Monday, December 17, 2012

The one where I'm mistaken for a fugitive on my birthday...

So, as many of you know, Saturday was my birthday. I'd flown out to California on Monday to return my grandbaby to his parents and visit their new home. The baby was a good traveler, he seemed to like riding on the airplanes and it was a good experience. We had a lot of fun in California. We visited fisherman's wharf in San Francisco, Old Sac Town in Sacramento, toured the base, saw the home they'll be moving into on December 27th (so much nicer than any base house my family lived in and definitely nicer than the apartments Mike & I started out in), ate good food, hung out and generally had a great time.

It was hard to leave. It was hard to say goodbye to my baby and her baby. Dylan has lived with us since he was born and it was like leaving two pieces of my soul out there. Mo and Boo. So I cried. But then I bucked up and Sean and I made our way through TSA and to our gate. Where we found out our flight would be delayed an hour because of a storm in Ontario (where the flight was coming from). Ugh. No one likes flight delays. I approached the desk to let them know that I had a connecting flight in Las Vegas and would be cutting it short on time. They assured me I'd make my connecting flight, but I might not get to board with my "A" pass, meaning that Sean and I might not get to sit next to each other. Fab.

Sean, not being the experienced world traveller that I am, was not happy. So we decided to tour the airport gift shops, where we bought trashy magazines and sour patch kids. These helped pass the time and take care of his crankies. Finally, we boarded our aircraft. They'd oversold the flight, so every seat was taken. Including the one next to me in our row. And, has everyone forgotten airplane etiquette? Is it not rude to promptly put both of your elbows on the armrests so you can text on your phone? Excuse me, sir, I might have wanted to use that armrest. You could have at least asked.

Also, there's turbulence. A lot of it. This doesn't bother Sean and I at all, but it does slow the plane somewhat. And then we land. And sit on the airplane, on the tarmac, because they haven't got a free gate for us. The time before my connecting flight leaves is ticking away. I'm beginning to get annoyed.

So what should have been a lovely hour and a half lay over in Vegas (plenty of time to have a drink and drop some money on the slots) has turned into a mad dash to our connecting flight ten gates away. We bob and weave through the crush of other travelers to arrive at our gate, sweaty and out of breath, only to find that they are delaying the flight for twenty minutes. So I get us a place and Sean runs to the sandwich shop (we haven't eaten in 8 hours and no, I don't count airline peanuts). He returns in the nick of time with two turkey sandwiches, a coke, and a look of sheer surprise. Turns out he didn't realize that two sandwiches and a coke could cost $24. Haha.

So we're lining up to board, while a harassed and frazzled looking airline worker is helping those in wheelchairs on board. I notice one little old lady sitting neglected (and surrounded by other travelers) in a wheelchair some distance from the desk. I asked her if she'd like me to wheel her closer so the attendant wouldn't forget her. At her nod, I did. Turns out, when the attendant checked her ticket, she was on the next flight. Oops.

We get on board, and once again the plane is full. The guy who sits next to me this time also commandeers my arm rest. WTF? And his bony elbow happens to be digging into my side for most of the ride. Not cool. But we get there. And Mike is waiting for us and he has roses.

He seems really alert and chipper so he gets to drive and after a brief stop for sodas, we're finally on our way home from St. Louis. We talk about the trip and Boo. But after an hour and a half, I can tell he's getting sleepy. So I suggest he pull over and I'll drive. So on the outskirts of Hannibal, Mo, he pulls into a closed gas station and we play Chinese fire drill.

Back in the car, I drive through Hannibal and I'm nearly to the turn off for the bridge to Illinois, when a cop in the oncoming lane flashes his lights at me. Huh? Then he pulls a u-turn and turns on his lights. So, slightly bewildered, I pull over. He comes to the car and I hand him my license and registration.

Cop: What are you doing in town tonight?

Me: Travelling home from St. Louis.

Cop: So you're just passing through? You didn't stop anywhere?

Me: Um, well, we stopped at a gas station to change drivers because he was sleepy.

Cop: Shining his light in and looking at Mike & Sean: Did you see anything at that gas station?

Me: No. They were closed.

He asks for Mike & Sean's IDs too. WTH? I can tell he's suspicious but can't figure out why.

Cop: Well, ma'am, you were speeding. You were doing 52 in a 35.

Me: Was I? I'm sorry. I should have been paying more attention. Shit. I haven't had a speeding ticket in 18 years!

Cop: Well, that's better than me. But the fact is you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We got a call about a fight at the gas station you passed and everyone scattered when the police showed up. When I saw you speeding, I thought you might be one of the people fleeing the scene.

*Seriously? I have a suit jacket on. Do I look like the kind of person who flees the scene of a fight at a gas station?!*

He takes our IDs back to his car and I burst into tears. Mike and Sean kind of chuckle.

Me: Remember the birthday where we were driving home and the tire fell off the van?

Mike: Yeah, it hit a barn.

Sean: See? It's not the worst birthday ever!

Me: Not by a longshot. But I'm so tired and I just want to go home.

I mop up the tears and the cop comes back.

Cop: I'm so sorry about this. You were just speeding in the wrong place at the wrong time. You've got a great driving record, you've been very pleasant, and I noticed it was your birthday. I feel like a jerk giving you this ticket, but once I write it, it's set in stone. I'm really sorry.

Me: It's not your fault. But do you have to keep my driver's license? I'm going to Florida on Friday...

Cop: Oh, no, we don't do that in Missouri. Man, then I'd really feel bad, keeping your license when you were going on vacation.

And so he gave me my ticket and we drove off. $125 dollars poorer. And the end of my safe driver's discount. And as we drive off~

Mike: Just so you know, we do have a shotgun in the trunk.

Me: WTH??!! You mean I was riding dirty?

Mike: It's Porky's. We're going hunting in the morning and he forgot it. I stopped by and picked it up for him. It's not illegal to have an unloaded gun in the trunk.

Me: Oh. Well at least they didn't bring out the drug dogs.

Sean: That would have been funny as hell, sitting on the sidewalk while the drug dogs searched your car after the day we've had. At least you have a story to tell.

Me: Yeah. And you're welcome fugitives who really were fleeing the scene. F*ckers. They probably all got away while the cop was busy with me.

Sean: let's just pretend tomorrow is your birthday.

And so we did. I slept til 10 and then I talked to my Dad and to Molly. Then Sean and I watched four movies in a row. And a documentary on Doomsday Cults. And we ate take out. So it worked. We kind of figured out that I only have good birthdays every five years anyway. So I'm anticipating 45, that's when the next one is due.

Happy Travels, everyone. I'm off to Florida on Friday. Wonder what kind of trouble I'll get into along the way...