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Traveling With the Bob
2007-02-19, 1:51 p.m.

Day 911

The me of a year or two ago would probably not have made it home from this weekends trip. I’d be in jail in Delaware for disturbing the peace or something – no doubt a lashing out trying to quell the frustrations of traveling with a 70 something man in the grips of Alzheimer’s. Traveling with young kids is easier. You expect them to have some difficulties. But an adult? Oh my.

In some ways, driving the entire trip may have been less frustrating, in spite of having to navigate US15 through the heart of Pennsylvania and dodging the Amish horse buggies around Lancaster on US30. At least there’s no TSA security trying to figure out why Bob keeps tripping the metal detector. A silver dollar he keeps in his wallet, along with a 50 cent piece money clip, are sure to trigger every metal detector in the airport. At least we remembered to get his pocket knife from him before we left the house.

Yeah, driving the entire way would have had fewer transitions. It’s the transitions that caused the most frustrations for Bob. Stuff that we think nothing of at all just boggles his mind. Ten, hell, even only 5 years ago he would have been fine. But this trip? Ugh. Here’s a quick rundown of our activities:

Go to pick up Bob. He thinks 1 pair of pants & 1 shirt is sufficient for 3 days. No Bob. Pack for him. Sort of. He’s given away all of his smaller luggage. Grab his stuff, put it in a grocery bag and go. We have luggage he can use.

Get home, pack for Bob. Finish up our own packing.

Zach takes us to airport. Check in, get boarding passes, check bags. Easy.

Security. Bob gets the red carpet treatment. They stopped short of a cavity search.

Hang out & wait for boarding. Board plane. Get seats. Bob is challenged by the seat belt. He got an aisle seat, Cindy got the window. Lucky bastards. I’m stuck in the middle, and I’m the biggest.

Land in Baltimore. De-plane, head for baggage claim after we remind Bob that we need to get our bags.

Got our bags, head for the car rental shuttles after we remind Bob that we need to get our car. The 800 lb gorillas broke a wheel off my not-a-pullman luggage now. But at least they stuffed it in an outer pocket. Thanks ever so much.

Walk out the door, car rental shuttle is there!! Bob has issues with getting his suitcase stowed in the luggage rack. Seems he got his glove caught in the extended handle. Dude, it’s nearly 35 degrees and we went from the airplane (warm) to the airport (warm) to the shuttle bus (warm). Why gloves?
Bah – this is going to turn into one long whine about Bob. Let it suffice to say that he struggled with every seatbelt he saw – front seat, back seat, airplane seat, bus ceiling strap – you name it, he was challenged. Locked his key card in the room, then obsessed about it all day. Walked so slowly everywhere that even Cindy was complaining about it.

At least Saturday it was warm. Think it got up to 38 or something. First time we’ve seen anything above 20 in weeks.

Oh – funny event of the weekend. In the shower Saturday morning (all by myself, bummer) Minding my own business, getting lathered up. The spout for the tub pops off the pipe and rockets down the length of the tub, effectively killing the shower. Seems the pressure on the diverter was enough to push the spout off. It wasn’t soldered or threaded on – it just slid on to the pipe and had a little screw on the bottom that head to be tightened to hold it on.

I slipped the spout back on, held it with one hand, bent over, and rinsed off, sort of. Ended up going over to Bob’s room to finish my shower. Filled out the little comment card, dropped it off at the front desk, told the (Indian, Pakistani, middle eastern dude) at the desk what happened. Asked if he could please get it fixed today because we’d like to get showered before we left in the morning Sunday. Even told them how to fix it.

