Florida: The Arrival

Two years ago we had an early flight and rushed around the night before getting everything ready. This year I decided to avoid that hassle and we booked a flight for about 11:30. We connected through Memphis and were on the ground in Orlando about 5:20 local time. Which was approximately nine minutes early. Sometimes you can attribute that to luck, a nice tail wind or a pilot who is trying to beat weather.

Our pilot let us know there was severe weather south of Orlando. He didn’t however let us know he planned to race it to the runway. We came in like we were trying to avoid detection by an automated missile defense system. You look out the window and think, “hey, all right, we’re descending, we’ll be on the ground shortly.”

Then you look out the window and notice rain is only one side of the plane and the wings are shearing off the tops of trees. We hit the tarmac and it felt like the plane was dancing from side to side hopping from one set of wheels to the other. Thankfully, the lady next me who was upset she didn’t get to sit next to her husband, narrated the entire episode. And she did it in an especially appealing nasally voice. The same voice she used to talk to her husband, who was seated in the row behind us, the entire duration of the flight. Excellent.

Not as excellent as Bailey on our first flight from Des Moines to Memphis however. Bails, as sometimes happens, goes to the bathroom in a series of trips instead of in one really serious visit. Oh, don’t be fooled, she hit the head in Des Moines before we went through security. Then again, twice, as we waited at our gate. Then again on the plane. Then she methodically, as if she was on some sort of timing belt, bombed our row with silent noxious fumes. Flight attendants were dropping like sacks of wet flour.

“Geez, Bails is that you tooting?”

“Yeeeees. Sorry. I have to go the bathroom.”

“You’ve went about 45 times since we left home.”

“Dad?”

“What?”

“I have to go again.”

As luck would have it, we’re on our descent so she can’t get up and use the plane’s restroom. We land, rumble along for a few minutes and then…

…we stop about 50 feet from our gate because the jet way is malfunctioning.

Great.

Turns out to be a short delay and we’re off the plane in search of a bathroom.

We locate one, send Rye in there with Bails and 20 minutes later Rye emerges first with a look that can only be described as astonishment fused with agony.

“Dad, holy cow, she was in there for like an hour.”

We have about an hour till our next flight and we’re all hungry. Especially Bails because, well, she’s got some extra room now.

We find 4 sandwiches, 4 bags of chips and 2 bottles of water. $42.50. Seriously.

So Mom has all the cash now as we get on the plane for Orlando. And aside from the trip long narration, it wasn’t a bad flight. Got to read a lot Jeff Shaara’s latest awesome book – The Final Victory. If you’re history dumb, and judging by recent test scores most of you are, read Jeff Shaara. You’ll accidentally learn.

Anyway, back to our landing in Orlando. We’re rolling to our gate when the pilot tells us that due to the severe weather he raced to the runway, we might be delayed getting off the plane.

Wait, what? We’re already on the freaking ground. We already landed. Planes can’t taxi through rain?

Regardless, none of us are happy. Least of which is Bails. Why? Bathroom. Lots of fiber in those airport sandwiches evidently.

Then the lights flicker and go out.

“Ladies and gentleman we’ve temporarily lost the air conditioning. As soon as it is operational, we will get it up and running. Thank you.”

Awesome. After a few minutes its hotter than the inside of Anthony Weiner’s pants.

We luck out and get the AC going, get to our gate, disembark, meet my sister, nephew and parents and head to the baggage claim. At which time we make camp and begin making smores.

Why?

“Due to severe weather in the area we are unable to unload the baggage from the flights listed on the monitors at baggage claim areas 30 and 31. When the weather allows us to proceed we will get your bags to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.”

I’m not the smartest guy on the planet, my acid wash Guess jeans in high school are proof of that, but why can’t you unload baggage from a plane in the rain? No way the airlines give a crap about our bags getting drenched. Most people aren’t traveling with metal satchels strapped to the backs. So what’s up? I assume lightning is to airports what kryptonite is to Superman. Or capitalism is to Obama. And I totally understand not taking off or landing in lightning. As our descent and previous landing experience already taught us. Man, our pilot musta been like, “Dudes, lightning…buckle up, we’re beating this bad boy to the strip.”

