Email 101

I was glad to discover, this past week, that story collection seems to run in the family! The following story was courtesy of my kiddo, who was nice enough to illustrate the importance of passing Email 101 early in your college career….

I had been out running a few errands over my lunch, and was just climbing the steps back to the house, when my child comes rushing out the front door and down the steps to his car.

“Hi! Bye! Wish me luck!” he yells back over his shoulder as he runs past me.

“Are we running a little late?” (Hey, I’m a mom. It’s what we do)

“Just want to have 10 minutes to look over my notes again when I get there.” Last minute cramming is such a beautiful thing.

“Good luck!”

Less than an hour later, I am at my desk doing some work, when the front door opens and my child walks back in. Since it’s 20 min to school and back, the math isn’t really adding up to have squeezed a whole test in there too.

“That was an awful quick test!” I say.

“Easiest test I ever took!” with a laugh.

I give him my puzzled, “what’s up?” face.

“Picture the scene” he says, with a swoop of his arms, in true dramatic fashion. (He’s my kid, what can I say?)

“So, I show up about 10 min early, and open the door to the classroom. It’s dead quiet, so I think,

oh good! He must have let everyone start early.’

I turn the corner, and see the room is empty. Not a single person there. So now I’m panicked!

oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! He changed the room!’

I pull out my phone and quickly check my email for where they moved the test.

And see this email from my instructor:

TEST MOVED TO TUESDAY AFTER SPRING BREAK

I look at him and hold back my laugh to say,

“Huh. And when did he send that email?”

“Yesterday afternoon”

“Guess it might be helpful to check your email more often, huh?”

“I check it like twice a week” Like, duh.

I just smile at him.

“And now I just wasted the whole morning studying!”

I do laugh this time.

But deep down inside, my heart is warm with the knowledge that I have passed on the important trait of collecting stories, and he is well on his way to carrying the torch of keeping the stories alive, long after I am gone!

 

The Wheels on the Bus and other stories

I knew it was a trip destined for stories before it started. I had a last minute meeting tacked on top of another that I couldn’t move, which meant I was going to have to fly from home to Boise, to Orlando over the course of 3 days. It had fun written all over it!

Because of other meetings and commitments, I booked the last flight out to Boise for the night. Which meant I left my house just before 4pm. I climbed in my car and backed out of my garage, only to hear the ding of an alert popping up on my dash.
I looked down to see my low tire pressure alert illuminated.

This wasn’t really surprising. With the crazy temperature swings we had been having, I had had to go in a couple times over the past couple months to have them top up one tire or another. I checked my tire pressure monitor, only to have it tell me that my back left tire had a tire pressure of zero.

Hmmm. That’s a little more than low. My car wasn’t driving like it had a completely flat tire, though. Just to be safe, I pulled over at the bottom of my hill to check.

It was pretty low. But it wasn’t completely flat. It wasn’t riding on the rim or anything like that, so I decided it was safe to drive it to the dealership and have them top me up. (All you car enthusiasts can message me later to explain why this was a horrendous idea) And yes, I was still telling myself a little air in the tire would solve my problem.

I get to the dealership, and say I hate to be one of “those people”, but I was on my way to the airport and didn’t have much time, and could they please just add some air to my tire so I could be on my way. The tech was very gracious and said he’d go right out and take a look.

Which he did. And then came right back in.

To tell me that I had a piece of metal in my tire, and that adding air was not going to do me much good. I was going to need a whole new tire. He went on to explain that if they had it in stock (they did) they could have it replaced within an hour.

Except I didn’t have an hour to wait. If I hadn’t left my house 20 min early to give myself time to grab something to eat, I would already be borderline on making my flight. And I was already on the last flight out.

Luckily, I have really good friends. As soon as I called my friend Jane and explained the situation, she offered to switch cars with me for the week and was on her way. By the time we had finished the paperwork, she was there, and I threw my suitcase in the back of her car and was on my way.

While she sat to wait for them to finish my tire. Like I said. I have good friends.

