To be expected, I didn’t rest well, afraid to oversleep. I got up before 5, and got myself and things together and downstairs by 5:10. I went looking for Dave, who was on the coach, to give him his tip and say goodbye. He offered to drive me back to the front of the hotel since he was going there. He waited with me, while some members of a wedding party from the night before hung out on the front steps. Suddenly, one, then another taxi arrived. It was the second driver, a female, who was for me. I shook Dave’s hand, then leaned in for a hug. He promised to come to Albany some day, and I climbed in the cab to the strains of “I will always love you” on the radio.
It was before dawn, as we made our way to the airport. The tunes played seemed all sweet and sappy – perfect for the moment. The cabbie and I chatted away about people in my office, as she knew many, which somehow seemed surreal! At the airport, I took my backpack from the trunk and handed her my voucher. She was off and I made my way into the terminal, through the labyrinth of check-in. I was asked if anyone had given me anything to take with me. I said no, which was not the total truth, as I was carrying a client’s iPad that was left on a bus. But I knew what it was and it was part of my job. Through Irish security and into the Departure Hall. The Irish workers were laughing and having a good time together. I found the VAT (Value Added Tax) reimbursement center and used my Horizon card as well as put some form in an envelope to get my taxes back on items purchased. Then it was time to purchase last minute gifts and when the monitor indicated, to go to US Clearance, which was a longer snake-like line for security, with taking off the shoes, putting my tablet in a separate bin from my toiletry bag, shoes and coat, and handing my ticket and passport simultaneously to a humorless agent. Immigration involved positioning your face correctly to take a picture – actually a nice one, but not one I could keep! I handed it and my passport to an officer and he asked me what I had been doing in Pakistan. “Visiting with a friend.” “But what did you do there?” “Uh, visit my friend’s family?” He let me go. Down the hall and finally I was at my gate. It didn’t seem long until they called boarding. An American guy asked me if I could understand what the announcement was saying. He apparently couldn’t hear through the brogue.
On board, my row mate was a congenial Irishwoman who worked for IBM, I believe, and was on her way to a conference in Las Vegas. We chatted for a while and then started watching movies. Another girl joined us after dinner, since her video display was broken. Three and a half movies later, we were at the gate in Newark. I was texting my colleague Alaine, when my phone updated itself, so I had to wait and worry we would miss each other. But as I had witnessed several times on this trip, no need to panic, things have a way of working out. I took the shuttle to Terminal A, where she was waiting, and I filled her in on the trip until my flight was called. I told her I was jealous that she was going to Ireland. “You just came back,” she said. “I know,” and turned to go.