6 AM: Leave for a 7:00 check-in for an 8:00 flight from St. Petersburg, Florida, back to Iowa. Mom drives, James chats, Ali (my sister) smells something bad.
6:08: Roll off an exit ramp, into a bad part of town, and discover that the back tire is shredded.
6:09-6:15: Pull out the Christmas luggage, curse at the recalcitrant jack, get Ali to wave away traffic that might hit the car.
6:16: Call the aged grandfather. Send for Goofy Grape, his stalwart Chevy, as a rescue-running airport taxi. Lament that the airport is so far away; lament that Iowa is so far away; lament that you’re sweating in knee socks, at the bloody crack of dawn, while you bounce with two feet and all your might on a tire iron that works, like Rizzo, at her lug nut.
6:21: Work with James and Ali to change the rest of the tire. Realize that the three of you are just one geek and one bantha short of the Big Bang Theory.
6:25: Wave to Goofy Grape! Fight the urge to throw your arms around it as it screeches to the curb
7:25: Arrive at the airport. Send Ali to plead your case at the check-in desk, because although she isn’t going to Iowa, she 1) can look like a waify teen when she wants to, and 2) has the most grease-covered hands.
7:28: Realize that the man at the check-in desk sent you to the wrong security line at the wrong end of the airport.
7:30: Plead with the other passengers to let you into the front of the correct security line. Realize that when you tell them you’re going to Cedar Rapids, you fail to impress. Languish until a couple of Japanese tourists chastises the line into letting you pass.
7:40: Scoop everything you own out of the security tub. Sprint with it in your arms, while you try to keep your balance in stocking feet, on Florida tile.
7:45: Stop when the gate agent bellows. She’s shorter than you. She’s got blood in her eye. She tells you to put on your shoes. She tells you to show her your boarding pass. You have one shoe. You do not have your boarding pass. She calls you honey. She hasn’t noticed you lack your boarding pass. She says, “Honey, where’s your other shoe?” You say, in a voice you’ve never heard, “Do not patronize me.”
7:46: Midwestern Mama #1 hands you your shoe. She says you dropped it over by the snacks. Midwestern Mama #2 hands you your boarding pass. She calls you honey too, but you let her.
7:48: Take your seat, and watch your husband find his behind you. The rain, long waiting, begins to fall.
(Originally posted December 30, 2014)