The View from My Section – A Father’s Perspective

An Adventure in Misfortune – Finding Love in the Unexpected

This story reads like “The Out-of-Towners” – a 1970 film by Neil Simon starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis about an Ohio sales executive who accepts a higher position within the company he works for, except, it’s in New York City. When he travels with his wife for his initial interview, things go wrong from the start. ( My version, unfortunately, isn’t fiction. 

It begins when my son plans a secret romantic adventure for himself and his girlfriend, presently long-distance, and away at college. She has (like most of us) a favorite musical artist. Unfortunately, this artist wasn’t playing in any venues near our area. My son decided Washington, DC wasn’t so far. Perhaps, not if you were staying overnight and didn’t have to drive more than four hours in one direction (to school), and four hours back in the opposite direction, just to get on commercial transportation (identity withheld to avoid offending) to travel the final eight-hour portion to DC. 

He had good intentions, however, being a young adult, sometimes they bite off more than they can chew. He knew the part where he was driving to the college would be tiring, so he hoped that by taking commercial transportation, he could rest up before they would arrive – three hours before the show, giving them just enough time to eat a nice meal and take an Uber to the theater. 

The drive to school and back to the initial start of their out-of-towners experience went well. They were excited and eager to see the show. They boarded the commercial transportation, referred to going forward as “CT” in the very early hours of Sunday morning and got comfortable to rest until their arrival in DC. Problems begin at their first stop, where the layover turns into a giant wrench wedged precisely into the gears of his romantic adventure. What should have been a short period, turned into a seven-hour, boring, tiring, disappointing and unwanted temporary hiatus. 

Seven hours after stalling at their first stop, their journey continued. They arrived in DC nearly six and a half hours after that, resulting in them completely missing the concert. 

They went directly to the theater upon arrival hoping to, at least, catch the last part of the show, but it was already over and everyone was leaving. I asked if they tried to tell their story to anyone and perhaps get an autograph or something from the artist. They said, no, they just turned around and improvised the rest of their visit until it was time to return to the transportation center. I was disappointed for them and felt that, had they told their story to the theater official, they might have gotten something out of it. As Lisa Reuben, an expert legal analyst once said, “They didn’t try, and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” A life lesson that often applies. 

To make matters worse, because of the excessive delay in their arrival, they only had three hours before they would be boarding the CT for their trip back. A hotel room overnight wouldn’t work because she needed to be back at school. Their timing was tight, and they still had the other half of their trip to complete. In the end, counting CT time only, within 27 hours, they were on the CT for 24 of those hours. Something that would severely dampen the pleasant memory of the trip for most couples (I’m part of that group), but not for this couple.  

When they spoke of their trip afterward, they, of course, included the long layover and its subsequent adverse effect on their plans, but they focused more acutely on the moments within the confusion and uncertainty. The story of how the commander of this mode of transportation gave an account of a passenger deciding unexpectedly to disrobe during one of his travels. The Chinese food they enjoyed upon their arrival in DC, making a dance video in a cultural landmark and the opportunity for some excellent pictures of them taken alongside beautiful sculptures, architecture and the theater. What they enjoyed the most, however, was the unfettered time they had to spend exclusively with each other. They talked and shared old stories while being observed kindly and friendly by a service dog of another passenger, provided a meal for a homeless gentleman on the streets of DC, enjoyed the twinkling lights of Crystal City in the evening and relished parts of our nation’s capital they hadn’t experienced before.    

Fortunately, their sealed memories weren’t of what they missed during the trip; it was the special, unique, one-of-a-kind moments that only come from accepting the challenges and obstacles placed in front of us and embracing the opportunity it brings. Choosing, instead, to write their own version of the story. Turning scars into stars, and adversity into unforgettable moments, one choice at a time.

Musical Selection (Enjoy) – “Easily” by Bruno Major  

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