Is It Too Late?

Everything was planned out.  Well, except for thinking of a backup plan just in case there was a snag in my original preparations.

The room was packed except for only necessities that I would use in the morning.  I would be checking out of the Golden Phoenix and leaving the city of Reno, Nevada on a flight back to Texas with a short layover in Las Vegas.

I would miss my little walks around the downtown area, and the crazy elevator operator who looked just like Michael Rapaport that was a huge Oakland Raiders fan. (While in this hotel, I watched the Cowboys vs Redskins on Monday Night Football. At 6pm local time. And if that didn’t throw me off, Washington won the game 14-13 on two late touchdown passes to Santana Moss. I was pissed for hours.)  And everyone there was super nice, which I guess one would expect from the divorce capital of the world.  I wouldn’t miss the ill-advised convenience of the slot machines downstairs or the lack of a phone charger.

Oh, yeah.  The charger.

I had previously left my phone charger in a hotel room in Wyoming.  Sounds like no big deal now, but in 2005 it was kind of a disaster. Those were the days of flip phones that needed a specific charger that could only plug into a wall outlet or a car adapter. But they were also the days where a low phone charge wasn’t usually a big deal because you rarely used it.  Anyway, this note might become important later. I did use the word disaster, after all.

The wake-up call on that last morning came as requested (remember those?) and one last glance at the hotel casino brochure in the room assured me that shuttle service to the airport starts at 7am.  I was out of the room at 6:30 and ready for the flight home.  I checked out easily and was on a bench in the shuttle pick up area with time to spare.

Around 7:15, getting a little nervous about making my flight, I carried my bags back inside to ask the front desk about the shuttle.  And that was when I learned that they changed the start time to 8am.

Well that was crappy news.  But, proof of Karma happened one year and one month later when the Golden Phoenix closed.  Again, I’m sure that is because of Karma and had nothing to do with economics.

So this is when you’d find me pacing on the sidewalk, chain smoking, thinking about the possibility of missing my flight with around $30 in my wallet and minimal charge on my cell phone (which was turned off at this time to save battery).

But I did meet a woman while waiting who was in the same situation as I was, waiting for the now 8am shuttle.  She was a “dental aide” (her words) from Oklahoma.  So I guess we were damn near neighbors.  She also said she was on a work trip.  My thoughts were work trip for a dental aide, by herself, in a casino in Reno?  By the time of our goodbyes, I’d convinced myself she was “connected”.  But that is getting ahead of myself.

Amazingly, the shuttle shows up at 7:45, a full 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.  The driver parked and went inside, presumably to let the front desk know he was there.  He was barely in there before he came running back to the van.

“I hear we have some people who need to get to the airport in a hurry.  So let’s get going!”  That exclamation point looks menacing, but he said this with a smile on his face.  And, frankly, kind of a look of determination.

The kind of look you want your shuttle driver to have.

Me and the woman from Oklahoma (I cannot remember her name) pile our bags and bodies into the van and off we go.  A 30 minute ride lasted only about 20 minutes, thanks to this driver.  And I didn’t care if he was being reckless as long as I made my damned flight.

Now the Reno airport is a small airport, nothing like DFW International, but there is still quite a separation between gates.  But as we were entering the gate area, the driver asked which gate he needed to go to first.  Since my flight was closest to boarding, my Oklahoma comrade insisted that we head straight to my gate.  When we got there, I unloaded and then gave my new friend (whose name I don’t remember) a hug and gave the driver a handshake and a $10 bill. 

It’s not his fault those brochures were out of date.

By now I was feeling confident that I would make my flight.  I mean, it’s not like I would face a security line like I’ve seen at DFW.

While in line for my boarding pass (we did that back in 2005), I was graciously assisted by a female basketball player (sure, she towered over me, but she also told me she played basketball for a living) who showed me the ropes of the Reno airport.  With her help, my bags were checked in easily.  All I had to do now was go through TSA and I’d be on my flight home.

Man, I really underestimated how long the TSA line at the Reno airport could be.  It was obscenely long.  I say that because I uttered obscenities when I saw it.

This is when I turned my phone on for the first time that day so that I could call my mom.  I was pretty much an airport novice, so I wanted to know what I should do if I miss my flight.  Her advice was to not worry about that until I missed the flight, if that happened.

Pretty solid advice, really.  So I turned the phone back off.

And I’m going to stop the story right here.  Obviously, I made it back home.  I did have the “jimmy leg” on the flight from Vegas to DFW.  It woke me up, and I was really worried that I kicked the woman next to me.  And I was able to conserve just enough battery to know that my buddy Joe would be there at the airport to pick me up when I landed at DFW.

In fact, my trip home was so flawless (really?) that I beat my luggage by about 6 hours.  But that is another story.


A full version of this trip – from Carrollton, TX to Reno Nevada in a pickup pulling a Uhaul and then back to Texas on planes – was written once.  In many parts.  Some loved it, others thought it was a tad too long.

Well, I’ve never been known for brevity. Unless feelings are involved?

Anyway, I think those original entries are some of my best writing.  But that blog host no longer exists and only certain entries can be found on mirror sites.  I think one small 3 day timeframe of my Reno trip made it to one of these sites.  But I am again obfuscating the major point that was the underlying theme of my original entries about this trip that no longer exist.

I made this trip in my mid 30s, right in the middle of my second divorce.  I helped a friend (who happened to be female) move to Reno for a new beginning.  She was right around my age and I remember thinking how jealous I was of her because she was trying something new, something different.  She was moving not only away from her hometown but far away from her home state.  And that takes guts.

Meanwhile, at this time I was working at a retail giant that I had been with for 10 years.  I was stagnating.  My middle school TAG teacher was right – I wasn’t reaching my potential, especially because I had zero interest in furthering my position with that company.

Less than 6 months later, I left that retail job and started taking risks.  Worked out pretty well.  Eventually.

So every time I hear Left and Leaving by the Weakerthans – a brilliant song – it reminds me of three things.

1. How criminally underrated this band is.

2. How much this one song, that no one has heard of, changed my life.

3. How many times I have used this song as an entry title, so I had to use a different band for the title and ending quote.  But it still applies.

Reno Arch at night with light trails. Reno, Nevada, USA

You gotta grow the beard
Find the doubt
And maybe you’ll work
Something out, hey

– “Is It Too Late?”, World Party


5 thoughts on “Is It Too Late?

  1. Pingback: Life In a Northern Town (Rhode Island, Pt 8) | Goin' To The John

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