Another wild week in the books. In short I showed up for work on Monday, went to an hour-long meeting during which I was sent home but not fired. HR broke the news to us that the project we were working on was cancelled. We were sent home with a paid week off to handle the “emotional stress” of a job change. It had nothing to do with me really and no one was fired, so was an optimal demotion if you ask me.
My friend Jess and I, not knowing what to do with our minty-fresh time off, did what any person would do— went to dinner and then a sports bar to watch the
Coyotes Blackhawks game. (Jess is from Arizona). Then our friend Dan who also works, er, worked, on the project met us and we went to some 24-hr diner called Goldroc (not sure if they a- misspelled rock b- couldn’t afford one more electric letter on their signage or c- tried to make it look exotic by spelling it with just a “C” ). Most people call me naive, but something told me that there were most certainly drug transactions occurring in the parking lot. Ahh, the glamour of 24 hour establishments right off the highway. We ordered a mess of chocolate chip pancakes and commiserated about the abrupt end of the project.
But our coolness had to stop somewhere. Jess and I did go to work for a few hours each day to “better ourselves” as employees, went grocery shopping, and did other responsible adult-like activities.
But still, a week off. I had to repeat it over in my head to make sure I understood correctly. My work is not one where you can casually take a day off, let alone a week. I’ve shed many virtual text message tears since starting my new job, lamenting to all my friends and family that they do all the fun things while I miss out. I will never have anything remotely close to 4 months, let alone 4 weeks, of sunny freedom again unless I go back to school or unemployment.
But here I was, handed a 6 days off on a silver platter. The problem was that I had already planned a mini-vacation for the upcoming weekend with my sister to meet my some of my French friends who were going to be there to compete in the World Championships of Cheerleading in Orlando. Unfortunately none of that was a typo– all true. All of the French friends I made were on a club cheer team that happens to be the best in France (perhaps because I coached them 😉 ), therefore earning them a bid to compete against the best of the best at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Disney. Not your typical reason to go to Walt Disney World, but a reason nonetheless.
It was such a buzzkill because I could have been in Orlando right then. I looked into changing my flight, but it was no use. I had already coordinated my flight to meet Morgan on Thursday afternoon at the Orlando airport. So I just patiently waited. Besides, I had to
edit completely rewrite one of Morgan’s English 101 papers on rhetorical exigence, one of my favorite topics. Call me a control freak. I can take it.
Besides, Morgan had a lot to do because it was finals week. Sort of.
Technically her finals didn’t start until the next week. But I persuaded Morgan to try and get out of her exams and take them early in order for her to come with me. This seemed like a good plan at the time, and a month earlier Morgan had gotten them approved with few questions asked by her professors. I booked the trip the next day.
If there was one thing I learned in college it was not to be so uptight all the time. I used to schedule my Monday morning flights from Chicago back to school early enough to make it back to class at 10am. I mean, who does that? Who takes a 6 am flight from O’Hare to Reagan National, hops on a train, transfers lines, then switches to a bus, walks halfway across campus and casually sits down for French class with a 50-pound suitcase as if it were a backpack? Losers, that’s who, and that’s exactly what I was.
But in my post-grad life, I was determined to not be a loser, or at least save my sister from being one. So I instructed Morgan to take a page from my notebook: pretend to be all uptight and on top of things, tell your professors your dilemma, and then get them to accommodate you. Most don’t care nearly as much as one may think.
Morgan told her professors that she was competing in the world championships of cheerleading with her team and therefore needed to take her exams early. We thought this was totally excusable, but now that I put it to paper, in retrospect it only sounds slightly better than “I need to take my finals early because I am going to Disney world because my older sister wants a playmate.”
The day before our trip, I went to the mall with Jess. I figured Morgan was in the clear, happily taking all those cakewalk 100-level finals. Until I looked at my phone. 5 missed calls and 2 new text messages, the first saying “call me” and the second saying “call me asap.”
“What the heck is her problem, now?” I lamented out loud to Jess. “Why is everyone in my family so needy?”
I called her back.
“I have a bit of a problem, but I think you can help me.”
“Shoot.” My voice was monotone and unenthusiastic. I figure it’s another stupid English paper she hadn’t done yet.
“Well my management science professor wanted a copy of my flight itinerary—”
“Okay, well you can do that on your own…” I interrupt.
“And he wants my coach to call him to confirm my participation in this weekend.”
