Planes, Trains an Automobiles

I know I shouldn’t, but I have a few left over rants from the family vacation to Tampa. Last week, I compared it to the Griswald’s trip to Wally World. After what happened on the way home, it’s John Candy’s “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”

My problems started with trying to get to Tampa as quickly as possible. There was a 7:10 a.m. flight that I jumped on. Why Tera at Maryville Travel didn’t warn me of my family’s reaction, I’ll never know. My wife, Michele, and son, Sam, let me have it for the early flight for weeks prior to the vacation.

Then my weak memory got the best of me. We flew home at 7:10, also. I assumed it was 7:10 a.m. again. That cost me my family’s ire the entire five days in Tampa.

Sam (third from the left) sings “Take Me Out to the
Ball Game” at Tropicana Field

However, it gets much worse. We were scheduled to fly out Wednesday. Tuesday night, Sam and I had tickets to see Tampa Bay face the Boston Red Sox in a night game. My wife decided to do another activity. I’m not going to say what activity, but I will tell you it was on the other side of Tampa, while Sam and I were watching baseball in St. Petersburg.

Michele is not a big fan of technology and conveniently forgot her cell phone. I told her Sam and I would pick her up 11:00 p.m. Surely, the game wouldn’t last more than four hours. I told her if we weren’t there at 11, to call me from a pay phone and we would adjust the pick-up time.

At 11 p.m., the Rays had left the bases loaded for the second time in three innings and the game prodded on. At 11:22, Michele called and we adjusted the time to midnight.

Finally, after 13 pitchers, 434 pitches, and 4 hours and 57 minutes, Evan Longoria hit his second home run of the game to give the Rays the win. It may be the best game Sam and I have ever witnessed. One problem – Sam’s mother still need to be picked up.

At 12:08 a.m., we headed for the parking lot. At 12:20, Michele checked in while we were just entering the bridge that separates Tampa and St. Pete. At 1 a.m., we arrived to pick up Sam’s mother. At 1:17, we finally found her and headed for our hotel. At 1:48, Sam and his mother went to bed, expecting to get up 3 hours and 12 minutes later to go to the airport.

At 5:10 a.m., with Sam and Michele ready to roll, I made a horrible discovery. The tickets said 7:10 p.m.! Thank goodness I caught it in time for Sam and Michele to go back to bed. My problems were finally over – right?

First, the plane was delayed an hour, so we left at 8:10 p.m.. To make up for my past sins, I volunteered to jump off the plane, get on the blue bus, pick up the car and pick my family up at the curb with all the luggage.

I forgot the car keys. That cost me an extra 10 minutes. Then, with a full bus, the driver dropped me off last. Another 15 minutes are now gone. Four planes had arrived at the same time and only two lanes were open to pay at the parking lot exit. Chalk up another 10 minutes waiting in line. Then, I forgot what gate Michele and Sam were waiting at. I circled Terminal B twice and ran through the corridors before I saw the frowning face of my son. I knew I was toast. Forty-five minutes had passed and Michele and Sam gave me the serious silent treatment all the way to Maryville.

It was a miserable 24 hours. However, I did learn one neat thing. Do you know who invented the baseball term “Walk-Off?” I know but you and my family probably could care less (the answer is Dennis Eckersley just in case you didn’t want to wait until next week).

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Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.