Where would I like to go over the Labor Day weekend, was followed by, "When is Labor Day weekend". This was the question posed to me, by my husband, on the Monday prior to the National Holiday. I had many places that I would like to visit. Nashville was top of my list. I had a whim that we might, as some stage, get to see the Grand Canyon, or even go to 'Upstate' Washington, and drive into Canada. However, despite all good intentions, the foresight that had been put into our Memorial Day trip, e.g. booking a few months ahead, had not been applied to the September holiday.
With hotel availability limited, and an acceptable flight time adding outrageous surcharges to the price, it looked like we were going to spend the weekend, at home, dog watching. Samantha was leaving for England on Saturday afternoon, and although her neighbour,
Sandra, had promised to have the dog until our return from 'wherever', it looked like the babysitting would not be required.
I didn't pout. Instead, I put on my 'practical cap', and looked at viable opportunities. New Mexico looked appealing, but again, the cost was somewhat prohibitive for the two days that we wanted to travel. California? Anywhere in California was an option, but again, hotel space was limited. "What is in Oklahoma City?" asked Dana, as I found not only a hotel, but flights that left Friday evening, rather than our new tradition of Saturday morning. I did not have an answer, but told him that we could pretend we were in our very own Oscar and Hammerstein musical! He did not seem to be impressed!
Although the site would not allow Dana to make the reservation on Monday evening, by Tuesday morning, all was booked, and we were going to be travelling out of Austin at 7:30 p.m.
The pressure started to mount, during the week, as Dana did not arrive home until nearly eleven on Wednesday, and even later Thursday evening, leaving me to wonder whether the Friday night departure was a good idea. Friday certainly started off as a 'beautiful morning', but as the song suggests, everything was certainly not 'going our way'. As usual, the lead up to the holiday weekend was frantic, with everyone trying to clear their desks before leaving town, but it appeared that a couple of our 'larger' clients had members of staff who were going to fore go any vacation time and take advantage of the 'closed doors', to tackle backlogs. I had the advantage of being able to pack on Friday morning, and left my case in my bedroom, with the mistaken notion that I would collect it after my lunchtime swim. The daily routine, however, was put on hold, as the traditional slow down after lunch, did not happen, and Samantha volunteered to collect my bags shortly after two.
Pacing up and down at five o'clock did nothing to decrease Dana's workload, and although he had let all our clients know that the office was closing at four, the emails continued to flood his 'inbox'. "I told them that I was going to ignore anything they sent, but they keep sending", he complained. I was rather more abrupt than anticipated, when I told him that it was because he kept answering that they knew he was still active! By five fifteen, my patience was starting to wear thin, and I took myself back to the powder room to get changed into my 'travel outfit', in an attempt to force my husband to abandon his desk. We left the office shortly after five thirty, and sat in the traffic that I had been dreading.
Our first flight was on time, and once we had cleared security, at a very lightly populated airport, we lined up to board the plane. The lady at the gate desk was a familiar face. I explained to Dana that she would welcome us all aboard, tell us all that we did a great job of boarding so quickly, and then thank us on behalf of herself, and her family, for allowing her to do the job she still loves, after so many years. I was given one of his 'looks', as if to say, 'your imagination is quite vivid', and he suggested that if I were to put this in the rewrite of the screenplay for the fifties musical, there were no plane. I sat back and waited for the reaction that I knew would come to pass. We took a tag for our bags, which we were told we would have to gate check, and walked along the tube to the aircraft door. Taking our bags on board, we were able to place them in the overhead bins, which was to our advantage as the connection time between our flights was not going to be very long. Seated in a comfortable bulkhead, we waited for the remainder of the passengers to board, and for the one passenger, who always seems to be on my flight, and who will not be parted with their oversize carry on bag, as it is full of vital confidential material, none of which can be more than a couple of feet away from his (or her) person, to be satisfied with a resolution. Eventually, the bag, as always, was put somewhere in the main cabin, further away than preferred, but not in the hold! After the commotion, the familiar face boarded and took the microphone, and I waited for Dana's reaction. "Welcome aboard this flight to Houston. You all did a great job of boarding so quickly! I want to personally thank you, on behalf of myself and my family for flying with us today, and allowing me to do this job, which I have done for thirty some years, and which I still love." After Dana's jaw was lifted from the floor, he asked when I had given her the script!
