For a short time in my business career I was lucky enough to have a small travel agency. It was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot of the ins and outs of traveling. When to buy airline ticket and more importantly, when not to buy airline tickets. You would be absolutely amazed if you stood up in a crowded airplane and ask if anyone else got their tickets for the same price you did. On an airliner that carries say 200 people I would hazard a guess that there would be 190 different fares charged for the exact same flight. Those last ten are on a trip together and they bought their tickets as a group all at the same time! But that is the way the system is set up. A little weird but true piece of information for you to put under your hat to discuss on a rainy day.
Then, at the turn of the century the internet exploded with travel sights, the airlines stopped paying commissions and that was the end of my short travel agent career. But more than learning about how and when and where to travel I learned a life lesson that has helped me keep my sanity more than once. I know, you thought I lost my marbles long ago. But if you were to check in the inside pocket of my purse you will find one solitary blue marble that I have kept for years—just in case I lose all other ones rolling around in my head. But that is neither here nor there…
How about another life lesson? Wait, wait. First let me tell you, at this point in my life, what my dream job would be. I would like to work for a big, no, a huge airline as a customer service rep. There was a television show about a group of airline customers service individuals who dealt with many different situations. I found it very amusing and entertaining. It would be an experience I would relish. Especially since I would not be footing the bill for the outcome of those situations. With that in mind here comes that life lesson…
Learn to bite your tongue before you say something like, “How was your trip?” Know when not to say, “How are you feeling?” Suck in your breath before, “Did you ever get that new job you applied for?” comes out of your mouth.
Now I know this sounds callous. Unfeeling. Maybe ever a little bit heartless. But in my short time here on mother earth I have found there are those walking among us that live to tell only those stories of tragedy and mayhem.
They are just poised and ready for you to ask, “How’s it going?” The polite answer is maybe, fine, or, it could be better, or maybe on an off day, so-so. But run into one or two in your life that will tell you that the toe next to the big toe on their right foot has an extra hair growing out of it and it is green? Well that is when you learn to just say, “Hi, nice to see you,” and leave the rest of any question on the inside of your lips!
Once I asked a traveler how their trip went. Once! Apparently it was my fault that it rained, the food was bad, a t-shirt cost over $20, drinks were watered down, airlines are making seats smaller, rental cars actually charge you more if you don’t fill up with gas before you return them… Well you get the idea. There was just no way that I was going to save face. So I just nodded my bobbled head and listened and I never again asked how the trip was. I just said, “Nice to see you back.”
So about that dream job? Imagine if you will, getting off an airplane after sitting for four hours and twenty seven minutes in a cramped seat where the overhead air thingy didn’t put out enough overhead air, you were next to a lady that brought her own egg salad sandwich, you bump your head on the overhead compartment while trying to get from row 57 seat G out to the isle, the guy who sat in front of you had cabbage soup the day before and you were his down-winder, you stub your toe on the emergency exit lighting along the floor, your luggage was the last piece down the shoot at the carousel. None of these things can be the fault of the airline. Not the egg salad lady, not the head bump, not cabbage man, and some piece of luggage has to be that last piece…
But then you notice that there is a new scratch on your 16 year old faux leather medium size suitcase. Oh someone has to pay! So you tramp up to the customer service desk and run onto—me! After hearing all of those words come spilling out of your mouth I oh so sympathetically pat your hand that has clenched the counter so intensely it is white as snow and I soothingly say, “Tough nuggies!”
Ya, I’d hire me.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.