Airport Stories

If you do anything often in your life, at some point you will start to experience some very strange things, even if they’re mildly strange. In my case, mildly doesn’t quite fit.

As some of you know, I’m traveling a lot these days because of my consulting business, and that means I’m flying. This week, I had some adventures that concerned being in airports that I thought I would share with you in a story form. I do that because one, I think stories are more interesting, and two, because it’s going to be long, and three, because it’s true. And it includes a video; what more could you ask for?

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Met this little guy &
father in DC

The story begins at the airport in my home area of Syracuse New York. I had my boarding pass with me, and I had qualified for what’s called a TSA pre-check, which means I got to go through a special short line, got to keep my shoes and belts on, and if I didn’t have any metal in my jacket I would have had to take that off either. However, since I did have some metal items in my pockets. I decided it was smart to go ahead and put my jacket on top in one of those bins.

I walked through just fine, get my stuff and head towards my gate. I’m pretty early, and there’s a new restaurant over by my gate so I decide to stop in and get something to eat. I recognize the woman working there as a lady who used to work at a restaurant across the street from where I live that closed and became a Moe’s Southwest Grill. It turns out that, because the restaurant had just recently opened, they had very few items that were on their menu. Last, I had to order something that I really didn’t want, but I was a little bit hungry so I decided to give it a shot.

At some point I decided to check my boarding pass just to make sure I had the time I was supposed to get on the plane accurate in my mind. At that point I realized I didn’t have my boarding pass anymore, and that I must have left it at the front when I went through the check. I told the waitress I would be right back, and I walked back over there to see if anyone had turned in a boarding pass. I asked one of the police officers for some assistance, she asked one of the TSA people about it, and the woman says that all I have to do is go to one of the airlines stations and they would print a new boarding pass for me.

I go back to the restaurant, pay the bill, get my stuff and go to get my boarding pass. While I’m pulling out my ID, which is my drivers license, the lady tells me I don’t need it because my name is already on file. However, it’s a good thing I did check because it turns out I didn’t have my drivers license either. Then I remembered that as soon as I got through check out I had put my license and boarding pass in the bin and then I put my coat on top of it and totally forgot about those items.

The lady let me leave my bags behind the counter, and I rushed back to the checkout line to see if anyone had turned in my license. Of course no one had, so for the next 15 minutes everyone started looking for my drivers license, which I wasn’t allowed to do because I had are gone by that area. Lucky for me, because not that many people qualify for the pre-check one of the police officers found my license and my other boarding pass. Talk about a lucky break, because I’m not sure I would’ve gone on the plane without my drivers license. It certainly would have been a miserable two weeks out of town without it since they would not let me rent a car.

All goes well from that point as I get on the first plane which will fly me from Syracuse to Washington DC, Reagan Airport. When I get to turn my phone on after the plane lands, I noticed that I had both a phone call and an e-mail. Check the e-mail first to discover that my plane has been delayed an hour for the next trip because of maintenance. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, so I chill with a candy bar and wait that extra bit of time before I had my gate. Then there’s another hour of waiting, as against maintenance must have needed more time to get things fixed.

At this point the video’s going to take over for a short bit, and I hope you watch it because it tells what happens between what’s above and what’s coming after the video. Suspense! Lol

 


http://youtu.be/iquvSRZ7x3g

 
I hope you watched the video because now we resume the rest of the story. For most people what’s above would have been the end of it all but you know by now that normal things aren’t part of my life.

I had met someone who’d been on my flight that was canceled named Susie. It was great because we kept each other alert all night and that made the entire thing more palatable to deal with. And she turned out to be a prominent person for part of the rest of this story.

We moved back to the gate area about 7:30 in the morning, because they won’t let you stay in the gate area if there are no planes expected to be leaving during a period of time. We sat in an area where there were more seats for a bit of comfort and quiet, an area I like because I like to people watch and normally talk about people in my mind because, well, some folks dress in mysterious ways when they travel. It was nice having someone to talk to about these folks, which might seem mean but we were talking low and we were punchy. By that time she’s been in the airport for more than 16 hours and I hadn’t slept in about 22 hours.

