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February 14th, 2014:

I was the Flag Day drama queen

But not on purpose.

The snowstorm cancelled my family’s flight to DC. My wife and sons talked about it, and decided screw it, they were driving to DC. So they drove down. It took them 11 hours, but they made it. Barely.

The Flag Day ceremony started at 3:30. I figured that they would arrive in plenty of time. Evan and I were in constant text message contact, he would update me with their current position, and the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) that their GPS was giving.

The ETA was always about 2:45 pm. That gave us plenty of time, I figured. We could meet up in the cafeteria, then walk to the ceremony room together. No drama, right?

GPS systems lie about ETAs.

My fellow trainees are very supportive. We’ve become close over the last five weeks of training. As I met many of their family members in the hallway before the event, everyone assured me that “they’ll make it.”

I got more and more anxious as 2:45 turned into 3:00, then 3:05, then 3:10.

Finally, I couldn’t wait by the visitor’s center any more; I had to go into the room where the Flag Day ceremony was held, and find my seat.

Evan texted me that they got lost, and the GPS stopped giving them useful directions.

See what I mean about GPS systems being liars?

I figured that they would miss the ceremony, but that I would catch up with them later.

So I sat down, and waited for the ceremony to start.

Just when we were about to get started, my wife and kids walked in, right in front of me. I ran up to hug them, and the room exploded with clapping and cheers.

It felt like the end of a romantic comedy movie, when the couple is finally reunited (there was no sound track, though). It was great.

So the ceremony was a big success, and there was no drama. Except mine. No one cried except me. I never thought that I would be the source of Flag Day drama, but you never expect what life actually throws at you.

Oh, and I got my first choice of post: Shenyang, China. More about that later.

Flag Day drama

Today is Flag Day. This is the day that we are “distributed” around the world. The ceremony happens in the afternoon. We will all gather together, and one by one, we will receive our post assignment.

Yesterday, because of the snowstorm, the government was closed. That was our second snow day. Today the government is open, but with a two-hour delay. Again, our second two-hour delay.

The schedule for the training program is very tight, with a lot of information squeezed in. Losing two whole days plus four hours was a challenge, because instead of dropping the sessions that we missed, the coordinators re-worked the schedule to fit all those sessions back in. That meant fewer and shorter breaks, and longer days for the last few weeks of the course.

We are all relieved that the government was not closed today, because that would have postponed Flag Day until next week. Despite the chaos of reworking the schedule, at least we will get some closure today.

My family planned to fly to DC to attend, but their flight was cancelled due to weather. So they are driving down. They spent last night in Ohio, and will make it to DC just in time for the ceremony.

Life is good.