Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Plans--HAHAHAHAHA!

This week my business travel plans have been so flexible I’ve gone nowhere. That seemingly never ending “wintry mix” (read ICE!) keeps hanging around my driving destination causing my ongoing delays. If I’d scheduled a flight, I’d likely be there already.


This morning, after pulling the plug again (WHAT?! MORE wintery mix?! Yesterday they said it'd be gone!), I did get to enjoy a combo business/social breakfast meeting with an author friend, something I’d have missed if I’d headed toward Minnesota yesterday as originally scheduled. We chatted about the state of publishing (watch for a future TravelingLaugh on THAT hairy topic!) and the fact that today, her husband set off on his first of many future business trips to downtown Chicago. Due to situations beyond his control, he’s become a part-time Windy City commuter, something I sure wouldn’t welcome. Out here in the burbs, we like hopping in our cars and actually getting places without trains and transfers. When there isn’t road work mucking things up, slowing us down, bringing us to screeching halts. (Process of full disclosure: there is ALWAYS road work everywhere since this is Illinois. **she sighs**)

At 10:30 a.m., my friend received a phone call from her daughter, due home today from college. Via the airlines. Her daughter had just received an email from Orbitz announcing her 7 p.m. flight had been cancelled. Weather? I asked. Could be, but sometimes airlines cancel flights that aren’t full enough. We all know that.

I pulled up RadarNow on my smart phone, an app worthy of full-feature pay. Whoa! There was a huge-o-rama storm moving her daughter’s way, a massive multi-colored swirl broadcasting plenty of watches and warnings. After a few phone calls, it looked like they could get her out early, before the storms. If everything went as planned, her cancellation would ultimately deliver a Good Thing. Although she was supposed to be in classes today, she could work with professors to turn a few things in early.

I, on the other hand, cannot drive over the storms or beat them as they linger and aim right at me.

In my younger days, I poo-pooed the possibilities and hit the road. Now, fully aware how many cars quickly crash and meld together on Interstate highways during those snaky wintry mixes (and foggy episodes and no reason at all snarls), I make decisions carefully, especially when what waits on the other end can postpone. If business can’t stall, tighter budgets and advancements in teleconferencing present Option Three: stay put and get your business done anyway.

But not all delays are so easily swallowed. A couple weeks ago my beloved aunt passed away. In good weather, it wouldn’t have taken more than a two-and-a-half hour drive to attend her Indiana funeral. But here came another doozy of a storm. 

We watched the weather, made calls, fretted …. One place you seriously don’t want to be when snow is flying and the winds are howling is on Interstate 65. I kept in close contact with scattered cousins in the area, most who said “STAY PUT!” In the end, that’s what we did, but it was a gut wrenching decision. As it turns out, I-65 partially closed the day of the funeral, the day we would have been coming home. The storm was so bad the after-funeral meal was cancelled. One of my cousins said her prayers and blasted through local drifts in her big old pickup, grateful she wasn’t worried about us making our way back to Illinois too.

In the end we each do what we can*. I wanted to say what we must(*), but Mother Nature’s rip-roaring laughter might shake us all off the planet.
UPDATE: It’s now 3:30 and I just received a text from my friend. Her daughter’s tickets have thus far been rewritten twice. She’s now scheduled on a 6:30 flight. The poor young thing has a headache, is almost out of cell phone battery and doesn’t have her charger. Rather than expend any energy on frustration (WHAT? No CORD?!), together we momma’s are praying. What else is there to do when you’re up against the airlines AND Mother Nature? “God, just keep our babies safe.” 

FURTHER UPDATE: It's 4:49 and I heard back from my friend who just heard from her daughter. She's been delayed again "a few hours" so it may be midnight before she gets home.  BUT, she had some coffee to kick the headache, used her mom's credit card to buy a phone charger, got herself a decent meal, and is feeling better about having to sit tight.

You know, my lounge chair suddenly looks really inviting. There is something to be said for going nowhere. 
PS AND THE REAL KICKER: I just Googled "pictures of Mother Nature" to add to the beginning of this blog post. First up in the "sponsored results" . And you think Mother Nature isn't laughing now?!?!?!