We arrived in Houston rather earlier than anticipated, and enjoyed a cup of coffee before boarding our next flight, where we had been complimented with first class seats. Quite excited at the prospect of being treated like royalty, we boarded, stored our cases in the overhead bins, and waited for the crew member to offer us our 'pre-flight' beverage. We waited for the crew member to offer us our 'pre-flight' beverage, and we waited. I do not know for a fact, nor do I wish to sensationalise, (despite my newly found ficticious job of scriptwriting,) but I think that perhaps our young stewardess had been sent a 'Dear Jane' letter, or something similar. Looking rather forlorn, and as if she had just risen from a fitful sleep and not had time to change clothes, nor brush her hair, rather than offer us the 'pre-flight' drink, her priority seemed to be to check her phone every few second, and fight back the tears. The cabin door was closed and our drinks were still in their cans, locked away in the galley. Our attention was requested to be drawn to the front of the aircraft, where an important safety demonstration was about to take place. Our stewardess did not think this to be of much importance as she yawned during the first part, and huffed her way through the rest. She was not having a good day. We were offered a complimentary beverage, with a pressured smile, and drank quickly as she wanted to get the cabin ready for landing shortly after our departure!
Oklahoma City airport was deserted, not a Surrey to be seen, with or without a fringe on top, and we made our way to the shuttle to take us to pick up our car. We were given a 'tardis', or what is more commonly known as a Toyota Yaris and Dana looked a little concerned about the size, and how he was going to cram his six foot four (and a bit) frame into such a small vehicle. "It is bigger on the inside", he exclaimed, just as all the Dr Who 'extras' remark as they enter the police phone box for the first time!
The hotel room was a suite, and very comfortable, with a large walk in shower, and a nice view of the pool. After sterilising the already clean room, I went to bed!
"Can you not hear that?", I shouted to Dana, above the racket that was coming from the bathroom. The whole room shook, as I jumped out of bed and ran into see what was making the noise. I had not pulled the sliding shower door closed, and it was banging, rather ferociously, against the other door. I pulled it across, and the noise subsided, but it continued to rattle. The bed was vibrating, and I felt as if I was on a ship. "It's the plumbing", said Dana. I had already convinced myself that we were either in the room above the laundry, or that we were in a remake of the movie, "My cousin Vinnie", and this was the norm for seven o'clock. Perhaps, on this 'beautiful morning', I would not be in the remake of a musical, but of a later, non-melodical, classic! I made a mental note to make sure that the shower doors were pulled apart before going to bed that night, as the movement of the bed slowed down to a halt!
As nice a breakfast looked, the organisation appeared to be a little under-par. I had gone in search of the pool to have an early morning swim before partaking of our first meal of the day, but found a crowd waiting to be fed. There was no coffee, and the hot water flask was empty. I walked back along the corridor and found the 'fitness room', and entered, thinking that it might lead to the pool. It did not. However, instead of going back to see if Dana was awake, I decided to take a stroll on one of the walking machines. Setting the speed and incline, I started to walk. The screen at the top of the machine gave options for music, movies, or television, but I could not see how to change the channel. However, across the screen came the newsflash, with subtitles (as there was no sound) that a 5.4 magnitude earthquake had hit Oklahoma, around seven o'clock, just seventy five miles away from the capital city, and the tremors were felt for many miles around. Perhaps we were not above the laundry! Perhaps I would not be asked to star next to Marisa Tormei!
After walking a little over a mile, and up a rather sharp incline, I was still in the fitness room, wondering how to access the pool, and mourning over the lost opportunity to star in a major production! I took the stairs back to our room, and found Dana still partially asleep, but insistent that he was ready to start the day. "It was an Earthquake"! I announced to my sleepy husband. He was not surprised! He had assumed that when I had asked him "Did you not hear that?" I had just returned from the bathroom, after flushing the commode. (Or that I had just recited the first lines of a new play I had not been commissioned to write!) It would have been his first thought otherwise. Never would it have been mine!
We enjoyed breakfast, having let the crowd disperse, and then headed out to the zoo. I would have enjoyed a trip to Kansas, (and to sing, once again, 'Kansas City, here I come',) which was about an hour away, and we even discussed the possibility of driving to Arkansas to see my mother in law, but that would have been at least six hours of dedicated driving, and the weekend was meant to be a 'refresher' and restful! The zoo was enjoyable, albeit rather more tiring than expected, as the two and a half mile trail that we chose to walk was done so in the midday heat, and most of the animals were sheltering from the sun. However, I did get to 'stroke' the stingrays, and one in particular appeared to enjoy my arm rather too much! Samantha called me from the airport to say that she was boarding her plane, and had deposited the dog with no problem!
Our late afternoon was spent doing very little, and after deciding against the two restaurants that I had chosen for our evening meals, we found a rather nice, family owned, and run, Italian bistro, where we enjoyed a very nice dinner. I was amused to see signs to Dallas, as they showed we were to take the Interstate southbound. This was a novelty as we only ever trael north to the city, from Austin. The Ice-cream shop was not far from the hotel, and we stopped by before returning to the hotel. It had been rather a pleasant, easy day!
