Posted by: Michelle | September 15, 2011

Girl Interrupted


Okay, technically I’m not a girl but I hardly think of myself as a woman. It sounds too old and stuffy. Just like when someone says “excuse me, ma’am.” I look around and wonder who they are referring to because I’m not a “ma’am” at all. It totally makes my day when someone says “miss.” Now that is definitely a better description. Certainly better than the former! Oops, I’m going off on another tangent and this wasn’t even the reason for this blog…

As creatures of habit, we go about our lives without much forethought. Sure we have goals (some quite lofty actually) and the usual the to-do lists, the things we have to get done; a few things that would be nice to do but for the most part, much of our daily lives are based on a set routine. We set the alarm, perform our morning chores going about the day expecting everything to fall into place. That is until life throws a curve ball and we realize we left home without our mitt. Sometimes we see the curve balls coming so we have time to duck, other times we are blindsided and end up knocked out cold.

After that you will probably find yourself disappointed that I wasn’t laid out flat by said curve ball; if that is the case I am sorry. But it was enough to get me thinking about the big and little things that impact us and how we react to them. I was visiting the family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest the past several days (a “working” vacation so to speak) and was headed home Tuesday afternoon. The weather was perfect, the flight was on time and I was upgraded to First. What could go wrong? I land in San Francisco early, the gate was available and I headed for the Red Carpet Room to await my second flight to Reno. After arriving at the gate about 15 minutes prior to boarding, I could see that the gate area was full of anxious people. Apparently the earlier flight had been cancelled and people were scrambling to get out. The gate agent was begging for one more person to give up their seat – anyone who had flexibility to come home the next day – please, please consider giving up your seat. I watched as no one moved forward. Everyone was looking at their feet, clearly not wanting to make eye contact. This surprised me as usually there are several volunteers. You do get $400 in travel vouchers. So I find myself walking to the counter and saying “I will give up my seat.” Next thing I know, the plane is boarding as the gate agent rebooks me on a flight tomorrow and hands me several vouchers. I was feeling pretty good – right up until I realized I would not get my bag. Uh oh. That is not good. My mind starts racing thinking of everything I will need for one lousy night. So the hotel will have the usual shampoo, condition and lotion. If only that were enough! Debating about whether I should grab a few things at the airport or rely on the hotel, I figured I’d check out the gift shop options at SFO. For such a large airport, the pickings were pretty slim (and I admit I was not in the mood to go further than the front of the terminal. I found a tee shirt on sale for $9.99 that would give me something to sleep in. As far as toiletries, there were many options all expensive. Too bad I didn’t realize the hotel gift shop would be worse.

The gate agent gave me directions and even wrote it on my hotel voucher but SFO was confusing and I could not find a way out from level 2. So I headed downstairs thinking I’d find my way back to level 2 where I was instructed to wait at door 8. Of course that was not the case at all. It was challenging to find my way back upstairs however I found a Starbucks. Good to know but that wasn’t getting me to the hotel shuttle pick up point. Why does everything have to be so hard?

Fast forward through the shuttle and check in process at the Doubletree. I opened the door to my “room with a view” [of the bay] and decided I’d better go find a store although there was none in my line of vision. Once out the door, I walked a few blocks and quickly realized that flip flops weren’t a good choice. Besides, all I saw were office buildings and a golf course. Feeling defeated, I turned around and went over to the Embassy Suites crossing my fingers they would have a gift shop. As luck would have it, they did; too bad I’m not independently wealthy. The prices were outrageous. I chose one luxury item – deodorant and headed back for dinner. United provided a $15 meal voucher. Too bad there weren’t any menu items under $15. The worst part – I had to pay for internet. So I’m about $40 into my ‘free’ night and dinner. The frosting on the cupcake though had to be my laptop cord was in my suitcase. Great! As I mentioned, this was a ‘working’ vacation and I could not afford a night off but knowing that I had about three hours on the laptop. I opted to work in the morning. As it turned out, that was the best choice as my morning flight turned into an afternoon flight. With that news comes some more travel observations:

  • Either you are in line, or you aren’t; make a commitment. I hate it when people sort of stand in line. It’s like they don’t want to appear anxious but they want to be first in line. Me, I don’t care what you think. I have earned my status and want to board sooner rather than later. Part of this comes from the lack of desire to sit in the gate area. I typically walk around or hang out in the lounge where there are outlets for charging and snacks. Otherwise, I prefer to stand. After all, I will be sitting on the plane.
  • If you need 6 bins at the security check point – you brought too much stuff.
  • It’s not just about you. At any given time, there are thousands of people trying to get from point A to point B. Be prepared, be smart and most of all be patient – remember everyone has to follow the rules. You aren’t the exception.
  • If you are seated in the emergency exit row, take your job seriously. Although the chance is remote, if you feel that you are unable or unwilling to perform in an emergency than asked to be reseated. Today the woman behind me [in the ER row] told the gentleman next to her she didn’t think she could assist. He said not to worry about it so when asked by the flight attendant, she said “yes.” So maybe I should have said something but maybe she should have said “no.” Something to keep in mind should you ever find yourself wondering if you should really need that extra leg room.

So ends another travel adventure. Whilst my curve ball was fairly minor (and technically self-inflicted, it sure made me think about being better prepared). Alas, my journey came to an end as I finally descended into the greater Reno area; the plane landed right side up and I walked off the plane (my criteria for a good flight).

And the crazy things is, I can’t wait to do it all again.

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