Editors note: the story originally written for this week has been pushed back to next week. As they say‑something came up. On the plus side, I’m a week ahead, so whoo-ho!
A lot can be done in seven hours. Minus breaks, that’s the length of the average workday in the average forty-hour week. I’ve never worked a forty-hour week, so I’m taking a guess on that one. Mine always seemed to be a lot longer than that, but that was by choice so I’m not complaining.
With a strong tailwind, seven hours is how long it takes to fly from New York City to Paris, France, not counting takeoff and landing. Seven hours is also how long it takes to drive from my front door to Detroit, Michigan providing I cut through Canada and if the line to get over the bridge isn’t too backed up. Seven (or Se7en) was also a movie with Brad Pitt, but that was only two hours long. It felt like less. It was a good movie, although things didn’t work out too well for Gwyneth Paltrow’s character in the end. Spoiler alert.
Seven hours is, almost to the minute, exactly how long I sleep each night. Like it or not, I’ve pretty much been that way for a very long time. By 11:00 p.m. I’m done, and by 6:00 a.m. I’m opening my eyes. If the sun is up or the birds are singing or if the dog has decided that he needs to yack up that bowl up food he power slammed at 3:00 a.m., I’m up a little earlier.
Last Thursday, there was a slight detour from that pattern when my wife and I were enlisted to pick up my daughter and her boyfriend from the airport. At first, it was 8:30 p.m., which turned into 12:30 a.m. and finally somewhere around 3:00 a.m. Friday morning, as a series of delays pushed their flight into the hours of the day normally reserved for shift workers and milkmen. We didn’t mind, of course. Not at all, since they had been gone for a little over a week and we were anxious to see them. They also needed their car, which was left at our house after we drove them to the airport nine days prior. We could have picked them up and brought them back here, but after all that horsing around getting home, they didn’t need another stop.
We kept in touch via text messaging (a wonderful thing) as she and her group sat frustrated and tired after nearly twenty-one hours of flights, transfers, and layovers. When they finally landed in Newark, there was no plane for the final leg of their journey. It wouldn’t have mattered because there wasn’t a flight crew either and as the day crept into the night and then into the early morning, a crew of however many it takes to fly a plane from Newark to Rochester finally arrived. Around 1:22 a.m., a disparate and desperate group of tired travelers finally boarded the plane, taxied down the runway and were due back home about ninety minutes later.
Meanwhile, Mrs. G. and I were stuck in an unfamiliar time limbo, torn between sleeping until 2:00 in the morning or just powering through it. After the first delay pushed the pickup time to 12:30, we decided to just stay up. That wasn’t so bad, so around 9:00 we started binge watching Nurse Jackie on-demand. When the time was pushed to 3:00, we settled in for the long haul.
As we flipped from one commercial free episode to the next, the dog was pacing around the living room, trying to figure out what was going on. He’s even more of a creature of habit than I am, so around 11:00, he looked up at both of us, tired and a little confused.
“Um … I know this is none of my business, but you know the drill. 11:00 hits, the TV goes off, the lights go out, me and the man walk around and check the locks, I hit the lawn one last time, and then I do the happy dance on your pillow until you finish brushing your teeth—and you better not be using my beef flavored toothpaste.”
I tried to reason with him, but as soon as I said my daughter’s name, he bolted for the front window and started whining and looking outside. “Damn it, why didn’t you say she was coming over?” he said. Now he was all second-winded, so as we watched continuous episodes of Jackie, we were throwing his ball up and over the couch and into the dining room.
Around 2:00, it occurred to me that I would be driving in a little while, which seemed as out of character to me as running around barefoot in the front yard. So would my wife, since we would be taking two vehicles to the airport—a twenty-minute drive from our house—so around 2:20 in the morning, I backed their car out of the garage and was followed by Mrs. G. in our car to the airport. There wasn’t another car on the road and if not for the deer wandering around the shoulder, I would have thought some sort of science fiction style evacuation had just taken place. When we got to the airport, the only other people I saw were the skeleton crew of employees and the people waiting for the same flight we were.
Around 3:00, their flight landed, albeit without my daughter’s luggage and the luggage of (by my count) five other passengers. We hung around for a bit, saddened that their wonderful vacation was about to be crushed by inept and indifferent customer service. About forty-five minutes after we arrived, we walked with them out to our separate cars and parted ways. We may have been tired, but they looked exhausted.
By the time we got home, it was almost 4:00 and I was dog-tired. I think I was asleep before my head even hit the pillow, but I woke up around 7:15, and try as I might to fall back to sleep, I just couldn’t. I stumbled around in a buzzy, overtired fog until later that afternoon when I laid down for a nap. I told myself that I’d only sleep for about forty-five minutes and I even set the alarm on my phone to enforce that. Well, that didn’t work out. I was out for almost four hours and if I added it up with the sleep I got the night before, it was right around seven hours. Funny how that works.
When I got up from that extended nap, I still felt tired and as the night progressed, I couldn’t wait to get back to bed. I had no trouble at all falling asleep at 11:00 p.m., and that’s right where I stayed until 6:00 a.m. the next day, back on schedule, back in my groove.
As I write this on Sunday, several days later, I’m back on my sleep schedule, and United has still not mated my daughter with her luggage. As near as she can tell, it was scanned into Newark, and since the only real person that can tell her what’s going on with lost luggage works in a call center on an entirely different continent, there’s not much getting done outside of rote company apologies. She’s managed to tweet with someone at United, as they have a staff that monitors their social media, yet she’s still no closer to getting her luggage than she was several days ago. United continues to work hard at reinforcing their status as dead last in airline customer service. It’s maddening to watch and it makes me wonder why there isn’t a person who just can’t get up off their butt and walk out to the Land of Lost Bags and get this done.
After this happened to my daughter (because we have already booked one leg of an autumn trip to Germany through United) I looked around the Internet and found something that borders on just about the best thing ever. Click the link below.
Apparently though, it hasn’t changed much at United. I just received a text from my daughter. Her bag is now back in Europe. In London, specifically. No word on when or if it will ever get back to Rochester as it seems to be enjoying an around the world tour courtesy of United Airlines.
Wait … wait … this just in … apparently her bag never left Portugal and they’ve been tracking the wrong bag! So, good news, it’s not lost because it never left. Bad news, they still don’t know where it is, specifically, but it’s not here, so that’s a bad thing, United. As they say on the farm – get your sheep together.