Planning doesn’t always make perfect

Planning is never a guarantee that everything proceeds without a hitch.

I was reminded of that when my aunt came for a recent visit, flying in from Chicago’s O’Hare to Pittsburgh.

My aunt is a very organized person, a do-ahead planner and plotter who actually mailed a box of clothing way ahead of time to avoid having to fuss with luggage.

Some of that was because on her last visit, her suitcase got lost, ultimately arriving (the good news) at a neighbor’s house (the not so good news).

When her package arrived almost two weeks before she did last month, I admired with awe and wonder the box on the front porch, thinking had that been me, I wouldn’t even be able to remember what I had selected to wear and probably would have been deeply disappointed by my choices by the time I finally did get around to opening the box. “Why did I pick that?” probably would have been my lament for the duration of the visit.

Anyway, I made a note of her flight arrangements for the trip to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

This is a big deal for me and Better Half to make an airport run, something we do with about the frequency of tire rotation (translation, next to never.)

When we do, (an airport pick-up, drop-off, not the tire thing) we always marvel at how simplified the process is now compared to the back-in-the-day journey that meant initially having to travel some on Cove Road in Weirton.

And while we appreciate the faster route these days, this trip brought a head-scratcher, as we realized we’re probably going to be billed for the turnpike fee — cashless tolling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike — instead of scrambling for change to toss into a toll plaza booth, then wait for the thingy-jig to go up and allow passage.

At one point we found ourselves behind a semi, its driver lingering in apparent confusion that there was what appeared to be the remnants of a place to throw money. Was this some kind of a what-would-you-do scenario/trick, he must have been wondering since he had missed the explanatory sign.

He shrugged apologetically when we later passed him.

We made it in a timely fashion to the airport, moving slow shark speed through the arrivals area to keep a lookout for Aunt Rae just carrying a purse off her on-time flight.

But there was no Aunt Rae, and since she was without a cell phone, no way to call or text. How spoiled we are.

We figured it was just an aerobic exercise for our out-of-shape patience muscles.

They got a workout.

About the time I was thinking something might be wrong with this well plotted and planned person pickup, my cellphone rang. It was son Adam, a bit breathless.

“Mom,” Adam said with some alarm. “The airport just called. They’ve got Aunt Rae!”

They’re calling Richmond to tell us that?

Now the way my brain processed this tidbit of information was with the same level of alarm in which it had been delivered.

I’m thinking police detention?

“They said she’s on the second floor,” Adam offered.

The second floor? A holding area for Chicago relatives?

Well, long story abbreviated, Aunt Rae had opted for wheelchair transport and had me paged for pickup there, a message I couldn’t hear since I was outside in my car waiting. And she didn’t have my cellphone number.

More good “planning.”

We had a good laugh about it all, though, followed up by a good week’s visit.

We mailed her “luggage” back before the return trip to the airport.

In our haste, though, we forgot a few things — some clothes and seven bottles of special ketsup she’d bought here, a brand you can’t find in Chicago.

I’ll get those mailed right quick, I reminded myself, just as soon as we get those tires rotated.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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