ADVENTURE/TRAVEL

OPERATION MOUSETRAP

Do you remember that game Mousetrap that you played as a kid? There was that little ball and the stair steps, and the spiral and the see-saw and the basket and all of those other contraptions to make your mousetrap work. I don’t think I ever owned it but one of my friends did and it provided hours and hours of entertainment. Okay, maybe not hours. I think we probably re-configured it 2 or 3 times and then went back to playing Legos or Star Wars or Atari or whatever else we did. I was playing again today.

Actually, today’s perfect plan was made more remarkable by the fact that I had a passenger along for the ride. Usually, I am all about the solo missions. I might have an accomplice or somebody that plays an integral role in the plan, but I never have anybody that’s just with me, essentially dead weight, like Indiana Jones and that girl in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” This would surely complicate my plan, perhaps even throwing off its precision enough to make the whole thing fall apart.

I half thought of calling it off. After all, there were a lot of variables out of my control, and not much margin for error. I’m not that easily dissuaded though. Especially considering what was at stake. I was up to the challenge. But was he up to it? My missions are not for the faint of heart and are highly dependent upon the planets lining up and the moon being full and maybe even predicated on being the owner of a lucky rabbit’s foot. If anything goes wrong, the whole mission could be put at risk.

Anytime Chicago O’Hare International Airport is in your flight plans, risk is a given. Furthermore, with the weather as it was today I was going to be surprised if there were no delays. My co-worker Ted’s flight from Philly through O’Hare was delayed about an hour this morning, so there was reason to be a little worried.

Start the ball rolling. Our flight took off a little late, but we landed about 8 minutes early…5:37pm CST to be exact. We were at Gate G11, which was pretty far down the row of G gates, and not terribly close to the airport exit, so we had to high-tail it down the long hallway, rollies in tow. Stealing a glance at the monitors as we walked, we took note that our gate for our connecting flight would be G1A. This was beautiful. First the flight is early, now our connection is flying out of the first gate.

As we got to the front of the airport, Ted had a moment of uncertainty. I gave him a moment and offered him a chance to back out. His manhood would not be questioned. I would not harbor any resentment. I wouldn’t tell anybody. It would never be mentioned again. He decided to roll. We walked out through the secure part of the American Airlines terminal, out into the Chicago night, and made a bee-line for the taxi stand on the curb. Naturally, we got a cab driver whose English was not terribly clear. Hey, we were bound to hit at least a small snag. This plan couldn’t go completely flawlessly. I told him that we needed to go to Higgins Road and River Road in Rosemont. He looked puzzled, and then said he knew where he was going. I was skeptical. It was like deja vu all over again. Remember my taxi ride through the dark streets of Saigon? Same thing here, although I never feared for my life this time. Worst case, he gets me lost, foils my plan and maybe I miss my connecting flight and have to endure Ted’s complaining about why he ever listened to me in the first place.

Well, I’m happy to report that he did actually know where he was going. Even if he didn’t, I knew where I was going, so I made sure to pay close attention, making sure that he did take the River Road exit off I-190 from the airport. We arrived. I could hardly contain my excitement as we walked through the doors of this hallowed place. It had been too long. I had missed it, like the desert misses rain. Giordano’s Pizza.

Yes, it IS that serious. If you don’t believe me, you’ve never eaten at Giordano’s or any of the other 3 or 4 pizza establishments on my approved list in the Chicagoland area (Uno’s, Due’s, Gino’s and some place on the Westside that my relatives took me to awhile back). “But deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza takes a long time to cook, what time was your connection?” you ask. My connecting flight to Toledo was scheduled to leave at 8:15pm. “Your flight got in at 5:37, you walked all the way out of the airport.. you caught a cab…you probably drove…what? Ten minutes? It had to be almost 6:15pm by now. You’ll never make it. You still have to order, eat, catch another cab back to the airport, get through security, and get to the gate by 7:45pm.”

Silly mortal, you. Did you forget who’s blog this is? (This is where they show one of those “Ocean’s 11” type past sequences of me walking off the jetway at Gate G11, and the camera zooms in on my left hand reaching into my l