“Let go; Let God!” I breathed in and out as mantra. The phrase infused a lightness of being, a slowed pulse.
“Let go; Let God,” I repeated as the garage door closed. Larry had retrieved his wallet from the closet shelf, where he’d belatedly remembered he’d left it while changing pants and then heading for the airport. I grabbed bottled water – and we were off! Let’ s go!
Just thirty minutes earlier we’d discovered that Larry didn’t have his wallet, while checking in at the Jet Blue Airline counter, Long Beach Airport. While we didn’t need the money – we have mutual Master Card – he needed the driver’s license ID. None of us praise Osama Bin Laden for this ‘gift’.
Three hours earlier, we’d set out from our home, bags packed for a week’s visit to Washington, D.C. Our intent was to find a sweet restaurant for relaxing conversation, perhaps a remnant of the dominant aerospace days that built Long Beach to greatness, to begin our getaway. It had been a busy couple of weeks. We were looking forward to respite and reward out of the OC.
But an anxious ticking clock tone set in just three miles from our house, when the freeway crawl encumbered our vehicle, even on a Saturday night, some rush hour event clogging our path out-of-town, time snares of which LA area freeways are replete.
As we endured the plugged artery out of Orange County and into Long Beach, our mouths began to anticipate the last supper feast we’d have before getting on the plane. Our plane had a 9:30 p.m. departure, and we looked forward to five hours of non-stop sleep with satisfied bellies.
Not to be: we cruised up and down the boulevard, looking to-fro-forward-and-aft, but nada. Nothing that looked mildly casual, elegant, or intriguing. We ended up at a Jersey Mike’s sub sandwich shop.
The saga might not have carried such a panting breath aura, if I had not had a stash of cash, an amount that was ten times what I usually had in my wallet. So, to expedite life, I paid the tab while Larry went to the restroom…and he didn’t need to reach for the wallet that he didn’t have.
That discovery came about 20 minutes later at the airline counter – after a lengthy search for a slot in the parking garage and a two block hike with our heavy wheeled bags. Yes, the panting breath had already begun.
You’ve never seen my naturally tanned, Italian man so pale, ashen to his soul. “Let’s go!” I quickly said and wheeled my bag around.
“Go!” said the two agents. “Go! You have a little over an hour.” We raced to the car, got in, strapped belts, and punched the ignition as if to launch a Space Shuttle. With a wave to the surprised parking attendant we exited and turned the car toward the freeway.
And promptly selected the incorrect exit ramp, heading our vehicle the wrong way, toward LA and not Irvine, our hometown.
Several miles up the road, traffic still intense but moving at a more rapid pace, we exited…and promptly discovered that the retro-fit of freeway onramps had not placed any in our path – for many, many blocks.
My husband is a visual thinker and had experience with these streets from his work days. Thank the Lord. Thanks also that he could think dispassionately to problem-solve our situation.
We entered the 405 going south. Whee! Traffic was lighter, speeding smoothly. We were humming right along, deep breathing to set frazzled nerves at ease. Larry could envision his wallet on the shelf in the closet; his laser beam focus was on it and –
This must have enabled all of the Irvine traffic lights, infamously red for his vehicle, to be green, easing our fast transit home.
Up went the garage door, in ran my husband, out he came with his wallet – and we were off again!
The return to the airport took half the time of our initial foray. And, as we entered the airport drive, we recalled the over-parked garage and all of the time that parking would take. Larry, the multi-million mile man, assembled a plan quickly. He’d drop me at the curb, with the heaviest bag, because I’d only be allowed to check one. More rules of flying post-9/11.
“Hurry!” the agent said, furiously waving me into the terminal, which fortunately is a smaller, contained space than other local airports. Of course, I promptly snagged the unwieldy bag on the lane barrier. Struggle, struggle, twist, turn – I rushed up to the counter, winded beyond words.
The male agent said, “They just closed the baggage gates”, and unsheathed his walkie-talkie, communicating directly with the baggage handlers, “Wait!”
I handed over our boarding passes, pre-printed at home by my frequent flyer husband. “Thank goodness for that,” the female agent said and furiously began tapping on the computer keys. She kept her head down, into the task, shunning the argumentative supervisor yelling into her left ear. The supervisor who turned to me, saying “Where’s your husband?”
“He’s parking the car,” I said. “He’ll be here any minute. The parking garage has very little space.”
Then the supervisor went Code Red, “He didn’t valet park?!” she barked.
“Not at $50.00/day,” I replied guilelessly. “We’ll be gone a week.” I am my frugal parents’ best daughter.
I turned my back on that lady, just as the female agent ignored the angry woman’s judgment that we were too late. When my bag was checked, I ran to the open door. Within seconds I saw my husband, running like a USC tailback with my wheeled bag of that school’s colors. “He’s coming,” I yelled. “Wait!”
The female agent handed me our boarding passes and waved me in the proper direction, Larry falling in beside me as we headed back to the gate.
Oh, that’s right. Security: another terrorist-inspired intrusion. It was, of course, the night that I had double-tied my recalcitrant sneaker laces. When I removed them to flop them beside my purse on the screener’s conveyor belt, I did not put them on my feet again at the other end of X-ray. I ran after Larry, the fleet-feeted athlete.
We raced to the last gate….yes, there were eleven departure gates and our plane was at the one all-the-way-down-there. We had a cadre of airport workers standing along the route, cheering us on, as if we were marathoners on the last leg.
We rushed up the ramp into the airplane – thank goodness no stairs, for my little wheeled bag was trundling after. We leaned our chests into the open door, as if to break the finish line tape. The flight attendants were smiling and waved us toward our seats mid-plane. We stowed my bag and my purse, buckled our seat belts, hearing the plane’s door seal abruptly – whoomph! And the plane took off.
Prayer works! And, the mantra of “Let go; Let God!” We were on our way to Washington, just as He’d planned. God’s dramas are not merely relegated to the Old Testament. Thank God, they are not often our real life.
“You ran!?!” my physical therapist said when I replied to her call to check in with me after my exit from several months of therapy for a torn medial meniscus, sans surgical repair.
Yes I did. Guess I got an A+ on the unexpected final exam.
Ok, heart pounding & breathing hard, I made it to the home … I mean, plane … stretch with you & Lar! What a send-off to your relaxing DC adventure! As many miles as I logged during my work-travel days, I’ve never had THAT kind of experience, thank heavens. Hmmm – of course, there WAS the time I had a 45 min lay-over, dashed off the plane to the gift shop to get the requisite spoon for Lisa, pennant for Sam, and had to run back to the gate … only to realize that I’d exited the shop through a different door than I entered, and was in the wrong “wing” of the terminal. Yeah, there was that time. Ha, of course you run, PJ! Getting the job done, that’s what we do, that’s who we are!
Hi Diana – you get that the IRONY was amped by the fact that Larry was a mega-million-mile air traveler in his career, too. Never, never would I have imagined a scenario when he’d have forgotten his wallet…
Just as never, never would a team of airline check-in desk agents help stall a plane against all the rules! And, our bags made it to Washington, just like we did! Whew!