From My Post Road Window / Nicholas Troilo
It's the getting there that isn't easy
Published 5:56 pm, Wednesday, December 1, 2010
OVERLAND PARK, KS. -- Getting to Kansas isn't like getting to Chicago. Chicago was easy. Drive to Westchester County Airport. Leave your car in the garage. Grab a flight to O'Hare. Take public transportation to downtown. Visit my daughter and my son-in-law for a day or two. Public transportation back to the airport. Choose from six different flights home. Easy.
Kansas City is hard. There are one or two direct flights daily from LaGuardia to Kansas City but that's about it. But for this trip -- a Thanksgiving visit -- we wanted to get to Kansas early in the day on Wednesday and stick around as long as we could on Sunday. We hadn't seen our Kansas family for seven months.
To do that, we had to take a 6 o'clock Wednesday morning flight. And a 6 a.m. flight meant a 4:30 a.m. pick-up. And a 4:30 a.m. pick-up meant a 3 a.m. wake-up call for my wife. And a 3 a.m. wake-up call for my wife means, almost always, a very grumpy travel companion all day long for me.
But she wasn't. There is this funny thing about women -- take a situation and add the term "daughter" or "son" to it and what might be grumpy with only a "you" in it becomes bearable when "daughter" or "son" are added in. And add "grandchildren" to what might be grumpy with only you and bearable with a son and daughter becomes down right joyful when the grandkids are mixed in. I accept it.
Actually, I was the one that was grumpy. I don't travel by air very much anymore and I was grumpy about the price of tickets. I dropped nearly two grand to get to Kansas and back. I expected to pay a bit more because it was Thanksgiving but not double the price. And then United hit me with another $48 to take a bag on the same flights back and forth. And they used every waiting moment to try to sell me 4 inches more of leg room for extra bucks and they used a whole system of boarding that is a psychological ploy to belittle anyone who doesn't anti up for "prestige" boarding. And to get to Kansas in the morning we had to go through Dulles and change planes and terminals and to get home on Sunday we had to go through O'Hare and change planes and terminals. And, well, you know how it is. It can make you grumpy even when the wife is not.
Of course, all that goes away when there is someone to meet you at the airport other then a driver with a sign. I suppose there is public transportation from Kansas City International Airport to parts of Kansas City, Mo., but I've never seen a bus or a taxi around the terminals in the four or five times I've been there. So someone, either my son-in-law or my daughter, picks us up when we come to Kansas; well, actually, the airport is in Missouri. We make the drive over the border to neighboring Kansas.
If my daughter picks us up the drive is scenically boring. When my son-in-law picks us up, he takes a path that gives him a chance to brag a bit about what Kansas has to offer. I pretend to be interested but secretly I evaluate everything against the East. You didn't already know I'm a snob about the East?
This Wednesday when we landed my daughter was there. Grumpiness goes away when your daughter whom you haven't seen in seven months hugs you. And with her were my 5-year-old granddaughter and my 3-year-old grandson. And since my grandkids didn't know we were coming, there was extra excitement about our arrival. More hugs and kisses and jumping up and down and let's get your bag and we are so happy you could come and it's going to be a great Thanksgiving and do we have everything. Let's go.
Not even the grumpiest person in the world just getting off the bumpiest flight ever in a jammed packed airplane and not having any breakfast and having paid too much for a ticket and having paid to fly a bag and the Monday before having to ship via FedEx apples from the New Canaan farmer's market to make the Thanksgiving apple pie along with a dozen bagels from Suzie in Stamford because he doesn't want his clothes to smell of garlic and onions is grumpy.
No one can be grumpy when two grandkids hug and kiss you and grab your hands with theirs. Elizabeth shouts, "Come on, Nonno and MomMom, let's go."
William tugs at your hand, "Our cars is over here."
And no one can be grumpy when you arrive at their home and littlest grandchild, not yet 2, and whom you've only seen twice before smiles with recognition. "Hey, I know who you are," AJ's smile seems to say.
And then Kansas seems easy. Really, anywhere is easy when you get all of that.