I already felt a little subdued and blah from drinking a couple of pints after working all day then riding a bumpy as hell bus out to Dulles for about 45 minutes (not smart) ... and my dad now lives about 1.5 hours from the airport, so you can imagine the great mood I was in thinking that I wouldn't see a bed until about four in the morning.
I go get some food, waste time and when arriving back at the gate ... that is when I started feeling like Neal Page.
I went to the counter to check the flight status fearful because it was no longer on the departure screen. The airline agent knew nothing about what was going on.
Enter my own Del Griffith who quickly stepped up to give me the updates his BlackBerry was feeding him. I was happy to hear the flight was still a go, but I should have known ... He was just too eager.
We stood waiting for the news we were switched from a C gate to A terminal. "Come on, let's trek!" he says after introducing himself as Michael.
NOTE: I know this list gets crazy. Feel free to skim to not feel overwhelmed, but I had to list everything I could just for the sheer scope of it all.
In the 15-20 minute walk and shuttle ride, I learn:
-North Carolina is home for him
-He grew up in New York
-He's a rocket scientist, but now travels as an information technology salesman
-He has two girls and a boy, 8, 5 and 2
-If he moved to Indianapolis, he'd have Colts season tickets and go to the 500 every year
-The first 500 he watched was Danica Patrick's rookie year
-He's more of an F1 guy, but not NASCAR because the cars look like they're driving through mud
-His wife started liking F1 when he demanded to watch qualifying on TV
-Her favorite driver is Kimi Raikkonen
-His friends make fun of her because he's a drunk
-Her sports interest goes 1) figure skating 2) "American" football 3) F1
-She's a Patriots fan
-He feels bad having a second car since he travels so much, but he loves his Acura MDX
-He deserves it after keeping a Camry for 10 years
-He liked it so much he traded in his wife's 7-year-old minivan for another one
Here is how I feel on the shuttle:
When we reach the gate, I'm able to get away to use the restroom and make some calls to let people know how delayed I am. I tried switching rows of seats as a hint.
When he realizes I'm off the phone, he moves into my aisle and starts up again. I check the time ... still 1.5 hours to go.
The additional things I know about this man:
-His kids go to a private school that has grades K-12
-Elementary school students make banners for homecoming
-He's thinking of taking a teaching position there to stop traveling, and he'd at least get tuition reduction
-One parent working there gets a 50 percent reduction, both parents working there gets 75
-Trying to make finances work, but his wife would have to go back to work to do it
-She had a master's in health administration, but hasn't worked in nine years
-His dad was a lawyer that worked long hours and went to teaching to spend more time with him
-He was an only child
-Doesn't understand sibling rivalry
-His family has five cats
-His house has a walkout basement with screened-in porch that the cats love
-The cats all got along except Daniel didn't like the last one to come
-Daniel hates Wendy and bites her tail and it gets infected
-Their 2-year-old pet frog just died
-He thinks it is because she just laid eggs, and it really wipes her out every time
-He worries that his son should have a dog
-He had a British Blue cat as a kid that loved being brushed (he acted this out from the cat's perspective)
-The cat could differentiate the sound of the brush dresser drawer opening from others and would come running
-His oldest daughter doesn't get her room painted until she cleans it
-He'll have to paint it purple with a pink border
I'm sure there was more, but I can't remember it all. I have never been around someone that would just NOT STOP talking.
It was amazing. I may not know this man's last name, but I know more about what is going on in his life than I do about many of my friends.
This is how I felt when finally boarding the plane: