Sunday, December 20, 2009

Unorganized Chaos

It’s 7:45 AM at Chicago’s O’Hare airport the Sunday before Christmas. Typically O’Hare is easy to maneuver through, but not today. I expected crowds, but not the mob scene we encountered. The United terminal looked like a way station to nowhere. And there were not enough employees to handle it. There were lines upon lines.

Since I’m Premier status and supposedly special, I thought it would be smooth sailing, but no, it seems there are many other special people too. As it turned out, my line was slower than the others because we needed to see an agent as Koda the dog was also making the journey. With only three agents working the special people line, the wait went on and on.

Being veterans of holiday travel, we arrived two hours early. It was starting to look like it was not enough. With the clock ticking, people become line watchdogs. Interrogations became common as people butted their way to the front. “Who are you and where did you come from,” were the shouts coming from us honest and angry souls. The cheats and liars would offer up that they didn’t need an agent as they pushed their way to the front and grabbed a kiosk. What a load! They needed an agent to check their luggage which just delayed the rest of us. No more Mr. Nice guy. I was finally first in line and determined not to let someone steal my rightfully earned spot. Of course, some jerk slipped under the rope to get in front of me, but I cut him off at the pass and gave him the Neiman glare. He was scared, very scared. During a season where happiness and joy emulates from the masses, there was none of it today in Terminal 1.

We made it to the agent with 45 minutes until take off. Luggage was being literally tossed in piles as the conveyor belt was not working. Tiger Woods had a better chance of a romantic evening with his wife than our bags making the flight.

With our bags checked and Koda’s boarding papers in hand, we dashed to security. It looked like the line to Disney’s Matterhorn ride. Again, another wait, but at least the line was moving. We make it through the gauntlet with 20 minutes to high tail it to our gate.

Of course, first things first, we needed to fit bathroom breaks and snack purchases into our remaining minutes and then get to the C Gates, a good 10 minutes away.

We sprinted on to the 777 with minutes to spare. I can now rest for four hours and prepare myself for what we will endure upon our arrival.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Times Have Changed

My daughter Madison gave me her Santa list and it's full of technology gadgets. In my day, the electronic wizardry was confined to a Lite Brite game and a Polaroid camera. Now,it seems Santa's elves have all taken correspondent courses at Cal Tech and MIT. Wii games have replaced Monopoly and Twister. Ipods have supplanted cassette recorders which probably sit in the Smithsonian right next to the record players. What used to be the must have item way back when, the Sony Walkman is still around, but has received a makeover and been transformed into a slick MP3 player. No more requests for Barbie, Easy Bake Ovens and anything with a Disney Princess on it. I'm told that Princesses are just not cool any longer.

Madison is pining for a laptop and cell phone. Being the overindulgent parents we are, the foot has actually been put down here. You're too young we tell her. If we give in, what's next, a BMW?

I'm sure Santa will make it down the chimney, assuming I remember to open the damper, with a few of the latest and greatest technological gizmos. But its still heartwarming that on top of Madison's list is a puppy. While this tugs at my heart that she wants a friend for our current pooch, I know who'll be the the real caretaker about the same time the holiday cards hit the recycling bin (my wife). So to make sure Santa knew the puppy was also on the "do not deliver list," I sent Santa a text from my new Blackberry. Admittedly, the technology does come in handy at times!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Morning After

I'm being fueled by two cups of Peet's coffee and may need more. Last night my nine year old daughter had one of the rite of passage events which we hosted---the slumber party! Now, don't get me wrong, the girls had a splendid time, but mom, dad and Koda the dog are moving a bit slowly this morning.

The night started off with the grand arrival. Sleeping bags and luggage a tow. And the excitement, the anticipation, the screams of what was to come. After a nutritious meal of Costco cheese pizza as well as carrots with ranch, the girls were split into two teams for the featured activity of the evening, the scavenger hunt. Nancy and I both captained teams. The girls were rearing to go and ready to beat the other team into submission. The scavenger list included household items like paper clips, straws, blue ribbon and pennies (the Neiman's need to pay the mortgage!). My team had a bit of difficulty getting the neighbors to open the doors. This is the burbs after all and folks are concerned to open their cocoons to anybody after 7 PM. But we did succeed in finding all our treasures even though my wife's team beat us by a good ten minutes. After the loss was rubbed in our faces, prizes were given to all participants, Silly Putty and colorful nail files. The smiles were back.

Next on the agenda were ice cream sundaes. The biggest decision so far this evening. Vanilla or peppermint or a scoop of both. Plus fudge topping, sprinkles, maraschino cherries and whipped cream. Finally a bit of silence. But short lived as the sugar rush kicked in to high gear.

PJs were quickly put. HSM, Hannah Montana and other Disney stars of the moment were abundant on the girls, pillows and sleeping bags. Not to mention Miley Cyrus's "Party in the USA" blaring from the IPOD speakers. Note to self--buy Disney stock on Monday. Next, Nancy and I were treated to a rousing Chorus Line routine of "Gobble, Gobble" from last week's all school meeting.

The square root of "wound up" pretty much explains things around 8:30. Most of these girls are usually being tucked in around now, but the energetic sugar laced cries of "what's next" were abundant. So to slow things down a pace, we took a vote on a movie. Thank goodness for on-demand. They settled for a Disney fav, "The Princess Diaries." A nice selection, no witches, no death, no dwarfs! Just Anne Hathaway looking like she stuck her finger in a light socket before her Oprah-like make over.

This kept things quiet for about an hour until a trio of girls bored with Mary Poppins playing a rigid queen decided it was time for a good game of Sorry. After the movie and game playing, teeth were brushed and the giggling and game playing resumed.

Around 11, Nancy and I huddled to see how we could force sleep upon eight unwilling victims. How do we end the fun and games? Simply telling them it was time for lights out crashed and burn. Even punishing them by telling them we'd be taking M&Ms off their morning pancakes if the talking continued had little impact. What finally worked... yours truly sitting in the basement acting as the silence cop. Presto, they were asleep in minutes. Good thing, looking at the clock, the carriage had just turned back into a pumpkin.

My blissful sleep came to an end at 7:15 to the sounds of laughter and girl talk. Stumbling downstairs I came across eight wide awake girls having potato sack races in their sleeping bags! They all excitedly recounted who woke up first and then who woke them. After the pancakes with a few less M&Ms were inhaled, bags were packed and sleeping bags were rolled up. The fun was coming to an end. As parents began to arrive, good byes and hugs were shared.

While I did not get my beauty sleep, this was an experience I will always remember. Good times were had by all, except for maybe Koda who had to be dragged out of his crate of refuge this morning. I'm left wondering what comes after the slumber party and my guess is more of the same, but at other friends' homes. Yes, payback time. All parents need to experience the joy of eight screaming pre-teens. Just be armed with plenty of caffeine the morning after!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Welcome & Happy Thanksgiving!

Welcome to my blog. Many of of you are regular readers of my column which appears bi monthly in "The Hinsdalean". Some of you probably feel hearing from me bi monthly is quite enough, while others are pushing for more. So for those of you that want more, consider this your first holiday gift. For those that don't, tough! My plan is to update the blog weekly, maybe more often. So save it in your favorites and check back regularly. And if you're wondering about the title "Burb Angst," that will become more clear as time goes on.

Here is the link to yesterday's column, published in The Hinsdalean. Hope you enjoy it.
Happy Thanksgiving!