Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trail Blazer Switch

I’ve been told Hoosiers own the largest inventory of black Chevy Trail Blazers per capita in the country. I can’t confirm that, and after my experience last Friday, I don’t want to. It could turn out to be untrue, and I need the excuse.

This embarrassing admission takes place at our new Noodles & Company, which I wanted to check out before taking my friend’s teen-age daughter to the mall. Ron went along to be a supportive husband, a role he’s eager to fill whenever the topic is food. And that’s how the three of us wound up taking his SUV rather than my red Miata in the first place.

As we were leaving, a blast of cold air hit me — me, with my coat unzipped and my ear muffs in my pocket along with my gloves. So my first instinct was to run for the car and stop the shaking. Thank goodness it was in the first space. I threw open the passenger door and it struck me that Ron is really a pig. The seat was covered in crumbs, with a to-go cup lid lying there.

Yah, I should have caught the fact that I had just graced that seat 30 minutes before and I didn’t have a drink. Nor is my butt crumby. But my sole goal at that instant was to shut that door and start warming up.

Just as I got comfy, a deep male voice cut through my fog: “Hey, lady, this isn't your car.”

Of course, my husband was standing in the parking lot laughing himself sick. The teen-ager was torn between being embarrassed that adults were creating attention and laughing herself sick. Not only did I have to get out of the Trail Blazer and walk down three spaces to where our identical vehicle was, passing the owner (also laughing) as we went, I had to sit in yet another cold seat.

I didn’t check to see if I had a cup lid stuck to my rear, too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bumming a Beach

I just read where someone stole a beach on Jamaica’s north coast this summer. For journalists, the big mystery evolves around where it went. I have a more elemental question: How did someone take it in the first place?

I’m not a whiz at crime – the only thing I’ve ever deduced that could land me in jail is how to steal a purse from a stall in a women’s restroom. And I promise I won’t try it because the getaway plan relies on running quickly and then looking innocent when you blend back into the crowd carrying two purses: yours and the one you snatched.

So perhaps I’m slow here, but how do you drive 500 truckloads – or even one truck 500 times – to a spot and fill it up with sand without someone noticing?

The reports say this was a construction site for an upcoming resort. So, maybe the first few trucks look like they belong. But at some point, a foreman or just your average guy hammering away at a frame is going to say, “hmmm, this beach is looking rather skinny.” Or someone will look up at say, “Why is that truck back here when we aren’t scheduled to dig sand today?”

Perhaps it was transported under the cover of night, you suggest. Well, I know in my neighborhood, if someone were to steal, say, concrete out of the mall parking lot across the street, some busybody would know about it. She certainly has a running report on what my dog is doing in the backyard at all hours. Uh, that is, surely someone would be unable to sleep and notice illegal activity going on nearby.

A few of the news reports suggest the developers and police were in collusion to pull this off, although no one knows where the sand is now or why someone would take it. Which, of course, would make this even stupider. Why would someone capable of building a crime syndicate of these proportions use it to steal sand?

Maybe they can’t run fast enough to steal a purse from a public restroom either.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't Shoot

I’m never letting my husband touch the camera again.

For 25 years, this man has managed to take a photo of my backside on every vacation. Australia and the Great Barrier Reef came out as Julie’s behind floating like a bobber in the ocean. At Disney World, he captured a memory of Mickey Mouse hugging a stranger – oh, wait! I recognize that rear. Must be me.

Christmas Eve with the family? There’s his sister (caught off guard), the nephew looking the other way … and Julie’s butt.

Photography instructors say this happens when people shoot with their brain – i.e. what they want to see in the photo – versus what the eyeball is actually looking at in the viewfinder.

I know – it’s the digital age. It’s not as if his crummy photos are costing me developing fees because they’re part of the roll of film. But now he’s deteriorated even further. He’s not getting people in the photo at all. He actually was excited to download this card from the high school show choir because “I can’t wait to show you how beautiful you looked tonight.”


Anyone want to donate a pair of eyes AND a brain to this cause?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Run, Julie, Run

I have never missed a connection in my life.

And after what I went through in the Prague airport, that’s not exactly something to be proud of.

It’s definitely Czech Airlines’ fault. They scheduled a legal connection of only 45 minutes between landing and my JFK flight – and because travel is always full of mishaps, my flight arrived 15 minutes late. And I was in the back of the stupid airplane, so I didn’t disembark until 20 minutes before take-off.

