Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Travel and Truth Telling

Soon (PLEASE, God!), I'll be heading to my writing hideaway in Minnesota. Rewrites for Stray Affections (coming in September), the first novel in my Snowglobe Connections series, are calling--and due in January. As a professional writer (stand back: professional words at work!), I've learned that deadlines equal incentive, as in no deadline, no incentive, no writing, no get paid.

I'll be driving to Minnesota, and that's just the way I like it. My estimated departure? When I get my work-load under control (HA!), Christmas packages and cards sent, the car packed, Kornflake (my big red dog) in the back seat, all my files and resources loaded (plus all my electronic gadgets), and the weather looks road worthy. However, considering that I thought I'd already be in MN a week and a half ago, thus the topic of today's message: the airlines.

Well, sort of, but not really. Ultimately, you will be the judge of that. It's just that the airline industry is often such an easy, ripe and deserving target on which to blame things, rather than taking the blame ourselves--even when they have nothing to do with our failures. But since I'm trying to hold myself accountable here (perhaps even ring your blame-game bells), let's have at it.

Air travel is a strange beast, but then, so am I. If I were forced to post a personal schedule in a terminal on a display board, I can only imagine how much fun the travelers, the travel industry, the press, and bloggers such as myself, would have slamming my "delayed," "canceled" and "just plain dumb" notices.

Seriously, I just creeped myself out considering how embarrassing it would be to get busted--in public--for my own scheduling and business screw-ups. (How can we not think about this, here in Illinois, the day after our governor creates such humiliating national headlines? Then again, innocent until PROVEN guilty, right? Then again, it is Illinois, so ….) I couldn't live long enough to list the number of times I've said, "I'll be on the road by 7:30 a.m.," only to finally back out of the driveway at 2 p.m.. Sometimes I'm backing out again at 2:15 because a short way down the road, I realize I've forgotten something critical to my trip.

I've been on airplanes that pushed away, then, for one reason or another, returned to the gate. Once, in an unhappy and monotone voice, the captain informed us that a crew member –and he named her!--had forgotten her suitcase which contained security tags she’d need for her next trip. When she came schlepping back onto the plane, bag in tow, her poor face was so red. I wanted to unbelt myself and hug her, then thank her for making me feel so human. I also wanted to smack the snot out of the mean pilot, but alas, that type of behavior doesn't go over well these days. I value my breath.

[NOSTALIC INTERRUPTION: Remember the good old days when they'd occasionally return to the gate for a passenger? I get all mushy just thinking about it.]

But since I'm holding myself accountable, when it comes to mess-ups, delays, and doofus behaviors, I'm guessing my over-all track record just about matches the abysmal stats for the airlines, and maybe even tops it. It's terrorizing to imagine how few people would read what I have to say if they knew the sum total of my foibles.

Then again, that's why I call myself a humorist, because every dumb thing I do is fodder for the stage or page. Sometimes people ask me where I come up with such hysterical stories. "I just wake up and follow me around," I say. And it's the truth. I have a nonfiction book releasing in June that will likely cause you to laugh until you cry: Don't Miss Your Life!: An Uncommon Guide to Living With Freedom, Laughter and Grace. (Go here to sign up for release particulars.) When we suffer from a dumbness crisis, what's our choice, other than to ground ourselves indefinitely, and live tortured, guilty lives? NO WAY!

For instance, just last week, I fell out of a car. Seriously. And now I’m going to WRITE ABOUT IT! Thank goodness the car wasn't moving. But the dumbest part? It's the third time it's happened to me this year. Here's how it goes:

I'm in the passenger seat. George pulls up to drop me off (like the airlines, I'm often running late--too late to be "on time" if I have to find a parking space), I go to hop out of the car, and instead, I crash land on the cement because my foot is tangled in one of the long straps on my handbag. THREE TIMES AND THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO! This last time, I hobbled for days. The skin was scrapped off both my knees (through my jeans!), and my right knee, which took the bulk of the impact, is still three shades of green.

Seriously, folks, I would NOT want to see my personal snafus posted on a flight board as "Delayed again due to ongoing stupidity." Although to be honest, somehow seeing the AIRLINES post that type of missive on a flight board would arrive as a welcome relief. They seem to often make reasons up as to why they're in trouble, which gets us (at least me) twice as mad. At least I tell the truth, no matter how sorry or doofus-laden it is.

All this to say, I'm driving to Minnesota as soon as I get my business ducks and Christmas stuff in a row. My original departure time was more than a week ago. I'm still not caught up. I'll try not to fall down. I hope the weather doesn't interfere. I'll talk to you from Minnesota next week. Hopefully.

As for the airlines? They’re on their own to keep us informed.

But How would you feel if you saw “Delayed again due to ongoing bad management” posted on a flight board. Seriously? How would you feel? Comment below.


Melody said...


I was on vacation in Arizona. My boyfriend and I took a shuttle from the airport. I was the only lady in a van full of stoic business men.

The van pulls up to the hotel. The boyfriend unfolds himself gracefully from the vehicle. I stand up on the edge of the van floor, stick one foot out and fall over. I didn't trip, nothing snagged me. I just tumbled out of the van.

Miraculously, the boyfriend caught me. SO he looked like a hero and I looked like the wilting idiot girl. And of course, he still reminds me of that story to this day and giggles contentedly.

Thanks for sharing your falling out of your car story.

Melody Platz

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

No, thank YOU for sharing! I'm glad to know I'm not alone.