As the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed mastermind of this about-to-be-disastrous weekend, I try to keep my cool.
“Okay, well. I’ll just be your coach and put on my adult voice and drop him a line. Don’t worry it’ll be hilarious!” I try and reassure her. I envisioned myself as a 21st century Ferris Bueller, sans the busted Ferrari.
Morgan gave me the professor’s name and number to call within the next hour. She is supposed to take the final later that day so there isn’t much time. We devise a plan to have the same information in case he presses either of us for details. We decided our team name would be a team that actually exists, in case Professor Rollins actually goes as far as to Google the World Championships of Cheerleading.
There is nothing wrong with this. . Besides, let’s say someone on the French team gets hurt. Morgan would be the first person in. And, I was an assistant coach of the team 2 yrs ago, so anything he believes is incorrectly inferred by his own account.
I take a deep breath and dial his number, not knowing what to expect. The line rings once, twice, a third time…my heart is pounding. Answering machine. A friendly southern gentleman’s voice greets me and instructs me to leave a message. I clear my throat.
“Hello Professor Rollins, this is Amanda Leonard and I am calling on behalf of Ultimate Athletics to confirm Morgan’s participation in the World Championships this weekend. I want to personally thank you for accommodating her in her studies and I wish you all the best this summer. You can reach me at 847-287-0489 should you have any further questions. Again, Thank you and have a great day.”
Nailed it. I texted Morgan “bahahahaha just left a message. I crack myself up.”
My phone rings 5 minutes later. It’s Rollins. I let it ring a few times to think about what my plan of action was, because didn’t know why he was calling… Wasn’t the message enough?
“Hello, this is Amanda” I felt like this was the way professionals answered their phones, but I kind of botched it.
“WEll, hello, this is Professor Rollins.”
“Oh hello professor Rollins, it’s so nice to hear from you…”
“Well ma’am, I’m a little confused. You said you were with Ultimate Athletics?”
Oh crap. He googled it. He definitely googled it.
“Yes, sir” I figured when in Rome that I’d go along with the whole southern ma’am and sir thing.
“Well ma’am, I guess there has been confusion.” You see according to the department rules, tests are only moved due to serious illness or university-sponsored athletic events. I was under the impression that this was a University competition.”
Crap crap crap crap crap. I am already the worst bluffer ever and am terrible at thinking on the spot.
“Well sir, not quite, though this is something that several SC students participate in, but you are correct this is not explicitly a University event.”
“Well this is in violation of the course syllabus. I am going to have to talk to the head of my department. I mean, how do I know that this isn’t just some sorority competition in Florida?”
I started to lose my cool. “Well sir I assure this is much more legitimate than a sorority competition. It’s very serious.”
(What the *&^#* is a sorority competition anyway? Now we’re both pulling crap out of our butts).
But I don’t know how to shut up. “This is like, like the, the Olympics of Cheerleading.”
Really Amanda, the Olympics of Cheerleading? Now I sound stupid. While this is true, I was losing my adult voice and credibility all at the same time. The walls were closing in on me…
Rollins has heard enough.
“Well I hope the head of the department can grant an exception.” Sweet Southern Professor Rollins is mad irritated.
“I’d really appreciate that, Professor. Let me know what else I can do on my end.” Adult voice back on.
Then it was me texting Morgan and calling her five times. “Call me asap when you finish your math final.”
I explained the situation to her.
“I thought we agreed on giving as few details possible?” My little sister was scolding me. That was weird.
“I know I know it just came out like word vomit. But it should be fine; he already you could take it early and the flight is already booked so you’re good to go.”
And she was. But that was the least of my problems.
Despite all my free time, the night before I was at Jess’s place watching hockey until 12:30 with nothing packed. My dad called me to find out what the heck was going on. He likes to be in the know about all things flights, travel, and logistics. Not for safety purposes, like most parents, rather so he can strategize Morgan’s and my connections, meeting place and time, and literally track our flight moving at 1 mph over a little predetermined red curve on a virtual online map.
“Hey Dad, you’ll never believe where I am making a connection.” There’s nothing Paul loves more than a good ole travel pop quiz.
“I bet I can guess. Charlotte.”
“So obvious, Dad.”
“Hmm. What airline are you flying?”
“New York or Boston?”
“Nope. Other direction.” I loved that I was stumping my United Airlines Gold Status father.
“Well then it’s got to be DC.” He says confidently.
