Our vacation plan ignored stupid o’clock in the morning for once in our lives. The late afternoon flight allowed me to work my half day summer hours, and not use any vacation time for the departure.
I had set everything up ahead of time so all I would need to do was file some papers that an intern printed in the appropriate binders, leaving me plenty of time to let my boss know I wouldn’t need to write a double monthly report for August because I’d have plenty of time to write July’s before leaving.
I arrived at my desk to find that the intern printed the wrong document, and the printer, sensing my urgency, was ready to jam if a stray dust particle from outside wafted by during its execution.
Then a surprise double length methodology meeting smacked me upside the head, followed by a request for a detailed list of one of my employee’s work priorities.
As I was attempting to run out, having overstayed my half day already, I was emailed a list of seven documents that I “needed” to review by some consultants. Our department had already been raided by other divisions, leaving no backups, and after sitting on my feedback for weeks, they naturally desired my input urgently. I threw the documents in my bag, and rushed out to meet my family at the Subway in the Walmart on the way home.
This accomplished both purchasing last minute items that exist no matter how far in advance we plan a trip, and also insuring no generation of final meal garbage.
My two new Godzilla shirts arrived in the mail that day, with perfect timing for vacation…
Or it would have been perfect if whatever they use for silk screening now didn't leave the clothing reeking of ammonia to levels rivaling a Nineteen-Eighties middle school blueprint plotter.
I kept on my Alien / Snow White combination shirt, accidentally commemorating the Disney acquisition of Fox. My fashion sense never clicks on actual fashion, only stuff like this. It’s why I accidentally wore an appropriate shirt on Talk Like a Pirate Day four years in a row.
My sister graciously drove us to the airport through the spotty and occasional rain (THANX KIM!) and we made it there with plenty of time before our flight. In fact we had no idea how much “plenty of time” we were in for.
We heard some thunder as we unloaded our luggage but it was fading. Now that I’ve gone back to normally existing in Chuck Taylor high tops, being able to leave my shoes on for security is always cause for celebration. Anabelle panicked momentarily when they wanted to screen her bag, but Rosa finished her check and got there in time to be reminded of the oversized bottle of hand lotion placed in the wrong luggage.
The fun was just beginning.
The thunder fading as we arrived had already done its damage. Multiple flights were delayed or cancelled leaving multiple seething hordes of humanity being shifted around the airport. A slight delay, and the need for people with a much less slight delay to get out of there, moved our gate across the concourse.
We battled our way through several surly planeloads of folks, passing through a curiously dim section of the airport that we later learned was without power.
We reached our gate, which had a plane waiting at it, along with a well-rested and eager crew ready to fly us to Denver.
We stared at this plane and eager crew for quite a while, as the departure time came closer and closer, with no visible movement, and then magically extended for multiple delays.
Luckily, the crew was awesome, and kept communicating with us. They all went back to the lounge but would return one at a time to check if the plane had moved yet. The issue being everything was ready except the jetway. It was out of power and a few feet short of the airplane door. I volunteered to swing across “Death Star” style, but they ignored me.
The crew kept assuring us that “we’re going.” The plane was ready and they all had over twelve hours of usable time. Because of that I didn’t join the large percentage of our fellow travelers convinced that the flight was going to be cancelled, and instead used the newfound time to review my work documents. With several other delayed flights to Denver finally taking off, Rosa got on the crazy long customer service line to try to get more information about options. The reason for the length had a little to do with the passengers not trusting the crew, but more to do with the first couple on the line who looked to be using the change in flight time as an excuse to restructure their entire travel plans, vacation, and personal life goals.
It took so long to find an available gate for our “ready” plane in the beleaguered and overcrowded environment that Newark Airport had become, the maintenance guy had enough time to fix the jetway.
He seemed genuinely touched, and far more than startled, at the thunderous applause that greeted his emergence from the no longer alarming doorway. Naturally, this occurred when Rosa reached the front of the line, changing her detailed question about options and possibilities to, “It’s fixed?”
Anabelle wrote a sweet thank you letter to the crew for their patience and for keeping us informed. Embarrassingly, this was the first time we’d forgotten the “thank you” chocolate bars for them in years.
We settled into our seats for what our family classifies a mid-range flight. That is, anything further than Disney but closer than Peru. I don’t measure flight times in hours, but by reading material. I finished four comics’ collections; Anabelle finished two and the novel Coraline. Rosa read and used the plane Wi-Fi on her IPad, which a technophobic reader like me has problems quantifying.
The storms that caused all the delays to begin with bounced our flying bus around en route, but we made it there intact if late.
The problem with “late” in airports is anyone who can answer the “where do we go now” questions have all gone home to their families.
Me missing the note on the rental car confirmation that said “take the shuttle bus” after “go out the fourth door” didn't help matters either.
We finally found our way to the National shuttle and learned the benefits of the “Emerald Aisle.” For the price of the dinky car we rented our first time in Denver, we could pick from anything in the row. It included mostly SUVs the size of the Tucson I drive at home. There were even some four door pickup trucks. If any of them had bed covers, we’d have grabbed one, if only to let me legitimately sing Brak’s “Highway Forty” song on that highway in a big ole pickup truuuuuuuuuck.
Picking a blue Tucson exactly like the new black one we’d bought a few months before made this the easiest “get used to the rental car” transition in my life. Based on its shiny blue hue, Anabelle referred to it as “Silvermist” after Tinkerbell’s friend. Based on the color matching that of the Prius Jeff Dunham described as Bluu-HOOOOOOO! In a sing song voice, I called it the “Fabulous Monkey.”
I already had Titi Luzma’s address in my smartphone, it plugged into the new car as seamlessly as home, and Siri guided us westward across the plateau.
Between the delays, time difference and general travel duration, we reached Titi’s house at four in the morning. Rosa and Anabelle passed out on a couch each and I used my Bronx Italian “unconscious anywhere” superpower to cocoon in a blanket on the living room floor for what was left of the night.
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