(This post was composed much earlier in the day, but the internet at the vacation house didn’t cooperate. My bad for not gettin’ R done sooner.)
Okay, so I drive a minivan, not a bus. But sometimes it feels like a bus. This week we’re supposed to talk about an unusual experience while traveling, but I’m drawing a blank. Now, we do a lot of driving. Said minivan already has 100K+ miles on it and it’s only 4 years old. In fact we just drove it up to NC for a vacation, so you’d think I’ve got unusual traveling stories coming out the radiator vents. Aside from weather, possible flat tires, and other mechanical issues – because let’s face it, everyone has dealt with those – my traveling stories are pretty boring. My kids even behave (for the most part) on long road trips. That’s about as unusual as it gets. Unless….
WAIT! I’ve got one. It’s really more a matter of my personal insanity than unusual circumstances while traveling, but I think it makes a great story. Look, it involves Bon Jovi and anyone who knows me well to know that I am their #343 top fan, knows it must be a good story if it involves Bon Jovi. (Why #343? Because anyone who claims to be someone’s number one fan is usually a deranged psycho. Kathy Bates in Misery, Syndrome in The Incredibles, the guy who shot Reagan was Jodie Foster’s number one fan, I could go on…)
We don’t have to go too far back in time. The year was 2006. My husband was deployed on the USS Enterprise. (No, not to the gamma quadrant or anything all Star Trek-ky like that.) There was a planned port stop in Hong Kong, so I flew to meet him there. I was gone for 8 days from my kids, the youngest at the time being 2. Now I’ve
abandoned left my kids for weeklong getaways with the hubby before, but not many and none as far as the other side of the planet. They were in the capable hands of my older sister and mom who tag-teamed taking care of them.
So where does Bon Jovi fit in? Well, they’d finished the main part of their Have A Nice Day tour and added some summer dates. I’d already booked my plane tickets to Hong Kong when they did this. They pretty much sold out their final two shows at Giants Stadium when they added a 3rd night there. July 29. Hmmm. I looked at my calendar. I was flying back from Hong Kong on July 29. I was flying Continental through Newark on July 29th. I looked at a map. Giants Stadium is about 15 miles away from the Newark airport. Y’all see where I’m headed, right?
Well, I looked into possibly changing my flights but changing an international ticket was going to cost me a pretty penny and I’d already spent a fortune for the tickets and figured the extra cost for hotel, concert tickets and whatnot would have been too much. Plus, it would be an extra night away from the kids and I’d already seen the band earlier in February that year. Still, it was an awesome show and I was dying to see the band again. Sigh.
So I resigned myself to simply knowing I’d be 15 miles away from my favorite band. Besides, while I might be Jon Bon Jovi’s #343 top fan, I’d just spend a week with the guy I’m a true #1 fan of. (You can be a #1 fan and not classified as a deranged psycho as long as you either married them, gave birth to them, or otherwise share DNA with them. Micki’s rules about #1 fans may be an eventual blog post.) Plus, I was already looking at a week away from the kiddos and a 16-hour international flight. I might not necessarily be in the mood for a Bon Jovi concert at that point. Yeah, right. But I’ll admit, if the customs agents took a little too long with my bags and cause me to miss my second flight home, Mama had a back-up plan.
But alas, I flew from Hong Kong, customs agents didn’t drag their feet, and I was standing at the gate for my flight back to FL. I called my sister to inform her that I’d see her and the kids in a couple of hours. So I waited in the boarding area along with everyone else. Me and my little ol’ backpack because I always check my bag. It’s worth it to me to pay for someone else to deal with my stuff. I wait to be the last person in my group to board because, HELLO! I’d been sitting for the past 16 hours. So I stand in the long line to show my boarding pass. And I stand in the jetway. And I stand at the doorway waiting to actually get on the plane. And I’m standing at about the second row of first class waiting to get to my seat all the way back in peon-ville while these other jokers try to stuff their oversized bags into the overhead bins. The whole time I’m thinking Look people, suck it up. Pay the $25 bag fee so I can sit down and get home to see my babies! Did I mention that I really didn’t get much sleep on that 16-hour flight? I had some serious crabitude going on when I start noticing this bumping behind me. Naturally I turned to glare at whatever impatient moron had some nerve.
Okay, I really didn’t glare. Just in my head I glared. You see, when I turned around, I saw one of the gate agents who looked like she was overdue for happy hour along with a 12-14 year old kid. Unaccompanied minor. So I turn back around, recheck my boarding pass for my lowly seat. About that time, the gate agent comes over the PA. “We are looking for 1 passenger who’s willing to take a morning flight tomorrow in exchange for a $300 voucher…blah, blah, blah.“ She didn’t really say blah, blah, blah, but I don’t remember what it was because all I heard was angels singing. If I was looking for a sign that I was meant to go to that Bon Jovi concert, that was it. I whipped around, boarding pass in hand and said, “I’ll do it!” I swear that overworked gate agent had a halo over her head and a golden aura surrounding her as she said repeatedly, “Oh, thank you.” No, dear wonderful gate agent, THANK YOU!
I follow her off the plane, and she is thanking me and Ms. Gibson-ing me like I’m the Queen of England instead of Lowly Peon of Formerly Seat 36D. We get back to the desk and she tells this woman with 3 kids ranging in age from say 10 years to say, the umbilical cord was cut 5 minutes ago, “We’ve got it all worked out.” The lady with the kids is looking back at me also doing that super-gracious thank you bit. By now, I’m starting to feel totally guilty that while I am helping this woman with all these kids (I suspect that earlier kid was one of hers as well, but the only one old enough to travel alone), I did it totally so I could see the final concert of Bon Jovi’s Have A Nice Day tour. I mean, Continental was practically paying me to go see it what with paying for two meal vouchers, hotel, plus a $300 voucher for a future flight. I couldn’t have planned for it to work out any better.
I think my kids eventually forgave me for coming home 12-15 hours later than planned, but I have zero regrets for delaying our reunion. In fact, these days they think it’s kind of cool that their mom did something so spontaneously crazy. That, and they’ve all been to a Bon Jovi conert too.