Speaking of Army training, I have had a direct affiliation with the Army for over 20 years. As an aviator, I flew many hours of medical evacuation missions and amassed a fairly extensive background in the employment of the military air ambulance. The result of this was that recently I had an opportunity to take my expertise on the road, on behalf of Uncle Sam, and even take the family along (at my own expense). Like a fool, I leaped on this opportunity because I thought it would help bond the family together, and it would give the kids a chance to see where I grew up. So, going home I announced to the crowd that they could go, and that it “will be just like a normal family vacation!” Looking back on it, I now realize just how much those words were the epitome of stupid. This concept turned into the adult variation of “Hey watch this...”, and would haunt me like a bad check.
There is much planning involved in moving the horde from point A to point B. Very akin to moving an entire combat infantry brigade, the planning must include every logistical point imaginable, plus a few extra details that aren’t imaginable. Reservations must be made, load plans for two tons of stuff must be made, and the identification of those materials required to sustain the crowd for over a week is an exhaustive study of logistical science. The most difficult of these items to accomplish is without doubt the identification of who can actually go.
Teenagers, who are adverse to family vacations anyway, are very quick to tell you that under no circumstances will they be seen with the family. They are equally quick to decide that having you gone during spring break gives them the chance to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do.... Like sell the house and move away. To preclude such action, Dad is presented with his most unique challenge to date. How to keep an eye on someone who will not be able to come because of a “work” conflict. Do you scrap the whole trip? No, instead you employ the aid of the former spouse and that old nosey neighbor down the street. Nothing against her Mom, but oddly enough, I probably feel more confident about the nosey neighbor. Not because she can be trusted or loves your child, but because she will tell you everything and then some. She sees all, knows all, and has the intelligence network of the CIA at her disposal. When invited to make observations, she is thrilled, cooperative, and more diligent than a sheep dog at watching the flock in a Looney Toons Cartoon.
Placing my version of the Mossad on alert, you now must see who else may have conflicts. The 7 year old’s baseball team has a game, but Mom intercedes and this is eliminated from consideration. No one else has recitals, or other listed conflicts so the manifest is set: Mom, Larry, Moe, and little Curly. Shep will stay home and work, while I must lead the rest on an adventure of a lifetime through four states. Little did I know, when it was over I would be able to write a new guide book about the “Southeast’s most popular rest areas.” (We got so far as establishing the criteria for such things. There is outdoor ambience, indoor convenience, and softness of toilet tissue, to name but a few of these more basic criteria.) ~ Michael S. Pauley