I know I've mentioned my trip to Florida in previous blogs, and promised that I would blog about it soon. Well, that soon turned into later, and after recently telling the story to a couple of people, the idea's finally started flowing, and it's only fair that I blog about it.
As a part of Dad's work schedule, there were two weeks in June that allowed him time off. Included in those two weeks? Father's day. He pulled this stunt last year, and I was okay with not spending Father's Day with him, but two years in a row? Eh. Not so much. "Well Sara, you could just skip class and come with us." First off, I don't skip class, and second of all, I don't feel comfortable missing two weeks of work, when I'll turn around a month later only to miss two more weeks of work. Those magical words gave me the idea of a lifetime.
Dad already had enough ties, he didn't need another UL t-shirt, and finding a book he liked is not my forte. But what didn't he have that I knew he would really want? Me. Go ahead. Read on.
If I was going to pull off the present of a lifetime, I had to do three things; figure out which two weeks they were going, find out what flight they were returning on and inform work that "Superman" would be out of commission for six days. After nailing down the dates, and letting work know of my trip, it was time to buckle down and find a flight that would fit my schedule. One may think all it takes is a click of the mouse, but oh no. "Well here's one that gets me in at 11:00 AM. Oh wait. I'm not taking a 6 AM flight with a 40 minute layover in Hotlanta." Sorry Dad, I love you, but I was not getting up at 4 AM. "Wait a second. Here's one. This gets me in at 1:02 in the afternoon, with a 90 minute layover in ATL and leaves at 8:15 AM. Perfect. Add to cart. Are you sure this is the flight you want? YES." Find, book and buy a plane ticket all by yourself? And then be forced to keep it a secret for the next six weeks? Check. Now came the waiting game.
"Now Sara, we've cancelled the newspaper for the next two weeks (wink wink), please don't forget to water the plants (wink wink) and whatever you do, please pay attention to the dog." Yes mother. And I did all that. For a week.
As expected, I stayed around for the first week, where I attended family events, and somehow managed to play the see you in two weeks card every time I spoke to them. The days felt like years.
During one of my many late night thinking sessions, I told myself that if I had gone through this much expense and effort, I wasn't just showing up and saying "surprise!!" I had come up with the idea that I arrive as a present. With a big red bow. I know, so corny, cute, and clever. While still keeping this secret under wraps, I asked one of the girls at work who has amazing and I mean amazing artistic skills to paint me a big red bow on a white t-shirt with a tag that said, "To Dad, Love Sara..."
T-24 hours until I would be executing this plan. Off work early? Check. Finalize dog care plans? Check. Get someone to come water house plants? Check. Finish packing? Check. Check-in for my flight so I don't have to do it at the airport? Double check. Confirm transportation to the airport? Check. Squeal like a fifth grade girl because I'm so nervous/excited? Done, done, and done. It would somehow be a miracle if I got a decent nights sleep.
Friday morning had finally arrived!!! With my flight leaving at 8:15 and being picked up at
As scheduled, the first leg of this surprise would have me boarding my plane to Atlanta at 7:45 AM for an 8:15 on-time departure. At 8:00, the plane should have been almost finished with boarding. Cool your jets Sara. There's still 15 minutes left. Breathe. Cops, marines, and two captains up at the front counter with five minutes before we leave? So. Not. Funny. Please. I just needed this to go through. The one trip I can't call Dad in a panic, I may miss my connecting flight. Word of the day: BREATHE. The problem? The seating chart had been messed up, and some people didn't have seats. Solution? Find an empty seat. After everyone had found their seat, it was time for one last switcheroo. There was a US Marine that had been seated in the back of the plane who was accompanying the remains of his fellow soldier, and one of the businessmen seated in first class without knowing about the remains, called the stewardess and requested the Marine have his seat. Insert nervous, excited, so touched Sara. Take off at 8:40. Arrive in Hotlanta 75 minutes later.
If there was one airport I could despise, it's Atlanta. It's big, crowded, and the fact that there's a tram to take you from one terminal to another is a story of it's own. Oh and did I mention I had to not only travel through Atlanta while making up white lies via text about what I was doing to Mom in case Dad saw them, I had the privilege of switching terminals via tram at morning rush hour. Tram arrives at B1, and my plane takes off from B32. After walking the B terminal, and with almost 45 minutes to spare, it was time to sit,have some breakfast (or as I prefer chocolate covered animal crackers... with SPRINKLES) charge my phone, and gear up for the final leg of the plan. Before I would get on the plane, I would send a "what's up" text to signify that I was on the plane getting ready to take off.
After what seemed like forever and a day flight to Florida, I had arrived! I was less than four hours away from pulling off the surprise and after sending the "Just thought I'd let you know, it's extremely hot back home" but really "I'm in Florida, can't wait to see Dad's face" text, it was time to head to the location of the surprise.
From a day of nerves and traveling, it was time to relax, have some lunch, enjoy the fact that I was off from work for six days, soak up the sun, and relive my semi-smooth day of traveling. I was 120 minutes from the surprise.
Mom had arranged for a night of "let's go into town to do a little shopping, and then grab an early dinner with her Mom and Dad (my grandparents)". And for once, all of that was true.
After months, and no I'm not kidding months of planning, keeping secrets, and telling little white lies, the time had come. Just thinking about all this has my stomach in knots. It was that much fun. After some shopping in Target, my accomplice, a.k.a., mom, sent the text to let me know they were within five minutes and would give me the final plans that included she'd be talking on the elevator, that way I would know they were there.
Que the talking, and the major nerves. Seconds away.
And then, the elevator doors open. Insert way too shocked speechless for words Dad. "We were out of postage stamps, so I thought I'd deliver your card myself." "What?? How'd you get here? I thought you were at work. What are you doing here?" "I'm here to spend Father's day with you." "Are you just here for the weekend?" "Nope. I'm flying back with you. I found, booked, paid, and traveled all by myself without you knowing." What a relief.
After the initial shock that I was physically there, it was time to sit down and tell the story from the beginning. And while I told the stories, Dad just sat there in amazement with a huge smile on his face. This was one of many great highlights of my summer, and I know this is something that he and I will both cherish for a lifetime.