Scarlett’s Letter 1/15/2013

Silver Linings

I tend to be a little cynical. A bit sarcastic. Pretty critical. And in all the reading I do, I know this is not the way to true happiness. Whatever. I find cynicism, sarcasm and criticism to be kind of funny, in the right context and the right company.

In all the “happy, happy, joy, joy” self-improvement books I’ve read, I have learned over and over and over and over again that cynicism is no way to happiness. What if cynicism MAKES me happy? It doesn’t. I know. But it usually makes people laugh, and if I can make people laugh, it makes me happy.

Today I travelled, for work. Air travel and all that goes with it usually unleashes the most savage cynic within. Today, I made a concerted effort to replace cynical thoughts with “happy, happy, joy, joy” thoughts. I looked for silver linings in all those dark, travel clouds.

To get from where I live to, well, just about anywhere by airplane, I have to take a 6:00 or 7:00 AM flight. That means I have to get up about the time the bars close. I value sleep, the kind that occurs in my nice bed, not the kind you get on an airplane. The silver lining; it takes me an hour to get ready, so by the time I leave the house, all the drunks are off the road. They’ve either made it home miraculously or are themselves struggling with sleep, in the county jail.

Let’s first talk about my destination this week. Idaho. Not some hip, happening college town like Boise. Nope. Two hours east of Boise in the middle of nowhere. I am here to teach accountants to use their new audit software. Whoa. So my job sounds pretty boring, but in New York City or Chicago or Miami, it’s a pretty cool job. In the middle of dairy cow land Idaho. Not. The silver lining; it’s quiet here. I can catch up on that lost sleep. I won’t accidentally wander past a shop with cute shoes or a scarf on display and overspend. I won’t overeat because as far as I can see there is a truck stop and a Subway – I just won’t eat. Luckily I thought to pack apples, oranges, peanut butter, chocolate and I bought two bottles of local wine at the airport. Just in case.

The airline. Today I flew Alaska airlines. I normally fly United. I am royalty on United. Not like inherit the throne royalty, more like the obscure duchess no one ever heard of, but still, royalty. On Alaska, I. Am. Nobody. No priority check in line, no free checked bag, no little carpets to walk on. I was allowed to board the plane pretty early, but only because I was practically the last row on both flights and Alaska boards from the back forward, once royalty is seated, of course. Silver lining; I earned valuable miles that I can use to visit my sweetie because Alaska is the ONLY airline that flies there!

When I arrived at the terminal and went to check my bag, as I exited the elevator, I saw a mass of people, hundreds of them, by the Alaska counter. The little zig zag maze they use to wrap the line around the lobby in an orderly fashion was full and spilling another hundred out into the unorganized area of the terminal lobby. These stray people took it upon themselves to create their own crazy, out of control, where the hell is the end to this, line. Mouth agape, I wheeled my big, bright purple suitcase along the twisted line of very grumpy people. Finally, I asked, “is this the line for Alaska Airlines?” One lady nodded yes and another shook her head no. The no-head-shaking lady’s male companion explained that they were in line for American Airlines, who had cancelled their flight to Dallas (which I think is American’s only flight out of my airport). Alaska’s line was just to the right and had three people in it, plus two at one attendant’s window, and three at the other. Great. This should only take a minute. Nope. Remember, I usually fly United and I have priority, so I share the line with other people who fly a hundred thousand miles a year. On one airline. The folks at the ticket counter this morning? I don’t think they’d actually ever been on an airplane before. I finally got my bag checked and was on my way … to security. The silver lining; obviously, that I wasn’t flying American this morning!

Believe it or not, I have nothing to say about security this morning. And I wasn’t even in the priority line! There!

Starbucks next. All I can say is, don’t stand in front of the bananas to place your order. The associate behind the cash register is calling on me to make my order and you and all your (oversized) carry on luggage are blocking me from the banana I want to purchase. Silver lining; she won’t make that mistake again.

