Trapped Sister!
December 18, 2009 6:58 PM   Subscribe

My sister is trapped in Lynchburg, VA due to the weather. She only has $30 cash to last her until her backup flight leaves on Sunday. What's the best way to get her money so she can eat?

Also, she doesn't have any real boots to deal with the 10 inches of snow they're supposed to get tonight and no transportation to get the 1 mile down the street to a Kohl's.

Any ideas for money/clothing/transportation?

Thanks in advance!
posted by yellowbkpk to Travel & Transportation around Lynchburg, VA (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't mention where she is staying -- hotel, airport, house, other?

Could you call a pizza place that takes credit cards and pay them to deliver her a pizza/pasta/sandwich?
posted by fings at 7:05 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: She's at a hotel.

Good idea for pizza delivery. Hopefully the weather doesn't scare them away.
posted by yellowbkpk at 7:06 PM on December 18, 2009

Can you call the hotel and give them your credit card number, thus allowing her to order room service (assuming the hotel has it)?
posted by decathecting at 7:09 PM on December 18, 2009

Does the hotel at least have free breakfast?

Doe that Kohl's have a shut-in delivery service?
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 7:10 PM on December 18, 2009

Wearing plastic bags in shoes? (I'd do it.)
Vending machines in the hotel?
I answered this because I live 30 miles away—the snow doesn't look invincible, if she did decide to make the trek.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 7:11 PM on December 18, 2009

where are you? what bank does she use?

if there are still branches of her bank open where you are- you can deposit money using her account number and it should give her access to it immediately. i've done this with bank of america and wamu in the past.

if she's at a hotel, you can call and pay for her bill, thus giving her back the money she paid for the room with.

if she's close to a walmart, they do money transfers - you go to your walmart, fill out some paperwork, get a reference number, give it to her and 10 minutes later she has cash.
posted by nadawi at 7:11 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: Hotel has a free breakfast. She'll be bagging as much as she can for later.

Vending machines have been pillaged, but provided some useful calories for now.

Wal-Mart is 2 miles away... doable with a taxi maybe.

Thanks for the ideas everyone.
posted by yellowbkpk at 7:15 PM on December 18, 2009

Has she talked to the front desk of the hotel? They could probably tell her what her transportation options are.
posted by craichead at 7:18 PM on December 18, 2009

Does she have credit or ATM cards? There are four taxi services in Lynchburg, per Google. Provided they're taking fares with the weather, she could have them take her to an ATM first, then Kohl's. (That's not exactly an uncommon request for taxis that are cash-only.)

However, due to the risk of possibly being stranded at Kohl's (if she has to call another cab for the return trip), I probably wouldn't go out for boots in the middle of the storm. My vote would just be to hunker down in the hotel, forage from the vending machines if nobody's willing to deliver food, and generally stay put where it's warm and dry.

Also, if the hotel is one of the places that offers free breakfast and she asks nicely, she might be able to at least get herself a bowl of cereal (or fruit, or something else that they have sitting in the pantry) for dinner that way.

I think if I was her, the first thing I'd probably do is go down and start chatting with the hotel staff, see if I could figure out what the closest delivery places are, which are most likely to be willing to deliver in a snowstorm, and then work from there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:28 PM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

She's probably going to have to improvise on foot coverings; I went out tonight (in Maryland) looking for boots a few places and the shelves were literally bare.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:28 PM on December 18, 2009

You should be able to order a taxi for her with your credit card -- that should get her to the Kohl's, or a bank where you can wire her some money.

Also - if you're having food delivered, Chinese might make healthier options available (she'll be craving vegetables and lower-fat/lower-carb protein if she's living on pizza, vending machine, and breakfast foods).