Her husband, Scott, did mention, as he handed me the keys, that the car was a little low on gas (as they hadn’t anticipated a last minute trip to DIA), but I shouldn’t worry about it and just go. I had plenty of gas to make it.

So off I went.

I got all the way to the airport exit when the gas light came on.

I checked the “distance to empty” meter and it told me I had 7 miles to go.

The airport was 10 miles away. Plus the miles back to the gas station upon my return.

I spent the next 5 miles debating whether I should stop and risk missing my flight.

I decided I had no choice and pulled into the gas station about 2 miles outside the airport.

Somehow, I topped up, found parking and made it to my flight on time.

Crisis averted!

The rest of my trip to Boise was uneventful.

However, due to the late hour of my meeting in Boise the following day, I could not make any flights out to Orlando that night. So I found myself up at 5am to catch the first flight out in the morning.

Because, believe it or not, there is no easy way to get from Boise to Orlando. How do these people get to The Happiest Place on Earth?? It involves an entire day of traveling, which does not seem right when one wants to pay a visit to Mickey and Minnie.

I make it to my Orlando hotel just in time to check-in, drop my bag and head to dinner with my team. It was not as warm as Orlando should be, but we had a great dinner, even if it wasn’t on a patio.

I dropped one of my teammates at her hotel around the corner from mine and head back to mine.

I am sitting at the light on the backside of my hotel, when 4 firetrucks, and ambulance and a police car come flying through the light and make the turn towards the entrance to my hotel.

I don’t think much of it, besides the typical “wonder what’s going on?” sirens always elicit, since the entrance to the highway was just past my hotel, so I just assume they are headed there.

Until my light turns green and I make the turn to my hotel myself.

And see all the EMS vehicles stopped in the road, blocking the entrance to my hotel with the police car pulled around blocking the road, about halfway down the block.

The policeman sees me coming and climbs out of his vehicle and gestures for me to go back.

I roll down my window and explain that I am staying at the hotel.

He shakes his head, and simply says again “I need you to turn around”

We are on a one way street and there are cars lining both sides.

“I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go”

“Not my problem. I need you to turn around” is the response.

Thank you. That is very helpful. (But I only think this) as I put the car in reverse and reverse back to the end of the block where there is finally a hole that allows me to turn around before I’m forced to back into two way traffic.

I manage to find another entrance to the parking garage, explain to the attendant on duty, that while I am staying at the hotel, I had used valet when I checked in, so I had no ticket to enter the garage, and he nicely showed me how to drive through and get to valet and the front entrance the back way.

I pull up to valet and see that now all the guests from the hotel are standing in and along the street, and the valet comes up to tell me, that indeed, they are evacuating the hotel. They are unable to tell me what is going on, but the let me just sit in my car there until either the building explodes or they let us all back in.

Luckily, after 10 or so minutes, the building is still intact and they are allowing people to return inside.

As I make my way to the elevators, however, there are hotel employees blocking access to them and letting folks know, the elevators are still out of service and we will need to use the stairs to get back to our rooms.

I again take the opportunity to ask what is causing all the excitement, but am again told they don’t know.

So I ask if they are actually letting people back onto the floors. I am on the 13th floor (yes, the irony is not lost on me), and while I am not above a good jaunt up the stairs, I didn’t relish climbing 13 stories only to be told we couldn’t get on the floor to our rooms.

I was again told they didn’t know.

So I opt for waiting in the lobby until someone who might know something might appear and at least verify that it was safe to make the trek.

After awhile two of the elevators start moving, and out pour fireman and all their equipment when they hit the lobby.

They let us all know that everyone may return to their rooms, with the exception of anyone whose room was on the 5th floor.

I do wonder what is still going on on the 5th floor as I make my way back to my room, and for the briefest of moments wonder what the poor souls on the 5th floor are going to do, but by this point it is 10:30, I have been up since 5am, and all I care about is getting into bed. If the 5th floor collapses and all the floors above it by default, I plan to be sound asleep while I plummet to my demise.

