the Best Vacation is Staying Home
get off the plane at Honolulu International and am hit with a
blast furnace of heat and humidity. It's August, the hottest month
in Hawaii and the temperature is probably in the upper 80s, but
with the humidity
it feels 10 degrees hotter. In a few minutes I'm dripping with
sweat. The stewardess on the flight said the inter-island terminal
was to the right and then left; sounded vague, but I assumed it
would be easy to find.
head right and take the first left turn and end up in the baggage
area; not where I want to be and no signs pointing the way to
the inter-island terminal. I walk until I find a monitor with
departing flights to Kauai. There it is: flight #525, departing
at 4:50 pm through gate 59. I'm on my way to visit my mother in
the sleepy town of Lawai, Kauai. It's 4:15 pm, I'd better get
at gate 24 and head towards the higher numbers3536then
the gates stop. No gate 59. I turn back and head the other direction,
still no sign of the inter-island terminal or gate 59. As I'm
standing deciding what to do next I see an Aloha-shirted young
man with a name tag and ask him where's gate 59. He says he doesn't
know and to ask the driver of the next bus that comes along. I
walk up to the nearest bus stop and wait. One bus goes by and
doesn't stop, then another and another. Finally one stops, the
driver opens the door and asks, "Are you going to the inter-island
terminal?" "Yes," I reply, thinking I've finally
made it! "I'm not going there," he says, closes the
door and takes off.
backpack is getting heavier by the minute; I'm hot and irritable.
I check the time, it's 4:35 pm. I have fifteen minutes before
my flight leaves, probably without me. Observing the flow of people
I notice a stream heading towards the lower gate numbers. Trusting
my intuition I head that way. Sure enough the gates end and I
spot a sign ahead that says, "Inter-island Terminal."
speed up to a trot as the gates go by. Finally I reach gate 59,
it's 4:45 pm and the waiting area is empty; everyone's boarded!
I ask the gate person, "Is this five-twenty-five?" She
says yes. "Is it still boarding?"
you?" she asks.
I reply. She gives my boarding pass a quick, stern look and waves
me on. I'm relieved, I'm going to make it! As I head down the
aisle people stare at me - must be the sweat dripping off my flushed
minutes later we're taxiing into Lihue airport. I get off the
plane, get my suitcase and head for the parking lot. Mother had
said her car would be parked there, but where? I head down rows
and rows of cars, occasionally spotting one that might be her's:
a battered Toyota sedan. My arm aches from carrying the suitcase
and backpack and I'm drenched with sweat. I stop and think a minute...if
I was parking a car for someone at an airport I'd put it close
to the terminal. I turn around and head back in that direction.
I spot mom's car, but the suitcase has gotten too heavy and I
put it down on the sidewalk that leads back to the terminal and
quickly walk towards her car, planning to come back and get it.
As I almost reach the car I glance back towards my suitcase just
in time to see a man pick it up and walk away. I run towards the
suitcase-snatcher, finally getting close enough for him to hear
my yells. He turns and stops. When I reach him I say, "That's
mine!" Without hesitating he hands it to me and I realize
he must work for the airport. "I thought someone left it
there," he says and continues toward the terminal.
suitcase in hand, I wobble back to mom's beat-up Toyota, put myself,
backpack and suitcase in and breathe a long sigh. I'm sweltering,
but remember she has air conditioning. I can finally cool off!
I start the car, turn the AC on high and wait . . . and wait.
It's not working and just blows warm air on me in defiance. The
AC is broken.
I head to mom's house I decide I've got to stop somewhere to cool
off; besides I'm starving. I pull into a shopping center, find
a barely air-conditioned restaurant and order a sandwich to-go.
When my food is ready I head back to her car and put the one key
on the ring in the door. It won't open. None of the doors will
open. Have I got the wrong key? I jiggle the key in the driver's
side door again while trying to turn it - no luck.
find the nearest pay phone and call mom. "Of course you can't
open the car door," she calmly explains, "The key that
opens the door is here, I never lock it." Well, I did. An
obvious difference between someone who lives in rural Kauai vs.
the mainland. She says she'll call neighbors until she finds one
who can bring me the key. I sit on the curb and eat the rest of
my sandwich. I'm still hot, but at least not hungry. Twenty minutes
later a big, black car pulls up with a smiling woman inside who
hands me the key. I thank her and she drives off. I put the key
in the door lock, it opens and I'm on my way again, wondering
what the next disaster will be?