2011.02.16 Waiting for the Little Rock Baby

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I really detest changing planes when flying. Take-off and landing times two equals twice the anxiety. I’m always sure I’m going to miss my connecting flight, especially when my originating flight takes off late like it did Saturday as I embarked on my journey to Little Rock to become a grandmother. I don’t want to spend time in airports, trapped with the smell of barbecue, wondering where the real city is and what it looks like, and bemoaning the fact that I have to stick around because an hour isn’t enough time to go see what Memphis is all about. Non-stop flights are where it’s at for me. 

But there were no non-stop flights to Little Rock on a moment’s notice, so I took the next best thing…a short layover in Memphis and a hop, skip and a jump flight to Little Rock on a 50-seater…a CRJ200 EV. I took note of the plane because the flight attendant pointed it out. He claimed it was his favorite plane because it was too small for two flight attendants so he got to work alone and be “the boss.” He said he didn’t work well with others, but he was just the sweetest guy…and with his paunchy stomach, triple chin and grandfatherly face, the unlikeliest flight attendant I’ve ever had. He reminded me of Richie’s dad on the Happy Days TV show.

After giving the run-down on all the safety features of the plane and what to do in case the cabin lost air pressure and the oxygen masks dropped down, he pointed to a light panel that, when lit, would indicate the only bathroom on the plane was occupied. In a Southern drawl, (everything sounds better with a Southern accent, especially with that rising cadence at the end of a sentence), he advised everyone to stay seated until that person returned to their seat. 

“Otherwise, when you walk to the back of the plane and wait, that person is going to open the door and smile at you and you’re going to smile at her and you’re just going to stand there and smile at each other and nobody is going anywhere.

“So, watch this light,” he advised again in his smooth Southern accent as all 50 of us laughed out loud.

At the end of the flight as we waited for the cabin door to be opened, the flight attendant was back on the loudspeaker with more advice.

“If you’re tall, when you get to the door, please watch your head. And, if you aren’t going to watch your head, please watch your language.”

He made the flight a pleasant experience…and reminded me that there’s always something good to be found in every less-than-ideal situation. And, so far, that is certainly true about my premature visit to Little Rock when Rosie turned out not to be in labor after all. We had dinner at my favorite fast food restaurant, Pei Wei (pronounced Pay Way). I’ve only eaten at one other…in Nashville last spring when Rosie and I each traveled about eight or nine hours to meet in the middle at the Scarritt-Bennett Center, near the Vanderbilt University campus.

Pei Wei Asian Diner is an offshoot of P.F. Chang’s and serves the tastiest sounding entrees, making it hard to choose. Plus, there’s the thrill of finding tofu and brown rice in a fast food joint and a host of selections at a reasonable price. I’m eager to return and try the Thai Dynamite: Sriracha chile sauce, soy, fresh lime, scallions, garlic, red bell peppers, carrots, and Thai basil.

After Pei Wei, and warned by Rosie about the fire trucks and busses and general traffic that would be going by her house all through the night and not convinced that she’d actually be able to find the earplugs she was pretty sure they had at home, we stopped at Walgreen’s so I could purchase some. Usually I don’t leave home for far off places like Little Rock without earplugs, but they weren’t in my travel backpack. I did find $350 in cash left over from previous excursions, enough to buy lots of earplugs, but earplugs themselves were not among my staples. I was in a dither while packing quickly and until the first fire truck went right by the window where my head would be resting at night, had forgotten about earplugs.

What a selection Walgreen’s carries! Purple, pink, blue foam ones, and a multi-colored yellow, pink and white model…in addition to a host of others to use while swimming. I was leaning toward the pretty pink with the cool little case, until I noticed that Flents Quiet Time Soft Foam Earplugs had a noise reduction rating of 33 decibels and the pink ones only a 32.

Well, that one decibel made absolutely no difference. I could have bought the pretty pink ones and at least been happy with the color. The purples were pretty much worthless. I heard Rosie most of the 60 times she got up in the night to go to the bathroom, I heard every last car that went by…most in need of new mufflers. I heard the buses. I heard the fire trucks (there must be lots of fires in Little Rock…and, Lord, it seems, only one fire station, half a block from Rosie and Taylor’s windows.

Noisy nights aside, I’m having a good time here in Little Rock where, even though snowy patches are visible here and there, the temperature is in the 60s and everybody is incredibly friendly.

Still, the one thing I really wouldn’t mind hearing is the sound of Rosie pushing that baby girl out….

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