Friday, February 11, 2011

Hey, Hold That Plane!

September, 2010

So Tyler (our red-headed stepchild) and I have been batching it the last couple of weeks. My good wife Michele has been living the life of luxury and no responsibility whilst in Utah with our daughters and grand babies.

It is time she got back to the real world. You know, the world where the husband doesn't have to do the laundry and fix the meals while simultaneously fighting to keep the wolves away from the door.
Two weeks is a dang long time without a maid!

I own a little community well. While my wife was in Utah, I’d been looking around for and finally found a 120 gal water tank. I got it from my brother Brad who is generally a cheapskate but I must have caught him on a good day. He offered it to me at no charge. I understood why when I picked it up that morning.

After cleaning the mice nests, rocks, hard water deposits and rust out, I soaked it in bleach to disinfect the various contaminants that had been shacking up for years in the galvanized round steel mouse house. A company on my well system had just put in a big lawn with a sprinkling system that really taxes the well. I felt an auxiliary tank would keep the pump from cycling on and off so much.

I spent most of the morning getting it squeezed through the well house doorway, plumbed in and up to pressure. I have learned through a long and sometimes violent history of trial and error that the Basin City natives do not like their potable water AWOL. Several times Michele called me and asked when my flight was. I was under a little pressure from the downed well and being fairly certain I could hear war drums in the distance, I told her I'd call her back when I got home and could check my ticket. I was quite positive it was far off in the late afternoon.

Toward the end of the job, Michele called me once more and asked if we had mowed the lawn. Her tone was more like "That lawn better be freshly mowed when I roll back in the driveway or you may be sleeping on it for the next week."

Of course, we had mowed it twice since the Vacationer had been gone but it needed it again. When I finally got home just before the noon hour, in order to maintain marital bliss, I went out and pushed the man killer/grass clipping Toro around the patch again.

I finally finished, went in and stirred up some liquid refreshment. It was 1:00 and time for me to take it easy. I relaxed and turned on the TV. I had another hour and a half to kill before heading out. Plenty of time to lunch, shower, pack and head for the airport. I usually cut it too close when I have to catch a plane but today was different. I had oodles of time.

I bought a ticket to Utah last week so I could check up on Michele and be in church for the blessing of Emma Crockett, my 5th grand baby and actual niece of Davy Crockett. I really hadn't checked for a few days but was under the vague assumption my plane left around 4:00 pm. I figured I was doing fine on time.
It was right about then that I began receiving a prompting that maybe I should recheck the flight and much to my horror, I saw that the flight was leaving at 1:40 from Pasco. Forty minutes till the plane overcame gravity! I was a good 30 miles from the airport and the passenger-halting blockade of Homeland Security.

I freaked. Quickly weighing my options in nanoseconds, at first I figured my goose was cooked. I might as well forget the trip. I was in dirty, sweaty, lawn-stained work clothes, not packed and completely out of luck. People were without a doubt boarding the plane as I sat in my home in Basin City reading my ticket with sweat dripping down my lawn-smudged brow.

Most grown men would have thrown in the towel and called it a day. But, I’m not quite a grown man so I grabbed my dress that was in a plastic bag (actually a dress my sister Teresa gave me to take to Utah for her soon-to-be-married daughter Crystal). I frantically looked for my wallet and found it in less time than I normally do, yelled for 18-year old Tyler to lock the house up when he left to be babysat by our friends, the Hawkins. I then flew out the door. There was no time to pack. Brushing my teeth or even grabbing my toothbrush would eat up valuable time.

I jumped in the seen-better-days SHO, which has bad tires (the day before, I had noticed steel belts poking out of one of the black baldy’s) and gunned it toward Pasco, hoping there would be no blowouts for the afternoon. I hadn’t grabbed my glasses so everything was a blur. The 100+ mph made things even blurrier.
Being a religious man but still struggling a bit when it comes to obeying all the laws of the land, I began praying that the entire Franklin County Sheriff’s Office would be at Dunkin’ Donuts and nowhere near Glade Road for the next little bit. If a cop would have appeared, I wouldn’t have seen him until he turned his red and blue dreaded flashers on as he licked the doughnut jelly filling off his lips while reaching for a reckless driving ticket.

A couple of times I ended up behind people who had gotten their days mixed up and thought they were out on a Sunday drive when it was actually still Saturday. I tried to be a little more careful than I was when I drove to the hospital after I had cut my wrist with the paper cutter, but not much. However as soon as it looked safe, I would pass the lines of cars and continue to accelerate to the necessary speed required to traverse the thirty 55 mile-an-hour miles to the Pasco Airport in respectable time. Me and my Arrest Red SHO Taurus completed the journey in 15 minutes.

Up to this point, I had tried to be fairly careful and make good decisions. However, after arriving, I made a boneheaded decision. Brad had told me how he parks in the Fed Ex parking lot so he doesn’t have to pay a king’s ransom for parking at the terminal. For some reason, I thought I could run to the airport (which was probably ¾ of a mile away) from Fed Ex as fast as I could from the terminal parking lot.

