Tag Archives: airports

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 6

We did not stay awake for Sister. No, my own sister, my wife, and I all went to sleep around 1 AM after the following text exchange with Sister.

–Would love to stay up and watch Dallas but we’re all beat. Use the code “XXX-XXX” to turn off the alarm when you come in.
–I know your alarm code.

Sunday February 14, 2021

I rose extra early this morning. Part of me just wanted to be prepared for the snow and to assess whether or not I would actually be able to drive my sister to the airport or would have to call her an Uber. The other part of me, for there are only two parts and neither is very impressive, wanted to arrange the few Valentine’s surprises I had purchased for the family on our kitchen counter. I’ve been trying to be more attentive to little details. By this I mean I’ve been trying to shop for gifts and generally be better in the thoughtfulness department lately. Let’s face it. If anything ever happens to my wife, I’m screwed. Better get on board now with trying to copy her moves so it doesn’t resemble a complete disaster. So there was a large box of chocolates for her and smaller boxes for the kids, one for my niece who lives with us, one for my sister, one for Sister, and some Valentine’s cards I had picked up.

I had just finished placing the last of the heart-shaped cardboard containers on the counter when my sister emerged from her bedroom. “What’s the situation?” she asked. I explained that I had been listening to the weather reports and had been outside already. It was definitely going to be bad. Already the temperature was in the teens and there was a strange feeling in the air that one knows by heart if one grew up in a northern latitude. Snow was at the doorstep. I scheduled an Uber and told my sister of my regret that I couldn’t drive her personally to the airport. She understood but still it didn’t feel right. I always make it a point, ever since I could drive, to personally pick up and drop off my guests at the airport. For starters, we’ve always lived relatively close to a major airport. I joke that I like to be able to make a quick exit if the need arises. Even as a kid, though, I was always fascinated with airports. It’s the five year-old boy in me. Not to mention, this is my sister. She deserved to be seen off with a personal touch.

Just as I informed her that I had scheduled the Uber – two hours out – the familiar sound of giant, clanking, wooden beads came down the hall. “Why Sister,” I exclaimed. “Nice to see you among the land of the living.” “Coffee,” came her reply. “How was the conference?” I asked. “Stand out of my way please,” were the six words I was not expecting; yet they were said in an almost helpless way. “Long night?” I asked, forgetting for a moment that I had awoken at 2:15 AM to the sounds of a sub-woofer dropping the beat to “The Sign” by Ace of Base in my driveway. Life really is demanding without understanding. “Listen,” she said, “I just need a hit of the wakey juice and I’ll be good.” Then, turning toward my sister, “Oh hey! Glad you’re still here! We have so much to catch up on.” I explained to Sister that the other sister would be taking leave of us soon. Sister agreed that they must arrange a get-together in the near-future. “It will be so much fun,” she said as she slipped back into the sign language that had been absent from my life for the weekend. And to be honest, I’m not sure how both hands raised as if holding steins is the proper sign for any of that. “I just love the way you tell a story and I’m dying to hear more about the hoes.” In case anyone has forgotten, that’s a reference to the Irish dance moms from the previous installment. “Definitely have to meet up again and,” turning to me, “also I’ve arranged a priest to come and say mass in your house if that’s OK. He’ll be here in a couple of hours. Figured it was the least I could do since I think all the local masses are canceled due to the storm rolling in.”

Well that was a surprise indeed! I wondered who this collared man of mystery would be. Someone I know? A priest from a religious order? Maybe a Carthusian! Maybe a bishop in disguise!! My morning had just gotten very interesting. I took a shower and got changed and then stood on the front porch. In those 30 minutes I was grooming, mostly trimming my beard, the flakes had materialized. And now there was a solid half-inch of packed snow on the road. The untreated road. The road that would not reveal its pavement for another week. Good bye, road. It was nice to see you. I stood there waiting for that Uber. In fact I had the app open and watched as the clock counted down for me.

Your Uber will arrive in five minutes.

