Enough Is Enough. I’m Retiring.

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Yes, that is my headline for this column. Sometimes things happen to make you want to shift gears, get out of Dodge, and kick back. I had such an experience recently. I know everyone has difficulties when traveling, but I have been doing it a long time, and it piles up on you. Here is what happened to force my thoughts of retirement.

My business associate, Kat Houston, and I finished our meeting in Dallas at 11:00 a.m. Although my flight was not until early evening, the weather forecast was bad, so we decided to head to the airport to try to get on an earlier flight home. I first had to drive Kat to Love Field before heading to DFW. I dropped off the car, grabbed the first bus to the terminal, and stood in line at the US Airways desk to put my name on standby. I was feeling really good that I was going to beat the bad weather and get out of Dallas early.

Unfortunately, I found out that I was actually on an American flight to Charlotte, so I had to rush to get on the tram to the American terminal to make a 1:00 p.m. flight. I did not get on the 1:00 flight. I ended up four back as apparently others had the same idea of getting to Charlotte early.

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I ended up on standby for the 2:30 flight. With a little breathing room, I decided to get a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s. It really tasted good, but it’s not exactly great for my diet. I was last person called for the 2:30 flight. Just before I boarded the plane, a woman ran up to the gate to bump me out. Oh, so close.

The next chance was my originally scheduled flight at 6:45. I found the American club where I could watch some golf on TV to wait out the four hours. It was a very nice, large club, my guess to handle all those late flights and weary travelers. I found a good seat, had a tasty bowl of vegetable soup that is on my diet, and convinced myself it was not so bad. There’s no need to be upset; things like this happen at airports. Plus, I had originally booked the 6:45 flight to save some money…smart guy.

About 5:45 I sauntered back to the gate and waited for the plane to show up. Then came the dreaded announcement. Due to the bad weather in the Dallas area, my plane was diverted to San Antonio. The estimated time of departure was now moved to 9:00. I was no longer chilled out and relaxing. I bought a bottle of water and plopped down.

About 8:00 they announced that they had a new plane for us, but it was at gate C33. I was at C7. That’s a long walk with a bad knee and bad attitude.

We boarded the plane at 8:45. Although I did not get upgraded to first class, I at least had the first bulk head row after on the aisle. Good, I’ll have leg room and will try to sleep on the flight home.

A very nice young couple with a five-month-old infant sat next to me. The young man apologized to me, saying it was the first flight for the beautiful young baby. Okay, no problem. I’ve been through this before and will manage. I smiled and told them I had experience with two daughters years ago. Oh really?

Did I say we boarded at 8:45? We didn’t take off until 10:00; that’s 11:00 East Coast time. Fifteen minutes into the flight the poor child was struggling. They had been at the airport for five hours themselves. After ten minutes of the noise with the parents having no luck, I suggested that they lightly rub the baby’s forehead while making soothing sounds. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I was not.

The flight was bumpy, so they did not do a drink service. We made good time and landed at 12:45 a.m. The nice couple thanked me for the sleep technique and told me they were relocating to Charlotte from Dallas. I walked to the parking garage. I had parked in C area since I had flown out on US Airways, but my American flight came in on the A Concourse. It was a long walk at 1:00 in the morning.

I was happy to finally get home around 1:30, but found myself wide awake. I grabbed a cigar and Coke, sat on the back porch, and thought about what my life would be like if I announced my retirement, wished everyone good luck, and watched the grass grow at the golf course.

By 2:00 a.m. I had talked myself out of it. Instead of retirement, I decided to just not pay any attention to anything or anybody for a few days. Besides, think of all the frequent flyer miles I would miss.

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Jim LeeExecutive Editor

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