I’m beginning to think I should hang a sign from my rear view mirror similar to the safety record signs in factories, only mine would say “Number of Days Without Getting Lost is ___.” It had been ten days since the Tarot card vs Tax Firm debacle and I was feeling pretty good about the fact that five of those ten days included finding my way around an unfamiliar city without my GPS.
I made it all the way to the last day of my trip until the imaginary counter had to be reset to zero. I’m not sure how it happened, but in spite of the written directions I picked up at the front desk at the hotel, the map on my iPad, and the detailed verbal instructions from the valet parking guy I still ended up going in the opposite direction of the airport.
Maybe it was because the directions were delivered with a southern drawl so thick I wasn’t sure if he was speaking English, or I lost my concentration when I tried to guess which car would go where as the valet guys shuffled cars around like they were playing Chinese Checkers. It could be that directions that begin with “go south on…” rather than “turn right at Starbucks” make no sense to me, but whatever the cause, I found myself once again trying to figure out how to turn around when possible.
One thing I’ve learned is that if I stay calm and remember to breathe I can usually figure things out. And in some cases I can even save twenty cents a gallon by topping off the tank of the rental car while lost rather than waiting until I was closer to the airport. Needless to say, I was happy when I saw the exit marked Airport Boulevard.
I followed the signs to the rental car drop off which seemed very clear up until I had to choose between All Day Parking and Short Term Parking. I’m not sure if the guy who drove up beside me and shouted “Rental return?” while he pointed toward the All Day Parking option was frustrated or amused by my obvious confusion but I was glad he shouted directions instead of just honking his horn like the previous car that passed by me.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the number forty-seven flash on the luggage scale. I’d managed to transfer five pounds from my suitcase to my carry on and although I try to be an optimist, I was fairly certain I wasn’t going to have the ninety dollar overweight fee waived two flights in a row. As the gate agent reached for my boarding pass the lights in the airport flickered, the fans whined, and the airport was suddenly silent and unlit.
She handed me my ticket without looking up, “Y’all got lucky, everyone behind you has to wait for the whole system to reboot.”
Twenty minutes later they opened one security lane, powered by a back-up generator. I passed through the metal detector without so much as a beep only to learn that I’d been randomly selected to receive a special screening. I seem to be “randomly selected” for security screenings almost as often as I get lost.
I felt more than a little exposed standing in the rectangular glass cube between the security lanes and was relieved when it turned out that unlike my last trip only my bags and not my body had been selected for inspection. I settled down some when I saw there were no changes to the schedule and I was breathing normally by the time I dropped off my duffle bag at the end of the jet way.
All seatbelts had been fastened and the flight attendants had readied the cabin. Just as the pilot announced, “At this time all passengers must be seated,” the woman in front of me stood and her husband climbed into the aisle with a toothbrush in hand and headed toward the lavatory.
I’m not sure what was more comical, the fact that he brushed his teeth on the plane without regard to the pilot’s announcement or watching him maneuver his six foot plus body into the window seat while his wife remained seated. I’ll give him this, he did manage to take care of his dental hygiene and still snap his seatbelt buckle in time for the final pass through the cabin.