Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cruise Control - Part 7: Lost In Transportation

Click Here to read the previous entry in this series…

  So there we were, with a car that wouldn’t start, blocking the traffic of people just wanting to unload their crap and get on with things. I don’t know what I did in a past life to deserve this, but it must have sucked ferociously. Then I took a deep breath, realizing that it wasn’t just me being affected. Terry was also in the thick of things, and he was positioned out there in the middle of the road, a much easier target for the flaming spears to hit once the villagers hurled them.

  Terry was staring at me, not sure what to do. I stared at Terry, even more not sure what to do. I don’t know anything about cars, except that they cost money and no matter how much you try to take care of them they will still do something dumb-ass at a very bad time. Like right at the moment. Seriously, the car couldn’t have chosen to do this at any point on the trip before now? This proves that machines really do want to take over the world, and they will flaunt their power at soul-damaging times.

  Then Terry grabbed an official-looking person that just happened to stupidly stroll by right then, and there was a rapid conversation that I couldn’t hear. Then the uniformed man pointed at some other uniformed men, a crew of three that didn’t appear to actually be doing anything and perhaps shouldn’t be wearing uniforms. Terry hollered something at me about “jump the car” and then he dashed toward the trio of people who needed something to do, they just didn’t realize it yet.

  Okay, so they were going to jump the car. At least I think so. Hopefully, Terry’s words weren’t a literal directive for me, with the expectation, for some insane reason, that I would now perform a running handspring over the top of the car. But who knew at this point? The only thing for certain was that this day was not going to get an award for happiness, and if the current situation didn’t get resolved in a timely manner then we were going to miss the boat. Assuming that we weren’t first killed by the villagers.

  Alright, settle down and quit whining. Having a breakdown, although flashy and exciting, would not help anything. I just needed to stand here and look pretty and wait for someone to take care of things.

  Just then, someone arrived, in the form of the rest of the family from the other cars. (Wait a minute. Where were Tiffany and Tara? They had been in our car, yet they were nowhere to be found at the moment. This did not surprise me with Tiffany, she handles confrontation in unique and creative ways, but Tara is a bit more take-charge. I was actually surprised that she wasn’t standing on top of the building with a bullhorn, demanding that high-level city officials get their asses over here NOW and fix this or somebody was gonna get cut.)

  I turned to the family members that hadn’t deserted me, as they stood there peering at my unmoving vehicle. “The car won’t start.”

  All of their eyes turned toward me, suspicion and my past history of defiling automobiles filling those eyes. “It’s not my fault,” I exclaimed. “I didn’t do anything. Maybe that tire we hit did more damage than we thought.” Translation: The tire that Terry hit, not me. So why don’t you stare at him like he’s been linked to killing of Bambi’s mother?

  My family just looked at me. No sir, we are not blaming Terry in any way. We love him and think he’s pretty keen. Besides, we all know about your defiling of automobiles that was just mentioned in the last paragraph. (Insert shameless plug concerning past blog post about car defilement. Click Here.)

  Speaking of Terry, he returned from his expedition, and announced that they were bringing a truck over and they would try to jump the car. Great. He went to await delivery of salvation next to the car, and Crispy joined him. Good. They both know about cars and interesting things you can do to them to make stop being obstinate. Surely they would ensure that all the proper issues were addressed.

  Speaking of Crispy, let’s pause a moment. He’s 16, and has a license to drive. This boggles my mind, him being that old. Isn’t it an odd feeling when the next generation in your family goes from wee ones that you pat on the head to adults that can actually fix and drive cars? Of course, this also means that he’s probably having sex, but we’ll avoid going down that road any further. For now.

  I finally locate Tiffany, standing off to one side and wearing an expression that clearly states “I’m a little bit over all of this right now, and I need either an adult beverage or a handsome stranger that will comment on my loveliness”. In case that expression is not clear enough, she’s also running one manicured hand through her hair with a dissatisfied air, forcing her luxurious locks to sway in a personally-offended manner.

  I sidle up to her, and try to counter her dissatisfaction with my dissatisfaction “I am not believing this is happening.” Then we both realize that getting worked up is so not going to make the problem any better, and we do our standard Will & Grace shorthand thing that helps us calm one another. And then we’re good.

  Perfectly on cue, we see a truck pull up beside my obstinate car, and people begin scurrying about. Hoods are raised and things are being clamped and voltage is being applied, with Terry and Crispy (who is probably having sex, can’t get past that) monitoring and advising. Then, hallelujah and order me a martini, the damn car starts right up. The Carnival people zip off in search of other people with truculent vehicles, and Terry zips off to join Darrin and Launa in the mystical long-term parking lot that the rest of us have never seen.

  Deep breath. We’re back to normal.

  Which lasts roughly two seconds. Then Mom has a sudden announcement: “I can’t find Roni’s passport!”