Starbucks in hand, I make my way to double check the gate assignment for my flight, even though I have an app for that, I like to cross reference this type of information (I told your I am quite “particular” about things). After a full minute of scanning the various flights, I come to the conclusion that my flight is not on the board! Cancelled? I hurriedly make my way to the gate, which is, of course, at the extreme far end of the terminal and I have to pass about twenty empty gates. Could they not have parked the plane a little closer? Upon reaching the gate, a man is standing there looking very relaxed, very at ease, very peaceful. I’m in crisis mode here! There are four upcoming flights listed on his little display, none of them are mine. And I have a connecting flight! And I am meeting a coworker, we coordinated our flights so neither of us would have to wait too long for the other! I simply cannot deal with a cancelled flight today. I think back to all the people standing in line at the American ticket counter. I ask the sleepy man “Seattle. 7:00 AM!?!” He very slowly turns his attention towards me, smiles benignly and says “you’re in the right place” ever so calmly. I am not soothed. “The flight isn’t listed on any of the boards!!!!” He replies, slowly, still smiling, “it won’t be, computer glitch’. I flop down in a chair and consume my Starbucks fare. For the next half an hour, until we boarded, people kept walking up to the counter and frantically asking about the 7:00 AM flight to Seattle. He greeted each and every person with the same smile and slow, soothing response. I couldn’t have done that! I would have made a poster, or stood on the counter and shouted, or something, so people would stop asking me the same question over and over! I have to admit, I admired him for his demeanor, and caught myself smiling every time someone else approached him. I was so waiting for him to snap, to just lose it. It didn’t happen. I glanced at a man sitting next to me and observed him smiling at all this too. Silver lining; I think there’s a life lesson here, but I’m not sure. I’m still thinking about it.

It is cold and flu season, so why are so many people open mouth coughing and sneezing? I had so many germ showers today I can’t possibly consume enough Airborne and echinacea. I think a lot of straight whiskey is the only thing that could kill all those germs, I’ll just drop the Airborne into the whiskey and wash the echinacea down with it! Silver lining; if I live, without contracting some hideous disease, I will have super antibodies and won’t need a flu shot. God. My mom may have been right again. About getting a flu shot.

Somehow I missed the memo on the seating chart. I’m gathering this from my observations, but I think there is a section of the airplane where people with lots of small children all sit together. Like a play group, but without a sandbox. I was in the center of it for both flights. I have never seen so much snot, never heard so much shrieking as I did on my flights today. I think they should have their own airline, families with small kids, that is, with a sandbox, and valium for the parents, and maybe the kids, too. I love kids, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t take mine on an airplane until they understood the meaning of the word “shhh”. The silver lining; I realized, looking around at all these little babies and toddlers, in forty years, they will be running businesses and corporations, and our country. For a moment I felt hopeful, inspired, and really proud of myself for thinking of that over all the noise. But then, I got a little scared, we’re headed for disaster, I’m pretty sure.

It is cold in dairy cow land, Idaho and there is snow everywhere. I’m a Cali girl, I don’t drive in snow, and when I do, I drive a big, safe four wheel drive SUV with the appropriate tires. The rental car company gave me a choice of a Chevy Impala or a Chevy Malibu. Wow. I’m torn. Death on wheels or death on wheels? And not even a stylish death, a very plain, nondescript, under-performing death. On wheels. Racking my brain, trying to figure out the benefit of one over the other, I decide to use color as the deciding factor. Something that will stand out against the snow when I careen off the road. “What color are they?” I ask. “White. Both of them.” Well, shit. Got any spray paint? In red, maybe? My co-worker and I finally decide on the newer of the two. Actually, the girl behind the counter made that suggestion and we just shrugged and and went with it. I text my S.O., he lives in snow like no other. He thinks I’m a crazy driver, I know. He texts back “The key is no G-force in the corners, slow launch and add 30% more distance for stopping. Other than that drive it like you stole it.” Obviously, he has driven with me a time or two. Silver lining; we made it here alive in our white, late model Chevy Malibu and I can now drive better in snow than I can walk in snow!

So it is time to prepare for tomorrow. I’m in my hotel room, got the heater cranking at 90 degrees and I’m about to bust out the wine and some chocolate for dinner. I’m going to iron my outfit for tomorrow and catch up on some lost sleep. I wonder how my UGG boots are going to look with my business professional attire. No way am I walking in that white shit tomorrow with slick soles!

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