Brad’s Search : Part 9


It’s the night before my big weekend. What started as a small weekend retreat with my mom turned into a huge, unexpected gathering. I’m glad we legalized pot here in Washington; I may need some to calm myself down!

I chat with Gary on the phone and pack most of what I needed for the weekend. “So, Gary, what’s the plan?”

“Harry, Gina, and I will probably head out before noon and grab lunch before we hit the freeway. 167, 164, and 410 seems to be the best way to go. What about you, Sharon, and Kelly?”

“Mom called me earlier today. She told me she was moved to an earlier flight.”

“She must be happy to be able to spend more time with you.”

“Oh, she is. I have a meeting at work tomorrow morning. After I’m done, Kelly and I will head to the airport to pick her up and then meet up with you.”

“How are you going to deal with having both of them together?”

“Kelly and I aren’t technically together, so I don’t have to pretend we’re boyfriend-girlfriend or anything. I think I can play it off for the hour or so we’ll be in the car.”

“And what about after you get there?”

“...I’ll figure it out.”

“You always were good at thinking quickly on your feet.”

“Especially that time at the strip club.”

“All righty, Brad, I’ll let you finish up your packing.”

* * * * *

Is it possible to both look forward to and dread the upcoming morning?

* BEEP BEEP BEEP *

Alarm clocks can be so unforgiving. I didn’t quite get the best night’s sleep. I kept replaying disaster scenarios of the car ride to Mount Rainier. Hopefully none of them will come true.

I have time to get in a quick jog and an even quicker shower. I grab my suitcases and snowboard and head down to the car; I’ll be driving in to work since it’s on the way to the airport.

I get to my building’s parking garage and find a spot close to the elevator. I head up to our floor. I’ve worked there a while, but never realized how great of a view of the mountains we have. I guess I’ve had my head stuck in front of a computer screen too much.

I walk into the conference room; my boss, Rick, and one of the other project managers are already there, and both stand up to greet me.

“Good morning, Brad. Please, take a seat.”

“Good morning, guys,” I say as I sit down.

Rick continued, “I’m so glad you were able to meet with us on short notice. You may recognize Eric here. He has been managing a lot of the projects coming from one of our biggest clients.”

“Yes, I’ve worked with some of them in a limited capacity.”

Eric spoke up. “I’ve seen some of the work you’ve done; you’ve helped my team find some pretty serious bugs, and made some great suggestions in making our code more efficient and reliable.”

“Well, thank you.”

“It’s you we should be thanking, Brad. Anyway, this client of ours has presented us with a really intense project. I spoke with Eric and he thinks it’ll be a bit too much for his team.”

“So you’d like me to join his team and help out?”

“Actually, we were thinking of hiring some additional programmers and testers and having you oversee them.”

I... didn’t know what to say. I didn’t even know what to think.

Eric broke the silence. “Rick and I have been talking about this for a couple of weeks. You’ve done great work so far, and we think you have what it takes to head your own team.”

“This sounds wonderful, guys! I’m so delighted you considered me for this.”

“Great; we knew you’d be on board. We’ve been taking a look at some new applicants. On Monday, how about going over to Eric’s office and being part of the selection committee?”

“I’ll be there!”

“Fantastic. Well, that’s all we needed to discuss right now. I’m sure you’re anxious to get your weekend started. Any plans?”

“Right after this I’m heading to Mount Rainier with a new friend and my mom who’s flying in from Denver.”

“A new friend?”

“Yeah - Kelly.”

Rick gave Eric an inquisitive look. “Kelly?”

Eric shrugged. “Kelly can be a guy’s name.”

I confessed. “Actually, Kelly is a woman.”

Now they both looked at me with an inquisitive look.

“Don’t worry, fellas; the only switching of teams I’m doing is at work.”

“That’s refreshing to hear. Well, don’t let us keep you.”

I get up and shake hands with both of the guys. I leave the conference room and head towards the elevator, giving Mount Rainier one more look out of the window.

* * * * *

I drive to Capitol Hill to pick up Kelly, and then head south on I-5 toward the airport. We park and head inside to greet Mom at baggage claim. We get there right as her flight is scheduled to land. I check the monitors and, sure enough, it’s on the ground all in one piece. We sit tight for a few minutes, until I hear a very familiar and unmistakable shriek.

“Brad!!!”

Mom comes running toward me. She would certainly put the Running of the Bulls to shame.

