Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Listen to Your GPS; Wear Clean Underwear; and Have a Little Faith!

My lovely wife has accompanied me this year to Blackboard World 2012 in New Orleans. We were up this  morning and on the road by 3 am, with our first planned stop to be at a nearby 24-hour McDonald’s drive-through for coffee! The coffee did its job, and we made it to BWI, with only one silly glitch in the trip. Has anyone been down I-66 lately and tried to figure out whether, in the midst of all that construction and incorrect and incomplete signage, the 495 north exit is on the RIGHT or on the LEFT??!! Well, evidently, TODAY at least, it was on the left. Needless to say, we missed it. Luckily it was easy to get off at Falls Church and loop around and back to the correct exit, however poorly-marked it may have been!

BWI was already a-bustle with a zillion bleary-eyed yawning human specimens, all shuffling and grumbling as they were herded through the cattle gates, regularly being barked at by the United Airlines lady, who was trying desperately to hurry everyone up. “SEVEN A.M. SAN FRAN!!!” she would yell as she nearly ran up and down the length of United’s many counters. I looked around me at all the obviously non-English-speaking people who would look at each other, puzzled, wondering, I’m sure, what this crazy lady on speed was screaming about.

Once through baggage check, we proceeded, of course, on to the dreaded SECURITY! It was fairly simple this time. I’ve peeled back and pared down my travel practices over the past few years methodically and scientifically to make that passage through security easier on myself. For one thing, I now have what I call my “airport” clothes...drawstring shorts (in summer) with their own liner, no pockets, so I don’t have to wear a belt, and I on’t have to remove the change from my pocket. I wear slip-on shoes, so I can easily get them off and back on. I have a simple sleeve that my laptop slides into, so I can get that out quickly before they tell me to “Please remove your laptop from your bags!” I don’t even wear a hat anymore, because I forget to take them off, and then the stupid metal button on top of most of my baseball type caps sets off the detector! The one thing I DID, however, forget....again...seems like I forget EVERY time.....was my cell phone. I step under that dumb archway detector thingie, and the alarm sounds, and suddenly, everyone is looking at me! (Well, ok, maybe not EVERYone, but let’s just say MANY) I start to sweat...I begin to stutter and stammer....I’m thinking, oh, man...what could it....OH! “CELL PHONE....SORRY!!!” I say to the nice man! “Put it in the bucket and send it through,” he says disgustedly, kind of peering upward...or maybe rolling his eyes!

So, off we went, with a layover in Houston, and everything else was pretty uneventful the rest of our travel. We arrived safely at Louis Armstrong airport at about 12:45 this afternoon. Now, I knew all along I was to preside over the Virginia Blackboard Users Group meeting at the convention center at 3:10 pm, and I came to realize that we were going to be cutting it close, so I began to get that kind of panicky feeling again, as we gathered our bags off the carousel, and headed out to look for the airport shuttle to take us to the  hotel. The shuttle seemed to take forever to arrive, then took forever to load up and leave. We finally arrived at our hotel, only to find a long line of people already stretched out across the lobby. More sweating. FINALLY, I had keys to a room...on the 22nd floor, no less, and we were off and  running to the elevators. We thew our bags on the floor in our room, grabbed up a couple of things and went back down to catch the conference shuttle over to the convention center. Suffice it to say that I somehow managed to get to the convention center about 15 minutes prior to the start of my meeting! WHEW! Lots of sweating, praying, and worrying, and all for naught!

Well, now....maybe that prayer thing was what actually worked!

More on the conference coming up!

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