Career life travel


by Jan Kalle Ribbert. Some rights reserved.

About 3 weeks ago, I sat in San Francisco airport and waited, as the delay on my flight crept up and up. Some time around 5pm, when I’d been there since 10am, I felt like, I could cry right then. Just start sobbing. In public. The lounge had closed, and I was sitting by the gate, stuck in the airport, wondering why I hadn’t just pushed my flight back to the next day. And wanting to cry.

This is why I get tired of travelling. It’s sitting in an airport, watching your weekend disappear. It’s waiting by the carousel for 45 minutes (the priority label on my bag means NOTHING) as the event I had timed my flight to be back in plenty of time for starts without me, after a 3.5 hour delay and now…. this.

I made an anguished noise and stamped my feet (in the face of this, I am 5, apparently) and my intern said “yes”. I look at him and he continues, “you’ve expressed something there, that I feel too”. We commiserate with each other – it sucks to feel powerless.

When I got status I thought that would change things. It hasn’t. The wait should be more comfortable, in the lounge, but when the lounge is before security, and they keep pushing back 30 minutes each time… I spent more time waiting at the gate than in the lounge.

And so I’ve come to dread getting on a plane. I don’t really believe that any of my flights will be on time. The thought of Toronto airport makes me shudder.

But, I’ve been trying to book this trip to Sydney for over a week. And the Air Canada website kept failing, giving me stupid error messages and demanding that I call them. I hate calling companies. So I just gave up and tried again the next day.

After a week of this, someone suggests I try a travel agent. But first I have to track them down. They don’t want to help me because I don’t live in the US, but there is some elaborate system I can use to convince them to help me. I get half way through this. The website keeps reloading on my Android phone. I broadcast a wireless network to connect my iPhone, and it doesn’t work there either. I try Air Canada one last time on my iPad and… success! I book quickly, before I bottle it.

Realize I’ve booked my flight to leave on an evening when I’m supposed to be somewhere. I had a date planned, but decided to leave a day before to allow for the delay that I have come to expect, see as normal. But that can be dealt with.

And then… I get excited. I’m going to Sydney! My first time to Australia! My first time to the Southern Hemisphere!

On a roll, the next day I book a hotel. The website doesn’t work. I call them; they don’t pick up. The other website doesn’t work. I call another number. It works! I have a reservation! I even email the spa. I want to book into the spa the day I arrive, but flight times have come to seem just a suggestion, a ballpark, if you will. I request an appointment two days later instead.

But… I’m excited. Still. This is the first trip I’ve been excited for… in what feels like forever. I feel lucky.

People say, you’re lucky to travel so much. And I think no, because the reality to me, has been sitting in an airport, feeling grimy and uncomfortable, watching my free time or sleep schedule disappear. But right now, I feel lucky. And excited. And ready for another adventure. Flying half way around the world, alone, I’ve done before. But the direction, that’s new. Can’t wait.