal Flush
Supporting Member
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
16,404
Reaction score
23,867
Location
Finksburg, MD
@Ben8257 ;)
Happy to help Mike and Co out. There's not much we wouldn't do to help good people out, whether close friend or not. Albeit a brief meeting it was nice to meet @slisk250 and welcome him home, finally! After reading through information sent to us from Mike, especially regarding the cats transportation, there was no way Ben or I could leave them hanging! It was hectic, but joyful to see everyone arrive safely and begin their final stretch home on US land. If nothing else, we can always make time to help someone out, especially a fellow PCFer!!
Sounds like a bit of tension through the ride from the kitties, but I am glad to hear everyone made it home. I am sure you guys were exhausted by the end! Hopefully now the next chapter includes some relaxation time and poker time!
 
Top Bottom