At 6:00 AM this morning, GoldStar Towncar (a company I used to travel with when I worked as a consultant with Avanade) arrived at the house to take me to SeaTac International Airport. They actually arrived a few minutes early, which is good since my flight got delayed from 8:35 AM to 3:00 PM. I know that sounds strange, but here's the reason it's good.
The American Airlines ticketing agent managed to get me on a United Airlines flight leaving at 7:35 AM. That left me less than one hour to check my bags, go through security, hop the tram to the satellite, and catch the flight. I felt like O.J. Simpson as I sprinted with my bags through the airport—except that I'm fat and out of shape, white, haven't murdered anyone recently, and wasn't leading the cops on a lengthy low-speed chase down the interstate.
After getting pushed back from the gate, the captain started the left engine. Smoke came billowing out the business end. Just some extra lubricant donated by the ground crew, I presume. A few moments later, I could smell the smoke, as the right engine then proceeded to belch its own cloud and the pre-recorded safety guy on the television monitors said "United Airlines is a smoke-free airline."
I ended up stuck next to one of those unfriendly Indians—how redundant is that! Can't believe those people. Always stepping on your toes, bumping into you, cutting in line, never apologizing for anything.
His name was Sodhi, a Sikh, who was headed home to visit his parents in Delhi. They're getting up in years and he's retired, so he goes back to visit them each year for three weeks. As it turns out, he had lived in South America for seven years, working for the World Bank. He recommended some places to visit and told of some of his adventures, with fondness.
As the Captain pulled back on the yoke and Bernoulli lifted the Boeing 757 up into the crisp Northwest winter air, the most stressful period of my life came to an end.
Over the past month-and-a-half, I planned a relatively significant trip, found renters for my house, began termination of one of those renters—rather, began termination of his lease—tried to buy another house, terminated a marriage, terminated a job, got my car repaired, and did a zillion other little things.
By the time evening rolled around on the eve of my trip, I felt like I was going to implode. And I might have imploded, too, if it hadn't been for a phone call from a dear friend of mine—Matt Powell. We chatted for about an hour. It was a breath of fresh air. We hadn't talked in a long time, so we quickly caught up on the past and briefly discussed the future. That call was a welcome stress reliever.
After saying goodbye, I finished another half-dozen tasks as I began watching Rambo III at around 11:00 PM. I was in bed by 1:00 AM with only my toothpaste and hairbrush left to pack when I got up later in the morning. I quickly passed out when my head hit the pillow.
Only four hours later, my alarm sounded, and thus began the beginning of the beginning. I'm off to Latin America.