26 November 2007
Big Bubba's Excellent Adventure-
Whoosh, he's here. Whoosh, he's gone.
I'll take whatever time he can offer with no complaints.
He wanted to be home for Thanksgiving.
He's homesick, partly for the oddest of reasons... the weather in Mesa makes him feel a little like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day". It's much the same, day after day. BB was actually hoping for chilly, gray, overcast days. A little snow or rain too please... that'd be gravy on those mashed potatoes!
Thanksgiving morning I got off the killer shift I wrote about earlier, and came home to grab a couple hours shuteye. BB boarded a USAir A319 in Phoenix... temperature 84 degrees F.
When he called as the airplane was taxiing to the terminal in Bigtown I had done the addition:
Collecting his bags- 30 minutes.
Walking to the train- another 10 minutes.
Riding the train to our meeting point-90 minutes.
Total- 2 hours, 10 minutes.
My drive to meet him at the station would take just over an hour, so I showered and got a couple cups of Arabica in me. After an hour, while Sara Jean began the finishing touches on our Turkey-Day feast, I headed out solo to pick him up. My timing was almost perfect... the train pulled into the station 10 minutes after my arrival. It was spitting fine grains of snow and was 34 degrees as BB loaded his bags into the car.
What pleasant changes we are seeing in this young son of ours. He has always been considerate of others, but the issues he must contend with now are more serious-
One of his best friends is having serious personal issues. It's gratifying to hear him talk about life and the important things he faces, and hear how he weighs both sides of an issue carefully. We know he'll still make mistakes along the way, but the mistakes he makes won't be because he hasn't given them considerable thought.
We open the door at home to that wondrous smell... and of course, Sara Jean's tearful welcome.
BB hasn't eaten, so he is ravenous. We are like Jewish parents... it's wonderful to see him pack it all in!
He's beginning to learn the hard lesson I learned when I first left home in 1966- you can't do it all. Over the weekend he is selective about who he visits.
I'm proud of his choices... an invalid neighbor that has loved him like family... an older cousin with Alzheimers who has always known how special he is.
Some peers are aware he is home. If they want to see him, they can drive the few minutes to visit with him here under our roof.
Sunday comes too soon.
Traffic to the airport will be heavy. Gettin' through security will take longer than normal. We leave 'way before necessary so an accident or flat tire along the way won't be a catastrophe. We stop along the way and get a Big Bubba favorite... White Castles... there's nothing like 'em in Phoenix!
We get to the airport two hours before his flight is scheduled to depart. Hugs and kisses are not so sad this time... he's coming home for Christmas, and he's bringing Desi with him! It'll be fascinating to see how long it takes Lucy to become comfortable with Desi again... the dynamics of their relationship have changed... this is HER house now!
I tell BB we'll stay near the airport until he's at the departure gate... just to make sure there are no glitches. We are 15 minutes away from the airport when Sara Jean's cell phone rings. He has made his way through security quicker than we expected, but when he arrives at the gate there is a BIG GLITCH... the agent informs him the flight is overbooked and he may not get a seat on the airplane. I know and understand why the carriers do this... But Thanksgiving weekend?!!
We stop off at a safe place and wait for more information.
An hour later... he has a boarding pass! They are loading the airplane.
Sara Jean and I resume our trip home.
Thirty minutes later her phone rings again... the airplane has a flat tire. They are trying to find a replacement tire. BB and the other passengers have been off-loaded and are stuck until the tire is fixed.
Long story short- they fix the tire and BB gets home 3 hours later than expected, but nevertheless he is home safely. The knowledge that many of the folks on that airplane missed their connecting flights on Thanksgiving weekend makes me sad... for them, and for the USAir support people that have to deal with the (rightfully) irate passengers. What a mess.
But once again I'm amazed at the facts of all this:
BB paid less than $350 for his round-trip tickets.
It's 3400 miles from our home to Phoenix and back. Driving round-trip in a car getting 25 miles per gallon would have cost approximately $340, and that's not counting the overnight stay, both going, and coming.
It seems to me that flying, in spite of its surprises and hassles, is still quite a bargain!