Friday, August 22, 2014

Sometimes it's better to pay...

Back in late June Kidzilla took his annual trip to California for the summer. He's been flying as an unaccompanied minor for a few years and is rapidly approaching the age where we would no longer have to pay for services. On this trip, Kidzilla got to experience (insert sarcasm here...) the best of both mom and dad's personalities and the benefits of paying the extra fees. 

I left work early so that A and I could both drive Kidzilla to the airport two hours away. A, being the tricky pilot he is, decided to track the inbound aircraft as well as the anticipated departure time for Kidzilla's flight. He informed us that the inbound was delayed, that we had plenty of time, and that we should detour in search of the A&W restaurant they wanted to hit on the way. Can you see where this is going already? We stop, eat, and then stop again to clean up the backseat after Babyzilla spilled the rest of his milkshake all over him and the backseat. We were about 15 minutes away from the airport when we got a text from Kidzilla's dad out in CA saying "hmmm, are you SURE that flight is delayed?" With flames suddenly shooting out of my eyes I request A to double check his information and, you guessed it, aircraft swapped and flight is on time. And we are going to miss it. We come screeching up to the curb and Kidzilla and I fly out with his bag to run in to the check in desk with A yelling at us from the car ( in the bossiest, most know it all voice ever) "well the plane is still at the gate." We go in with they sorriest looks we can muster and explain the situation. As soon as they confirm we missed the flight, Kidzilla bursts into Emmy winning hysterics and I rack my brain for plan B. With no other options to get him out to CA that night, I rebook him on to the 6am flight in the morning, figuring A and I will hash out the logistics in the car. Blessedly, the customer service agent does not charge us a change fee. A quick type, type, type and less than 10 minutes later we head out to the curb where A promptly Informs us (again in THAT tone of voice) that he doesn't see why we couldn't get on because "the plane still hasn't pushed." As if he isn't already at the top of my shit list...

We head over to the cell phone waiting lot to decide on our plan. Spend the night in a hotel even though we have no overnight gear with us or go home and have A drive Kidzilla back the next day?When I inform Kidzilla's dad of the plan he promptly informs me that they are supposed to fly to PDX the next day and this mix up better be resolved without screwing up those plans as well. As if he didn't miss Kidzilla's plane the summer before leaving us stuck in town waiting an extra 12 hours a few trips ago.

We decide to spend the night and quickly book the least sleezy cheap nearby hotel we can find with the promise of free toiletries. Except when we get there everything is locked in the maid closet and no one has the key. Since Kidzilla has a set of everything at his dad's house we are left with a small plastic comb and an eyeliner pencil I dig out of my purse.  Babyzilla has a minor meltdown when he discovers we have no pajamas for him as evidently he MUST sleep in pajamas and can't sleep in just underpants even just this once. And I dig out the largest youth large shirt I can find in Kidzilla's bag to sleep in. 

Bleary eyed we return to the the airport at the busiest time of the morning. After fighting our way to a check in kiosk we are promptly directed to the Special Services desk. At which point I lose my mind and the grumbling begins. We go stand in line behind the two other people in line who are then subjected to the whispered litany of insults regarding their intelligence when they spend more than 2 minutes at the help desk. Finnnnaaallly it's our turn and we spend a total of 25(yes!) minutes at the desk while they re- enter all of the information about the unaccompanied minor booking into the new itinerary. The line behind us grows and grows and grows. Why they could not have done all that the night before, when there were NO passengers at the desk baffles me but I try my hardest to be sugar sweet. "You've paid all the fees already?" "Oh yes ma'am" with a nice big smile and eyelash bat. After an eternity we, in our day old clothing and finger and water brushed teeth finally make it to the gate. After Kidzilla is properly loaded we sit and make fun of all the shameful people running up to the gate at the last minute- because, you know, we are so totally much better than that. Once the door is closed, we push our luck, defy the instructions to remain at the gate until the flight is airborne and head to the car figuring the flight actually will be airborne by the time we actually make it to the garage. And on our way out we get the little phone beep which A says means the flight is airborne. 

Because I had not made arrangements to take the day off work, I call in to let them know I will be late and then we head back home. An hour into our drive A's phone beeps again with a return to gate message. Instantly flames again shoot out of my eyes as I demand for A to explain what is going on- he told me the flight was airborne. The UAL website doesn't show anything but Flightaware shows a U turn and return in the air. A continues to drive us toward home and I call the dreaded UAL hotline where I am somewhere around number 52 in que. While willing my head not to explode. A minute into the wait, I get a phone call from a number not local to either where we live or the airport we just left from. It happens to be from the gate agent informing us that the flight had an inflight malfunction, had to return and they have already rebooked Kidzilla on the next flight out, which leaves in 10 minutes- is it okay to put him on the flight? Once I gather all of the pieces of my now blown mind, I agree and send Kidzilla parting behavioral advice ( commands, really) and count my lucky stars that the ex had shelled out for the UM fee so we didn't have to go back and spend the next three days trying to get him on another flight. Kidzilla's bag however did not make the next flight- totally reasonable since it was a quick change and it looks identical to every other navy rolling bag in the cargo compartment- but completely tizzy inducing when factored in to the whole further flight to PDX that the bag was not checked through to bit.  Eventually Kidzilla made it up to PDX and his bag arrived the next day.

In the end, it all worked out and Kidzilla had a great summer. And although I have tried to be graceful to A because I know he knows he screwed up big time and doesn't need to be reminded about it over and over, I can't help but give him shit about the whole debacle every once in a while.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Life and trials

Tonight we are experiencing the bliss of having A surprise us at home with an 18 hour, between trips visit. Thanks to timing out last night and a delayed flight this morning, his schedule got changed up enough for him to fly home and brighten our day. I found out as I was leaving work and let him come home and surprise our boys. They were beside themselves and talked him into taking them to the pool at 8pm for a treat. It's been a rough year for A and I, so we are blessed when little respites like this fall into place.

Last week I had jury duty and was picked to be on a trial jury. It was an interesting and surreal experience. So many people complain about having to go to jury duty, but I would totally do it again given the opportunity. They started with a pool of 60+ randomly selected people and weeded us down to 14. It must have been my (supposed) bleeding heart social workerness, countered by my familiarity with guns, tempered by my complete lack of interest in our local news that made me the ideal candidate. For three days we sat and heard evidence and proceedings on an armed robbery and murder case. The entire time I sat there thinking "wow, this is really happening. I am in a courtroom and a lawyer, right there(!), is addressing ME. And I have to make a decision that will affect the life of that guy sitting right there." Every so often the gravity of the situation would hit me again- we were sending a 21 year old to prison for life; he'd already been in jail since arrested at age 18. Our group of jurors got along well and it was a bit like the end of summer camp where you are randomly thrown together with a bunch of people that you totally bond with because you spend so much concentrated time together and then bam, end of the week you all go home and never see one another again. We ended up finding the guy guilty of both counts and it continues to haunt me in some ways. We were at the pool and I had a flash about how that guy will probably never swim in a swimming pool again. Or eat barbequed chicken off the grill. Or snuggle with kids in bed in the morning. Little things like that that you don't think about when you are 18. Or killing someone over $650 and some ounces of marijuana.

Hopefully I will be able to stay focused and get more of our life written down. As always, its just so hard to find the time...