She grabs me and plants a big smooch on my right cheek. “Oh Brad, I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you too, Mom. There’s someone I want you to meet. This is Kelly. Kelly, this is Sharon.”

They exchange greetings and get to know each other a bit while we wait for the bags. “So Kelly, what do you do?”

“I work for Marriage Equality Washington. I’m sure you heard about our big victory in getting Referendum 74 passed.”

“I sure have. I keep a very close eye on those kinds of things. They are so important to my baby boy.”

“Of course; they should be important to anyone concerned about equal rights.”

“Well, yes, but especially because he’s-”

All of a sudden the buzzer sounds, signaling the bags are on the way. Phew, that was close.

“Oh my heavens! I forgot to tell you what bags to look for. I have a big blue one with lime-green accents, a smaller pink one, two yellow ones-”

“Gosh, Mom, how many did you bring?”

“Well, you sometimes never know what outfit will work best given the occasion until right before. You of all people should know that, Brad,” Mom says with a light shove on my shoulder.

“You do know how much extra all of this baggage is, right?”

“It helps if you know the person working the counter.” Mom gave me a wink.

“Great, but what about your return trip?”

“His best friend works at this airport.”

That’s my mother for you - utilizing her resources to the best of her ability.

I realize one of her bags passed us by a few seconds ago and run to grab it and make it just in time. One down, seven to go.

* * * * *

We gather the rest of Mom’s bags and head to the car. It’s a good thing Kelly is tagging along, or else Mom and I would’ve had to make two trips.

We pile into the car, Kelly in the front seat, and Mom in the back. I text Gary to tell him we’re on the way. He let me know that he, Harry, and Gina got there a few minutes before and were getting settled in. The plan is for all of us to grab dinner when we get there and unpack. The clock reads 15:30. We head onto the freeway, past I-5 and onto 167.

“Sharon, have you ever been to Mount Rainier in the winter?”

“I haven’t been at all. But I hear it’s very nice in the winter. How about you, Kelly?”

“Same here. I’ve always wanted to go, but I’ve never had anyone to go with.”

“Well, I’m sure Brad will show you a good time.”

Kelly chuckles and looks my way. “He already has.” She gives my knee a squeeze.

“Oh, before I forget, I have some great news to tell you. One of my company’s clients came to us with a project that’s too big for our current team, so they’ve asked me to be a project manager for it.”

Mom congratulated me with a “Brad, that’s wonderful!” And Kelly let out an “Awesome!”

“It’s a big responsibility, but my boss and another of the project managers thinks I have what it takes to do it.”

“You always were a good leader, Brad. I have no doubt you would be great in that position. I’m glad your colleagues see that, too.”

It’s only a short way until we reach the exit for 164. The mountains creep closer and closer. The rest of the drive goes by without incident, much to my imagination’s disappointment.

* * * * *

We finally reach the parking lot of the lodge. I give Harry a quick call to ask him to help with all of the bags. He and Gary head downstairs, exit the lobby, and get to the car just as Mom and Kelly gather a few bags.

Mom does a perfect repeat of her airport shriek. “Harry! Gary! It’s so good to see you two!” She gives them both a big hug.

“It’s great to see you, Sharon. Hello, Kelly. Good to see you again. Don’t worry about the rest of the bags; Harry and I will take them up.” Mom and Kelly begin to head inside.

Gary and Harry stand close to me and speak quietly. “How’d the drive go?”

“Pretty well, actually. I think both of them are pretty clueless as to what’s really going on.”

“Good, good. What can we help you bring up?”

I pop open the trunk and watch as both Gary and Harry’s mouths open wide.

“How much extra did that cost?”

“Nothing. She knew the guy at the ticket counter.”

“Your mom is fucking awesome.”

We each take a couple of bags in each hand. “Thanks for the help, guys. Without you it would be next year before I got all of this in.”

“No problem, Brad; we’re happy to help.”

“How did your ride go?”

“Nothing to complain about. Traffic was pretty light on the way here. We all got settled in pretty quickly.”

“Harry, is Julia here yet?”

“She gets here with her group tomorrow. I’m going to see about making dinner plans.”

“Well, Brad, there is one other person here you should probably know about.”

“Oh, come on. Who else under the sun could possibly be here?”

Gary gives Harry a look, and then a quick nod.

Harry then says the last possible thing I could have ever expected.

“Stan.”