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Some Families Don’t Travel So Well . . . Or At All

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

I am not a big fan of summer.  Width challenged people (like me) normally don’t fare well in toasty climates, often producing enough perspiration to drown in.  Aside from my prodigious gland secretion, I am apparently considered quite a delicacy in the insect world, providing a veritable buffet for anything that hovers.  There is no way for me to escape the horrors of the season, not even when on vacation.

In the past, Janet, Will and I have experienced a mixed bag of family summer excursions.  Like most families, all of us have specific stipulations when negotiating family getaways. While Janet considers any location north of the Mason-Dixon Line a frozen, uninhabitable wasteland, Will is game for any destination as long as he can bring a friend along to buffer the strain of being with his parents 24-7. Boarding an airplane is not an option for me (fear of being identified by my dental records), limiting our options substantially.

Frankly, our luck has been quite thin when attempting family travel.  One year we drove half-way to Myrtle Beach and were turned back in Laurinburg, NC due to adverse weather conditions.  The following summer we made another run at Myrtle, but our vehicle gave up the ghost in Burlington, NC.  The next year we voyaged to Disney World (successfully avoiding most of the deadly state of North Carolina), only to snap a timing belt twenty miles outside of Orlando.  This short list of failed treks pale in comparison to the time Janet and I endeavored to leave the country and canter off to sunny Mexico.

Employed by a since failed communications outfit, I (along with my peers) was presented with a free, all expenses paid five day holiday to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, a lovely resort area on the Yucatan peninsula.  All meals, drinks and activities were covered in the package and Janet and I preparing excitedly for the charter flight that would carry us to paradise.  Note: Although I often sprout chicken feathers when air travel is mentioned, the miser in me found this “free everything” concept too difficult to overcome. Dramamine was purchased and my dentist was notified (just in case).

On the day of the flight, we would drive down to Raleigh, NC and depart from the airport with the rest of our charter group.  I thought “North Carolina AGAIN, what kind of fiendish trap have they fashioned for us this time?” Nervously, I put the car in gear and set off in search of Raleigh.

The first leg of the trip went smoothly as I traversed 220 South and cruised by Greensboro.  Swearing that Raleigh was west of Greensboro, I turned on to Interstate 40 and proceeded to ignore every road sign I passed and Janet’s assertion that we were going the wrong way.  Finally, when I saw a sign reading “Knoxville 78 miles”, I exited the road and began to swim in my own aforementioned exudation.

The flight was scheduled for departure at 12:30pm, my dashboard clock read 11:05, and we were at least two hours from Raleigh. Those wicked Carolinians had managed to impede my progress once again, this time by cleverly moving Raleigh to the eastern side of the state!

Janet remained completely calm as I slammed my head into the dashboard.  Janet, I might add, is the best person in the world to be with during a crisis.  In battle, she is the one you would want sitting next to you in a foxhole; conversely, in case of war I am designated as a hostage.

Barreling down the road at break-neck speed I weaved my way through traffic as my business cohorts tried to delay the flight.  Russ, a quick-minded, jittery fellow with the disposition of a Poodle, raced to the check in counter and began to stall.  Russ told them that I was elderly and was on my way to the terminal in my wheelchair. Failing do be moved by Russ’s story, the crew began boarding the passengers.  Not to be deterred, Russ spun another tale, this time I was a Mexican national returning to my homeland to see my dying Jose brother for the last time.  Boarding continued without delay and Russ was getting desperate.

Janet and I were closing in on the airport when the crew closed the doors of the aircraft and prepared for take off.  Russ, my hero, determined to “leave no sales manager behind” sprang from his seat, dashed past a group of flight attendants, spotted an open cockpit door and parked himself in the pilot’s seat!  Presently, a stunt like that would surely land brave Russ in a first class suite at the Guantanamo Hilton, yet our substitute pilot remained steadfast behind the controls until security was summoned to the plane. Back on the road, Janet and I had reached the airport grounds and began jumping speed bumps “Dukes of Hazzard” style. My tires burning, I dropped poor Janet off at the gate off with eight pieces of luggage and sped off to the parking garage.

We boarded the plane to the catcalls of everyone aboard and Captain Russ was released by his captors, shaken, but uninjured.

In a few weeks Will, Janet and I are planning another trip.  Steering clear of the dreaded state of North Carolina, we are heading to our nation’s capital for a few days of sightseeing and relaxation.  If the Department of Homeland Security decides to raise their terror alert a notch or two during that time period, you will most certainly know why.

By Jon Kaufman
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