There are many euphemisms for “sucker.” For instance, “kind-hearted soul,” “nice person,” “mom” and my new favorite — “good sport!” They all mean the same thing, but in keeping with the theme of this story, I’m here to tell you I was recently the ultimate “Good Sport!”
Yep. I drove fellow humans to the airport.
Our youngest came up with a nice idea (scheme) for a well-deserved father-son YOLO trip. It involved one of those faraway manly stadium games and worse — insane plane reservations. The kind that require passenger boarding at 5:15 a.m.
We all know how airlines can combine too much humanity per square inch with shameless profiteering, and then squeeze it all into one silver tube. But I think the industry’s biggest offense are these pre-pre-pre-dawn flight schedules. It’s nonrefundable cruelty. (Honestly, I would be willing to sardine my family into a rusty propeller plane piloted by Capt. Slurry McDrunkenberger if the thing would just take off at noon.)
Originally, my guys were going to drive themselves to the airport. As the trip got closer to reality, I looked at the weather. The meteorologists promised clear skies, but I noticed a sudden wave of frigid temps. I tend to awaken at weird hours anyway, so I thought about the cold + early flight combo pack. Because I’m a good sport, I casually offered to shuttle them to the American Airlines terminal. To my surprise, they said: “Sure!”
Why would I do that? Am I nuts? They’re tough men in top physical shape. Both work hard and play hard. They’ve camped out many times in little canvas tents in the iciest conditions and even during tree-snapping storms. What happened was my blasted Spidey-sense kicked in. Intuition made my mouth blurt the enthusiastic offer of a curb drop-off.
I was hyper-aware my husband always prefers to leave for the airport at the last possible maddening nanosecond. I’ll never forget the sight of him a decade ago breaking his high school state track record at the airport terminal. He was clacking along in post-knee-op crutches, yet he was a blur. All because he insisted on zero buffer time. “We don’t want to get there too early,” he said. This is the story I throw back at him whenever he’s heading to KCI. “Remember the flaming crutches…”
I knew if I had let them self-park, they would have mistimed it and ended up stranded at the long-term parking lot, shivering in the dark, waiting in vain for that rare, sputtering wee-hour shuttle bus. (Like that horrific SpongeBob episode.) Trust me. If I had not been involved, they would have watched their flight take off from a smudgy, crystallized Plexiglas shelter in parking lot C. This is an indisputable fact.
When airport shuttle day arrived, I checked the weather at 3 a.m. and saw there was a sudden two-hour forecast of snow. Where did THAT come from? The small window of this isolated weather burst overlapped the entire round-trip airport run.
Sure enough, the only other vehicle we saw in the first 10 minutes of our pre-4 a.m. drive was a salting truck. The roads were glazed, and the temperature was a nice chunk below freezing. We slid into a wonderful “teachable moment” for our 19-year-old.
“Kid, this is what black ice looks like.”
It was a beautiful journey. Once the guys realized it was not me jerking the car along the highway, but cold hard physics, I was in total control of the speedometer. I chose to drive below the speed limit. I became Aunt Bea hopped up on chamomile tea. My knuckles might have been blanched, but my insides were glowing.
There’s a certain joy in cruising along cautiously with hyper male passengers. I now know the sound of my guys’ teeth smashing the capillaries in their lips — not because of precarious weather, but because of my feathery touch on the accelerator. They didn’t dare critique my driving that early, slippery morning.
What good sports!
Denise Snodell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @DeniseSnodell