Definitely call the concierge at the hotel if they have one.
posted by amtho at 7:30 PM on December 18, 2009

I one time transferred money from my checking to a friend's account, but we were both using the same bank.
posted by katinka-katinka at 7:31 PM on December 18, 2009

I used to live in Lynchburg, they'll be clearing the roads in no time come morning. I'm trying to remember all the food places that deliver, but it's been 2 years so things have probably changed. I would have her find out who will deliver and take credit so that you can call the order in for her and pay on your card. Lynchburg is home to 3 colleges so you should be able to find a sympathetic food place. Tonight might be rough on delivery but tomorrow they'll be clearing roads so it will be easier. I'm trying to picture what hotel she's in but wherever she is if she's absolutely starving tonight she could approach the night manager at the desk when things are quiet and ask for a bagel or muffin or something they would put out for breakfast tomorrow.
posted by MultiFaceted at 7:32 PM on December 18, 2009

Does she have access to a computer and a debit card? You could Paypal her some money, couldn't you? (I think.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 7:42 PM on December 18, 2009

Sometimes in situations like this the airline will help out. I think it's worth asking, anyway.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:46 PM on December 18, 2009

The snow is coming down heavy and fast, and that will continue overnight. We could be getting two feet up in Charlottesville (we have 10 inches right now), and people are being advised to stay home and not on the roads, particularly in the morning up and down the US 29 corridor (which Lynchburg is on; the heaviest snow predictions are along the corridor. They may be getting 2+ feet, too). She will have some serious difficulty getting food delivery tonight and tomorrow morning. They could be getting another foot by tomorrow morning. It's going to snow through the day, tapering off over Sat. night

If the roads are cleared, she might be able to sweet talk the hotel into taking their shuttle down to Kohls for her, but that's not a certainty, especially if they don't have a shuttle. I would strongly encourage her to talk to the desk clerks and see what they can do for her. They're likely to have more heavy duty plastic for foot coverups at a minimum. You can definitely ask them what the local options are likely to be; they might even be willing to charge your credit card for a specific dollar amount they can deliver to her room.

Many many businesses will be closed for weather tomorrow, especially banks. Kohls may be open for Xmas traffic. There are several shoe store chains in Lynchburg (I got my awesome boots at a Rack Room Shoes, and I know they have one down there) if Kohls isn't open.

In summary, (too late) have her throw herself on the mercy of the desk clerks. It is her very best hope.
posted by julen at 7:47 PM on December 18, 2009

You could wire her some money. Here is the Western Union locator: it looks like there are plenty in and around Lynchburg. Going by where Google Maps thinks the Kohl's is (i.e., grains of salt may be necessary and I actually don't know the area at all personally), this is the closest. I think you can even send it online, and all she would have to do is get a cab there and pick up the cash. They appear to be open 24h.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:03 PM on December 18, 2009

She only has $30 cash

Not clear if that's all the money she's got in her bank account or if that's just cash she has on hand.

If it's the former, then do the following:

If she has her checkbook handy or remembers her bank account #, you can just make a deposit directly into her checking account by visiting a local branch. She can access those funds right away.

if it's the latter then I'm not sure what the big deal is. She can just call any delivery service in town or order room service with her debit/credit card. She could also call a cab (once the roads are clear) and go shopping at the nearest store.
posted by special-k at 8:11 PM on December 18, 2009

You can do Western Union online. I sent money to my daughter and it was ready for pickup in minutes. It's a bit pricey... cost me $20 to send $100... but it can't be beat for quick and convenient.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:17 PM on December 18, 2009

Here's an article on the lousy road conditions in Lynchburg and one from about an hour ago that is more optimistic about tomorrow. The National Weather Service has been upping their predictions all day. Here's what they say. In summary, they've only gotten 6+ inches at 10 pm, so they may only have 12-18 inches at noon tomorrow, and 16-21 by Sunday morning.

There are a lot of accidents and closed roads, and that will continue overnight. Snow plows can't get through to deal with the snow which is falling rapidly, which just increases accidents and closed roads. This is a bigger storm than Central Virginians are used to experiencing.

Also, I meant to strongly suggest that she call ahead if she decides to venture out to make sure the business is open and will be open for the next few hours; it would suck to venture out and be foiled..
posted by julen at 8:21 PM on December 18, 2009

fings: "Could you call a pizza place that takes credit cards and pay them to deliver her a pizza/pasta/sandwich?"

