Fly-Drive Nightmare
- Malc Seaman -
...more True Stories...

It is everyone’s worst nightmare to forget something important when going on holiday for a fortnight. We feel completely exposed – like a fish out of water when we don’t have our normal possessions around us, so we try to get everything that we think that we might need packed into our suitcases. And you have to remember those all-important, passports, holiday insurance and currency.

Well, we had packed everything we could think of (everything but the kitchen sink as they say.) So we climbed into the taxi and set off for Gatwick airport. It was a holiday we were all looking forward to – Sue and me and our teenage son and daughter off to Florida for a fortnight. We had been once before but that was all of us squeezed into a motel ‘family’ room. This time we were staying at friend’s villa in Kissimmee.

Once we had checked our luggage in at the airport we were able to relax before our flight and so we went off to have a spot of lunch before our long haul flight to Sandford Airport. Long-haul flights are OK if you plan for them - puzzle books, reading books, and of course, watching a movie or two. Either way nine hours is a long time on the plane. The previous time we had gone to Florida we had done the Disney World thing, plus MGM Studios and Epcot. This time the holiday would be slightly different, we were hoping to go to the newly opened Animal Kingdom but also to just enjoy a little more of American culture – take in the local stuff and naturally laze around the pool at the villa and ‘catch a few rays.’

The flight was good and seemed to go quite quickly, so far so good. The pilot announced that we would soon be landing at Sandford Airport. We had picked Sandford this time instead of Orlando Airport because our friends had told us it was easier collect a hire car from Sandford than it was Orlando even though it was a little further from the villa.

We were just making sure that our seat belts were fastened when another announcement came over the speaker system. This one was for passengers who had hire cars to collect from Avis and the best way to collect them and avoid the rush. I remember thinking “well that doesn’t affect us because our hire car is with Dollar Rental.” And then as those words went through my head - a dagger went into my heart. Well, that was what it felt like, as it dawned on me – not the possibility that I might have – but an absolute rock solid “I know for sure” – that I had not brought my driving licence with me!

I could see myself with my daughter the night before going over our check list:
“Money?” – “Check!”
“Passports?” – “Check!”
“Tickets?” - “Check!”
And no way did I remember a “Driving Licence?” – “Check!”
It just did not happen! There was no need to search my pockets in the vain hope that I might find it. Nor was it worth giving a second’s thought to consider where I might have packed it.
I knew for sure that I had not brought it with me.

I could feel a cold sweat come upon me as the dagger of that realisation twisted in my heart! “Bit late to go back and get it,” I’m thinking…..

Poor Sue looked at me must have thought I was about to keel over and die (I was.) I turned white, then green and then white again.
“Whatever is wrong, Malc” said Sue.
“I didn’t bring my driving license, I forgot to pack it” I said.
It was Sue’s time to go white (then green and then white again.)

We landed, disembarked, collected our cases and headed for the Car Rental Office, explaining our dilemma and hoping that the kindly American Car Rental Person would say “Hey, no matter. We trust you – take the car.”
Uh, uh! It was a case of “Sorry, no licence – no car.”
I came out of the rental office feeling really low. What do we do now?

Well, we had to get to the villa, so we found a taxi and told the driver where we needed to go and all about our predicament.

Fortunately, God knew our predicament too!
The taxi driver turned out to be an English guy who had only moved out to the US a few years earlier. He was very nice and very sympathetic.

Knowing that we had a long trip behind us and a still reasonable long trip to the villa before us, he stopped at a supermarket on the way so that my wife could pick up some bread and milk.

When we arrived at the villa we unpacked and then we sat down to talk about what we should do. We thanked God for our thoughtful and considerate taxi driver (even though the trip cost us a chunk of our spending money) and we prayed about the situation.

I had left a key to our house with our good next-door neighbour, Bernard So that he would be able to keep on eye on our house and water our plants whilst we were away.

And the thought came to mind - perhaps Bernard could send the licence on to me. So around 1am that night I rang Bernard (as it would have been about 7am over in the UK) when he would probably be up and out of bed.

How good it is to have neighbours that are trustworthy Christian people. I knew my driving licence was in my wallet inside my briefcase, so I told Bernard where to look and asked him if he wouldn’t mind sending it out to me.

We praised God for His provision of reliable Christian neighbours in Bernard and his wife Carol who have been very good neighbours to us over the years.

The following morning (after we had finally managed to relax and get some sleep) we took stock of our situation. Our thoughtful friends had arranged for a small amount of provisions to be left at the villa for our arrival, but it looked like it was likely to be several days before my licence would arrive. This meant that it could be several days before we could get out of the villa and get to a supermarket to shop.

So I made another call – this time to our friends who owned the villa and explained what had happened to us. They suggested that I call Mike, who was the man they hired to look after their villa whenever it was unoccupied. They gave me Mike’s home number and I called him. Mike drove over to us straight away and offered to take us to the supermarket in his car. It would have taken us the best part of an hour to walk and it was VERY hot! So we were very grateful for the ride.

Mike dropped us right outside Winn Dixie’s store and about 20 minutes later we emerged with bags laden with shopping. Mike took us back to the villa so we could prepare our first decent meal since we left the plane.

Naturally our kids were not too happy about the situation, as they were looking forward to going out and about. But fortunately, the weather was hot and we were in a lovely villa with a wonderful swimming pool and their disappointments soon disappeared as they enjoyed the pool.

We managed to enjoy ourselves those first few days of our holiday. In fact we all thoroughly enjoyed the enforced relaxed start to our holiday (the Lord knows what we need) lazing around the pool and enjoying fantastic takeaway food delivered to our door. And then on the fifth day there came a knock on the door and there stood a special delivery driver clutching a small package containing my driving licence. Hooray! we were mobile again (well, nearly) all we needed now was a car. Hmm, and that was at Sandford Airport!

So I called the Hire company and asked them to transfer the car to Orlando Airport as it would be quicker to collect it from there. Our taxi drive had left us one of his business cards, so he was the immediate choice. I called the taxi company and booked a ride to Orlando Airport to collect the car the following day.

The Lord is good and He turned everything around for us and we were able to get to see most of the places we had planned to visit in the days we had left of the holiday. On the Friday evening we decided to go to the local Rodeo Show. As we were driving there, warnings came on the car radio about a hurricane was on its way. We were almost at the rodeo show so didn’t want to turn around and go back so we carried on, as the sky became blacker and blacker. The kids had never seen a sky like it. We are pretty fortunate in England, not to have such storms as this one was brewing up to be.

We arrived at the Rodeo show and settled back into our seats. There were lots of people there and we sat with in anticipation waiting for the show to start. It was great fun but our daughter Emma was a getting more than a little worried and fearful as the storm started. Down came the rain - and there was LOTS of it! But we tried to assure Emma that things would be alright – all was in God’s hands. Almost as soon as the rain stopped – out came the sun and within a very short time the arena had dried out and the show was underway again.

We arrived home safe and sound that evening - praising the Lord. Perhaps the Lord was just confirming that even when times seem dark or stormy or hopeless if we trust Him to get us through - there is light, peace and hope.

We don’t have to let life batter us (or place the dagger of cold fear into our hearts) - God’s love is greater and more powerful than any storm, any mistakes we make or any fear we face. Trusting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour restores our relationship with God and brings us into that place of His perfect peace. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment.”
(1 John 4:18)