Sunday, March 31, 2019

See Al? Be Like Al

I'm in Washington DC for my 19th Alzheimer's Forum. You would think after 19 times, it would be the same-old, same-old, but you would be wrong.

Here it is almost April, and we had April Fool's a few days early. After a short warm snap, Jennifer and I had no more gotten to the airport that snow began to fall. We were flying Southwest so we had no assigned seats, but Jennifer's mascot elephant, Al, held my seat for me until I boarded the plane. A disembodied voice from the cockpit ask us to be patient while they de-iced the plane.

I was curious since I had never been on a plane that had to be de-iced. Pretty soon, a cart pulled up, with a bold sign letting us know that "The Ice Man" was on the job. A ten-second squirt and we were off and running.

After grabbing our two purple suitcases off the carousel, Jennifer and I embarked on the second new experience of the day. I've always caught a cab to the hotel, but Jennifer had an account, and we were to be picked up by a white Toyota by a Lyft driver named Olga.

We were both excited to be in DC on a pleasant, sun shiny day and didn't mind waiting a few minutes for Olga to arrive. Jennifer was in contact with her and she assured us she was nearby. As we stood there viewing the screen, a young man standing nearby said, "Are you Jennifer?"

We found out it was his first attempt with Lyft, but he was sharing a ride with us. Jared was going to a different hotel. They both received notification that Olga had arrived and she was in a blue Camry. We spotted her and loaded up. Lucky for us, all Jared had was a backpack because the truck was full of purple.

Al was in the trunk in the carry on. We should have kept him as a navigator. Olga told us it was her first day with Lyft after working with Uber for six years. So, here we were, a car full of newbies heading into DC proper looking for not one, but two hotel. Jared was closer so the navigation system was set up to let him off first. Olga took off headed in the direction of the nav, and I could almost hear Al screaming in the trunk, "I don't think she knows where she's going!"

After we had made several exits, it looked to me like we were closer our hotel located near the zoo that a hotel close to the White House. After all, I'd been on several harrowing taxi drives to the same hotel.

Jared pulled up navigation on his phone. "We're pretty close to our hotel," I said from the back seat. I pulled up my own map. It said we were within six minutes of our hotel.

Olga made a U-turn and headed back across the bridge we had just crossed. Jared tried to be helpful, but she still missed an exit or two, narrowly missed crashing into a car that cut in front of us. Thankfully, her car had great brakes!

"We are getting a nice tour of the city," I remarked.

Finally, after about forty minutes, we found Jared's hotel. By then, my phone had "re-routed" several times and Olga was headed in the right direction. Her phone kept telling her to drop Jared off instead of telling her how to get to our hotel. Eventually, her navigation and mine agreed. I saw the landmarks I was used to seeing including Marilyn Monroe's face on a building. "We are close," I told Olga. I saw the Omni Shoreham where we'll be staying the last night. I saw CVS, familiar restaurants. "This is our neighborhood," I told Jennifer.

Olga zigged when she should have zagged. "Here it is," she said. It was the back entrance. "All you need to do is go around the block and you can let us off in the front," I said. She took off, flew past the front entrance. Oops. I finally saw a side entrance we often used. "Here," I said. "Let us off here."

"Are you sure?" she asked. "I don't think this is the right hotel." Well, the name was right above the door.

When we got to our room and unpacked Al, he had a smug look on his face.

We immediately took off to look at the monuments, cherry blossoms, and the kite flying. As we rushed off to get caught up in the humongous crowds, Al stayed behind in the room patiently waiting for us to attend to the business we came to DC to accomplish.

He wears his purple beads, his AIM (Alzheimer's Impact Movement) pin, and his Walk to End Alzheimer's Team Captain button. Al is ready and waiting.

Be patient, Al. In a few hours, we will be all business and determination. We will be like Al and fight to #ENDALZ.

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