Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family Values

Whenever I go back to Houston I end up eating a lot and going to see movies. I do these things with my family because the entire reason I go back to Houston is to see my family, and because we don't have much in common.

It sounds a bit tragic when I say it like that, but it's true. Each of us has a set of things that we do, that we're interested in, and by and large those things don't line up. With my Father it's a bit of a different story, but right now the focus is on my Mother and Brother. We get along just fine, but there's not much that we could get together and do.

Except for all of the things that we don't plan to.

There's something that runs in my Mom's family, and it's best described simply as the capacity to get shit done. We may not have a lot of the traditional family unity but when things go bad we're well ahead of the curve.

Lets take, for example, the complete shutdown of an airline. The whispering begins when the scared volunteers in the blue vests begin speaking of a mass flight cancellation. It's at this point that a kind of tense shuffling begins rippling through the crowd. By that point we've already begun scouting. Scoping out resources, learning procedures, confirming rumors etc. By the time the crowd has begun to join in the whispering we've already learned how to rebook our flight and secured a new hotel. We're already on our way out the door by the time the P.A. comes on to give the greatest airport message I've ever heard.

"Attention Alaska Airlines customers. All flights have been cancelled for the day. If you live in the Seattle Area we advise you to please go home. If you don't live in the Seattle Area we advise you to book a hotel..."

The annoyingly long line for car rental is quickly overcome by a divide and conquor strategy that allows us to compairson shop and get out of there before the snooty jerk in front of us is up to his poorly chosen table. There are probably still people waiting fruitlessly in line while we're rolling down I-5.

And that's where it ends. When it gets to "well what now?" we're back to food and movies. It's an odd kind of paradox. My family plans to get together to do something familial, but the famililal activity were best at is dependent on a broken plan. To me the solution to this is very clear. Bad Planning. We need to begin arranging our trips poorly, intentionally. Lets go somewhere without any of us learning any of the language or culture. Lets take a road trip in a low quality vehichle to an obscure location using only dead reckoning. Lets jump out of, or into, or across something that wouldn't normally involve jumping. I think these kind of thigns would work much more effectively as a bonding experience if we ended up having to fight tooth and nail every step of the way to actually get things done. It would be stressfull, and maybe even not that fun, but we would definitely walk away with a lot more interesting stories.


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