Thanks, Dick Cheney and the Pope, for making the friendly skies – memorable

I leave for Kenya TODAY – RIGHT NOW, in fact.

Speaking of which, have I ever told you about that time Dick Cheney made me late for a job interview?

Or that time I – and roughly 100 other people – had to outrun the Pope before he trapped us in a plane, on the tarmac, at JFK Airport? For hours?

I have done what I can to prepare for the trip. But I know there’s no way I can really prepare.

Make way for Dick Cheney

In 2006, I flew into Pittsburgh for an interview with what would become my future – and now past – employer.

Actually arriving at the gate took a little doing though, thanks to Air Force Two, which carried Vice President Dick Cheney. Everything ground to halt, including the disembarking of our plane, while Cheney’s flight took off.

I didn’t get to the interview on time. Cue the Dick Cheney jokes.

Although, in his defense, I did still get the job.

I raced the Pope – and won

A couple of years later, I was in New York City. So was the Pope.

Every TV blared scenes of his visit, especially from Yankee Stadium, where he led Mass. The significance of his presence in relation to my visit only dawned on me the morning I prepared to leave.

He was going to leave at the same time I was.

OK, no big deal. That is, until I got to the airport. The flight crew frantically whisked us on board, tucked us in and floored it. We, and every other plane ready to taxi, jostled for a place in line that would allow for an on-time departure. The alternative? Well, your worst nightmare.

We barely made it out on time. By barely, I mean we were either the last or second to last plane allowed to depart before the Pope’s entourage took over.

Are there Pope jokes? I don’t know.

But I do know I was glad for a rare on-time departure from a New York City airport.

What next?

I have about 24 hours of travel with stops in Chicago, London Heathrow and finally, Nairobi. With my track record – trust me, I haven’t even told you the half of it – I’m pretty sure I’ll have some stories to tell.

In other words: stay tuned.

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