SF native makes best of situation
Posted: Friday, April 23, 2010 9:02 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
A round of golf in England proved to be a pleasant distraction for Jeff Shepherd.
A South Fulton native who lives in Collierville near Memphis, Shepherd is finally back home in the U.S. after being stranded in the United Kingdom when flights in and out of Europe were disrupted by ash cloud from a volcano eruption in Iceland.
He is the son of Charles and Allyne Shepherd of South Fulton.
Shepherd traveled to the United Kingdom for an annual management meeting with his company. He and several colleagues — including three from Memphis, two from Oregon and one from Connecticut — arrived there April 12 and were scheduled to depart Saturday.
“There were approxi-mately 40 of us at the meeting from various countries — the U.S., U.K., Germany, Sweden, France and India, primarily,” he said. “Folks from Europe were able to get back home, although it was literally like the movie ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ (in which travelers are stranded), except the planes were replaced by ferries. Many of them made it home after 36 to 48 hours of ferry rides, trains and auto. The rest of us that had to fly to get home were stranded in the U.K. for six days before the U.K. authorities opened up the air space.”
Shepherd said being stranded in the United Kingdom for six days wasn’t too bad for him and his colleagues since their company took very good care of them, arranging hotels and working relentlessly with travel agents in an effort to get them back home.
“The worst part was not knowing when we could return,” he said. “I had three flights canceled during the six-day period. It was worse for many others — families caught up in the mess while on vacation and students hiking abroad caught in airports with little to no money, for example.”
Since Shepherd’s whole team was stranded together, they seized the opportunity to work on their assignments from the meeting.
“It helped us to get a bit of a jump start before getting back to the office,” he said. “The Internet and cell phone coverage really helped us to work ‘virtually’ while in the U.K.”
On a lighter note, Shepherd had the opportunity to play golf for the first time in England as a result of being stranded last weekend.
“It was certainly a unique opportunity,” he said. “When I talked to my wife, Bridget, the night prior to my original departure date to let her know that we were delayed, she suggested that I make the best of the situation. So we found a course that had rental sets of golf clubs and we hit the course. Everyone walks on the golf course over there. It was the first 18 holes of golf that I have walked in years and I really enjoyed it.
“It helped to take my mind off the disruption to my travel plans,” he added.
Shepherd was finally able to get a flight out of the United Kingdom on Thursday and communicated with The Messenger via e-mail while in the airport in Newark, N.J.
“I never thought I’d be happy to be in Newark, N.J.,” he said jokingly.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 4.23.10