It gave me similar messages for the next four minutes. And then… Nothing. The app went blank as though I had never scheduled a thing. Well that’s not good, I thought to myself. Let’s try just ordering one and see what happens. And… Nope. There’s the problem. There were absolutely zero Ubers on the road. It’s odd because so many of my fellow Texans own four wheel drive pick up trucks. Someone ought to be making a killing in this weather. But here we were. Looks like I would have to drive my sister after all. We checked one more time that her flight hadn’t been canceled, she said goodbye to my wife and kids, did some weird “up high, down low” high five with Sister, and we took off.

The airport terminals are fifteen minutes from my front door.

The drive took us an hour. It was bad out there. Slow going doesn’t begin to describe it. White knuckle driving is a bit more accurate. “I’m gonna’ need a Xanax” driving is probably best. I walked my sister into the terminal and discovered that she would be on the last flight out of this place today (and indeed for several days). We said our good bye’s and she slipped past security. As a parting gift, when we rebooked her flight, my wife put her in first class. As I walked away from the terminal I texted her.

If you don’t take that airline for all the free cocktails you can manage in a three hour flight, I will personally strangle you.

Another hour later and I was slowly skidding my way back into the driveway. Sister was on my front porch smoking a Camel. I know, right? She stamped it out as I approached. “I didn’t know you smoke,” I said with an impish grin. “I don’t,” said Sister as serious as a heart attack. “Fr. will be here soon. I hope you don’t mind but he only says the Traditional Latin Mass.” “Don’t mind at all, Sister. That’s what we go to,” I said. “Also there are some quirks,” replied Sister. As she said this she raised both hands in front of her face and flung out all ten fingers like they were glitter or confetti or something. As she did this, she literally said, albeit in a whisper, “Poof.”

Snow. In Texas.

I noticed my daughter had made biscuits and gravy and they were warming on the stove. I can’t turn down good Southern cooking so I fixed myself a plate. Sister slapped the fork out of my hand just as it was about to enter my mouth. “Fr. will be here SOON,” she said excitedly. In my hunger I had almost forgotten about the pre-Communion fast. Then again, “soon” doesn’t specify a time and since he was coming to my house to say mass I figured he might be able to delay the start of the mass until we were all good and ready. “Also, wouldn’t we need to have time to set up an altar, chairs, an entire chapel,” I wondered? Reading my thoughts, Sister said calmly, “Fr. does all that. Do not worry.” Nevertheless I felt it incumbent to get changed into my suit. It matters not whether it’s at home (which is very rare) or in a gothic cathedral. Sunday mass is a cause for dressing up for the Lord. I walked into my bedroom and toward my closet. Opening the closet door I just about had a heart attack. A slightly-built man in a long black cassock and a biretta to match was just emerging from the other side. I’ve learned not to ask anymore. About anything. Ever. And it’s also good I had already disarmed myself when I walked in the door from the airport.

“You must be Father?” I said half stating the obvious and half out of genuine curiosity. The answer, the words that came back at me… I have a beautiful voice. I’ve long been told I should do voiceover acting. I’ve done some radio spots. I love to read to people. I sang in a choir. This voice? If Barry White and Perry Como had somehow spliced their genes, they couldn’t have made a more perfect voice. Deep, relaxing to the point of inducing torpor, spellbinding. And that voice said simple, “Yes.” So the obvious next question was “Why the closet when we have a front door, Father?” To this my closet cleric said simply, “These are dangerous times. Sister gave me a coded map. I followed it. It led to that opening over there.” He said this as he pointed to the daylight pouring in from behind my linen suits (for Summer). I walked over to inspect. Sliding the suits over on the bar I could see clearly what was taking place. “Father,” I asked somewhat hesitating, “Did Sister create a medieval ‘priest hole’ on the back wall of my house?” I completely ignored the questions of how she got in there and cut through plaster and brick as quickly as she had. By the way, kudos to her. The small 3’X3′ square was cut with such precision as to be easily placed back without any notice. And this is what Father and I did promptly. You know, because it was snowing and it was also a load bearing wall.

On our way out of the bedroom (I never did get changed into my suit) Father and I talked briefly. “What are these ‘dangerous times’ of which you speak?” Father, who appeared in the light to be somewhere between 40 and 85 years-old, leaned in close. “Masks,” he whispered. “I don’t wear one and the people who seek me out don’t either.” “So let me get this straight, Father,” I asked. “You’ve made a cottage industry catering to Traditional Catholics who wish to remain maskless?” “Oh my son, it’s more than that.” He had better be closer to 85 if he’s calling me “my son”. Father paused briefly before adding, “But mostly that, yeah.”

