A Father’s Journal: Getting there is not half the fun
Published 11:46 am, Friday, July 24, 2015
I hate traveling. Don’t get me wrong — I love being someplace different; I just hate getting there. This latest family vacation was a perfect example of why. They say that you should enjoy the journey, and that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters most. What a crock of slush.
The people who made up that quote have apparently never spent 45 minutes on the Whitestone Bridge in standstill traffic and missed their flight. They have never spent 75 minutes to travel 40 miles on Interstate 95, while the GPS is telling them that the best route to take is I-95, not the Merritt Parkway. And they most definitely have not had to pay $1.500 to rebook flights that they’d already paid for once, and missed because of said standstill traffic.
I would like to see whoever thinks it’s the journey, not the destination, sitting in a middle seat on a small airplane between two of the largest people they’d ever met for 3 hours straight. I am no slouch at 6 feet, 5 inches, but wouldn’t whomever assigned seats want to even out the weight throughout the plane and not just in our row?
After a bit, the sweat from my fellow X-large passengers’ thighs started to seep onto my leg so we were beginning to share body fluid. In some states, we would need to be legally married to share this much fluid. This 5,000-mile trip we took with my 17-year-old nephew, Kevin. Kevin believes that every time he travels with us, something catastrophic happens. He’s not wrong. My daughters and I think it is Kevin's fault that every time he travels with us, something bad happens — we were convinced that it was the “Curse of Kevin” — until Caroline brought up Johnny.
Johnny works the front desk of the Econolodge at the Atlanta airport, night shift. Two trips in a row, we got stuck in Atlanta during a layover. The first was a major thunderstorm, and when we landed at midnight, I ran to the advertising board that they have in baggage claim and starting dialing every listed hotel. I somehow hooked up with another displaced family and we scored two rooms at the Econolodge, where we met Johnny. I don’t think Johnny is his real name.
About a year later, we got stuck again in Atlanta with the girls, and this time I called Johnny at the Econolodge and got us a room. When we arrived at the front desk, we thought he looked very different. Could there be two Johnnies on the night shift? Could he have grown a foot, lost his accent and lost 40 pounds in a year? Even worse, he didn’t recognize us, his old friends from the summer layover of 2012! How could he not recognize us, his well-traveled, exhausted, waylaid friends? Sure, maybe I smelled different as my thighs are covered in other peoples’ sweat, but he should recognize me. The girls are taller, but still we looked basically the same. This is a mystery we have yet to figure out.
This last trip we do not have to stay in Atlanta — fortunately, we didn’t have to stay anywhere since we flew all night long with two connections. Although I saw some cots at O’Hare that looked inviting. Instead we slept on the plane, and arrived at our final destination sleepy, dirty and in foul moods. I love traveling.
Thomas Lawlor, a Southport resident whose “A Father’s Journal” column appears regularly in the Fairfield Citizen, is on vacation and hopes not to return home through Atlanta. A traveler at heart, he sent this column from the road, where he is enjoying his destination more than the journey.