January 25, 2018

Little Caesars Saved My Life

I will admit before even starting this post that the title of this post is complete hyperbole. But it's also true. Metaphorically maybe. I figured it was an appropriate time to tell this story since I just spent a couple of days in Detroit on a Wizards road trip for the first time in almost 30 years.

In March of 1993 I spent two nights in the Detroit airport (officially the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport). I didn't plan things that way. I even tried to avoid it. It happened nonetheless. I was a (relatively speaking) poor graduate student paying my way through college at that time. And if it wasn't for Little Caesars, I might not have eaten much at all in those two days. And for that they will always occupy a special place in my life.

I was never much of a spring break-er while I was in college. I never went to Fort Lauderdale or Panama City or Cancun or anywhere else college kids go to party their asses off. In fact of the seven spring breaks I lived through while in school, I only went somewhere once and that was in 1993. In a typical March of the school year, I usually retreated back to see my parents in Connecticut and went to see a couple of movies by myself because the University of Michigan seemed to schedule spring break before the schools all of my friends attended. And I was not a slow learner. I did the 7-1/2 year graduate school thing en route to my Master degree. Just explaining that one, that's all.

But 1993 was different. If I recall correctly, my parents had a free flight voucher or whatever it was called back then on Northwest Airlines that was going to expire and they offered it up to me to see if I wanted to use it to get out of town from Syracuse for any reason. I decided I would use it for spring break that year to go out to California since I'd never been out to Cali before. I managed to find a flight that worked, secured places to stay with friends in L.A., San Diego and San Francisco and somehow got a car rental that was affordable (read: cheap) and took off.
Pizza! Pizza! Yummy! Yummy!
Then while I was gone I found out there was a major storm developing that would likely affect travel all throughout the east coast. If you look up that storm today on Wikipedia, it's the 1993 Storm of the Century. And yes it ended up being that bad. I thought it might be a good idea to change my flight back from Oakland to a day earlier to make it back home before the storm hit, especially since I had a final design review a couple of days after the end of spring break and I had a lot of work to do (I honestly had no business taking off spring break that year). I made the flight change and hoped.

It didn't work. Syracuse got 48" of snow over a couple of days and most of the east coast got something similar. And nothing got out of Detroit for next two days, including me who made it to Michigan but couldn't go any further. I couldn't afford a hotel and there weren't any vacancies anyway so I just stayed in the airport until (a) they started letting flights head east again and (b) I could get high enough on the wait list to allow me to fill and empty slot on a flight to Syracuse.

I wasn't the only one. There were a few other folks stranded with no hotel. So at night, there would be people (myself included) sleeping on airport benches and couches. I bought a couple of books to read (Jurassic Park and The Pelican Brief if you must know) and before I went to sleep put my stuff in a locker (including my glasses; extra paranoid back then but no way could I afford something happening to them) and drifted off for the night.
2018 recreation of my nights at DTW in 1993. The couches didn't have arms back then.
While I could go without a real place to sleep, I couldn't go without something to eat. Airport food is not the cheapest. Honestly the only thing that resembled a cheap meal that would fill me up in those days at DTW was Little Caesars Crazy Bread, which was essentially a whole pizza's worth of bread but with garlic and oil or butter or whatever it was instead of sauce and cheese. So for all my meals over the two days I was in the airport I headed to Little Caesars, got myself some Crazy Bread (it came with dipping sauce) and ate. They didn't have Little Caesars in Syracuse back then I don't think but I knew about Crazy Bread from my undergraduate days at Michigan. Crazy Bread kept me fed those couple of days and I'll forever have a soft spot in my heart for that franchise because of those two days.

Ultimately I made it back to Syracuse which was literally snowed completely over, finished my design project, took my C- in that class (I believe I failed but had someone watching out for me) and graduated. And I haven't had Little Caesars since.

Until last weekend. And yes, I know there are Little Caesars spots in northern Virginia. It's just not the same if it's not in Michigan. So how could I go see by beloved Washington Wizards play the Detroit Pistons last Friday night in Little Caesars Arena and not have some Little Caesars food? The answer: I couldn't.

Call this post a belated thank you for saving my life.
Thanks for keeping me alive in 1993 (and 2018).

No comments:

Post a Comment