Luckily, I wake up the following morning, still in my bed, which is still on the 13th floor, and the hotel seems no worse for the wear and much calmer than the night before.

I take one last stab at trying to get to the bottom of the prior nights excitement as I check out, but the clerk only says “oh yes. I read about it in our shift report. But I’m not really sure what happened”

Hmmm. Curiouser and Curiouser. I’m afraid I will be unable to solve the mystery for you in this post.

The good news is: By the time I got home, all four of my tires were inflated and rotating as needed.

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

I should have known when my dress was clinging to my tights before I even left the hotel room- despite a vigorous application of Static Guard- what kind of day this was going to be .

I probably should have just curled back up in the hotel bed and  decided to skip the day.

But I didn’t.

I foolishly ignored the signs and ventured out into the world.

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

I got as far as the parking lot before he fired his first shot.

I popped the trunk on my rental car, threw my bags in, and closed the trunk.

Only to hear those 3 little horn honks that say “you just did something really dumb”

As soon as I heard them, I knew exactly what that dumb thing was. I had just shut my car key in the trunk. I tried the trunk release button over the license plate, only to hear the same 3 honks letting me know that wasn’t going to work with the key inside.

No big deal. At least I had been smart enough to unlock the car before I did that. So I just had to go inside and pop the trunk with the release button.

But here’s a fun fact!  The new Chevy Malibu does not have a trunk release button on the interior of it’s vehicle. For some unknown reason, the designers of the new Malibu-quite likely in the hopes of being perceived as innovative and cutting edge- decided there was no need for an interior trunk release button.

I know this because after I spent many minutes searching for one ( and fearing that I may not be as smart as I thought), I actually googled “where to find the trunk release in a Chevy Malibu”.  Only to have Google tell me there isn’t one.

Huh.

Well, that’s fine. I’ll just climb in the back and pull down one of the seats, or at the very least, the cup holder arm rest in the center. There is always at least a hole to the trunk there, and I can just reach in and grab my bag and rescue my key.

I know you can see where this is going.

Evidently, the Malibu engineers felt there was absolutely no reason anyone would ever need access to the trunk from inside the vehicle. And Google confirmed, that indeed, the only access to the trunk was through the key fob.

Which can’t be accessed if it is in the trunk.

Google does have some stories of other unfortunate souls, who obviously had also challenged good old Murphy to a duel, and they had been successful in retrieving their keys by contacting OnStar.

So I climbed back into the car and pushed the handy OnStar button.

But of course I do not own the vehicle I am sitting in, so my friendly OnStar tech had no way of knowing that I was actually the owner of the bag I say I am trying to access in the trunk and not some nefarious character trying to purloin someone else’s wallet.

So they have to contact the car rental agency, which takes a very long time to accomplish.

We finally have three people on the phone trying to work this out, and the car rental person is telling me that the only option we have is for them to send a tow truck, since the keys are locked in the car and we can’t get in: I am explaining that key is actually locked in the trunk, and that I am actually in the car at that moment: and then she is saying there is no way to pop the trunk: when all of a sudden I hear the trunk pop.

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

I quickly thank the rental car rep, tell her I’m good to go, and jump out and rescue my key.

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

I’m only a few minutes late for my meeting, the meeting goes off without a hitch as does my two hour drive back to the airport.

I’m thinking Murphy was so impressed with my ingenuity that he has moved on.

Then I get to the airport.

I go up to the desk to check in and inquire if there is any way to get on the earlier connecting flight out of Chicago. The ticket agent actually laughs and says everything is completely sold out due to fog in Chicago earlier that morning that has wreaked havoc on the flight schedules.

No big deal. I check in for my original flight, check my bag and head to security.

I make it through security and head into the gift shop to get a water and a snack. I’m just checking out, when my phone dings with an alert.

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

Since I already know that all the other flights are already sold out, I jump on the phone with our company travel agents and they scour every airline for any available seats.