“ERRRRRRRRRRR!” I gloat in the sound of my simulated buzzer. “It’s Kansas City, I mean how random is that? I’ve never been to that airport before so am looking forward to it.”
“Hmm okay.” My dad is still confused and sounds kind of angry, and I can’t figure out why. “Well you really need to go to sleep, I mean it is really dangerous staying up the way you do when you have to leave at 5:45 am.”
I was a little annoyed as I hung up with him driving home from Jess’s place in Hartford. I shoved some clothes in a cloth LL Bean bag by 1:45am, printed out the hotel reservation #, and then picked up my room a little.
I couldn’t tell you what else I did, but before I knew it, my laptop told me it was 4:45. My friend Kelly offered to drive me at 5:45. There was no turning back. The last time I tried to go to sleep for just a few minutes I missed my flight by 6 hours. I had to stay up.
This time, I did successfully. Kelly was early, and I was running late. Despite her being mad at me for not telling her I was going to Disney World (where she used to work) until yesterday, and bailing out on my promise to help her move apartments this weekend, she still drove me to the airport with a smile and a Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate.
Which resort are you staying at?
“Ummm, were not staying at a resort. I forget the name, it’s some place in Kissimmee.”
False. I know exactly where were staying. It’s the EconoLodge, but that would absolutely crush Kelly to know that while visiting the happiest place on Earth I opted to stay in the dirtiest place on earth—Kissimmee, Florida: home of adult stores, cheap t-shirts and souvenirs, and my personal favorite, the store right across from us called “Brand Name Shoes.”
“Why would you do that? There are plenty of great affordable places to stay at Disney. I COULD HAVE HELPED YOU PLAN EVERYTHING. Do you at least have dinner reservations at Epcot?”
“Kelly, look at me. I have wet hair, no boarding pass, and don’t even know what time my connecting flight is. What do you think?”
“I am going to kill you.”
Kelly takes a break from reprimanding me and asks if we passed the airport exit. I hadn’t seen it yet. I can never remember the number but always just look for the little airplane symbol on the highway sign.
Remembering that I am incompetent when it comes to all things smart phones, she typed it into her iPhone and navigates herself. Yup, not only did we pass it, we are 10 miles past it.
This goes back to my theory of relations. I have a power over people that causes them to do stupid things they normally wouldn’t do, like get lost going to an airport they have been to 20 times.
Luckily before she gets a chance to kill me, we make it to Bradley. I looked at my phone to see if I needed to run. Nope, still on time. But I did have several texts, from who else but my mom, dad, and Morgan.
Mom: Are you awake?
Dad: Are you awake?
Morgan: yoooooo u up?
This is the level of trust my family has in me. First off, their texts are all useless. Even if I wasn’t up, they were too late to save me. I respond with a sassy snide remark.
Morgan: ok mom thought you fell asleep again haha almost in charlotte.
Me: I’m flying into Raleigh first! So we’ll be in the same state for a bit!
Morgan: Oh yeah dad thinks you’re going to Kansas City. He ripped you big time when I told him.
Morgan: Hey dad I’m on the shuttle to Charlotte now.
Dad: cool Amanda is in KC
Morgan: uh no she’s in Raleigh, maybe she meant NC?
Dad: oh I swore she told me Kansas City, whatever. She could fly through Hong Kong and
Not know it.
Morgan: True that
Dad: I’m surprised she even woke up this morning. She was out with a friend last night.
Morgan: oh she has friends?
Dad: just one.
(Morgan to me)
Morgan: You’re such an idiot. Why would you think you were going from Connecticut to Kansas to Florida?
Me: Morgan, I booked my flight on some ghetto airline called Pinnacle Airlines. With a name like that it could be taking me flipping anywhere.
Dad: Glad you got on the right flight.
I didn’t respond. I was fed up with this harassment.
Although everyone thinks it’s me that is the late one, Morgan’s flight was delayed 3 hours. Near a big fountain, I camped out on a chair and slept a few hours amid the buzz of all the parents, children and elderly people taking pictures all over the airport, a tourist destination in itself.
Morgan met me at baggage claim. I have one more text. This one is from my Grandma, who has just recently gotten into texting.
Grandma Mary: Did you meet up with Morgan?
Me: Hi grandma yes we just met up and are heading out to the airport now!
Grandma Mary: GOOD!!!!
At least someone was proud of me.