Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dispatch from the Road

I began this blog post while jetting across the country from Baltimore to Oklahoma City via Kansas City.  The Southwest flight advertised “Wifi” and I paid my $8, but alas, I never could get goo web performance, and so I had to resort to typing this in Word.

I’m heading back out to Lawton, OK for the final out-brief with my Army customer on work we’ve been doing for the past seven months.  Really interesting stuff, and the project has been something of which I am quite proud.  My little team of mostly Navy guys has been working closely with a great group of folks in the Army to help move a few important ideas down the field—and I think we have at least partially succeeded.  We’ll see in the next couple of years as their budgets come out, though.

For some reason, I decided not to don the tennis star rig for this trip. Perhaps because no one is fooled and I simply look like some Long Island poseur with an awful backhand and twenty extra pounds.   No, this time, I am in blue slacks, a white polo and a blazer—this way I only have to sub a button down and tie for the outbrief tomorrow and my luggage is kept to a minimum.  

At the airport, I indulged a bit and got a 20 minute massage and a shoe-shine, both of which were well-done and appropriately compensated.  Because of the shoe-shine, I was a little late getting to the gate, and my prime “A-56” boarding spot was about fifty folks in the rear-view mirror.  Much to my disappointment, there appeared only to be middle seats, until about halfway back I espied a nice aisle seat and headed for it.  When I arrived, I saw the poor, harried Mom in the middle, holding an 11 month old (Liam) and next to her, a 2 ½ year old “Lily”.  Across the aisle, was a young couple and their no more than 2 year old.  Just behind them, yet another toddler.

I decided that this was somehow karmic retribution for my massage and shoe shine, and I decided to 1) plunge in and sit amidst the aerial day care center and 2) enjoy it.  That’s right—enjoy it.  Smile.  Play with kids,  Be helpful to Mom.  Indulge Lily with bright smiles and significant interest in whatever it is she was saying.  

We got off to a great start, the kids taking the take-off with great aplomb.  Lily enjoyed it so much, she crapped her pants, about ten minutes after take-off into very bumpy skies.  The poor mother…she was mortified…had to get to the lavatory to attend to the dirty skivvies whilst the flight attendants barked orders to remain seated, etc.  She asked me for advice and I suggested she go for it. 
After changing Lily, she returned to the seat.  At which point, Liam crapped himself.  She was even more mortified.  I assured her, that there was no shame in this, that I am happy to get up so that they can go to the lavatory again, and that she should not worry about inconveniencing me one bit on the flight, as I had chosen to sit next to her.

We are (as I write) about forty minutes into the 2:18 flight.  Liam is asleep in Mom’s arms and Lily is watching a movie on an iPad.   Mom genuinely pleased with a quiet moment.  She did assure me few minutes ago that she would never travel with the kids alone again, without her husband.  I had not asked as to his whereabouts, but I certainly was interested.
In some way, I am looking at this beleaguered woman and thinking of The Kitten—who traveled with the Kittens for several years without benefit of “Dad” or any other male for that matter.  Perhaps that is why I’m leaning farther forward this time to be helpful.  I do so admire the equanimity and calm of this woman sitting next to me, and it is a reminder of great qualities of the woman I have at home.  There is no way in hell that I could do it.  Nope.  No way.

I don’t handle chaos very well.  I like order and predictability---the very opposite of the life of a parent of young children.  Today though, I decided to take it head on.  Clearly, I am worthy of no great acclaim for pulling off what others make look easy every single day.  But there is a lesson here—the whole “make lemonade” lesson when one is handed lemons.  I suppose I could easily have been my curmudgeonly self and either continued farther back in the plane to a middle seat, or silently sat and unsociably ignored the labors of the poor woman next to me.  But this time, I decided to get into the thick of it and actually try and make a bad situation for someone else a little more palatable.  I think I helped.  Ok, enough of this.

The tornado last week in Moore, OK (just outside where I will land in Oklahoma City) was a horrible thing—and after summer’s worth of trips to Oklahoma supporting the Army, I’ve come to conclude that the weather out here is really pretty horrible.  Hotter than all get out in the summer, windy always, and tornadoes are a common occurrence.  Oh, and huge hail too. I’m sure there are reasons to love living there, but I’ll take my cushy Eastern Shore life.

The trip to OK is only one night—a brief mid-day tomorrow and then the trip back home—arriving late Wed/early Thursday.  Then, I have two days back on the shore before I hop on a plane Saturday and head to Israel for a week or so.  More on this trip later, but suffice it to say, it will be a great trip—full of lectures/meetings/and from what I hear, gluttonous amounts of food.  Then it’s home for two weeks of R and R…and a serious return to bloggery here at the CW.

That’s enough for now.  Be well.

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