But why can’t you unload bags?

Anyway, we’re waiting in baggage claim and look over and a couple is sitting against the wall doing the same thing. Except they have two puppy’s with them. And one is in the process of making a deposit at Brown’s National Bank. Yeah, he looked like a small furry U-boat laying mines.

What. The. Hell?

Thankfully, after about an hour we had our bags and were on our way to my folks house. We’ll see how the rest of the trip goes…

5th Grade Adversity

Adversity reveals things. It teaches things. It also tests the patience and endurance of those employing adversity as the teacher of lessons. There is some adversity in our house right now. Granted, it is not the same kind of adversity felt by General Ewell who upon replacing Stonewall Jackson right before the Battle of Gettysburg, failed to take Culp’s Hill on the night of the first day. Or by Chuck Noll’s Steelers in the ’77 off-season when Mel Blount threatened to quit, Jack Lambert held out and Andy Russell retired. It is not even the adversity felt by the Dukes of Hazzard casting team in 1982 when they replaced Bo and Luke with Vance and Coy.

Its 5th grade adversity. And it is relentless.

Riley wants a phone. The only other person in her class without a phone finally got her’s this week. That makes her the island fortress of Corregidor of 5th graders and phones. She’s the last holdout. On the way to dance class…oh yeah, Mom decided to sign her up for some “technique” classes this summer. Super. Awesome. Result? Improved technique and another dance class to go to during a summer which was slated to be free of dance classes. Woo wee. I am super excited about this. Anyway, on the way to dance class she tells me, “Dad, even the girl who says all the bad words and mouths off to the teacher has a phone. Even the kid who lazes around and never turns in his homework has a phone.”

“Well, maybe they shouldn’t.”

“I behave. I do my homework. And I’m the one without a phone.”

“Well sometimes waiting for something is good. You don’t realize it at the time but if you have to wait for it, you’ll appreciate it more.”

Truth is that I kinda think a little adversity is a good thing. I mean we’re talking about a phone. We’re not forcing her to go to school to confront a roving band of bullies armed with nunchucks and bad attitudes. Its not like she’s driving in the demolition derby with Fonzie and Pinky Tuscadero desperately trying to avoid the dreaded Mallachi Crunch…

A little while of being the only kid without something will teach a little humility and further cement the fact that just because other kids have something doesn’t mean that you’ll get it too. There’s always going to be the kid with a new car. There’s always going to be the girl with the purse more expensive than a second home. There is always going to be kids who get the Atari 2600 before you…or maybe that was me…oh man, remember Missle Command? What the hell was Atari thinking making a game about intercontinental ballistic missle attacks in the middle of the Cold War?

Was the Atari 2600 the cell phone of 1980 back when I was finishing 5th grade? Was it a new bike? My Huffy Thunder Road probably wasn’t as cool as I thought it was.

Regardless, it’s not like we’re making her use cans and strings to talk to her friends. She has a freaking iTouch. It’s not like we’re a couple luddites who are fighting against technology. This is, after all, a blog. But I’m not on twitter. Because, well, I simply don’t give a crap what most people are thinking on an hourly basis. Unless its the negotiators in the NFL lockout. Although, if it only takes 140 characters for you to express yourself then you shouldn’t. But that’s just me…

But back to my point about waiting for things…

“Rye, when I was 16 I didn’t get my driver’s license right away.”

“Why not?”

“Because Grandma and Grandad were unfeeling tyrants who didn’t give a crap about my needs as a 16 year old boy.”

“What?”

“No, I’m kidding. We lived in New York and were moving to Illinois about a month after my 16th birthday and I guess they thought it would be better if I just went through driver’s ed in Illinois.”

Truth is I have absolutely no recollection of why but I had to wait a full 4 months after I turned 16 to get my license. Plus I’m a Dad and make up half this crap anyway.

Anyway, big night tonight. Kinz has three friends coming over for a sleepover. Then next week its the last day of school and softball playoffs!