Not everything goes as planned. Not everything works out. That's why I'm including this painting. I planned for it to be something else, but it turned out like this. I'm still not happy with it and someday I might make it better. Just in case you think everything turns out great. Well ...
The actual quote is, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley." - "To a Mouse," by Robert Burns.
Adaptation, "No plan survives first contact with the enemy." Helmuth van Moltke, Prussian Military Commander.
Traveling long takes a lot of coordination. You can't just hop in the car, start the engine and point the car in a reasonably accurate direction and make adjustments along the way. My mother was that kind of person.
In 1994 we were heading to an Attenborough family reunion in Maine and starting our journey from Ohio. Attenboroughs from across Canada and the United States converged on a little place called Westways in a small Maine village of Center Lovell.
My mother, myself, and my two younguns piled in her white Volvo pointed the car in a general north-easterly direction, and commenced our journey. We'd been on the road for about an hour when I asked, "Hey ma, is there a map stowed away in your bra or some other hidden container?"
She said, "Scott, where's your sense of adventure? Where's your 'joie de vivre'? I thought I taught you better than that. Half the fun is not knowing exactly where you're going. You know that! Why I drove two thousand miles from Detroit to Redwood City all by myself in your dad's brand new Buick Skylark in 1968 when maps were spare, and signs on the highways were almost non-existent."
Of course, driving for almost 24 hours with my mother was an experience that takes some nerve and tolerance. It was not for the faint of heart. There was the regular consumption of vodka with tonic or with orange juice if she wanted to feel a bit healthier (I was driving - no vodka for Scott). We'd listen to Jacques Brel's 'La Valse a Mille Temps,' a thousand times, and Edith Piaf's 'La Vie En Rose' or 'Je Ne Regrette rien' until we began to regret it. I was almost completely worn out by the time we got out of Ohio, and we still had twenty hours ahead of us.
Ah, those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end. Frustrating, fun, and I do miss them too.
Travel, the way we approach it today, takes a keen eye for detail, a sharp intellect, and nerves of flexible steel. That's why Andrea takes care of all arrangements, coordination, documentation, and reservations. She is a logistical genius, a veritable transportation savant.
I have, at times, volunteered to make arrangements. Those overtures are routinely turned down. There is some trepidation on her part with handing the reins over to little ole me. I understand - I do. I sometimes question if I will remember my name in the morning sometimes.
Andrea and I have different ways of approaching things because we are different kinds of people. No two people would handle any situation precisely the same way, but sometimes two people can have approaches that are diametrically opposed. That's us.
Andrea is the kind of lass who likes to time things to the millisecond.
If you have a domestic flight departing at 10 am, you are required to check in an hour before your departure. Simple, right?
To Andrea, that means showing up at 9 am. Of course, that makes sense. Check-in at nine - fly at ten. Simple!
I would say, make sure we get to the airport at 8:30 in case there's a line at the check-in counter. Then there's security, which is a slog at the best of times, but when it's busy, it's quasi controlled chaos which can back up through a snaking barrier that turns you into the tail end of a coiled serpent when you join.
So I say, "Hey, let's get there at 8 am just in case we have problems or delays."
Andrea gives me that look. That look that says, "Oh, we're going to have that discussion again."
Eventually, after some barter, cajoling, and back and forth, we come to a reasonable compromise. This means neither of us is completely happy with the solution, but we think it might work.
Sometimes I'm right, and we're glad to have the extra time. Sometimes I'm wrong, and we end up reading a book or having a coffee before we have to board the plane. I'd rather be wrong and reading a book rather than right and biting my fingernails.
You see, I don't like pressure. I used to think that I loved last minute arrangements; I imagined I was at my best in the middle of a cyclone - a seat of the pants kind of guy. But, I'm not really that guy.
I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like stress. I thrive on knowing what's going to happen and when. I don't like guessing if I'm going to get to the airport on time. So I like planning extra time.
After our negotiation, on Wednesday, we were up at 7 am to ready ourselves for an Uber at 8 am. Things were going swimmingly.
Then, I heard, "Bloody Hell! from the kitchen."
Sheepishly, from the bedroom, "Can I help with something, dear?"
"Our flight's been put back an hour!"
In my mind, I'm thinking; the Gods are with me. We'll have extra time to get to the airport; things will be hunky-dory.
Eight o'clock rolls around, and I'm wondering where our fabulous, handsome, Uber driver was.
Andrea, "Oh, I moved the Uber back to nine-thirty."
Me, "Okay, so the plane was delayed by an hour. Obviously, we need to move the Uber back by an hour and a half."
Andrea, "Well, we won't have to worry about the traffic so much because it's a little later, and traffic will have died down."
*Keep your head down, Scott and don't make waves. You can handle it either way. Just stay calm and don't over-react*
We began puttering around, making sure we closed up the house properly. About eight-forty-five, the airline sent a text saying our flight was moved back to its original time.
Then came the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then came something that I wasn't expecting. Nay, it was probably never uttered before by those beautiful lips.
... "I can only apologize. I was wrong. I'll fix it."
Uber was rearranged, I was told he was showing up in ten minutes. That would get us to the airport on time if we didn't have any problems. God willing, and the creek don't rise.
I don't think I breathed between the house and the airport — nerves on edge. We tried to tell the Uber driver how urgent it was, and how grateful we were that he was in the neighborhood as we genuflected before his Nissan Pathfinder.
With luck on our side, the creek didn't rise, and the security line was short. We walked through and were just in time for boarding to begin.
The rest of the trip came off without a hitch. We made it safely and on time to Heathrow a little bit ahead of schedule. Our friends Marilyn and Peter were there to greet us. Andrea got smiles and a big hug!
Yeah, I know she deserves it.
We're glad to be in England for Christmas and the New Year. It's gonna be a rip-roaring December full of fun, festivities, and frivolity.
Until next week, I wish you peace.