Suddenly there’s this screaming coming from behind us somewhere. We look back and I don’t see anything but Susie does. Then we see this older man walking away and some young woman, who we determined had to be his adult daughter, but disturbed in some fashion, running after him and hitting him… and not lightly. She was screaming something but we had no idea what it was.

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I turned away for a minute and Susie says “She just hit that guy in the red shirt in the back of the head.” Sure enough, I look over and this guy who’d been sitting in a Gordon Biersch restaurant on a stool in a red shirt is looking over his shoulder at this woman, but she wasn’t paying him any attention.

The woman is still screaming and her father has stopped and is trying to hold her, but he’s fighting a losing battle. Now we hear all sorts of people calling for the police and blowing whistles and I’m thinking someone needs to be taken down.

Someone is, and in the annals of lessons one shouldn’t need to be taught, she turns around and slugs this guy in the red shirt in the back of the head again because the fool (I’m sure you’ll agree) had turned back around and had started eating his breakfast again. This time it was hard enough to knock him off the stool and onto the ground because the lesson he didn’t learn that almost everyone else would have learned the first time is you never turn your back on a crazy person who’s screaming and has already hit you. As he learned, hopefully for good, you could find yourself on the floor.

What came next was strange, as if we hadn’t had enough strange so far. The father pulls out a chair and is able to get this woman to sit down. She sits down, begins staring out somewhere, and starts saying over and over, very loudly, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom…” Not screaming, not chanting, just saying it loud enough for everyone in the area to hear, kind of monotone, and it’s the only thing I understood her saying all morning.

Having enough weirdness for one day, Susie and I decide to go over to the gate where we’d be catching the plane, which meant we kind of had to walk by this woman, who was still sitting in the chair and was now rocking. The police were talking to the guy in the red shirt, who could only say he was popped in the head twice because he never saw anything, and a couple other cops were standing behind her. As we’re walking by this woman, she lets out this blood curdling scream and crying as if she’s in great distress, then immediately follows it with one of those laughs you often associate with evil geniuses in bad horror movies. Based on everything else that happened, I’m not sure saying it was the strangest thing is appropriate here.

About 25 minutes later, as we’re sitting in the area of our gate, we see the family walking by, the father luckily no worse for the wear, the mother making her first appearance, and this young lady, all of them pulling bags behind them, but she’s muttering something to herself, loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to understand it, followed by two police folks and another one on a Segway.

After all that normalcy came back, I got on my plane on time, got to my destination on time, drove to the hotel, cleaned up and went to work. In the video I said I was thinking about not going, but not only would I not get paid but I’d have had to pay for two nights of my hotel bill and that didn’t seem fiscally intelligent. And now, back to the dull and boring parts of my life once more… yeah, right!

You just can’t make this stuff up. 🙂
 

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5 Ways Blogging Is Like Traveling Through Airports

Yes, this is another one of my comparison posts on the overall subject of blogging, this time relating it to airports. I’m in my consulting mode these days which means I’m flying a lot, although most of the time when I’m consulting I drive. However, I’m 17 hours away by car, thus this didn’t seem to be the smart thing to do, as I kept hearing from my wife. Lol

Syracuse Airport

The thing is that there are some things about blogging that really can compare to being in airports. If you’ve only ever been in one or two you may not be able to relate to these, but if you’ve flown at least 3 or 4 times you’ll see that I’m right on this one, even if you never thought about it before. Let’s begin.

1. There are some processes that never change. In airports, you always have to first get past the person who checks your ticket against your ID. Then you have to pull all your electronics out and put them in a tray, take everything out of your pockets and put them into a tray, take off your shoes and belt and put them in a tray, walk through the scanner and hope you’ve passed, and then put all that stuff back into where you took it from. Then you wait at your gate, walk forward when it’s your turn, put your stuff in the overhead, sit down, put on your seatbelt & fly to your destination. No matter what else happens, no matter the deviations, you always do these things.

