Pots as “Manny,” Chapter 2

Cheers at the Shake Shack, Washington, DC

Robin gave her nanny Jessica a much-needed short vacation at the start of the long Memorial Day weekend, and asked if Pots could come north to fill in.  Sure!  I had time, and it had been seven weeks since I saw Dylan and Carson.  So I flew up on Wednesday, May 23, arriving Washington Dulles in stormy weather.  The three girls picked me up and in no time we were laughing and kidding and carrying on.  Had a good yak with Robin and clocked out before ten, knowing that Thursday would be a challenge.

And it was.  Robin left at 7:15 and returned at 5:45, which meant I was on duty for 10.5 hours.  As in January, it was hard work.  First bit of chaos happened just after breakfast, when I took the girls and Henry the terrier out for a walk.  Henry pulled the leash away from Dylan, and was on the loose.  I was lucky to capture him quickly.  The grass was wet and a little muddy, so I had to hose off the kids’ shoes and take paper towels to Henry.  We took Dylan to ballet at 10:45, home for lunch, a busy afternoon punctuated by three messy diaper changes.  But we had a lot of fun.  Still, Robin’s return was heralded by all!  I hopped on a call with a potential consulting client, using Robin’s closet as a quiet office.   With that done, time for a beer, followed by takeout Chinese (I had planned to make dinner, but opened the wallet instead!).  I was asleep by 9:30.

Friday was a cake walk.  Dropped Dylan at pre-school at 8:20, headed home, took Carson and Henry for a good walk, and at 9:30 drove with Carson to the East Falls Church Metro station, then onto the train to Washington.  Carson’s preferred mode of carriage in now on my shoulders, which is both big fun for her and easier on my arms and back, so up 18th Street we went.  Robin met us a block from her new office on Connecticut, just south of Dupont Circle.  We went up to admire her new digs, then Carson and I headed to the park in the center of the circle while Robin took care of the last business on what was a very short workday.

We had lunch at Shake Shack, the New York-based burger chain that has become wildly popular (Dylan went to friend Lila’s house for the afternoon), and zipped back to the Metro.  Back home, I took a short nap, then a walk with Carson and Henry.  Picked up Dylan at four and spent some nice minutes chatting with Lila’s mom Lisa, who had just been elected mayor of Herndon, Virginia.  A solid choice, in my view!  Dinner at my favorite quick-Italian place, Vapiano, then home for baths.

The bath has become a contact sport for those two, with Pots attempting to keep order from the other side of the tub (topless, I probably should have changed into shorts, because my jeans were soaked).  It was wild.  And they were asleep pretty fast, plumb wore out.  I could have stayed on for the weekend, but promised Linda to take her out to dinner Saturday night, to mark our 34th wedding anniversary (a new couch is our present, to be delivered soon).  It was hard to say goodbye.

We had a good laugh before I got out of the car when I pointed to the grove of trees where, 40 years earlier, almost to the day, I had camped on the eve of attending Transpo ’72, a transportation exhibition at Dulles.   Forty years ago, you could pitch a tent on airport grounds and no one would bother you (I’ve told this story before, but, hey, the 40th anniversary was a big deal!).

I noticed a small sign in the Admirals Club announcing that it would close on July 31, which prompted a chat with Lisa at the front desk.  No, she didn’t know what she was going to do; she had been with American for 23 years.  I’ve had too many conversations like that with AA friends, colleagues, and strangers in the last six months, and they are very dispiriting.  On the flight, I had a happier but still sobering chat with Jacqueline and Trish, the flight attendants in First Class; both had come to AA in 2001 when we bought Trans World Airlines.  The AA flight attendants’ union “stapled” them and their TWA colleagues to the bottom of the seniority list, which led to an eight-year layoff for both of them.  Were they bitter?  No, they were delighted to be flying again.  Said Trish: “Find me a job that pays this well for doing this little work, and provides benefits.”  Amen to that.  Chatting with them reminded me, again, that those who work in the airline business are a special breed.  Special and wonderful.  It has been a privilege to be part of it.  It is, and has been for those of us departed, a calling.

Trish McCarthy, still delivering smiling, shiny service aloft, despite an eight-year layoff; she exemplifies the resilience of many airline people.

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