Apr 21, 2008

I'm Back!

You know..considering I've been gone for a couple days...I really didn't think I would be able to come up with anything else to post. I know no one who frequents this place really wants to know about Epidemiology and the research I conducted while I was in D.C. I already posted about the highlight of my trip with my little post about Jeffrey Goldberg. Now that I was going home, what could I possibly post that could keep my "friends" and readers come back again....well....fate always seems to be good for me when it comes to screwing things up!!! (I apologize in advance...this is a long one!)

Prior to the job I have now, I used to be a consultant for one of the "Big 5" accounting firms, before Anderson collapsed and now there are only 4. I started a little tradition that whenever I travel, I always bring some type of souvenir for each of the kids and the wife. I left that accounting firm and the life on the road before Kylie and Ryan were born. This was my first lengthy travel since their births. I've done some single day trips, but that doesn't count. I was always home before they went to bed. So, I promised Ryan I would bring him home a "surprise."

During the course of my studies, I have made a very good friend. He is a professor at East Tennessee State University. He is an M.D. He's currently working on a Ph.D. in Epidemiology as well. We met up again in D.C. While we were there, we decided to take a trip to one of the local malls to pick up our souvenirs for our kids. We found a "Washington Redskins" store while we were there. We both picked up some items for our kids. Since I bought stuff for two kids, mine fit in one bag. I bought Kylie a white and pink jersey that said "Taylor." You guys may remember him, #21, killed here in Florida last year by some idiot kids during a home invasion. If you buy any Sean Taylor gear from that store, they donate some of the proceeds to the Sean Taylor Memorial Foundation. So..back to the story...Kylie got the cute little jersey and I bought Ryan a red polo with the letter "R" on the front. I figured..that's cool..The "R" will be for Ryan and Redskins. I think he'll get a kick out of it.

In the meantime, my friend bought everyone in his family something, including himself. He has three children. He bought his youngest son a white redskins t-shirt and matching red shorts. He had enough stuff they put it in two bags. (By this point...you guys can probably figure where this is going). After there, we stopped on our way back to the conference center and ate at a restaurant. Once we got back to the conference center, he handed me a shopping bag. I saw white and red. Just a cursory glance.

Later that night, with everything else I had to do, I also got to packing my bags since I was leaving the next day. Again, I come to the shopping bag and just put it in the bottom of my luggage. I couldn't wait to get home to give Ryan his surprise. The trip home went off without a hitch...until...I got to the airport....from this point forward...I should have known everything was just going to fall apart.

So, I arrive in Tampa at 7:10 (exactly on time! woohoo!). I figured I would be home by 8:00. The kids would still be awake. So...I get my bag, up the elevator, on the tram to my parking garage, out to the car....hmmm...that's not looking right. My car looked like it was tilting a little. So, I get closer, open the trunk, throw everything in there, walk around to the driver's side...and...awww man! The front right tire was flat.

Me: Honey? I'm going to be late

Mary: Aww hun! Why?

Me: Flat tire. But, I have that compressor in the trunk. I can inflate it here and I'll just get some of that fix-a-flat on the way home.

Mary: Okay. How long do you think its gonna be?

Me: I don't know. I'll call ya when I get back on the road.

Mary: Okay. But, make sure you call me when you're not in a lot of traffic..you know..like on I-275.

Me: I don't go anywhere near I-275. I'll call ya in a little bit. Love ya.

Mary: Love ya too. Just hurry up. You have a Booper and a Squeaker here that are really looking forward to seeing their daddy!

Me: Okay. I'm hurrying.

(Our nicknames for our kids are Booper (Ryan) and Squeaker (Kylie). I'll give you that story later).

Anyway...I pulled out the emergency air compressor from the back trunk. Plugged it into the cigarette lighter, hooked it up to the tire, and waited...and waited...and waited...it took about 30 minutes to inflate. So...I'm back on the road again. I get out of the parking garage, pay the frakkin $75 parking fee (last time I flew it only cost $35 for 7 days!)..and was on my way home...or so I thought.

Lots of construction going on around the airport. It looks nothing like I remembered. I no longer knew where my exit was to get home..and the signs weren't clearly marked...everything was still under construction. Oh well...I'll just trust my male instincts of stellar direction! Okay..so...I found a sign for "60" which I thought was my exit. Well..I normally go West 60. Never saw a sign for West 60..just 60. Turns out..this is a sign for East 60. Didn't know that until I was already headed that way. Now...once I'm on 60...and with construction going on...there are barriers all around me...no way to turn around. Okay..so..I know where this comes out at, I'll just get off at Kennedy and turn back around.

