Last week I flew to Boston for work.
It was a great time. I have never been to Boston, and the hubby got to join me, sans children, which is a treat in itself. Things got a little crazy in the hotel restaurant with some shady dealings involving ridiculously over-priced greasy bar food (hubby) and a misleadingly innocent white chocolate raspberry martini (my bad). Being the old foogies that we are, we looked forward in anxious anticipation to our hotel, not for the magic of the marital bed, but for the even less rarely visited miracle of sleeping in.
Pure, uninterrupted bliss. Hours to lounge and sleep in as long as we wanted. No where to go, no toddler in too-small pajamas flinging herself and her stinky feet into our faces. No cranky baby with crazy hair demanding food the instant she awakens. No breakfast to cook, dishes to wash, naps to conquer, or laundry to fold.
Just the downy softness of our previously inhabited hotel bed sheets. Yes.
So of course, it would be fitting that at approximately seven o’clock am, the emergency alarm in our room would sound.
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Imagine here the most annoying sound in the world.)
Here imagine the hubs and I, after recovering from mild heart attacks, springing out of the bed with all of the agility one can muster in a chocolate martini induced fog.
“Attention guests. The sound you have just heard is our emergency alarm. There is no need to panic. If you hear the evacuation sound alert following this message, you are to proceed to the nearest exit. If your floor’s alarm does not sound, please await further instruction.”
The so-called “evacuation alarm” for our floor (the 12th, awesome) did not sound after the message, but the alarm and lights continued to flash in a most reassuring way. Now, here we observe the difference in the male/female make-up. Or maybe, just our particular make-ups, but an interesting study nonetheless.
Somehow, before I had even registered what the message had said, Ben was fully awake, dressed, and heading for the door. What the? How is that even possible? And more importantly, where is that man of action at two o’clock in the morning when the babies are awake? (Just kidding here, actually Ben is awesome at night awakenings.)
While I took the alarm and comforting robotic message that followed to mean what it said…namely, not to evacuate, it’s just a precaution, and we should wait until further instruction, Ben heard “GET OUT NOW!!!!” He was in full-on panic mode. He tore around the room, throwing articles of clothing at me, screaming at me to get dressed. I was thoroughly perplexed. I needed to pump, put my contacts in, gather up my luggage, straighten my hair…what was all the fuss about? I imagined some elderly gentleman pulling the alarm in the hall and the ensuing chaos that followed. I highly doubted there was need for evacuation. I am a mom, I know these things. We moms have a gut feeling when something is wrong. Surely, I had time to get dressed. Right?
The fire trucks racing down the street towards the hotel finally convinced me otherwise. So I left the pumping, left the contacts, left my People magazine with the latest on Brad and Emily on the desk. Somehow, this ended up as any other morning, with me stumbling about the hallway in my pajamas, half asleep with morning hair and bad breath.
Halfway down the stairs (we were on the 12th floor, remember?) they canceled the alarm. I hated to say I told you so, but I did. The alarm was explained away as a “health concern.” Elderly gentleman with chest pain, perhaps? Yup, told you so. Ben continued to stay angry at me the rest of the morning for valuing my People magazine over our lives. Point taken, but again, I remained firm in my stance that I would know when a real emergency strikes.
At least I hope so. After we got back to the room and I finished getting ready, I did start to get a little scared at my reaction. Was I too nonchalant about the alarm? Should I have bolted out of the door immediately? I took the time to throw on my glasses, put on socks and shoes, even combed my hair. What’s the right reaction? Do you risk looking like a fool bolting out of the door in a bathrobe when it’s not a real emergency? Or is the real fool the one who takes the time to get dressed and pack up, as I tried to do.
I realize that real emergencies do happen. That people discount the severity of some emergency situations, and as a result, lives are lost. But on the flip side, treating everything as an emergency and panicking, causing chaos and congestion on the stairs as everyone tries to exit at once, also can be life-threatening.
It was interesting start to our mini-vacay, and probably not one I care to repeat. It’s weird how you grow older and things that once seemed so exciting and wordly, like traveling and staying in hotels, become inconveniences. Is it disenchantment or just realizing what’s really important in life? I remember being so exited when I was little about getting to stay in a hotel. I actually have several journal entries about vacations we took…entries leading up to the big day, looking forward to staying in a real-live hotel room, excited entries capturing every detail of the trip. Looking back, I think those visits were $59 Days Inn specials on the way down to Florida so my dad could sleep a few hours, but to me, they were magic. It makes me feel sad and disgruntled that traveling and hotels don’t hold that same appeal anymore.
I still like traveling for the sake of getting outside of myself. For stepping out of my comfort zone and making myself get dressed, leave my house, entrust my children to their grandmas for a night. I like feeling like a part of something bigger than myself. I like people watching at the airport, imagining others’ lives, joys, and sorrows.
I don’t like the crowds, the germs, the emptiness I see in others, the loneliness of travel, the worry of what could go wrong. Here is a chance to get on a tangent, so I’m going to go for it: I especially dislike those people on the airplane that shoot out of their seats the second the plane is stopped and pile up in the aisle, ready to pole-vault themselves out of the door. If you are one of those people, seriously, what gives? Why can’t we all just wait our turns?? I explained my annoyance pertaining to these people to Ben at the start of our trip, and he gave me an all-knowing Mother Teresa smile and patted my hand. He would show me how it’s done. Patience and kindness, my dear, he assured me. By our last flight, he was elbowing twelve-year old girls out of the way and shooting me looks of exasperation as yet another person from the eight rows behind us somehow managed to beat us out of our seats.
I don’t understand what the big hurry is. If we all just waited out turns, let each row file out in a neat and orderly fashion, wouldn’t it be so much nicer? But underneath my surface annoyance at the inconvenience of waiting, what really bothers me about it is the underlying assumption that these people consider themselves more important than their fellow airline passengers. They have somewhere important enough to be to justify cutting off half of the plane and holding everyone else up. They have a laptop, Blackberry, headphone, Ipad, and whatever other sundry electronic devices people have to make themselves feel important. So get out of the way.
I do not have any of those fancy schamncy electronic devices. I’ll admit, I am using a laptop right now, I would like a phone with a working camera, and I would love an electronic reader because I go through books like Mya does diapers, but I am also not apt to work anymore than I have to to pay for such items. I also like to safeguard my time and myself from too much technology. I worry about letting the computer, the TV, the ceaseless and mindless “entertainment” robbing our chance to fully live our lives. I mean, there is even TV on our gas station pumps and in cabs. Are we really incapable of just thinking our own thoughts while we pump gas?
I get that a lot of it is necessary and convenience. I would love having directions and Google at my fingertips. It’s fine, if you don’t let it overwhelm you, if you don’t let it define you. I just hate seeing all of these people traveling who hide behind their equipment, who are checking their smartphones the instant the flight attendant deems it safe to do so. Is that really necessary? I don’t think so. I think a lot of the time keeping busy with all their stuff keeps them from being still with their own souls for a minute. I know it’s scary to be completely by myself…sometimes I don’t like what I find. The tortellini incident comes to mind…
Ben and I held hands, we talked, we read our People magazine during our flights. (Ben pretends he doesn’t read those things, much like he tries to pretend he didn’t watch the Bachelor with me, but he is an over-the-shoulder reader. Don’t let him fool you. ) It was nice. It was nice to just be quiet for a little bit.
Life gets too noisy sometimes. With emergency alarms, with babies, with keeping up with the latest Iphone.
You know what would help?
Sleeping in. I should try that sometime.