Four in the Morning


My children, who are both naturally smart and talented at everything they attempt, not to mention extremely good looking and kind to animals, both were on teams that qualified for the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) national tournament in Louisville, KY.  Since no one called me to ask about convenient times for this tournament, it presented a dilly of a pickle.  My daughter’s team was shooting Thursday afternoon.  My son’s team was shooting on Saturday.  On Thursday I had a work obligation I couldn’t get out of and my son had his final band concert and awards ceremony.  So we divided and did our best to attempt to conquer.

The following plan was hatched:  my daughter (Marin) and husband (Mike) would drive to Kentucky on Wednesday.  Jacob and I would go to school and work, respectively, then the band concert, and fly out to meet them Friday morning.  Then we’d all drive home together.  Sounds like a fabulous plan, right?

The only flight I could find that cost less than renting a car (which was in and of itself exorbitant: I’m fairly certain that had we taped ourselves shut in cardboard boxes with some beef jerky and Benadryl and UPSed ourselves to Louisville it would have been considerably cheaper and possibly faster) left Atlanta at 7 in the morning.  That time in the morning is a reasonable time on a weekday to be doing something.  However, to get on a flight that leaves at 7 in the morning, you have to leave your house (which is an hour away from the airport) at 4 in the morning, which means you have to get up at 3 in the morning, which is a time that is much easier stayed up until rather than be woken up at.

The day before our flight, my son and I ventured to Taco Bell to eat dinner, because a quick review of the at home options included a can of Steak and Mushroom soup, an over-ripe banana, Apple Jacks, and some frost-encrusted chicken nuggets.  While trying not to mindfully eat my Chicken Cantina Bowl of Despair, a Major Problem dawned on me.  This was an archery tournament. Archery doesn’t work well without the whole bow and arrow thing.  As far as I know, when you are driving, you just throw the lot in the trunk and go where you are going.  However, checking a zombie killing weapon like that on an airplane?  When all you own is a soft case?  I mean, I can’t bring 4 ounces of shampoo with me.  Certainly I couldn’t bring a teenager with a deadly weapon.  When we got home I ‘replied all’ to one of the coach’s latest emails and explained the predicament.  Luckily, there were lots of volunteers to help.  Archery Moms and Coaches rock.  They save me from me.

The day before we left, by the time we got home from the band concert (Jacob won the Duke Ellington jazz award, thank you very much.) and packed up our last minute items (our clothes had been sent on ahead with the car) it was close to midnight.  We settled in for our nap and woke up to a series of screaming alarms what felt like 45 seconds later.

There is a surprising amount of traffic on the road at 4 in the morning.  

We got to the airport, parked in long term parking and headed to the terminal on the shuttle bus.  The bus stopped and we got off, because in my pre-caffeinated, not yet dawn state I forgot to consider whether or not it was our stop (it wasn’t) and so we had to walk a good ways to get to our ticket counter.  We didn’t have any check in luggage, so we used the electronic kiosk thingies.  It figured out who we were, printed out boarding passes, and we walked the four hundred miles to security, what with there being construction inside the airport, necessitating little tags hanging from dangly looking crooked air vents saying things like, “Seriously?  I know this looks like it is going to fall, but we promise you it is secured to something structural.  This zip tie is not in any way securing this heavy metal beam.  Look the other way.  Hey!  Isn’t that the guy from that show over there?”  [Actually, it said something like, “This device is securely fastened to a structural beam.”  But I’m no fool.  I can read between the lines.]

The air vents may have been hanging there securely, but they surely were not blowing any air around.  There were seventy zillion people in the Atlanta airport at 5:30 in the morning, each of them breathing hot breath and sweating.  The air was thick with humanity and humid.  I was hungry.  I wanted coffee and food.  My son, the original morning person, was speaking more or less non-stop, mostly about how he wanted to give up our place in line to venture over to the Starbucks visible through the fence.  We could see the security screeners in the distance.  It occurred to me that if the government was actually implanting chips in our brains in those machines, we wouldn’t care, we’d raise our arms and put our shoeless feet on the yellow footprints, just for the chance to get out of that line before we smothered in the cocktail of other people’s morning breath and body heat.

We finally got to the front.  The TSA guy, who would probably have been too chipper for me if it were 2 in the afternoon, greeted us.  What is this smiling thing he is doing?  He honestly seems like he’s interested in the answer when he asks us who we are.  “What’s your name?” he asks my son.  “Jacob,” says Jacob.  “It’s not Lori?”  “No,” says I.  “I’m Lori.” “Where’s Jacob’s boarding pass, then?”

I looked at the passes.  Both of them said Lori.  One was for me, one was for my connecting flight.  Jacob’s were….still in the machine, I supposed.  I just grabbed two, since there were two people, and skittered off, apparently not stopping to wonder if anything else needed to be done.

To be continued……………

About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

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