The day was hot. I had already worked up a good sweat installing the water tank, mowing the lawn and playing race car driver. Now I shifted into my marathon running mode, jumped out of the car and began sprinting toward the far-away airport. I realized this cost-saving measure was ill advised after the first few steps. I should have gone back to my car and drove up to the parking lot like a normal late-for-his-plane passenger would have done.

However, I didn't. The 100 yard dash speed in 10.5 seconds I achieved decades ago at BYU was surprisingly non-existent. The extra 60 lbs I was packing under my sweaty work shirt plus the plastic sack containing Crystal’s dress was slightly impeding the travel time.

Did I mention the day was hot? Off in the distance, through the chain link fence and across the heat waves emanating from the concrete tarmac, I could see a jet with its engines churning, anxious to get going. The portable stairs were still there and the cabin door open but I would not have been surprised to see it close at any moment. I was starting to melt with exhaustion and had not even covered half the distance to the terminal.
I was sprinting full bore. Actually, at this point in my weight and life, what I would call sprinting is what others would call a limping, pathetic, hobbling crawl whilst in an upright position. Admittedly, I wasn’t covering a lot of ground.

Right about then, as in other tumultuous times in my life, I began to feel a heat stroke/heart attack coming on. In the past, I’ve read where overweight, middle-aged guys often drop dead from heart attacks while they’re out shoveling snow.

I would have loved to have been shoveling snow. The heat was a major factor in my premonition of the impending heart attack.

My gait slowed to a crawl. My lungs were burning, my osteoarthritis in my right knee was flaring up big time and my visible world was spinning like the weather vane on the airport control tower. I thought I would probably go down with my face slapping the hot asphalt and the next time I would enjoy anything even remotely cool would be in the more comfortable confines of the local funeral home.

I finally slogged my way into the airport and made my way to the desk. The two female attendants looked at me with a bit of shock. There was not another person in line. It was completely deserted.
I knew I looked like a day laborer from Death Valley. I also knew they would bet their entire life savings I would not be riding in First Class that day.

I told them I was very late for the Salt Lake flight. They told me Horizon Airlines didn’t fly to Salt Lake, and maybe I should try the Delta counter down the way. I thanked them and sprinted for the Delta desk in my own familiar running style.

The counter was deserted. I looked around, saw a buzzer and began jamming with both thumbs on it with all the energy I had left in my totally dilapidated but more than adequate and sweaty body mass.
After a bit, a guy appeared and ran me through the ticketing process. He said I might make it but I might not. I sprinted toward the heart of Homeland Security.

The first thing they wanted me to do was take my shoes off. My heart sank, I had these work boots on that required a lot more work than most shoes do to take them off. I finally got them unlaced and pulled them free and lugged them into the basket along with my keys and phone. It was at that point I noticed that I didn’t have a belt that needed to come off. Maybe that’s why I had had to keep tugging my pants up during the entire exhausting marathon run to the terminal.

After that it was a breeze. I didn’t even bother to put my boots back on as I made my way to the Delta gate. The guy at the counter was surprised that a passenger would dare show up so tardy. For some reason, his computer wouldn’t take me at this late date.

Finally, he said something about how I wasn’t cleared but he thankfully wrote a seat number on my ticket and pointed me toward the plane.

I was aware as I began moving down the aisle that my seat was in the back of the plane. I knew that my disheveled appearance was something akin to an illegal alien who had just crossed the southern border heading north. I was also painfully aware that my body odor was similar to a Middle-Eastern camel rider who hadn’t showered for a month and had been regularly spit on by his long-legged ride. I did not enjoy the experience of making my spectacular and heavily-scented way to my seat.

I huddled down in the seat, keeping my arms tightly locked to my sides, doing my best to emit as little locker room fragrance as possible all the way to Salt Lake.

After landing, I waited until everyone else cleared the plane before I exited. Michele picked me up in the parking lot. I was surprised and even a little disappointed that she was not more excited to see me. We drove straight to Deseret Industries where I acquired an entire Sunday wardrobe for less than $20.

Emma got blessed the next day with her very well-dressed grandfather standing in the circle.

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Phil and Holly said...

You're gonna have to get camera you can always have handy for instances like this...
Surprised TSA didn't deem you a threat as you charged the airport.. you know they were watching the security footage and enjoying. Wouldn't that be a funny one to get a hold of and review...

Chelsea said...

Great story. You're gonna be famous. I can tell.

Still Grinnin' said...

So, glad you are posting these. I hope that I remember to show them to Russ so that he can enjoy the adventures like me. Great writing by the way.

Candace said...

This is so funny!

Lisa said...

I thought you looked pretty good for wearing DI clothes. You like to fly to Utah without glasses and clothes, don't you?

The McGary's said...

You are too funny! Only things like this would happen to you:)

Karen said...

Your boneheaded idea to save some money and park at Fed Ex is an inherited gene from your mother's side of the family. I know because my dad has it and I have it also. We lovingly call it the "moth syndrome" When you get around to opening your wallet....moth's fly out. You couldn't help but try and save alittle money. It is in the genes!