I sat in the Houston International Airport awaiting the flight that would take me to the last baseball double header in Arlington Texas. I had felt a huge sense of accomplishment in arriving on time for this 5:15 PM departure. Still I had thought this would be a tight squeeze from the moment I booked and purchased the flight.
I was lucky the Houston Astros game had wound up in the two hour and forty-five minute window I needed—with them beating the New York Mets.
During a hot and humid day indoors, I watched with curious energy as the last out was recorded, I then raced to the corner of Crawford and Congress—where my sedan driver was in his car, gas running and ready to head out to the airport.
I had beaten the general attendance out of the game because I had positioned myself near the exit while watching the final inning. The game was close enough to be in question so people were not leaving early.
My driver had been the same driver I called on the previous month when I made my first visit to Houston. Ironically, it was the also the third day of the month, and was also a day game, except for this game was on a weekend, and that game was on a Thursday.
Traffic was light on that Sunday, and I took a look at my boarding pass that I had printed out in the airport earlier that morning when I had arrived from Minnesota. I then looked at my remnants of a black travel bag that had already travelled Forty-Thousand Miles through the journey.
The bag used to be heavier, but I started throwing things out towards the end of my trip to make it lighter. I also had a black briefcase which had been the best ally to travel with since it could double as a place for extra clothing—along with carrying schedules, game tickets, hotel reservations, car reservations, maps and electronics for my equipment to document the evidence of this streak.
I was dressed in shorts that had the colors of the British Flag, red white and blue. I was also wearing my black number 23-‘Don Mattingly New York Yankee t-shirt Jersey, I also had sandals on, and a black baseball cap that was severely weathered from being to Twenty-Eight different ballparks in the last Twenty Six days.
My stomach was full of pizza I had eaten at the baseball game. At this point of the trip I knew I had gained about thirty five pounds in the 5 weeks since I left home. I shot from One Hundred and Eighty-Five pounds to Two-hundred and Twenty. I was going to work that off when I returned home to Canada. Another thing to be gone was the beard dangling from my face that had never been so long in my life.
Heading up Highway Fifty-Nine up North, I started to see clouds in the distance, as we approached the airport more, it was apparent we were going to the eye of a rainstorm. I felt a little uneasy as I paid the driver and cleared through security, all the while I was looking through the glass of the airport to monitor the weather towards my pending gate.
It was 4:15 PM in the afternoon. My driver had made good time in reaching the airport from ‘Minute Maid Park’ in twenty-five minutes, and I made it through security in only a few minutes as well.
Everything felt ominous from the time I reached the area of the boarding jet way for this scheduled flight. Most notably, there was no sign of a plane. As rain continued gaining momentum outside the gate, I talked with an airline agent and she told me a plane was supposed to be coming in—and was only late by ten minutes. According to her, we would be able to make the set departure time.
I took a seat after buying a Coke, (another habit I was going to stop after the trip was finished), and began watching ‘CNN’. There was yet another debate going on with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic race.
Having been on forty plus flights in a month, I was well versed in every avenue of this given political race. All the airport TV monitors carried ‘CNN’ as the only channel.
Another gust of wind, followed by a heavy thunderclap, and the rain came feverishly to the ground outside the airport. The lights momentarily flickered throughout the entire inside of the airport. I became worried. No sooner then two minutes later the clock for the impending flight to Dallas Fort Worth changed by thirty minutes ahead.
This caused me to bury my head into my hands. Already if the flight was on time I needed a perfect flight, timely sedan pick up in Dallas, and to have traffic not be so bad in Dallas, so I could run go through the turnstiles at ‘The Ball Park In Arlington’, for the first pitch. First pitch was five minutes after seven. My map told me it was about eleven miles of distance to cover, and could take thirty-five minutes in traffic to get there.
I called my buddy Justin in Canada, I asked for the weather report in Dallas for the game. My thought was that, “If it is raining here it may be raining there, and that could cause a rain-delay, then I might be able to make the first pitch still.” He confirmed it was raining in Dallas and that it loomed in the forecast pretty heavy for the next few hours but was supposed to clear up after that.
At this point I had a little bit of optimism, the very same thing had happened to me in Cincinnati the previous month. There was a big traffic accident on the Seventy-One Highway South on the ‘Fourth of July’ heading from Indianapolis Airport to ‘The Great American Ball Park’. The start of the game was delayed, and I made it there on time to qualify for the game.
I drank my beverage and was ready to call my sedan driver in Dallas to go over the game plan after the flight time change. I then noticed that not only was there not a plane in my gate yet, but that I had not even seen a plane in any of the other dozen gates from the time I had arrived there.
From that instant, my flight to Dallas, (that had already been delayed by thirty minutes)—jumped from one gate—all the way to other side of the airport gate and the time changed to 7:00 PM. I swore out loud.
I swore so loud that about fifty people looked in my direction with angst. It was a natural reaction without any time to even think about it. It was not the first time in the trip I had been caught swearing either, and it would not be the last. The next few times I swore I managed to do it under my breath. I ran to the bathroom. It was an excruciating few minutes.