This might depend on the pizza place... I know the places I order delivery from around here want to see the credit card once they get to the house.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:28 PM on December 18, 2009

Um.. I'm sure it'll be OK. It's just snow and she's in a hotel. Surely you can buy enough food for 2 days with $30? And why would you need to buy boots if you are in a hotel now, and flying out of town on Sunday? That seems unnecessary. Stay in hotel, watch TV.
posted by citron at 9:41 PM on December 18, 2009 [7 favorites]

If you both have Wells Fargo, you can do customer-to-customer transfers for free via the online console.

You would need the account number of the account you want to transfer into, but from my experience the transfer is instant.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 9:43 PM on December 18, 2009

Does she have access to a computer and a debit card? You could Paypal her some money, couldn't you? (I think.)

Paypal can take days to move money from your paypal account to your bank account. Plus it sucks.
posted by delmoi at 12:53 AM on December 19, 2009

Paypal can take days to move money from your paypal account to your bank account. Plus it sucks.

Oh. Ok. See, that's why I said "I think," haha
posted by InsanePenguin at 4:19 AM on December 19, 2009

This area (NoVA) traditionally does really poorly with large areas of snow. I hear they usually get more around there, but now they're getting MORE more so I assume it will still suck.

Mostly everything has been said, but to reiterate: She should stay inside and save her money. Anything you can pay for her from afar is probably good (refunding her hotel charges is genius). Buying pizza for her from afar is good, the hotel desk will know what's open--remember to put the tip on your credit card! But really: save her cash. She may need it to get to the airport or the airport may be closed for longer than expected.
posted by anaelith at 4:53 AM on December 19, 2009

With all due respect, anealith, Lynchburg ain't NoVA.
posted by BeerFilter at 6:00 AM on December 19, 2009 [4 favorites]

Ms. Vegetable grew up in Lynchburg:

Do NOT let her leave the hotel unless she is going TO THE AIRPORT. Drivers in Lynchburg don't get enough snow to practice, so they aren't very good in it.

The hotel staff will have to go home at some point. I would call them up and bribe them and see if they can bring her peanut butter or something when they come back for their next shift. I also vote for paying her hotel bill and seeing if she can get cash back. But mostly drink lots of water - and when she gets to the airport, she might be able to use her credit card for food. (I honestly can't remember if that airport has restaurants or not... I haven't flown into there in a while.)

Boots: the plastic bags on the shoes are her best bet.

Good luck to her!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:45 AM on December 19, 2009 charges your credit card and does not ask for the card when the food is delivered (at least, in my experience in 4 different towns). BUT the delivery is reliant on the available staff at the restaurant and they may be just as stuck as your sister is..
posted by media_itoku at 6:48 AM on December 19, 2009

There's always the Red Cross or the Salvation Army or whatever other local group mobilizes in an emergency. The hotel people should be able to help her find such an organization. They are set up to help people like your sister, travelers who need a voucher for a meal at the diner until the roads are cleared, a motel room, etc.

Of course what would be really great is some nice mefite family nearby that will offer to take care of her until the airport reopens.
posted by mareli at 10:31 AM on December 19, 2009

Nthing the suggestion to call the concierge. These are special circumstances, and in my experience, people are often willing to get creative under natural disaster conditions in order to make sure people get helped. Just call them and say "My sister is stranded in your hotel with no transportation, food, cash, or boots. I have a working credit card. Can you help me get her fed and taken care of?"

Then, if/when they do, call the hotel back once the weather has cleared and tell the hotel manager how awesome the concierge was. And send flowers if you feel like it.
posted by KathrynT at 11:26 AM on December 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Not to snark but one can survive without food for far longer than this blizzard will last.
posted by dfriedman at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2009

Not to snark but one can survive without food for far longer than this blizzard will last.
Sure. But one would generally not want to do so. We're not talking about whether she's literally going to starve to death. But going without food for three days, or even without food other than M&Ms and Doritos, is unpleasant.
posted by craichead at 7:55 AM on December 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

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