first class pole vaulter arrives in thundering illegality

Melika and Tom went to Burning Man over the Labor Day weekend. It turned out that it was also burning hot in Santa Barbara: there was no need to head to the Nevada dessert to be uncomfortable. After a relatively cool summer, heat and humidity finally arrived. It was 101℉ (38℃) on Saturday. Cleverly, Nazy and I decided to take Tiger and Arrow to the swimming pool. We began with lunch and, while we waited for it to arrive, Arrow danced. But, ominously…

“You know, Nazy,” I said looking at the mountains in the distance. “If we were anywhere else, I’d say it’s going to rain.”
nazy and arrow rain Sept 2017

“It’s late August, Dan.” Nazy replied. “It never rains in August.”

“You’re right.” I replied. “
But it is actually early September when does sometimes rain.” I thought.

Naturally, as soon as I helped Tiger into his swim suit, it began raining. We huddled in place for a while. (Until we heard
thunder.) Then the pool closed. We ran to the car and headed home.

We were lucky. A microburst hit downtown Santa Barbara (about 8 miles away). It had 80 mph winds, knocked down several large trees and blew about 50 kayakers out of the ocean. It also generated four-tenths of an inch of rain in 10 minutes. Or, expressed another way, precipitation arrived at about the same are per minutes as hit Houston during Hurricane Harvey — except in Texas it went on for 10
days, not 10 minutes.

Dan, Tiger and Arrow (in the rain)

dan, arrow and Tiger Sept 2017 rain

Nazy, not learning anything from my travails, booked a United Airlines flight, eh, ‘miscue’. You may recall that United, in a rare display of proactivity, called, in the middle of the night, to alert me to problems and delays with my flight. We have learned that United’s proaction does not carry over to daytime departures. Nazy was traveling, well, Nazy was attempting to travel to Washington, DC. We had booked a flight via San Francisco, with a convenient early afternoon departure. We even downloaded the United Airlines App to stay on top of any problems.

“ON-TIME!” the app proclaimed enthusiastically.

Simultaneously we received a text message from Melika, who, after attending Burning Man, was flying home — via San Francisco. She was, in fact, booked on the very airplane that United would use to take Nazy on the first leg of her journey. Melika’s flight was late.
“Your flight is also going to be late!” I declared.

“On-time.” the app replied … this time in lower case and without the exclamation point.

I tried to check-in Nazy at the airport kiosk. Surprisingly, the kiosk ‘knew’ that the flight from Santa Barbara to San Francisco would arrive (well) after her flight from San Francisco to Washington departed. It ‘knew’ that the airline would blame the delay on ‘weather’ while it abandoned Nazy at SFO. It wanted me to check-in regardless. Personal interaction with a counter agent was mandated. Aware that Nazy has all of the gracious and charm capabilities in our family, I deferred to her.

“You didn’t defer until a
fter you pointed a shaking finger at the clerk, Dan.” Nazy interjects.

“I was overcome with emotion as I thought about the discomfort United was causing you,” I replied. “
Remember, my dear,” I whispered. “I upgraded you to first class. Don’t accept anything less. And whatever you do, do not mention my name. I’m cursed.”

As I walked away with Tiger, I heard Nazy turn on the charm.

“Thank goodness
he’s gone,” she began.

“Let’s go look at the airplanes,” I shouted while Tiger and I walked to the observation deck.

United proposed a variety of ‘solutions’ — all including a boring and lengthy stopover at the San Francisco airport and an overnight flight to Washington…

Arrow and Nazy August 2017

“First class?” Nazy asked.

“First class is sold out,” the agent apologized. “But I can give you the best economy seat.”

“The best economy seat?” Nazy replied. “Isn’t that like giving me the ‘best' broken egg?”

In the end, Nazy decided to go the following morning..
“…at 6:00AM!?” I asked.

“First Class, Dan! And they said that I should be at the airport at 5:00AM.”

“I’m surprised that you knew that such a time exists.”

While Nazy was dealing with United Airlines, another equally predictably inept, insecure, hubristic and daily
purveyor of inane tweets was busily cancelling DACA. Naturally, he lacked courage to make the announcement in person. If he has the skill and talent to be President, then I am qualified to be an Olympic pole vaulter.

Aside: The good news: If the
orange one was a barely competent President, the GOP might get something done (provided he didn’t kill us all first). Accomplishing anything would be a disaster, since the GOP usually pushes things like automatic weapon access for kindergarteners. Luckily, nothing like this will happen since the ‘president’ is in an ineptitude race with his Congressional majority.

But… back to Darius. He left on a trip that combined business (he was presenting a paper) with vacation (he was visiting Venice with Christiane and Leandra). He had to get a passport for Leandra— who was two months old. The Americans merely required 47 pages of detailed documentation. (The Lebanese requirements were simpler: Since the baby’s father was not Lebanese, neither was the baby.)
Leandra August 2017

But, when they arrived at the airport Leandra was identified as an..

“Illegal immigrant?” Darius asked. Astonished.

“This baby is trying to leave the country with a passport that does not have an entry stamp.” the immigration agent explained. “If there is no arrival documentation, the passport bearer must have arrived illegally.”

“Ah ha!” Christiane interrupted. “I have a copy of her birth certificate on my iPhone.”

“Yeah,” Darius claimed. “That should qualify as ‘arrival documentation’.”

The clerk agreed and they were allowed to depart. However, as new parents, they had underestimated the amount of ‘stuff’ it takes to support a young baby. They learned, moreover, that Venice is not the ideal place to have a lot of ‘stuff’… and getting into and out of gondolas with a baby, s stroller, a diaper bag and a husband is not especially easy.

For last week's letter, please click here

dan and arrow Sept 2017

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