And that seems like a good place to leave off for now. Come back for part 7 where the Hill of Calvary and Elizabethan England somehow merge in my dining room in Texas.

Of Flight Delays and Gin and Canadian Politics

Here I am again.

By here I mean a terminal at DFW Airport.

By “I” I mean me, the author of this blog. A husband, a dad.

By again I mean this seems to be a regular occurrence.

You see, it is because of the “husband” and “dad” part of that equation that I write this evening. This weekend is my wife’s 20th reunion from college. Man, we’re getting old. And although I began my college life at the same prestigious school I only lasted one semester before many other things called me elsewhere. My wife still envisions me as a member of her class. “Our reunion is coming up,” she’s said to me. “You remember so-and-so from our class,” she’s asked. In a way I’m touched to know that she was thinking of me at all those many years ago that one semester I was in the same location. And the truth is that I do remember those people – if not from the depths of my brain then at least from the stories she’s regaled me with. But I am nothing if not a man who tries to be a dutiful husband and so I am heading to that reunion.

But I’m also torn. I’m sad because I have to leave the kids for the weekend. We’ve been having so much fun lately – more than usual. My son is rapidly becoming a man before my eyes. My daughter and I get to spend so many precious moments together during the day. That happens when you’re the vice principal of her school. And I love it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world EVER. But I hate leaving them. I’m jealous. I worry that something will happen even though I know it won’t. They’re with Granny and they’re fine. But I still miss them.

And guess what? I also miss my wife. That goes without saying. You see, she’s already on the East Coast for business so I’m the one who’s joining her. And by joining I mean I’m flying on a flight that is already delayed, has changed gates to a different terminal, won’t land until 2AM (and an hour away from my destination at that)… Do you see my dilemma?

I love the three of them and I’m torn. I want to see my wife even though I’m sure she’ll be quite busy this weekend as one of the organizers of that reunion. I want to be with my children even though they’re totally fine and I spend more time with them than most dads I’ve ever known are blessed to spend with their kids. What on earth to do?!

This is how we fly.

Fortunately I’ve found a happy medium. I’m sitting in an airport bar. This one – the Fridays Express across from my gate – is practically empty tonight. OK, that’s depressing. But, my waiter is super chill. They have gin. And I have a hotspot so I’m reading articles about the Canadian PM election.

My advice to all the widower and single dads out there? Pick a drink and follow Justin Trudeau. Boy is he fascinating… You may just learn about world events.

Or you may just find the thing to distract you from whatever tears you apart.

Oh well… At least the weather where I’m going is supposed to be nice. And it’s only for two days. That ought to be long enough for the kids to miss me sufficiently.

And here’s where I end with a big LOL. I love my life and I know I’ll be fine despite my crazy neuroses and fears.

My In-Flight Style

This Saturday I shall take to the friendly skies as I head home to visit my mom. She’s had a health scare recently. Although she appears to be fine I still like to “pop in to town” to let her know I love her.

This got me thinking of an old article I wrote about flying. There are many old articles I have written about flying, in fact. This one, however, made me laugh out loud while reading it to my son tonight. And so I present to you, my lovely audience, the re-printing of My In-Flight Style (originally published October 9, 2011):

When Flying Was Glamorous

Just came across an article on Foxnews.com detailing the level of formality (or lack thereof) people choose to display when flying, particularly evident in their attire.

I can remember my dad, who was born in the 1930’s, always recalling how “in the old days” people didn’t dare attempt to board an airplane unless they were appropriately dressed. It was as much a social thing as it was a matter of pride. Apparently this meant men wore suits and ties, ladies wore a nice dress. To him, people getting on planes in jeans, shorts, tee shirts, generally unkempt was an abomination. I’ve been watching that new show Pan Am* and I can see what he meant. It must have been an incredible time to fly!

These two travelers embody the light, carefree attitude of the modern and sophisticated aeroplane flyer.

