Current local Las Vegas time is 12:21am, January 17, 2018.

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Moving to Vegas: Day 1, the second half

It was moving day. So far the mover had hit on my wife, left without us really having everything packed, and time was running out to get Mrs. Vargas and Luella the cat to the airport for their flight to our new home in Vegas.

And as time ran completely out, we got saved.

A $20 bill and a very nice neighbor got the leftover trash and stuff from the house taken care of. We left her behind with a key and some verbal instructions that I can only hope were relatively coherent. I know I wasn’t.

I did have to leave behind a huge amount of my hot sauce collection, and I’m a bit pissed about that, but you have to make sacrifices. At the end of the day, we had everything packed that we needed to get into the truck and a means to get the house empty for its new owner. We even managed to leave behind a few goodies for him. OK, so this generosity wasn’t necessarily planned in advance, but I’m sure he will appreciate the dishes, hot sauce collection, computer, and other artifacts of our life.

It was high time to get the Mrs. Vargas and Luella to the airport. Actually, that time was 6:00pm, and it was actually a bit past 6:30, but what can you do? I have many powers, but turning back time isn’t one of them.

At least the flight wasn’t until 9:20pm. The extra window was to allow time for taking a cat through security at the Orlando airport. Being one of the busiest in the world, sometimes the security line can be a bit long an daunting, despite the TSA’s best efforts to keep things running smoothly.

All of our possessions were semi-neatly packed into a 25-foot Penske truck, with my car out back on a trailer. Driving to the airport in a 25-foot Penske truck with a car on a trailer probably wasn’t in the cards, post 9/11 paranoia being what it is and all. We were fortunate enough to have friends who lived fairly close to the airport where we could park the truck while I dropped off Mrs. Vargas and Luella. Unfortunately, the friends couldn’t drive us to the airport, so I had to unload the car, load the girls and go.

Our vet was kind enough to give me some Kitty Valium so that Luella could enjoy a nice relaxing flight. About an hour before we got to the airport, I gave her half of the pill as instructed. As cats do, she resisted, but I know she got it down.

I also requested a gate pass a few weeks ahead of time in order to help the girls through security. Gate passes are the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket of airports. They simply don’t hand them out unless you’re really lucky. The TSA doesn’t issue them, either. Only the airlines can do that, and they’re loathe to do it since it’s not something they do that often. Nothing like a self-fulfilling loathing to keep things easy for travelers with pets.

Since gate passes are only good on the day issued, I was given a name to use when checking in. I had no other information. Armed with only the name to use, we approached the check-in counter. (Mercifully, there had been no line, so we walked right up.) I must have looked like Death Warmed Over since the gate clerk looked upon me with a combination of pity and disgust. It only lasted a split second, but I saw it. It nearly broke through her thin façade of professionalism. When I requested a gate pass, the façade disappeared completely and I got the look reserved for children who have pooped themselves and people who clearly don’t know their place. That look continued until I used the name of the person who I was told had approved my gate pass two weeks previously. That was one magical name. I suddenly became “sir” and was told that she had to check with her manager.

After about two minutes, we were checked in and I had my gate pass in-hand. I don’t know what the person whose name I used does for Delta Airlines in Orlando, but with Delta Airlines, he’s got clout. Thank you, sir.

Happily checked in with the airline and gate pass in hand, we had the TSA security line to deal with. I usually dread these lines, but in this case, I had more than two weeks of anticipation built-up for taking a cat through it. Dread doesn’t even come close to what I was feeling.

Sure, all the reasonable preparations in the universe were made. Of course we had our Sherpa Pet Carrier bag (we’re good Yuppies, after all), but the megadread came from the knowledge that Luella would have to be removed from the Sherpa bag and carried through the security gate. No X-rays for kitty. Apparently glowing pets are not on the TSA’s list of goals.

Fortunately, the terminal and security line were almost entirely bereft of flyers that night, so we got right to the line. The big moment had arrived.

I had prepared: Non-metallic shoes, no keys, no change, no watch or wedding band. Luella already had her harness on and I popped her leash on through a small opening in the bag. I asked the TSA agent if there was any possible way that we would not have to take her out of the bag and he said that it was procedure that she had to come out.

Of course it’s procedure. How silly of me to expect anything but frickin’ procedure from a government employee.

Since the TSA wasn’t up for breaking policy for us, I relented. Out Luella came. Did I mention that Luella is affectionate, but basically hates being held for more than eight nanoseconds? I’m ready for claws, anger, and a cat on a leash with a harness. And cats don’t care for leashes. They turn into vectors. Vectors that try to go in any straight line away form the source of the leash.

But I was ready.

Instead of a crazed and angry feline, I got a happy, purring cat who didn’t even put up a fuss. A few steps through the metal detector and we were through. The Sherpa bag was right behind, and Luella got stuffed in before she had a chance to object.

Aside from a little nervous growling, she was perfectly fine and happy.

I was nearly in tears and was close to shock. I suspect I was simply too tired to cry or slip fully into shock. My body and mind were overwhelmed with fatigue at this point. Two weeks of preparation had apparently paid off. Thanks, Luella. (I made sure she got bacon as a treat — her favorite — as soon as was practical.)

I suspect that this day I had walked more than 5 miles. My feet were shot and my thighs were on fire. I was walking as bow-legged as I could without being too bovious, cat in tow. Mrs. Vargas and I made it to her gate, we kissed good-bye. Getting back to our friends’ house and loading the car was uneventful, but a bit dirty. At this point, cleanliness wasn’t even an issue. I was too tired.

When I got ready to leave in the Penske truck, since it was dark, I turned on the headlights. And nothing happened. OK, maybe there’s a secret headlight switch. Look around. Nope. Oh! Hey! Lookee this! The high beams work. But no low beams. Still nothing on the low-beam side. Plenty if high beams, though. Good, strong, bright high beams. High beams it shall be!

There was no way I was calling for such a small repair item on the truck. I wasn’t about to take the risk of Penske saying “we’ll get you a new truck, but you’ll have to unload and reload. If that had happened, only a gun would have been loaded and unloaded.

My father had volunteered to drive out to Vegas with me. Dad lives about 45 minutes from Orlando, so I had a little drive ahead of me. I had already pre-planned with my father to meet him at his house, sleep there, and leave first thing in the morning.

As dead tired as I was, my second wind actually had arrived about the same time I dropped the girls off at the airport. I made it to Dad’s without incident, unless you count the 20 minute delay on I-4 because of construction. Actually, it didn’t bother me too much, but the poor guy ahead of me in the Nissan Altima from Georgia didn’t appreciate my high beams. For that, I’m genuinely sorry, but there wasn’t much I could do at that point.

Anyway, once settled at Dad’s, I was too wired to sleep, but managed to force myself to get about three hours or so of sleep before we left Wednesday.


Published Wed 11/2/05 at 8:08pm

Categorized in Lars Vargas, Luella the Cat, Moving, Mrs. Vargas