Homecoming King

American Airlines Flight #2110 is cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet somewhere in the skies just northeast of Raleigh Durham. I am in seat 21J, wedged between an elderly Latino couple whose snoring even Keane can’t drown out. I’m almost home.

This morning’s helicopter ride was a bust. Despite my colleague’s best efforts to charm Miami Dade’s finest, every passenger is required to have their criminal record run. Mine was chock-a-block with various felonies and misdemeanors, so I was grounded. I kid, of course, I just didn’t get the requisite paperwork in. So, sadly, I had to watch my coworkers soar off into the drizzle for an aerial tour of Miami. “I’d like to tell you it’s was uncool,” Ocean said once returned safely to terra firma, “But I’d be lying.”

We gathered with the rest of the team shortly thereafter at Miami’s Coast Guard station, a well-secured island just off I-395. There, representatives of MTV, Miami Dade Police, and Fish & Wildlife, and the City of Miami gathered for the first time to discuss various Port of Miami considerations. The city is going a long way to make this event possible, and these guys and their can-do attitudes attest to that.

After the meeting, we walked to the Coast Guard docks for a ride down the Government Cut, a deep-water canal between I-395 and the Port of Miami, a massive cargo port with huge parcels of land for imports and exports from Asia, Africa, and beyond.

I separated from Robert and Michael, my dot com-specific colleagues, at that point, and shuffled off to Parcel B. It had already shown marked improvement from the evening prior. It’s now possible to actually see where our “homebases” will be, as well as the red carpet, and our stages. We paced the dusty rectangle in the searing sun for a few hours, some of us standing in for various set pieces, before sprinting to the airport to try and catch an early flight — any flight — back to JFK.

We made Budget, and then the airport, in no time, and looked well poised to return on a 3:20 plane nearly six hours prior to the original plan. We even had time to dine at America’s Finest Airport Restaurant, Catanas, whose cafeteria style Cuban food was honestly second-to-none. But as our sweat-soaked, irritable gaggle approached security, we noticed a torrential downpour outside. Miami International Airport was thunderstormed in. Our departure time slipped to 4:30 … then 5:30 … then 5:50 …

So we sought the American Airlines Admiral’s Club for peanuts and booze. Pay no mind to the simple math that of Ocean, Deb, Eve, Laura, Jonathan, Trish, and me, only Laura’s actually a member of the American Airlines Admiral’s Club, we were up for an adventure, and we were assuming consent.

Not the coolest place, the American Airlines Admiral’s Club, but it’s pretty fun to share an adventure — walking around a strange airport, a little giddy, a little slap happy — getting to know your teammates. That’s what makes teams. And I dig it. Plus, that Heineken sure was tasty.

We’re over Atlantic City now. I feel myself descending. Seat backs and tray tables have to returned to their original upright and locked positions, so you’ll have to excuse me. I have a homecoming to make.

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