The crowded airport shuttle bus squeezed in two more travelers and then the driver closed the door. Luggage was rearranged to fit all the bags in the double-decker bag space. Not only were all the seats taken, but also there were three fellows standing in the aisle.
It was a full house but the trip from the parking lot to the terminal was only four minutes, so the cramped conditions were bearable.
"Where is everybody going?" someone asked. The responses came immediately.
"My wife and I are going on a cruise in the Cayman Islands. This time tomorrow, we'll be relaxing on a gorgeous beach and soaking up sun rays."
"We're going to Vegas," another fellow offered, nodding expansively to his wife, daughter and son in close-by seats. "We have relatives there but we'll also take advantage of checking out the strip."
"We're going on vacation to Disney World. When you live in London like we do, we don't get to Florida too often." Curious heads turned her way and she quickly corrected, "That's London, Ohio — not England." Everyone laughed.
"I'm going home to San Antonio but I've enjoyed this visit to Cincinnati."
"We're retired so my husband and I have all the time in the world to do what we want. On this trip, we're heading to San Diego to visit our daughter and her family."
The person next to me said, "I know what you mean about being retired. My wife has been visiting our son in Houston for the past two weeks and I'm going down to escort her back home."
Then it was my turn. Mentally, I added up what we had heard: One cruise. Two vacations. Two retiree trips. One trip home. I looked out the window imploringly, wishing by now we were already at the terminal. Should I make up something exotic? Couldn't I just say that I'm headed to Miami to see a friend? No. That wouldn't be very good since I don't know anyone in Miami. Can't this bus go any faster? My graying hair screams retiree, but nuns don't retire. OK — the moment of truth.
"I'm going to Chicago for a meeting," I share.
"Oh, you poor thing," the Vegas traveler says, and others chime in sympathetically.
"Oh, I like Chicago," I quickly add.
Then the Vegas traveler said, "I do, too, but it's a bummer that you have to attend a meeting."
Just then, we arrive at the terminal and all file past me, shaking their heads.
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]