01 October, 2009

Joy and Terror

Drove down the freeway this afternoon to my local airbase, one eye on the road and one eye on the Blue Angels practicing the entire way. Saw the full wedge dive straight for the pavement on the horizon, then scatter in six arcs that skimmed the ground. My own mini airshow.

Believe it or not, I didn't have any near-mishaps until I left the base (that stretch of freeway is notorious for accidents on Airshow weeks. At the very least, traffic suddenly slows down about 15 mph to watch rehearsals). Business completed, I reached the westward-facing section of the circular freeway entrance ramp. What should appear at eye-level across the way but a Harrier on the runway, facing me as it went from hover to forward.

Actually, it was all Maggie's fault. In one singular moment, I spotted the Harrier, forgot that the ramp meter (stoplight) ahead would be active that time of day, and heard the phone ring (which caused me to reflexively glance at it). I spotted the stopped truck at the meter when I looked forward and burned rubber as I slid within about three inches of his bumper, while the phone slid somewhere into oblivion, still ringing.

Sat at the meter, muffled phone continuing to ring. Worried it's a work call I'm expecting, I rummage in the organizer on the seat next to me, can't find blasted phone. Cars piling up behind me, I pull forward, miss the split in the ramp and end up going right back to base. I hear the message alert burble on the phone.

Pull off on the side of the road to gather my thoughts and calm my heart. Finally find the phone up under the dashboard. It's Maggie. Listen to her message and decide it was a good thing I'd already stopped. The bon mot delivered Maggie-style would've made me absolutely wreck the car.

Call Maggie on the headset and find a crossroad at which to turn around. Sit there just a few hundred yards from the gate at 4:00 the day before an airshow and try to turn left. Bwaahahah! But hope springs eternal...

"Maggie, I'm stuck on base. I can't get out!"

[Insert Boston accent] "And this is a problem how, exactly? Stuck on a base of Sailors and you're complaining?!" (What does she know, it's a Marine base now).

And why was I on a Marine base the day before an airshow, risking my life? To pick up VIP tickets from the Blue Angels Supply Chief I met at the USO last February when he was passing through. "Give me a call when you get here for the show and I'll take you up to the flightline," he says as he hands them to me.

Oh yeah, it's gonna be a great weekend. *GRIN*