Monday, January 10, 2011

The Holiday Break

I really look forward to the December holiday break.  Though the University is always prepared and staffed if any emergency arises, all offices (with the exception of admissions and public safety) are closed from just before Christmas to just after New Year’s Day.  Emails decline precipitously during this time but fortunately I have no trouble adjusting to this change in volume.  I use this time period to just relax and recharge and get ready for the January session and the spring semester. Not unlike so many previous December holiday breaks, we were all set to go to Hawaii where my mother-in-law lives and spend time with her and also with my wife’s sister.  We had our airline tickets, we had rented a beautiful house, and even had restaurant reservations set (including at the same Asian restaurant just frequented by President Obama and his family). We were fully packed and certainly well prepared.   I had multiple books and magazines to read. And then the weather forecast became more ominous.

By Saturday night, it was clear this was no ordinary or minor winter storm.  More and more frequently the weather forecasts mentioned blizzard, gale force winds, heavy accumulation, white out conditions and other terms that hardly seem compatible with a trip to Hawaii.  Not to worry, our flight was scheduled for Monday afternoon and we decided to go to Newark airport on Sunday so that we would be all set for the Monday flight without the concern about getting to Newark immediately after a major storm.    We felt the night at a Newark airport motel was good insurance for a much desired trip to Hawaii.  By early Sunday morning, the snow had stopped, some sun had appeared, and the clean up was well underway.  And by late morning we were also underway to the airport.  We were very optimistic and as I had mentioned earlier, we had prepared well.

It took over two hours for us to check our luggage.  So many flights had been canceled, so many individuals needed to make other arrangements, that the check in line moved at a snail’s pace and even that might be an overly optimistic assessment of the speed.  Our plane was still scheduled to go, but the departure time was changed from 1:30 to 3:30 PM.  Certainly understandable.   And then the departure time was changed to 4:30, then to 5:30, then to 6:30, then to 7:30, then 8, then 9, then 10, then 11PM…and then the flight was canceled.  What now?  Well there are no available seats in any airplanes going to Hawaii until either December 31 or January 1st.  And since we were scheduled to fly back on January 3rd, departing on the 31st or the 1st on an eleven hour flight for a two day stay is not anyone’s idea of a good time.  So we agreed to be ticketed on standby for the flight on Tuesday.  The flight is again scheduled at 1:30 and postponed to 3:45, and at 3:30 the standby names are called.  As it turns out some of us can get on the flight but not the entire family; we therefore decide not to go.  So after spending 13+ hours at the airport on Monday and 5 hours on Tuesday (and two nights at airport motels) we are heading back home.  Our luggage, by the way, was placed on the flight to Hawaii so at least our clothes are experiencing the aloha feeling.

We stop at a diner on the way home, have our first real meal in two days, and arrive home tired by still determined to make the best out of the remainder of the week.  I turn up the heat (which I turned down when we left) and we settle in.  The temperature slowly rises and then stops rising and stops working.  Not only aren’t we in Hawaii, we are in a very cold house in New York.  We go to sleep and wake up in a chilly 58 degree bedroom.  We call our HVAC contractor immediately; he comes that morning and the heat is back on within 30 minutes.  The contractor leaves, the heat stops working shortly thereafter, and it takes until the next morning for the contractor to make a return visit.  The week between Christmas and New Year’s is 80% over and we are just starting to get comfortable again.

After a good vacation in Hawaii, I am always ready and excited about going back to work.  Interestingly enough,  I certainly have that same feeling after this “vacation.”

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