Nov 18, 2013 0 Share

On the Road Again


Highway signs pointing to Atlanta and Atlanta airport.
Thinkstock

Cameron and I embarked on our second college road trip together last week. If you’ve ever seen “Planes Trains and Automobiles or “College Road Trip,” you will understand when I say last week’s trip was truly worthy of Hollywood. I found myself looking over my shoulder to see if there was a camera crew following us, because the comedy of errors might actually be funny … if it hadn’t happened to me.

In an effort to minimize the time spent away from school, Cameron and I were flying out in the morning, and back the same evening. It was a short, 90-minute flight, so it seemed like a perfectly rational travel plan. We left our house at 7:15 that morning, and made it to the airport an hour before our flight. (Which, for the record, is unusual for me. I’m more of a from-security-line-to-boarding-line, cutting-it-close-so-as-to-minimize-waiting-around kind of person.)

When Cameron and I arrived at the security checkpoint, I asked if it would be possible for him to keep his boots on because of his broken foot. I was told they would need to pat him down, so I didn’t think that would be a problem. We waited for a male TSA officer to pat him down, and as part of protocol, he tested for certain chemicals used in explosives. For some unknown reason, Cameron’s chemical swab came back positive, so we had to wait for a supervisor. A female supervisor showed up on the scene 15 minutes later, calibrated the equipment, and said Cameron would need to have an enhanced pat down by a male supervisor. (At this point, I’m really regretting not having Cameron just take his boots off, but it was too late for that option.) A male supervisor eventually showed up, and when all was said and done, final boarding call for our flight was being announced by the time we left security an hour after arriving at the airport. We made the flight, but it was unnecessarily stressful, and all because I wanted to save Cameron the effort of removing his shoes from his injured foot.

While in flight, I informed Cameron that we would be arriving home at 11:00 that evening. This did not sit well with Cameron. He grumbled that he probably would do terribly in the interview he was scheduled to have with the admission committee that afternoon because he was in a bad mood from knowing he wouldn’t get enough sleep for school tomorrow. This did not sit well with me. I took the opportunity to conduct a mini-lecture about being an adult and being perfectly capable of functioning even when missing his usual bedtime and the need to, basically, suck it up. Surprisingly, this “suck it up” speech did little in the way of changing Cameron’s mood, so I finally offered to drive him to school so he would be able to sleep longer. I decided this was the only way to clear his mind of the distraction. I figured there was no sense in going to the effort of visiting an out-of-state program, only to have him tank in the interview because of a grueling travel schedule.

As it turned out, Cameron’s bad mood was the least of my worries. We arrived at the airport rental car desk at 11:00. The campus was a 45-minute drive, and the Open House program began at 12:30. We should have plenty of time for lunch along the way. Our last college road trip entailed complicated travel as well, and there was no time for lunch. This is an even more serious infraction for Cameron than a late bedtime. I didn’t want to make that mistake again. Only … due to a computer system outage, we didn’t get behind the wheel of our rental car until 12:04. And it was a Prius, so it took me another five minutes to figure out how to start the car, and make it go forward. I began to swear like a sailor in my search for the seat adjustment controls and ultimately decide the fully-reclined position is fine. Okay … I called the program coordinator, and explained that we were running late. But still … we had to eat. I decided a five-minute fast food stop was a good idea ... Only it took 20 minutes. The Open House program was well underway, and we still hadn’t made it off the airport property. And the Prius didn’t go as fast as I like to drive in these situations. (Maybe that’s a good thing.) I called my mother from the car, and broke into tears. She told me not to cry and hung up without saying good-bye, because her contractor was at the door. Why did I call my mother? She’s in the middle of moving, and even more stressed out than I am. This was bad idea number 72 of the day, and the day was still young.

Cameron and I made it into the campus auditorium in time for the concluding question and answer session. We didn’t have time for the student-guided tour because he had an interview immediately following the Open House. The interview lasted about an hour, and this may come as a great shock, but Cameron was grumbly and borderline rude during the process. When we left the building, we both agreed that it had not been a shining moment for him. He said he was bored and tired. But having shared space with me all morning and my giant ball of stress and anxiety, I can understand Cameron not being himself. I know I certainly wasn’t at my best.

On the way back to the airport, someone else had an accident, which gave us an extra 30 minutes to reflect on the day. Once at the airport, our 90-minute flight delay gave us even more opportunity for reflection. Based on my emotional state that day, I’m not sure I am capable of assessing whether or not the program we visited is the best fit for Cameron. But I am certain that I want to minimize the number of these trips we make!