Now at this point, I wasn’t worried. We were late due to weather, so certainly the JFK flight was delayed, too. And there were at least 10 of us on that plane with the same connection – they’d hold it. The little tram bus picked us up to ride over to the international terminal, where all I would have to do is stroll over to A6. After I showed my passport to the guy in the little window, where there was a line of people backed up, that is. I trotted to the end.

“Everyone on the New York flight, please hurry up. It’s final boarding call – you have 10 minutes,” this little guy in a white uniform starts yelling. Well, buddy, that would be nice, but unless you tell the people in front of me in Czech to let me jump line, that hurry up part ain’t happening. He promised to wait for me on the other side, along with another passenger, to escort us to the gate.

Whee! I was getting a little cart ride. Never had that kind of service before.

I still haven’t. He looked at the two of us and said, “Now you run. I will keep up.” And away we flew, my 50 pounds of camera equipment wheeling madly behind me. We even ran on the moving walkways, all but shoving folks out of our way. We ran until my lungs burned and we finally reached Terminal …. B. “Half way there. They are closing the door in three minutes. I’ll call to tell them to hold just a couple more. Keep running,” he encouraged.

When we turned the corner into Terminal A, the other gal wanted to quit. There would be another flight. I wasn't having any of that defeatist talk -- I started out to make that flight and by God, that was how this was going to end. So I kept panting, reaching for that extra something until at last, there was A6 – right behind a freakin’ security screening line. Yah, I had to remove my laptop, pull out my liquids, take off my shoes. My passport flipped into the floor and I nearly left it in the hassle. “Please hurry,” says my escort.

If I’d had a spare millisecond, I would have used it to kill him.

And finally, the agent at the gate is holding out her hand for my boarding pass, which she took instead of the tennis shoes I was also still clutching. “Passport please.” Geez, Louise. I’ve shown it four times to get on this flight: once in Budapest and now three times in Prague, the last time not 100 feet from this checkpoint. “Hurry,” she says after I've successfully proven I’m Julie Sturgeon of the United States of America. “Run that way,” she said, pointing down the gangway. (Those things hurt when you are in just your socks.)

I was the last person on board. They slammed the door behind me – it’s a wonder my camera bag made it in that 2-foot gap between my heels and its wheels.

But there was a beautiful reward for this effort. Apparently passengers from another connecting flight didn’t make it – I had an entire row of the airplane to myself for the next 8 hours. Get out of here – it doesn’t get any sweeter than that.

Thank God they didn’t run.

Election Night Results

Election Day has always been an unofficial holiday at our house, so I was torn over taking an Avalon Waterways river cruise down the Danube during the first week in November. Luckily, the ship had an internet connection, which meant if I were willing to get up at 4:30 a.m., I could still be part of the action at home.

It was just my luck the internet satellite wasn’t working on this journey – they could, of course, put on CNN in the reception area for us. Which is a great compromise for anyone but a stubborn first-born like me, used to getting her way.

Instead, I called for a cab in the middle of the night to take me to the nearest hotel. I could tell the driver thought I was a prostitute, working the various tourist spots. I guess my laptop was to record my earnings, huh? The desk clerk at the Hilton Danube was just as fuzzled when I strolled in and asked to buy a wi-fi connection.

It was worth every penny to set up – completely alone – in the lobby, log on and hear my husband’s standard greeting over the little speakers: “Hey, pretty girl!” We chatted for nearly 2 hours, and at one point he even turned up the television set so I could close my eyes and see myself cuddling up next to him.

Only the election results weren’t what we wanted to hear. And, just like that, being in a foreign country, alone on a worn couch and a glass coffeetable, wasn’t so special. Not to mention I still needed to cough up 5Euros to get back to the ship. Oh, and I hadn’t been to bed and it was now 7 a.m.

The lobby traffic was picking up, and a Japanese family chose my space to plop down all around me. Great. Couldn’t they tell I was on the verge of crying, I was lonely, and just in a crappy mood in general? I suppose the next thing you know, we’d be taking pictures, too.

And no sooner did that thought roll through my head than the teenager whipped out his little pocket Sony and started snapping away. Get outta here – you can’t watch that coincidence and not laugh.

No matter where you are, some things, thankfully, never change.