Sunday, January 30, 2011

Life Really is a Buffett Lyric Part 1

"Changes in latitude, changes in attitude..."
I'll start by saying I am lucky. I am blessed. I am fortunate. I've made [mostly] good choices in life. Let me tell you about last weekend...

Friday Janauary 21st we both worked a full day, we fixed a little dinner and then packed our suitcases. We were heading out to Oz that evening. The flight had looked promising two weeks ago, with 1st or Business Class assured. It had fallen apart this week and we packed for coach, if we got on at all - Cam took his pillow and I threw in a Snuggie, eye shades, ear plugs and some Tylenol PM.

Arriving about 90 minutes before flight we relaxed in the International First Class Lounge. I send lots of customers up there and we got to try the product out and give some feedback to the manager (thanks Shelley and Ruby!). Ruby was working the lounge and told us it looked very bad to get on the flight, that we were not likely to get out tonight. In my head I was going through the schedule to Hawaii the next morning, as we'd packed tropical clothes...

"Still six thousand miles away from where I'd really rather be"
At the gate, 30 minutes before departure, we could see there were 4 seats left on the flight, in coach, and we were #2-3 on the list. Ruby came to tell us the 4 seats would be going out empty, as there were weight restrictions (typical this time of year). 22 years of flying stand-by have taught me you *never* leave the gate until the airplane pushes back.

Good things don't always come to those who wait, but tonight they did. "Larson, party of 2" was called and we were given seats 45J and 33J, middle seats but exit rows at aircraft doors, so about 4 feet of leg room in front of us. The flight is scheduled at 14 hours and 35 minutes. We made it to Sydney in 13 hours and 20 minutes and I slept at least 7 of those hours. No photos were taken, but I'm sure I was the envy of all in coach with my UCLA snuggie, my high-end eye shades and my ear plugs. When I awoke the woman next to me started and said "I thought you were dead!" Why, thank you, I did have a nice sleep! Cam fared almost as well in his seat with his pillow from our bed.

"The weather is here"
Coming out of Customs about 10 minutes after we got off the plane, we looked around for our friend Peter who said he might pick us up if we weren't in too early. As we were in more than an hour early, we didn't see him. A quick stop at the ATM and we turned toward the train into the city. I stopped Cam and said let's take one more look around for Peter and there he was!

Peter and wife Elizabeth had just returned from 2 weeks in Tahiti the day before. He drove us to our hotel, where it was to early to get in. We decided to stop for a coffee while we waited for Elizabeth to get up and stopped in the Park Hyatt. Enjoying a beautiful flat white, the first since I was last in Sydney in November 2009, I looked up to see a familiar man walking in the restaurant. It was Jimmy Buffett.

"I heard I was in town"
Spending so much of my job protecting celebrities from fans and paparazzi and looking like we'd just gotten off a 14 hour flight, I wasn't about to go over. But Peter did!

Peter went over to tell Mr. Buffett that Cameron and I had just flown in to see his concert the next night and that we were going back on Tuesday. That we were seeing Jimmy for the 25th (Cameron) and 35th (me) time. Yes, indeed, we had flown to Sydney for the Jimmy Buffett concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Mr. Buffett was gracious, explained that he was doing an interview and would be over to say hello once he was done. Elizabeth joined us a few minutes later and we sat as long as we could, but left before Mr. Buffett finished his interview. Yes, we are fans. Big fans who have seen him in California, Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, Colorado and Hawaii. Big fans who just flew halfway around the planet to see him, but we are not stalkers. No, we are not. Nope. Just one little photo with the BlackBerry camera and the satisfaction of knowing we had made the journey and been rewarded with good friends, a flat white and sharing the restaurant with Jimmy.

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