Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Moments ago (well, by the time I get this posted, it could be hours, and you might be a little slow on the read-me trigger so it could be days), I received an email from Joe Brancatelli with the words "Breaking News" leading the subject line. When Joe talks, I listen. Always. When it comes to astute, timely, wry, invaluable travel information, Joe is my hero .

Joe was advising his subscribers (worth every penny!) that American Airlines had grounded some of its MD-80s today, Wednesday, March 26. Since I neither work nor travel with the news broadcasting in the background (just give me silence or some great tunes), as usual, Joe was my first source for this critical piece of info. But even if I was Our Lady of the Perpetual Need for News, Joe often reports pertinent travel news hours—and sometimes days—before the news actually does. I don't question his sources; Joe knows, and that's all I need to know.

The reason for this MD-80 grounding had to do with the FAA and the inspection of wires. (Yes, better safe than sorry, but that's not my point here.) At the time of Joe's email, 200 flights already had been or would be cancelled today. Just like that, at a first (or second or too often thousandth) sign of possible trouble, a major airline ACTIVATED. Whoa.

This got me to thinking. I believe I'm personally exhibiting signs of faulty wiring, if you will. I've experienced many warning signs lately (yawning, forgetfulness, sparks), and yet, I plow on. Perhaps—and who would have ever guessed I'd say this?—I should take a lead from the airlines and abruptly ground MYSELF from all activity until someone declares me safe enough to fly, baby, fly (write, speak, write, do laundry, clean the toilet, write) again!

Picture this approach working for you. Without warning to those who depend upon you, you quietly—because you don't want to upset anyone (or wake them up) or make them think you can just do this kind of thing—send out a high-priority email with the subject line, "BREAKING NEWS: I've grounded myself." The body of your missive might go something like this.

Take note: I might not be safe. I might yell, scream, roll my eyes, experience a breakdown or spiral downward from the height of your admiration. Because of this, my departure to reach our meeting could be anywhere from five minutes to eight hours late, depending on the climate of my temperament. I need time to get a grip on myself.

Due to rocky moods, when and if I do arrive, I won't be serving coherent thoughts, so bring your own.

Should you entrust me with your fancy widgets anyway, they likely won't pass my evil-eye inspection. But even before that, I will--and you can take this to the bank--ask you to remove your shoes when entering my office, even though I'M GROUNDED and we're NOT going to move one inch toward completion of our project any time soon.

Should you decide to abandon me for another partner during my sudden and temporary (oh, please, oh please!) grounding, you'll likely discover that all you've accomplished is to swap one rocky road for another. But go ahead and try it anyway. I'm sure you'll be back. After all, I'm ME!"

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