When we got back to the room Saturday night, I noticed the spout was at least back in place. Cranked up the water, pulled up the diverter and watched the spout get launched across the tub. Cindy heard the commotion and asked what I was doing. I told her we were still shower challenged. When she came in to look, I had the spout back on the pipe, sitting there all innocent looking. She mentioned that it ‘looked’ ok, what was wrong? So I repeated my little demo, launching the spout again. Her reaction? “Wow”. That’s all she said. Wow. We figured Saturday was an easy day – no real need to shower in the morning – just wash up good, try to be presentable. We left the spout at the far end of the tub. Let them figure it out. I asked them to fix it once. Even showed them how. But the poor bastards running the place apparently don’t even know how to use snow shovels, I can’t expect them to be able to handle (or own) an Allen wrench. They’ll get their just deserts in a review. I’ll tell you now – avoid the not-so-Super 8 in Newark, Delaware.

Finally got home Sunday, got Bob back to his apartment. What a relief. It’s like traveling with a 4 year old. Bathroom functions aren’t a problem, but the constant guidance!! “Bob, over here. Bob, this way. Bob, forget the damn seatbelt (68 times), Bob, turn left to get off the plane” “Yes Bob, walk up the tube into the airport”.

Went to the gym Sunday afternoon and ran off some frustration. Not a great run, but a calming one. Put my new toy together. Yeah, the new PC arrived Friday, sat in the box all weekend while we were gone. That was hard. Got the basics going. We have internet, can print stuff, got the music going. Next will be getting some of the higher level applications installed. Need to transfer old tax info, documents we want to save/refer to, pictures, all that crap. Slowly, it’ll come together.
Just got a call from my mom. Bummer. Another funeral. Visiting hours tonight. Lady just died that was the wife of a guy I used to work for as a kid. He owned & operated a little mom & pop store, right near the RIT campus. Coopers Townline Grocery. Coops. I started out as the grocery stocker kid, parking lot sweeper, cooler cleaner outer – kinda the store jack of all trades. Eventually moved up to working the register with first Coop, then any of the other help.

This store did a huge beer business. All the beer was kept in a cooler behind the counter – employees only access. If someone wanted beer, they asked for it. I got to do a LOT of running for beer. People wanted kegs? I loaded them into their cars/trucks. I got to go hunting for them too, dig them out of the cooler (about a 20 x 20 room, kept at a constant 40 degrees). One Halloween night (a Friday) I put a ton (literally) of beer kegs out the door. That doesn’t count what I had to move to get to what got put out. Got to be a pretty strong kid back in the day. I could tote 65lb ¼ barrels one in each hand. What a monster!

My dad worked there for years as a side job. He did Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. I eventually joined him on Fridays, did Saturday nights and rotated on Sundays. We were fixtures there. Heck, once I hit 18 I got my own shift on Sunday – opening. Ugh. Especially after a Saturday night closing. The pay wasn’t fabulous, but Coop was a good boss and took good care of us.

Coop died years ago, not long after my dad actually. This morning, I learned through Mom that his Jane just passed away. Calling hours are tonight – looks like I gotta go. It’ll be good to see Coop & Jane’s kids. Couple of them are 10+ years older than me, couple are 5 – 6 years younger. Weird spread, but what are ya gonna do?

Since these things seem to run in three’s, I’m wondering who’s next? We’ve had a relative and an employer. Hope fate leaves the neighbors alone. Not meaning to be mean, but you might want to steer clear of my neighborhood for a few days.

Got back to the gym again this morning. Too late for spinning (sorry to disappoint OKC!!) but I at least got in another 5K run & some weights. First lifting in 8 days!! Fecal debris has found the rotating blades here at work, so workout time will now be at a premium. Seems the software boys(them) finally listened to the hardware folks (us) and realized they are seriously schedule challenged. Now, in order to hold to schedule, we have to deliver hardware sooner to give the S/W folks time to do their magic. Sux muchly. We’re only half joking about sleeping bags & cots. At least there’s a little work out room here. If we got some laundry facilities and cable TV we could get a ton of shit done in no time!!

Don’t want to give them any ideas about how to get more out of us though – so lets keep that real seekrit, mmkay?

Go do some work or something. I’m gonna.

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