Thursday, September 5, 2013

Adventures in Geograpy

I went home for Christmas last year, which I normally do. You know, being a small town boy, with small town virtues, and being part of two of the largest families in the world, that are both pretty awesome, going home for holidays is part and parcel to not being shunned and/or kidnapped by said families. Christmas fell on, I believe a Tuesday. I had taken a couple of fall vacations last year, so I didn’t have a lot of leave time. This meant that I planned to fly back on Christmas afternoon so that I could work the day after the holiday. However, geography had a different plan. (I think this is funny. We attribute big scheme activities to fate or God or Mother Nature or Father Time. This time…I’m going to blame plain old geography. Congrats geography…you’re big time now!)

You see three things geographical coalesced into what I call, “a typical James story.” First would be the state of Texas. I use the lower case state here as a play on words, in light of the earlier post about how vague English can be. I mean both Texas as a state in the union, and also the state that Texas found itself in due to a crazy weather pattern. So, the state of Texas contributed to this funny story. A weather front that had slowly been creeping in from the west descended on the Austin area. It brought with it snow and ice and caused major delays.

Second, the state of Alabama contributed to the scenario, same word usage as above. Instead of the icy deluge that attacked Mother Texas, Alabama had a small tornadic outbreak. I, and a lot of others sat waiting around the terminal for delayed flight after delayed flight. It finally became apparent there was no getting out of Austin. The gentleman in front of me at the ticket counter mentioned that if he could get to DFW their flight was delayed enough they could probably get out of Dallas. He went to talk to his wife as I had the same conversation with the ticket agent. He then hollered at me that I could ride with him, his wife and their baby to DFW. And, of course, because I am me, said yes.

Another gentleman heard and asked if he could join the merry band, and it was agreed that, yes, yes he could. So, the five of us set off to rent a car and watch for luggage. Since neither I or the other single gentleman had luggage we went to find cars, as did the father of the little child. I struck out at every rental place so went back to the luggage carousel. The mom of the baby said she needed to talk to her husband and left their infant with me, a total stranger. And we all know what that means…the baby woke up. Apparently this baby will be a free-spirited hippie like myself, because she looked up, decided, "Yeah, he’ll do. Since he’s here, I’ll go back to sleep."

The couple came back and told me that their family decided it was too dangerous and would disown them if their sweet little grandbaby was taken to Dallas amidst this catastrophic weather. So, now it was down to me and the other dude. He said he had found a car and was ready to go if I was still up for it. I decided to give it a shot since after all I was supposed to work in a few hours.

We hit the road and started talking. Talking was a great distraction because this guy was a frightening driver. Not in the sense of swerving in and out of traffic or ignoring most traffic laws. He just drove really fast on icy roads, and talking seemed to help me keep looking at his face and not the speedometer or the road.

So, I asked him where he was from, expecting the terminus of his flight, not inquiring of his native lands, and he surprised me by saying he was from Persia. Now, I pride myself on geography. So, I accessed my mental map of the Middle East, approximately in the Iraq area, and there was no Persia on my map. So, I texted a few of you and asked where Persia was before asking him. Turns out sports fans, Persia is in Iran. Now, some of you are thinking, “Not so fast there James. Persia and Iran are interchangeable terms.” To which I would respond, “Yes, you are correct, but incorrect in this instance. My new friend here wanted to communicate that he was from a specific part of Iran that is quite dissimilar from the rest of Iran. Kind of like Texans say Austin isn’t really Texas, or Americans say Los Angeles isn’t really the U.S.”

So, geography decided to rear its head again there and I learned a valuable lesson or two. But there was one more piece of geography that got in the way of our getting to DFW…well two. The first was a culinary detour known as, West, Texas. Now, for those of you not in the know, yes, I did mean to use that comma. And for those of you in the know, yes, I did make him stop at Czech Stop. The final piece of geography is Dallas and Austin just aren’t close to one another. So, we didn’t get to Dallas on time and had to share a room in a hotel close to the airport.

After about 3 hours of sleep the two of us awoke and went to the airport. He got out on the first flight, and I had to pitch a fit to get out of Dallas. I finally got my airline to send me to Charlotte, NC to get me to Birmingham, because apparently Alabama is not important in terms of air transit. And really, whoever decides on layovers these days has no sense of geography. I've been sent to cities far out of the way that make no sense. For instance, this flight to the East Coast to get back to a more centralized locale. Also, one final funny note. When I got to Charlotte I ordered some barbecue and what I thought to be a quite expensive Cream Soda. Turns out it was a cream ale…and somewhat delicious. So, beware when in that airport that cream soda does not equal cream ale.

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