  Hold up. What do you mean you can’t find a critical document that Roni must have in order to be wheeled onto this boat? How could you lose that?

  Thankfully, I don’t say any of this out loud. Because, well, there had been a slight incident the previous day. There are always incidents in our family, it happens with the sunrise, but this one had been a bit of a humdinger.

  I had lost my own passport. And it went something like this.

  We had booked this cruise decades ago. We all knew full well that we had to have a passport. After all, we would be cruising to countries not our own, and there were huge banners on the Carnival website stating that you better have a passport or your life will suck.

  I didn’t worry about the sucking. I knew I had a passport. We had been to Paris in 2009, and I had renewed my passport at that time. I rested easily, quite complacent that all was well and good with my international documentation status. My passport was surely resting comfortably in the fire-safe that we had at the house, which is where Terry and I keep important things like proof of birth, citizenship, and the sacred, limited-edition of Madonna’s Sex book.

  Trouble is, my passport wasn’t there. And I learned this joyous news within mere hours of our scheduled departure.

  Me, tragically stricken: “What do you mean it’s not in there?”

  Terry, patiently ignoring my stricken condition: “It’s not there. Thought it was, but it’s not.”

  And therein began the panic. I searched high and low, the passport had to be somewhere, it’s not something that you just casually throw in the trash unless drugs or mental deterioration are involved. But I couldn’t find it anywhere. I dug through places that hadn’t even been dusted in 15 years. Nothing.

  Which meant that when the rest of the family rolled into town on the day before our departure, I was potentially on the casualty list and wouldn’t be able to join them. So sorry. I’m an idiot that should have located the passport way before now but I stupidly thought things were just grand. And how was your day?

  But the family, being the family, was not going to let this speed bump derail things. Quicker than you can say “Oh my God, hide the porn!”, these people were tearing the house apart in search of a little blue booklet that had a picture of my unsavory mug hating the person who was taking my passport photo. It was a wee bit unnerving.

  The pinnacle of my uncomfortable-ness occurred when at least 5 family members were in the home office, poking and prodding and touching personal stacks of things that were only mine to touch. At some point, they were going to stumble upon old love letters or arrest incidents that weren’t shared with the family or lewd photos from when I was much younger and far more limber. (We all have those things, right? Right?)

  So I snapped. “This is making me a little crazy. Could you maybe go somewhere that is not here and let me pick through this stuff on my own?”

  Depart they did, somewhat grudgingly, but still. And I tore through everything once again. And found nada. I was so screwed.

  But as I continued to rampage through the office, shoving questionable material into more secure locations, Mom and Launa got on separate phones and consulted with Carnival Cruise Lines. They both came back with the same report. I could board the boat with just an official copy of my birth certificate. As long as I didn’t do something dumb-ass whilst cavorting about in nations that were not our own and managed to hurt myself in some way that meant the ship would have to leave me behind, the passport was not necessary.

  Got it. There was a copy of my birth certificate in the safe, we should be good. But I’m a thoroughly anal person, and I knew that I was going to be clenched from now until the cruise was over. I shot out of the womb worrying about everything that could ever happen to me, and I’ve never wavered in my obsession with potential tragedy.

  Flash forward to all of us standing at the boarding dock in Galveston. Mom is freaking out that Roni’s passport has gone AWOL (we ain’t got no cruise-dependent birth certificates for Roni up in this grill) and I’m still mind-whacked with my car deciding to die in front of 4,000 people. It’s not a pretty time.

  Mom first decides that maybe she just dropped Roni’s passport when we were all clamoring out of our cars. It’s now important that all of us scour the drive-thru area and search the ground for important but accidentally-abandoned legal documents. Fine. We scatter and scour. Trouble is, it’s a big-ass drive-thru, stretching for blocks, and the little blue book could be anywhere. We’re fighting upstream against hundreds of people who are not impressed with us playing CSI at this moment in time.

  But we find nothing.

  So we return to Mom, empty-handed. No worries, she’s got another idea. Maybe she left it in Roni’s suitcase. Or maybe her own. Some piece of luggage that we had handed over to the happy men with flowered shirts who took our tips and whisked away our suitcases. Mom races over to the place where we had watched the flowered-men push carts of baggage. We’ve got an issue, dear flowered people, really need to get to our suitcases and check for a lost passport.

  No problem, utters flowered person #247. We just have to find your bags before they get loaded. Then he throws open this massive gate thing, and lets us gaze upon the collected luggage in a huge holding area.

  There are thousands of suitcases stacked all the way to Jesus and the Celestial Travel Office. And they are already loading some of them on to the ship.

  My sphincter slams shut. With a force of such magnitude that an alarm goes off in the local office of the National Geological Society. Surprised interns wonder if they need to pick up the special red phone and call somebody about a possible earthquake at the Carnival Cruise dock…

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