When it comes to blogging, you probably always do these same things. You think about what your topic is going to be that you’re writing on, you verify your facts or your opinion, you open with your premise and then you write your post. Afterwards you check it for spelling (please do this lol), verify your keywords, then publish your post so others can read it and bask in your brilliance. Your process almost never changes once you get it down; if it does, you’re probably not writing all that often.

2. Often things are out of your control, no matter what you do. I’ve had a couple of flights canceled or altered because of the weather. I’ve had seats where I’ve paid for an upgrade taken from me for whatever reason. I’ve been pulled out of line and I’ve been selected to have a bag or two go under extra scrutiny. These are irritations but we get through them and move on with life.

With blogging, you can write what you feel is the best thing you’ve ever written and have no one read it or comment on it. You can set up all sorts of protections on your blog and still get hacked. You can have your hosting company suddenly go buggy and no one, including you, can get to your site. Some of these things are more critical than the others but you need to know that you can always overcome anything. Waste just a little bit of time worrying about it, then either get back to what you know or move on.

3. You can never find enough charging stations. At least there are places where we can charge up our phones, laptops and electronic readers these days. But there are never enough of them, and they get scarfed up pretty quickly. Every once in awhile there might be one last remaining spot but there are no seats close by, so you have to make a quick decision as to whether you trust the people who stand around the station or not.

For many bloggers, there are those days when you think and think and think and just can’t figure out what you want to say. Maybe you have a germ of an idea but you just can’t put it together. One of the realities of blogging is that you write an article, put it out, and at some point you have to write another post. It seems like there aren’t enough ideas or enough ways to come at your topic. But there are; look at what I’m comparing blogging to in this post. : – )

4. If you travel a lot you get to a point where you see the same thing over and over and some of it loses its excitement. When that starts to threaten to happen, you have to try to find new things to concentrate your mind on because, in reality, there’s always something different. For me, I’ve started people watching, and it’s the most amazing thing. As I write this there’s a kid who’s climbed up on one of those arrivals boards, a really attractive woman in very high heels and the tightest pants standing at the charging station in front of me typing away on her phone as if there’s nothing else in life to do, a Hasidic father and son, both with high black hats, looking for their gate and next flight, a young mother playing with her cute baby, and some people just chilling, watching TV or talking on their phones because they have a long wait for their next flight.

In blogging, sometimes it seems like you’re seeing the same thing over and over, whether it’s your blog or someone else’s blog. I lament often that I see multiple blogs writing the same thing all the time, as if they’re copying each other. The thing is that you should be able to have 30 people write about the same thing and end up with 30 totally different perspectives and taken on that subject. If you’re seeing the same thing over and over you need to broaden your perspective and look for other bloggers who can offer something different. If it’s your writing, work on your creativity and stop being so pedantic in using the same language and terminology.

5. Even in airports it can be all about networking and relationships. This is the 4th month of traveling for me and what I never really thought much about until it started is how often I see the same people. What’s also stunned me is that with so many people passing through airports every day that some of those people will remember my face. Though I don’t remember their names I’m familiar with certain flight attendants, the guys who load and drive the bus from one terminal to the next, some of the people working in certain restaurants, and some of the security people who check to make sure I’m not trying to sneak anything onto the plane. There’s a comfort in the familiarity and it helps in knowing that those times when they have to pull me out for a random heck there’s nothing personal about it.

The best blogs will have a consistent group of people who stop by to read and comment, and if you’re a smart blogger you’ll not only welcome them by responding to their comments, but when you can you’ll visit their blogs and try to find something to comment on. When all is said and done true blogging is about relationships and networking, whether you’re trying to make money or not. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say that you’re building friendships as if those people lived in town all the time, but you’re building friendly interactions and trust, and some of those people will help to promote you when they like you without your asking. There’s never anything wrong with that.
 

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