I walked again on Sunday morning, on the machine, after waking naturally, and without a shudder or vibration felt anywhere within the vicinity! The queue for breakfast was rather long, and we chose to sit down with a cup of coffee before attempting to gain access to the hatch from where eggs, sausages and pancakes were served. By the time the queue had subsided, it was nearing the end of 'service', and I wondered if they would clear away before all had been fed. I made some toast and saw that a new queue had formed. There were no plates, cutlery, or napkins, nor were there glasses or bowls. The staff were very obliging, but not quite sure which way to turn first. Breakfast lasted slightly longer than they anticipated, but the hotel was, apparently, rather full! Perhaps others had presumed there was to be a remake of a certain film, and had come in the hope of a screentest!
We spent much of the morning writing posts for our individual blogs, and then left for lunch. We were to be the guests of a colleague of Dana's whom he had never met, but had been doing business with for nearly three decades. It was nice to put a face to a name, and the two men swapped 'war'' stories, and personal tales for nearly three hours. It was a lovely lunch, and we all enjoyed the company. We returned to the hotel, and I eventually found the pool! After a few laps, I returned to the room and settled down to watch the football game. The 'Texas Longhorns' were not expected to win, but we all lived in hope! For a sports fan, it was a very exciting game, with Texas winning in the second overtime, against a team that had been rated to be far stronger, and ranked much higher. We celebrated with a trip back to the ice-cream shop, and then fell asleep to re-run after re-run of the game!
Our trip home was fairly amusing. We did not get upgraded, but had exit seats, which were very comfortable. The stewardess was pleasant and obliging. I smiled politely at the ground crew member, who told me that I would have to gate-check my bag, and told my husband to follow my lead. "We have a short window to connect", I told Sahara, the lady who met us at the door. "Perhaps they will fit in the overheads", she said looking down at the two small black cases. They did. The couple who took their seats in front of us were not accustomed to such a small aircraft. Later on in years than my husband and me, they were not happy at being seated in the middle of the aircraft, nor were they happy that they did not understand the seating configuration. A young boy, looking as if he had not yet reached double figures in age, attempted to explain, but the older gentleman (and I use the term loosely) barked at him with unnecessary fierceness. The child turned around, and faced the front, while his father almost said something to the senior, but adhered to his wife's arm on his shoulder, from across the aisle. The muttering continued for the duration of the flight, and during deplaning!
We took the train to our next gate, which appeared to be rather nearer than it was, when we were actually aboard the first plane, and boarded quickly. Houston to Austin was a quick twenty five minutes. There was enough room for everyone's bags. I opened the overhead bin, and told the man who was standing behind me that I was going to retrieve my bag. He did not move. "Excuse me", I said, politely, as I pulled at the handle of the case. He still did not move. Staring at me quite angrily, he refused to budge. Carefully I removed the case from the bin, and managed not to hit his nose, which was rather close to my hand. I am not sure if he displayed a look of rage because I did not hit him, or because of the near miss, but Dana exclaimed rather loudly, "Wow, that was close". The young girl behind the rather obnoxious gentleman was looking on, with a curious stare, presumably wondering why, when she had backed up, he had not done the same. "He wouldn't move!", I announced to my husband, again to the disgust of the man still standing an inch away from me.
We collected the car, and went to collect the dog. Sandra was waiting outside her house, with Frank fastened to his lead, and with an entourage of children. Frank, apparently, had contracted a 'dose of flees', and she had been bitten. However, her children and husband were not affected. I felt rather guilty at having abandoned my four legged adopted grandchild, and waited as she brought the remainder of his belongings to the car. The dog jumped into the car, and on to Dana's lap, and the children were mesmerised at the sight of Frank showing Dana quite how much he was excited to be reunited. Yelps and cries, and lots of kisses confirmed that Frank had missed his 'poppa Dane'! I chose to unpack while the dog was treated to a shower, and shampoo, with the special stuff! Clean and debugged, we took a happy dog to the Burger Bar, and then home for a sleepless night, with a dog walk at 2am, before work on Tuesday morning.
A lovely rest it had been, and a long short week we were to endure. The dog appeared to have recovered from his ordeal and was now following Dana around as if to make sure he was not going to leave. I was longing for my daughter's return!
I am still waiting for my first audition to launch me to stardom, or call from a studio to write the next remake of anything they choose, but I fear it will not come anytime soon. Instead, I shall continue to live in my own screenplay, and write another script, next week, for ...... another story!