August 31, 2010

Simply Lucky

Last week, when I was out of town on a business trip I got a text message from Raka.

“Dad, are you home next Tuesday?”
“No baby, back Tuesday evening.”
“Can you come a little earlier, I have a Tuesday at 6:30 with my knee doctor.”
I was pre-occupied, but paused for a second and realized this was important. I did not think and sent her a text back, “will make it happen.”
I got a short reply back from her, “Thanks.”

That started the tone for the last few days. That evening after all my meetings, I started planning what I could do. My original plan was to fly Monday to Burbank, stay at a hotel next to the airport, and then rent a car and drive to meet my client next morning near the LAX airport. After the meeting on Tuesday I was planning to drive back to the Burbank airport and fly back home that evening. As I was paying for out of pocket on this trip, it was important to keep cost down.

First I called only to realize that the whole trip was a package deal and even if they tried, they could not change any of the elements. Hence my only hope of making it back on time was to get a direct flight out of LAX. I got my first lucky break when my client agreed to move the meeting from 9:00 am to 8:00 am. That meant if I was done by 10 am, there was a good chance I could take a direct flight back from LAX airport to Denver. I got a cheap one-way ticket and was committed to give this my best try, but I was not sure I would be able to be there for Raka.

Monday evening I landed in beautiful Burbank, California with one task in hand. I needed the car rental company to allow me to return the car at LAX instead of Burbank. The person behind the counter at Alamo car rental was very helpful. He kept punching all the keys on his keyboard and then would pause with his eyebrows raised indicating, “It is not happening.” Finally he talked to his supervisor to explain to me that my package had a SUV and they do not allow an SUV to be returned to a different location. Instead he can rent me a small car and charge me a drop fee if I wanted to return at LAX. I asked them to downgrade me to any car so that I can return the car at LAX. The word downgrade surprised him. He said he can upgrade but is not authorized to downgrade me. Now to me this was funny. Every time I rent a car, every car rental company gives me upgrade offers but when it is convenient for me to downgrade, they simply refuse to work with me.

Now the practical side of me kicked in. I thought that it was time to give up as I had reached a threshold, but I decided to try a little more, against my comfort zone. I bit the bullet and paid extra to rent the car for a one-way trip to LAX.

Then after dinner when I got to the hotel, Raka called me.
“Dad, did Mom call you?”
I said “No, why?”
Raka said, “Dad my knee is not doing so well! It is swollen. I really need to see the doctor tomorrow. Are you sure you will be here?”

Hearing my little princess in distress is all I needed to motivate myself. I was so glad that I had not given up.

So this morning, I woke up early so that I could drive to LAX a few hours before my meeting and scope the place out and make a plan. As I came to the airport, I realized that the meeting was next to a Westin Hotel and the car rental return was 3 miles away. Returning car before the meeting would only make it easier for me to get to the airport. As I was going through all this planning, I felt I was in the Amazing Race TV show. It was exciting to arrange for a ride from the car rental place to the hotel and now I was at my final leg of the journey.

Now the meeting (yes, the main reason I was in LA) started on time and everything followed as plan and I was done at 10 am. I had 90 minutes to get to my gate. I was nearly sure that I would make it. That is when the CEO I was meeting with told me that shuttle would take at least 30 minutes and he asked me to dash with him so he could give me a ride. Wow! I was thrilled. As he rushed me to the airport, I thanked him repeatedly. He pulled into the airport drop-off area, smiled and said, “Run now and take care of your daughter.”

Everything else went smoothly. My flight landed on time and I picked up Raka and right now we are sitting at a Starbucks across the doctor’s office. She is doing her homework as I type the story of my adventure. Simply amazing. Here is a picture of the amazing visual. I guess I am soaking up this moment. I did not give up, even though I have to confess I was very close to giving up, quite a few times.

Now all I want is the doctor to fix her knee so she can get back to running soon.
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  1. Simply amazing! Hope Raka's knee gets better and tell her "hi" from me!

  2. Well, you did all the things I would have expected of a caring, concerned father....congratulations and I hope your daughter's knee is soon function like a knee is meant to do. Also glad that the Divine Scheduler helped everything go according to plan.


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