"If the flight attendant asks, just tell her you're 18", I said. He was only days away from that not being a lie. And in my quick surveillance of the other passengers also seated in the emergency exit row, he was the most capable of actually being able to open the aircraft door and handle an emergency situation.
The morning started with whiteout conditions on the hour and a half drive to the airport, which turned into two and a half hours. The weather caused the cancellation of half of the flights leaving the airport, but not ours. Ours was merely delayed by 3 hours, meaning we'd miss our connections for Taipei and on to our destination of Ho Chi Minh City. What we didn't realize is that meant we'd be stuck in Seattle for 3 days in an airline administrative quagmire. Neither Expedia, nor United, nor Eva, would book us on a flight out of the most depressing city in the US. Which, as you might imagine, was really depressing. The free sub-par wine paired with gummy bears at Happy Hour at the Embassy Suites near the airport was no consolation.
Our days were spent on hold with one of three companies: one of which had fulfilled their basic obligation to get us to Seattle, one was headquartered in Taiwan and didn't have 24 hour customer service and one offered cheap tickets, counterbalanced by cut-rate customer service. When we finally get through to them, all three explained that they weren't the problem, it was the other guy. Which is exactly what all the politicians we were watching on CNN in the hotel room were also doing, assigning blame instead of working toward solutions. The kids were astounded no one would help us. But, none more than my oldest, the idealistic one. The one about to be christened by adulthood.
We spend most of our childhoods longing to be an adult. Only to realize once we get there that adulthood really sucks. Adulthood isn't freedom, it's responsibility. It's nagging, deadlines, insurance, mortgage payments and taxes. It's being in a dank hotel room in a cold city with luggage filled with warm weather clothes listening to shitty music on hold for an hour before explaining your entire predicament all over again to someone new who won't help you. Welcome to the age of maturity, where nothing happens unless you make it happen. And even then it might not actually happen.
The only thing left to do was to check out of the hotel and go back to the airport ticket counter to get in someone's face to either intimidate them or get them to take pity on us. It didn't matter which. Both are proven tactics adults use for daily survival, just watch CNN for verification of this. And add on our own personal success story as further confirmation. Because that night (or rather the next morning at 1am) we were on a flight headed west. And by the time we arrived in Vietnam, our oldest had turned 18 somewhere over the Pacific with no fanfare whatsoever. Which, when I think about it, is the most befitting welcome to adulting.