Hell hath no fury like a first-born daughter! At least, growing up with a big sister, a slightly less big brother, and being... Idk... the last cousin in my generation of my entire family, I guess you could say I had a lot of eyes watching me.
Let's be frank. Waiting for me to fuck up.
That's been my whole life. But every now and then I have proven my natural talents. Not natural leadership, but, I'd say, Instincts 100!
This tale begins at an airport in the late 90's. It was summer; it was Orlando; we were on VACATION! And I was 5? 6? Again, Idk, that was at least 20 years ago!
As the story goes I had arrived that morning in the Orlando International Airport avec my parents, older brother, even older sister, and EVEN older cousin. The age differences went me, +5 years, +7 years, and +12 years respectively.
We had arrived that morning from Dallas/Fort Worth at the beginning of a week-long vacation. That was my first vacation, first trip on a plane, SO MANY FIRSTS!
It was awesome. But, as anyone who has seen Home Alone a billion times, like a typical 80's/90's kiddo should know, I got ALL OF THE SHIT for being the youngest. That wasn't new. And my family was pretty chill... for the most part.
That was, so long as I was doing what I was told. Follow the herd, wear my Scooby-Doo cap, and don't get kidnapped. Pretty simple when all you have to do is follow orders.
So it goes, I got a crash course in airports when we arrived at the airport in DFW. Naturally, I was a full-fledged expert at airports by the time we arrived in Orlando. How hard could it be?
Just after we had arrived, we made a B-line for the bathrooms. At that time my dad went ahead to go secure our rental car (and ideally have it all settled by the time we arrived with our luggage). That left my mom, my late teens cousin, and my 13-going-on-30 sister taking care of myself and my brother.
Post visiting the urination-station, the 5 of us embarked on the long journey through the airport. Anyone who knows Orlando's airport knows that it is broken into multiple separate buildings which required riding a tram-of-sorts to traverse the gap.
We approached the tram, but my mom stopped to explain that we would be getting on this tram to travel to the next building. 'nough said, right? The situation having been thoroughly explained, and considering there was only one other location the tram connected to, I felt very confident in my understanding of what was about to occur.
The tram arrived, unloaded, and began loading again. We were a little ways out from the tram, but even at my young age, I had no problem power walking to make the ride. I did just that. I hurried ahead, full of confidence that I was, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, leading the crowd towards a destination.
I played my part with utter, shall we say, excellence. My brother, sister, cousin, and mom did not....
Next thing I know the doors close, I turn around, and I'm standing in the middle of an open car with no seats and NO FAMILY. #oops.
And we're off! The gravity of the situation sank in very quickly. But, call it the folly of youth or the ignorance of... youth (sorry), I was not afraid. It was very simple to me. The tram goes from point A to point B and back. There were only 2 options of where I could be at any one time.
With the confidence of a young, barely-budding Zapp Brannigan, I strolled forth out of the freshly opened tram doors. I wandered into the open lobby with the signs, the people, the chaos, and the noise. It didn't phase me. (That may be because I didn't take in the FULL scope of the setting, admittedly).
All I knew was my sister would kill me if I got kidnapped. No, not my mom, dad, nor cousin. My sister was who I feared the most. That was a fear that I did not fight.
What could I do that would somehow get me out of trouble here? The thought crossed my mind to go find "an adult" to say "oh no I lost my mommy..." The problem is, Animal Dillon ain't no little bitch!
I did the second-best thing I could think of: I found a comfortable chair in the middle of the open lobby area facing the tram alcove. I sat. And waited. I have a feeling, if you have half a brain, you have a sense of the tone here.
I stayed chill... for the most part. I was acutely aware of the concept that I was less likely to be 'napped if I looked like I belonged where I was. That was a lesson I had learned from years of being a little brother.
After what ended up being maybe 10 minutes, but felt like much longer, they arrived. To my dismay everyone except my mom or dad arrived from an incoming tram. My sister bounded towards me, locking her gaze on my cap as if there was a homing beacon on my head.
"Oh you are in so much trouble! Do you know what you did?"
"I didn't get kidnapped."
"You ran off on us. Mom is going to kill you."
"Hey hey, it's all ok now," my cousin piped up. "Your mom is waiting at the other side just in case you decided to go back looking for us."
"I wasn't scared."
"Right." My brother fained his confidence in me. We both know, while relieved to see me, he was half-hoping for fireworks.
And that was that. My sister was "volunteered" by our cousin to go back to mom. She was more than happy to go and taddle on me, even in spite of the fact that everyone knew what had happened. #KarenForDays.
Thankfully, my mom is cool as shit. She was just glad I was ok. Hell, she was even proud of how calm I stayed.
That was a character-defining moment for my life. That was my first lesson in staying calm under pressure. All-in-all, I'd say that was a classic example of: