Sometimes You’ve Got to Decide Whether to Laugh or Cry

The start of a very long day

I just got back from one of my visits to interns and a business meeting in Nashville. Under the best of circumstances it is a trip with one stopover each way. You can’t go to Nashville from Bozeman in one flight. I fly a lot and always have my laptop, some work and my Kindle to pass the time.

The day of my trip to Nashville started for me at 3:30 a.m. when I had to get up and get ready to drive (in a snowstorm) to the airport. (Well, to be honest, it started at 1:30 when I woke up and could not get back to sleep…) In any case, I got to the airport in one piece and the plane boarded on time for a 6:00 a.m. departure. Well, we sat there, and we sat there. The pilot announced that we were ready to be de-iced. (It was zero degrees outside, and snowing, so that sounded like a great idea.) We saw and heard the de-icer busy at work. But we did not take off. Finally one of the flight attendants told us that the de-icer had run out of de-ice fluid and had done only half of the plane. (Since this was the first flight of the day, someone must have been asleep at his job that morning!)

De-icer woes

The pilot announced that they would send out the second de-ice truck. And we sat again. And we sat some more. Next the pilot announced that the second de-ice truck had broken down. So we waited for the first de-ice truck to be refilled, so we could prepare for takeoff. Two hours later, we finally took off. The pilot, deeply apologetic, announced that after flying for more than 30 years, this was the worst comedy of errors he had ever witnessed. And of course, my connecting flight was long gone along with the connecting flights of the majority of the passengers. At moments like this, I am most grateful that most people are patient and civil, despite frustrating delays!

So I get to Salt Lake City and discover I have an 8-hour layover. Getting re-booked is so much easier than it used to be – less standing in lines and more reading giant signs that tell you the next step of your life. I have always been able to think on my feet, although at this point, I was barely awake. I started Googling hotels and called one of the booking companies to see if I could get an early check-in at a nearby hotel so I could go sleep for a few hours. The gentleman I was speaking to got all my contact information at least three different ways, and had a very difficult time understanding that I wanted the room NOW. Finally he put me on hold, then called a few hotels and told me one said they would have a room ready in 20 minutes.

Another phase to the adventure

So I took a taxi to the hotel. The taxi driver had no idea how to get there so I used my map app and guided her there. I gave her my credit card but her little device would not read it, so we sat there for 10 minutes while she tried over and over again to make it work. Finally I gave her the cash I had (about half her fare) and she smiled and apologized. But at least I was there, right?

No room in the inn

I went into the hotel and sure enough, the manager had no rooms. What he had actually told the man I had spoken with is that he would know if he had a room in 20 minutes! So, I dragged my bag outside and walked to four other nearby hotels, since this was in a kind of a hotel row. Oh, how I wish I were dragging my suitcase in this kind of locale, instead of where I was...

Not one of these hotels had a room available, with the exception of one king suite for $350, which I politely declined.

I ended up at a nearby restaurant and had a great breakfast and a very kind waitress who brought me all the coffee I could drink and told me I could stay there all day if I liked. (Since I had my computer with me, working to develop a webinar was pretty much what I did for most of that morning and early afternoon.)

What is the hardest part of parenting?

For the rest of my day I had conversations with kind people and got a great recipe for enchiladitos, (I had never heard of them before, either). I decided to try and really talk with people by asking them questions.  I struck up conversations. I asked them, what was the most difficult part of parenting?

My cab driver back to the airport had three grown children. Only one is independent and for him, the toughest task was being financially responsible for his family still living at home, college tuition and loan payments.  Two of his children were unemployed or under-employed and needed some financial help every month.

A lovely woman I met was a single mother of children eight and twelve. For her, knowing that her children were coming home after school to an empty house was the most painful. Yet another mom was most worried about making certain her children did well in school, made good choices as to friends and stayed away from drugs.

Once I committed to laughing, it was a great day!

All in all, once I decided to laugh instead of moan and groan, the day brought great people and relaxing hours. After my super-long circus of a day, the rest of the trip went well. I had a great day with interns and managed to squeeze in a side trip to the Tennessee State Capitol.

The trip home was much easier, even though the airline temporarily lost my bag. (It got delivered the next day.)

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