So there I was, about to take off on what looked to be a typical trip to Florida for a typical convention. A week full of fun in the sun with 1,000 other Circle K’ers1! How wrong I turned out to be...
The Hitchhiker Embarks
Those of you that know me know that I don't do things the easy way. I usually insist on doing them in the second most difficult way possible (I'm not talented enough to do them in the first most difficult way). So this explains why I insisted on driving 230 miles *east* to a friend's house, so I could fly on a small airplane back 215 miles *west* to a major airport. I also, of course, insisted on leaving myself a very small time frame in which to accomplish all of this.
I left my house at 10am, and I had to be at Rob’s house at 1pm (with the flight leaving at 1:45). Doing the math, this results in a traveling speed of just under 80 miles per hour...fairly conservative for my usual rate. I arrived at the house without incident, just inside my time frame (it was 12:51pm). “A good start”, I thought to myself as I walked up to the door. I rang the doorbell, prepared to joke with Rob about how I actually arrived on time!
You can imagine my amazement when a rather short, sleepy looking old lady with a fluffy pink bathrobe opened the door...a lady who was clearly not Rob. My first impression of the situation was an altogether sick and unpleasant one, until an old man walked up to the door. I gave him a look, and he gave me an even better one back. It was one of those odd moments where you both know that one of you has made a mistake, and you both know which of you it is. I stammered something that sounded like "Is Rob around?"... he kept giving me that look, then replied, very definitively, "Rob who?".
After a quick incoherent apology, I stalked back to my car and jerked my cell phone from it's holder. I dialed Rob's number, and he answered. "Oh, you didn't know that I'd moved?!? Yeah, I moved across town last month!" After much cursing on my part, and a bit of meandering around town, I finally managed to get to Rob's house. It was 1:23pm. “A bad, bad start” I thought to myself as we raced for the airport.
As this was a commercial flight going into Orlando, Florida, the airport had wanted us there fairly early to make sure we got through the baggage and passenger checks. The flight was at 1:45...they wanted us there at 12:35...Rob and I arrived at the gate at 1:42. When no passengers were standing around the check-in desk, I just knew we had missed the flight. But the lady behind the desk cheerfully greeted us and said that we were just fine, everyone had simply gotten there early to board the plane and had been sitting on it for close to 20 minutes now2.
So she took our checked bags, and I went to follow Rob through the metal detector. I emptied my pockets of lose change and car keys, took my cell phone off, removed my watch, ring, necklace, and even the tie-tack had I on (just in case). I stepped through and...guess what...it went off.
As a big, burly (and quite hairy) gentleman walked towards me with a rather large and offensive looking stick, Rob said he was leaving without me. I began to say something back, but the big man was waving his stick frantically at me. He then asked if I would undo my belt buckle. I know this is standard procedure and all, but I was still quite unnerved by it. I did as he asked though, and of course...the stick lit up over my crotch.
What do you say to that?
I looked at him apologetically, and he asked me to check my pockets again--not moving the stick, which kept flashing and beeping obnoxiously. I pulled out some chapstick and a package of Dentyne Ice. The stick stopped flashing. The Dentyne Ice package had a foil wrapper. After he determined that I wasn't going to try and take down the plane with my chewing gum, he let me get my stuff and board the plane (which had been waiting on me). I looked at my watch, and it was 1:55. I was on my way--finally--to Florida.
As I board the jet and take my seat, laughing about what a good relationship I had apparently got going with the universe, I hear the captain on the speakers: Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for taking flight 2283 to Anchorage...