Last Plane Home Tonight

Wednesday I am outside of Boston speaking at a small conference. The previous presenter has gone long and I am forced to pick up the pace at the end to make the allotted time so that everyone can enjoy wine and appetizers. Like often, there are people afterward who have questions, want to shake my hand, give me a business card. It’s good. Still, I have to make a flight.

Getting to the rental car much later than planned the checklist in my head starts to tick off. Enter location of Logan airport into the cell phone navigation. Must stop to fill up the fuel tank. Find way to airport in rush hour traffic. Drop off car. Change out of my suit, which suspenders set off the TSA security, into slacks. Print out boarding pass. Get through TSA. Get to gate. Get on flight. This is a list I’ve completed many times.

Systems go, on the highway, heading to the airport I see a gas station sign and take that exit. Unlike many states, this gas station is not at the bottom of the ramp, but in the next berg. After an added two minutes of driving I see the actual station. I also witness a traffic accident take place right in front of me. I drive around them and go to the pump. From the pump I can see a person get out, call 911, and wait. There are others who are stopping to assist. When the pump clicks off, I turn back for the freeway and decide that there are enough people on-site as the police and ambulance pull up to provide a report.

Thirty minutes later I am approaching the big dig completed mess of a tunnel. Following each turn by turn instruction, the phone looses signal, and recovers in time for me to miss my underground exit to the airport by about six car lengths of safety. I am late. Emerging on the other side of the city the phone recalculates and takes me right to the heavy traffic of Game 1 of the World Series. I am very late. Eventually, I find the right exit and the rental car return.

The young man scans the car, checks the fuel gage and mumbles something. The printer is broken. My receipt is not printing. By the third try he mumbles a thank you and I am off.

First men’s room I see, with the speed of Bat Man changing by sliding down the 60’s Bat Pole, I’m out of the gray suit and into the slacks, but do not take time to find my belt or repack with any care.

On the shuttle bus from the rental return to the terminal my heart drops when a man asks, “did we miss our stop?” No. We did not.

At the kiosk I go to print my boarding pass and kick myself for not having done it earlier. Logan is empty and shops are starting to close at 6:30. My flight is at 6:47. The kiosk informs me it can’t print my boarding pass. The gate agents call out my name to come to gate 16 immediately. So I find the closest pre-screening ticket agent, but she can’t help, she has no keyboard. Her neighbor is quick on the keyboard and printing out the pass, but would like to scold me at the same time for not being earlier.

There is no one in line at security, but I still must run the gauntlet of black fabric retractable maze guides arranged for the busy times. I am a “three bin” traveler and am pretty fast at this. All the agents are watching the hilariousness of the moment as my name is called out a second time over the airport intercom to come immediately to gate 16.

Stepping in to the TSA particle scanner I put my hands up over my head. In the same moment that my hands go up, and little boy about 2 – 3 years in age shows up from out of nowhere and tries to enter the cylinder with me drawing the attention of everyone in the area. A slight tug from the little man on my pants without a belt, provide everyone the image of my pants now around my ankles and a peak at the tattoo on my leg. Boxers, not briefs.

I pull my pants up with one hand, scoop up the kid with the other and hand him to his mother. In less than a minutes the three bins are dumped into my bag and I am off to the gate. Somewhere half way to my gate they call my name again. No belt on still, my pants slide down a few more times when attempting to adjust the strap on my bag over my shoulder again.

In eyeshot of the gang hanging out at the gate, my name is called again, and I raise my hand to wave at them, let them know the name they are now pronouncing is mine, but that was the hand holding up my pants. They too know I am a boxer man.

“You just might make it Mr. Peters”, she says handing back the pass. In a moment so close to the movies, I slide my bag into the closing door of the jet to keep it from sealing. I have made the last flight home tonight.

Now I must do a walk of shame as there is only one open bin for my carry-on, and it is in the back. Out of breath, disheveled, paints being held up by one hand, I get there and back to the front of the plane where my seat is.

With the click of my seatbelt, I am wasted, when the captain clicks on over the PA, “Ah, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve gotten a call from the tower that vice President Joseph Biden is landing on Air Force Two, so we are going to wait here for about twenty while the airport is on lock down.”

Fuck. But I did make it.