The following column is from Frank Critelli, who drives an airport shuttle bus for a rental car company in Kailua-Kona. He offers first-hand accounts from the front lines of Hawaii’s visitor industry.
By any definition, planning a wedding is an involved project. Assembling a wedding plan and then flying it to Hawaii is a herculean effort. As a shuttle bus driver, I can spot them 75 yards out. A sea of suitcases on the shuttle island, with the various members of the wedding party, is easily recognizable.
The mother of the bride has the wedding dress in her hands, and no one – and I mean, no one – will touch that garment bag. The bride is trying to control some mystic energy that has her levitating several feet above the rest of the group. The bridesmaids are relaxed. (Of course they are. It isn’t their wedding.) Several slightly smell of airplane vodka. The father of the bride, eyes glazed, taps away on his cell phone trying to reconcile why one simple cake is costing him $2,200.
I help the mother of the bride shepherd everyone on board. As we pull away from the terminal, she takes control like a tour guide. She reminds everyone – with a special piercing eye towards the bridesmaids – to behave themselves, and that she does not want to have to call any bail bondsmen. Meanwhile, the bridesmaids are discussing the groomsmen, while the bride texts the groom to make sure he is on his flight and not still at the bachelor party. Dad, having moved on from the cake, is now trying to figure out how 30 floral centerpieces are costing him $7,400.
When we arrive at the office I carefully unload all their belongings, except for the garment bag that mom has not relinquished. When I finish, mom says, “Thank you, young man.” I’m 63. Dad tips me, and when doing so usually says to take the money now because his pockets will soon be empty. They all pile into the SUVs or vans, with mom circling the vehicles twice to assure no one or no suitcase is left behind. We all wave and off they go to the host resort for the two- to three-day event.
When all the nuptials and assorted celebrations are concluded, I often drive the parents back to the terminal. Mom’s fingers are beginning to slowly unfold from the garment bag grip, and dad looks like he didn’t have to refinance the house. The color has returned to their faces, their eyes are no longer dilated, and they would dance in the bus if they could. Sometimes I turn up the radio and they do, and I don’t care if their pockets are empty.