According to the article there are six basic in-flight styles ranging from the “ethnic adventurer” (whatever that is) to the “beleaguered parent” (which I have been on a few occasions). For instance, the “suited frequent-flyer” is, as the name implies, one who flies a lot, typically for business. He or she is recognized by the ability to pack everything with precision into a perfectly regulation sized carry-on bag, and zip through security like it’s no one’s affair. This person has been around the TSA screening line before and his or her sole purpose at the airport is utilitarian. Get in. Get on board. Get to the destination.

After much thought I have decided to review my own recent airport episodes and have concocted two profiles.  The first is the type of flier I imagine myself being and the second is who I actually am.

The Flying Man I Want to Be

In a perfect world, I am driven to the airport in a black Lincoln Towncar.  Although I banter freely with the driver I am not personally interested in his life — except in so far as it is fodder for my blog.  Oh, I forgot to mention, there is soft smooth jazz being piped into the back seat of my ride.  I am neatly pressed in my appearance, calm in my demeanor, and ever so excited about my destination.  I am delivered curbside where a skycap opens the door, collects my bag, which is black and showcases an elegantly stitched “HARVEY” near the top.  Another skycap hands me a chilled Sapphire and tonic and leads me to the lounge.  I, of course, given my importance, bypass security altogether.  Once in the lounge I mingle effortlessly with the elite of the world and we trade quips about the weather and the latest offerings from Brooks Brothers.  A stewardess dressed in stylish garb approaches.  “Mr. Harvey, we’re ready for you.  But first, the captain wishes for you to review his flight plan for your satisfaction.”  “Gladly, my dear”, I respond, my voice now bearing a strange British accent.  As we walk through the jetbridge I pass framed 8×10 sepia-toned prints of myself holding plastic models of various aircrafts, not smiling, simply presenting.  After checking in with the flight crew I am seated.  Another stewardess switches out my drink while still another approaches with a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and still a third offers to light my cigarette.  My sportcoat has been placed on a hanger and my shoes stowed overhead.  I am now in a red velvet robe and slippers.  The flight is magnificent — no turbulence — and we land safely, three hours ahead of schedule and, miraculously, my hair is still in perfect form.

See the elegance and grace with which they board the aircraft!

The Flying Schmoe I Really Am

Meanwhile in the realm of reality, I am dropped at the curb by my wife in our white Chrysler Town & Country.  The musical selection is Veggie Tales’ The Princess and the Pop Star.  I try to offer my kids a heartfelt kiss good bye.  “Daddy’s going on a trip now.  I love you!”  “Hurry up, I’ve got to get back in time for Pan Am“, my beautiful spouse informs me as she tosses my bag out the door and speeds away.  At this point I realize I have left my phone in the car and my iPad has zero battery life because my one year-old daughter decided to watch Backyardigans 18 times this morning.  I enter the terminal where I attempt to swipe a credit card for my boarding pass only to realize that my card has my middle initial on it and my flight information does not.  In frustration I kick the machine.  I break three toes on my right foot.  Damn, that’s a long line I’m going to have to stand in.  Shouldn’t have done that.  Meanwhile, in my attempt to get my card back into my wallet I have actually sprung loose five other cards (two of which will remain missing in action for good).

With a smart cocktail in hand and a kiss from a pretty stewardess we’re ready to take off into the future of flight! Lucky Lindy, eat your heart out.

I spend the next half-hour on the line for security only to be touched in ways no one should be by a woman twice my size.  Past security, there is no lounge for me.  There is only the dull passenger waiting area where there are absolutely NO seats to be had.  I am last to board a plane that smells like popcorn and urine.  I do believe the lady sitting next to me is drunk.  Well, that’s a given, she just threw up.  And… OH!  She missed the vomit bag.  I’d hate to be the owner of that jacket she just soiled.  Oh wait, I AM the owner of the jacket.  “Miss, you can keep that jacket…”  The flight takes off with all the gracefulness of an elephant leaping from a waterfall.  It is turbulent for twelve hours until finally crash landing at the wrong airport.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, I know we were supposed to be flying into Newark but our pilots both fell asleep for a while. It happens.  You’ll be enjoying a nice weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire!”  And, oh yes, they lost my luggage.  Meanwhile, I still have not been handed a single drink by a stylish stewardess.

Is it any wonder the airline industry has been teetering on the edge of collapse for some time now?!  At least I have Pan Am!

*Pan Am was cancelled the day after this post was first published or thereabouts.