We nearly missed the march of the Peabody ducks.
My lack of interest in doing a word problem correctly from start to finish nearly cost us our opportunity to watch the ducks on parade in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
“How long is it from Oklahoma City to Memphis?” Scott asked.
“It’s like six hours,” I told him sometime last week.
I can’t tell you how I arrived at that number. Did I just want it to be six? I certainly hadn’t Google mapped the first thing. Maybe I’d looked at a map and the space between the dots representing Oklahoma City and Memphis appeared to be closer than the space between the Albuquerque and Oklahoma City dots. I can’t remember now. What I can tell you authoritatively now is that it is more like seven-and-change hours than six, and that if you are in Oklahoma City at 8 a.m. and want to be in Memphis by 5, you’d better get your car out of the garage and your bags out of the room and start driving, people.
“It’s like some sort of a reality show you have me in,” Scott said, eyes on the road ahead. “’Can we make it to Memphis in time to see the ducks? ‘Oh, it was a great start coming out of Oklahoma, but what if we put 73 Arkansas state troopers on the road between him and his destination?’”
It would have been no small thing to miss the ducks, either. While these birds spend six hours in the hotel lobby fountain, they only march the red carpet twice a day: once at 11 when they come down the elevator and one more at 5 when they go back up.
Miss the ducks and there would be no easy do-over. We live 15 hours away (having done the math correctly at least three times in a cold sweat while the kids ate their spoils from the hotel breakfast buffet, I can now tell you this with great confidence). A family viewing of the ducks was the early centerpiece of my sales and marketing of our road trip east. What would I tell The Three—at least one of whom would be crying, of this I had no doubt—if we rolled into the hotel lobby at 5:20?
So Scott drove and I quietly panicked. I flipped through my printed pages of confirmation numbers only to realize that I didn’t even have the street address for the Peabody Hotel. (Editor’s note: The address for the Peabody was, however, in the painstakingly thorough directions our friend Lance had assembled for our trip from Memphis to his doorstep. Next year, I’m just going to have him Google map everything for me and e-mail it. ) I looked at the road atlas in an attempt to find 2nd Avenue in downtown Memphis (the location for the hotel’s self-park garage), but maps don’t make a lot of sense even when I am getting sufficient oxygen to my brain. I even called the Peabody reservation line to ask the nice lady who answered what the cross street for the hotel’s parking garage might be.
“I’m not at the property, ma’am,” the faintly accented voice told me apologetically. “Do you want me to give you the number of the hotel operator?”
At 4:39, after only one wrong turn down a one-way street, Scott let us out on the sidewalk at the side of the hotel.
“We’re going to see the ducks!” Roy exclaimed as we hustled toward the entrance.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” I said, grimly.
What The Three and I found in the lobby was that there is a positive swarm of people who want to see the Peabody ducks on any given day. The men in black who serve as duck security keep paths open in the bar area allowing the waiters to continue to do their jobs, but they also made a point of taking children to better viewing positions along the short, red carpet route between the fountain and the elevators.
“They flapped their little wings and then they stomped on their little orange feet and they honked super loudly with their little yellow beakies,” Peaches said in summary.
We almost missed the ducks. But we didn’t.
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