Work trips are always interesting. They are unique in that you meet municipal officials, encounter local flair, and travel a large area. My most recent trip to Baltimore was highly productive. Meaning? I literally saw my sites, the hotel, and Whole Foods across the street.
During my stay in Silver Springs, I ventured out one evening and experienced multicultural dance aerobics in the street, a vast array of food options (which we all know I did not participate), amazing clearance purchase of two pairs of compression running pants, and a very strange 5 lane road system with three alternating directional lanes. Yes, you bet I was mega confused with the fact there were absolutely no turning lanes yet a signal head hovering; a signal head that I, out of habit, maneuvered my vehicle in front of awaiting a green arrow. Luckily, the old man who chose not to hit me head on, gave me a warm east coast welcome and a quick lesson in local transportation culture using only his hands. A very talented man. All that being said; I really did like the Silver Springs area, I’d go back.
After 4 days of work, I won’t lie, when I woke up Saturday morning, I was really ready to be home. I booked the earliest non-stop flight and said farewell to the Marriott staff and headed across the sky bridge. This is the moment when I really felt I was in Baltimore, more importantly that I was not in Kansas (or Florida) anymore. I was walking in the hotel parking garage and I notice a bag with some brown broken glass, “Wonder why someone would break beer bottles in their backpack? Weird…” and marched onward. Then I notice a handbag on the trunk of a car, “Oh no someone dropped their bag last night, must have been a good night. That’s nice someone set their stuff up, hope they are happy to find their stuff.” and still continued toward my vehicle. Then another car with some glass and that’s when it hit me…I’m slow with reality, rose colored glass remember?!…wait for it…”OMG THESE CARS HAVE BEEN BURGALRIZED! WHAT IS GOING ON?” It was only when I saw a travel bag and a work computer bag trashed that I remembered the PSA we regularly ignore in real life.
DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING VISIBLE IN THE CAR.
WINDOWS WILL BE BROKEN.
SHIT WILL BE STOLEN.
NOT EVEN EFFING KIDDING!
Thank you. You are welcome.
Luckily my rental was fine. The Good-Samaritan in me struggled with the All-About-Me tantrum and won. I made sure to call and report to the police and I took pictures, just in case (okay, not really, I was just being nosy and thought it was intriguing). The police were definitely uninterested and my time was wasted similarly as if I called to order a pizza from Chinese take-out.
And we as society wonder why we have bystander issues.
But…the best part of my Baltimore experience was the airport. Groggy and probably catching a bit of a cold, I patiently waited for the plane in my A2 spot secretly contemplating if 10AM is too early to use my drink coupon. Don’t judge, Summer Shandy is available for a limited time! I boarded, let Adam know we were pushing off…aaaaand then we sat. We sat for a while. I began to get a little worried only because no one was saying anything. I even looked at the construction contractors in the area to make sure they weren’t shutting down shop and running for cover. Seriously. Our trouble turned out to be due to communication towers and radar system malfunctions…ironic for someone who just completed site visits on communications towers. While our plane was fine, our pilot was ready, our crew was entertaining, we would have been flying dark, which if you think about it, would be incredibly dumb. I for one was super excited to be grounded given the circumstances.
My excitement was not shared by others.
The anger and frustration spewed from strangers. I observed in amazement the joy some folks felt from throwing their anger towards others in a situation that is completely out of everyone’s control. The planes were operational. The pilots were rested. The crew was prepared. We were in a cool building with access to food, water AND clean bathrooms. I mean seriously, pretty golden in my book. Yet the complaining, finger pointing and the “what about me” complex was visible and incredibly ugly.
While there were far more distraught than content, I did encounter some beautiful folks who were making lemonade out of the lemons we were all handed by the FAA. My comfortable Advocare long sleeve shirt attracted some looking for a Spark and some looking to exchange positive conversation about the craziness of the day. I welcomed the icebreaker my shirt provided and the positive people it attracted to start conversation.
A family with three children…the children were playing nicely, dancing, and practicing yoga “just like mom” which was more like bear walks. The mom and dad were calm, sitting hand in hand, watching their kids be kids and encouraging their creativity.
A young man on his way home…thankful he had vacation time to visit family speaking fondly of his job at Dell.
A mom with a daughter…on her way to help her move to Kansas University jokes about the checklists she was texting and how she would just be so busy at home, it may be a blessing to be grounded at BWI where you can’t even rent a car to drive the distance overnight.
Just to name the memorable but here was one that left me feeling like happiness as first choice still thrives.
A pilot…impacted me on a personal level. There are still genuinely nice strangers out there. People still enjoy talking about the happy things in life. We talked about Advocare, running, and family. He shared with me his wife’s incredible feat of completing half marathons, while making sure I was fully aware he was NOT a runner. He was so proud when he talked about his wife. You could see it in his eyes. You could also see his disappointment that he would not be home to meet her and their daughter for dinner at Disney World. He spoke kindly and softly about his daughter. Proud of what she has overcome and the young lady she is becoming. That guy and his family are people I would want to call friends in my world.
You don’t hear that much these days. Love and admiration. You hear about the struggles of children and the complaints of a spouse.
Why do we choose to focus on complaining and negativity as a source of enjoyment? Why do we feel as though we cannot speak fondly of our family, demonstrate pride of our successes, or have a kind ear when listening to someone’s story?
After 18 hours of BWI fun, I ended up in Atlanta for the night, stranded and exhausted, looking for a hotel room. I chose to happily discuss a hotel option with Southwest’s services and she even mentioned how refreshingly cheerful I was given the situation. I simply explained, situation isn’t anything I could control and nothing you can fix, but you can help me with a room and no one can be angry about that! You know what? I don’t even care if my sincerity had nothing to do with anything, but she took a few extra moments and found me a discount code for “distress traveler” to save my company money. I thanked her and then looked over at a family still smiling only to see the dad GLARING at me and telling his kids to get comfortable because this is what it is like to be stranded! The glare continued the day’s theme…still baffled, perplexed, bewildered with the individual choice to be happy or angry. Why is this so difficult for people in public? Internal struggle is totally different subject. Publicly happy should be easy. Happy is light, warm, and comfortable. Who doesn’t want to feel all those things? Fake it till we make it? What do we accomplish with anger? Why would we want to make someone feel shadowed, cold and isolated?
I cannot say I have ALWAYS handled situations with a happy heart. But I can say I do take moments to breathe and think. I take a moment to decide how I am going to project my energy into the world.
Take a moment to choose happiness and passing positive attitude forward.
It is contagious, I promise. I encourage everyone to take 10 seconds to think about how you would love to feel when communicating and connecting with people…do that. And if you really do embrace anger…well…that’s just not awesome and I don’t want to meet you or be your friend. The end.