Okay...where's the signs for Kennedy? What the frak? I-275 South? How the heck do I get to Kennedy? I thought this was East 60? Frak! Frak! Frak!. Okay...I-275 South. So...I have to go over the bridge. Once I get over the bridge, I'll just take the exit for 688. That only takes me about 15 miles out of my way. (Here's the sitch, once you get on the I-275 South exit from the Airport, you have no choice, again..you can't turn around..and...it takes you over the Howard Franklin bridge that connects Tampa Bay with Clearwater..about a 5 mile bridge).

Alright..I'm over the bridge...let me call Mary and let her know what happened.

Me: Hi Mary!

Mary: Hi Honey! Are you on your way?

Me: Sorta.

Mary: What do you mean, Sorta?

Me: Well. I think you jinxed me with that I-275 thing..cuz..I got lost coming out of the airport, ended up on 275, had to cross the bridge, now I'm looking for the exit.

Mary: Awww. Honey!!!!

Me: I know. So, I'm going to be a little later than I expected.

Mary: Fine..just get home!

As you can tell..at this point, the excitement of me coming home is beginning to become disappointment...possibly a little frustration...who knows...there could have been a bit of anger in there as well.

So..During that conversation, I took my exit...or...so I thought. At this point, I should let everyone know that those warnings about talking on cell phones...well...they're right. You really don't concentrate on the road as well as you think you do. I got off the wrong exit. I exited too soon. So..now..here I am heading East. I'm supposed to be heading West. I'm NOT calling Mary again!!!

So..long story short...I finally get headed back in the direction I need to be going. I get home at about 8:50. It has taken me almost 2 hours to get home when it should only have taken me 45 minutes!!! But, happy happy joy joy..the kids are still up! What a reception! Kylie started crying as soon as I walked through the door (I tell myself its tears of joy)..got big hugs from her. Max jumped over the gate from the kitchen...I bent down to pet him...he peed on my shoes! (I tell myself its pees of joy!) Then I have to do the usual hide-and-go-seek game with Ryan. He hides as soon as I get home and I have to find him.

Okay..found him...got the big hugs. Then I tell him..."I got a surprise for you!" He gets really happy!

Ryan: What did you get me?

Me: You'll see.

Ryan: Is it a toy?

Me: (Sifting through my bag). Hang on..you'll see!

Ryan: (Moving to the couch). Where is it?

Me: (Pulling clothes out of the bag now). It's right here! Just hang on!

Ryan: (Ants in his pants, bouncing on the couch now). Daddy!

Me: (Picking up the bag and dumping all of it. NOTE: Put gifts at top of bag next time). Got it!

Ryan: Well?

Pause - Me looking at Mary now - Frak! Frak! Frak! - I don't want to say it. I can't tell him. Frak!

Me: Ummm. Ryan? I don't have your surprise.

Now - if any one of you have ever seen joy turn to hurt in less than a second..it is not something you want to experience.

Me: I have Ed's little boy's surprise. My friend Ed must have your surprise. I'm really really sorry. I must have gotten his bag by mistake.

Ryan: (Crying) Well..you're just going to have to get me another surprise.

Me: I know. I know. I'm really sorry. I promise I will get you a surprise on my way home tomorrow!

Ryan: (Still crying) Okay.

So..I immediately get on the phone to call Ed. I get his voicemail. Apparently, his plane still hasn't landed. He had to fly from D.C. to Nashville with a layover in Detroit (go figure). So, I leave a message telling him he probably has Ryan and Kylie's stuff, because I have his son's stuff.

I spoke with him this morning. He got my message after he landed in Nashville. But, lucky him...he bought other things for his kids while in Detroit as well. Anyway, he confirmed, he did have my kids' stuff. I'll be mailing him his stuff and vice versa.

Well..that little mistake cost me big time today! On the way home, I stopped at Target. I only paid $20 for that shirt in D.C. Today he got "The Bees Movie" ($19.99), The "My First Batmobile" for all of his matching superhero figures ($29.99) and a Lex Luthor action figure ($7.99) this completes that collection.

I probably could have just gotten him the Lex Luthor action figure..but..Daddy guilt set in. I'll know next time to check the bag! I don't know if I can afford to buy him a pony if it happens again!!!!


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