They find only one seat that will get me home before Sunday. And it costs roughly as much as a semester of college.

But I have no choice, as I HAVE to be home the next morning to continue my fight with the insurance company from having been hit by a car on my bike nearly two years ago.

(Oh, have I not told you that story yet??)

They book the seat, and I go back out to check in to have them retrieve my bag (because of course this is one of those times I had checked a bag). There are lines a mile long at every customer service counter, the baggage claim office and the check in counter, and as I join this line I am seriously concerned that by the time my bag is radioed for and retrieved, I will miss my other flight.

After nearly 30 min, I get within one person of the front and take a chance. I tell the guy in front of me, that I have already been re-booked on another flight, and I promised not to steal his seat, but that I just needed them to get my bag back so I could make my new flight.

Luckily he was a kind individual and let me go first.

They radio for my bag, and unbelievably my bag appears at baggage claim in a record 10 min.

I am rechecked in, back through security and at my new gate with time to spare.

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

I make it to Houston, change terminals and board my plane to Denver without further incident.

I land in Denver 3 hours later than planned, but it looks like I’ll make it home without further incident.

Until I look at my phone.

I have a little weather alert that notifies me there are currently “light snow showers” in Denver.

Huh. I had been looking at the weather and it was 60 degrees earlier in the day without even the slightest hint of snow mentioned in the forecast.

Like any good Coloradan, however, I know we can go from summer to winter in 3 hours or less without any warning, and I am not too worried about “snow showers”, so I think nothing of it.

I collect my bag (which despite the bright orange “Star Priority” tag on it, and the small fortune I paid for my seat, which should have ensured it was one of the first bags off the plane, is nearly the last- of course!), get to my car and head out on the long drive home.

It may, indeed, have been snow showers for the first few minutes, but those “showers” quickly turned into a full on blizzard which is making it very challenging to see 3 feet in front of you.

Murphy is having himself a good laugh by now I am sure.

The weather and the roads only get worse the further I drive, until you can no longer tell where the lanes on the road are because we are driving through at least 4 inches of snow on the highway.

Let me just take a minute to say, we have not had any winter in Colorado until the past two weeks, so I would assume the snow plow drivers would be happy for some work and working overtime to keep our roads clear. However, the only plow I saw in the entire drive from Denver, was one that was plowing the frontage road that runs beside the highway ( and where there were no cars driving) , but not the highway itself. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this in some alternate universe.

Thankfully, I make it home safely, despite passing several accidents, cars off the road, and one that is up on it’s side and blocking the lanes of traffic.

I crawl into bed just before midnight, and hope that I have survived my Murphy’s Law day and he will move on to more worthy opponents tomorrow.

Ticket to Ride

I just returned from a visit to our Nations capital and a visit with all my colleagues. I was very grateful that they ordered in some warmer temps prior to my arrival than they had been experiencing recently.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to attend a team building event at the Capital One Arena and watch, what I was told, was an exciting game of basketball between the Jazz and the Wizards.  I will admit that I may have spent more time eating and socializing than actually watching the game, but since the scoreboard read 74-74 the one time I did look at it, I’ll take their word for it.

Standing in front of the arena waiting for an Uber after the game, I couldn’t help remember the other wonderful Uber adventures I’ve had in our fair capital. (Remember my driver who drove in circles and confused the airport with Arlington National Cemetery? Good times).

While this Uber ride turned out to be relatively uneventful, I wasn’t so lucky on my previous trip to DC a  couple months ago.

We had gone to see a Nationals game as a team on that particular trip, and, as you can imagine, there were quite a number of people pouring out of the stadium and requesting Ubers after the game.

There are also multiple gates leading out of the stadium and onto many, very different streets around the stadium.

And if you are from out of town, you may or may not be aware that there is an Uber “pick up spot” outside one of these gates.

The group I was with fell into the may not camp.

So we filed out of the gate nearest our seats, divided into two groups, and took off to the nearest corner, to request an Uber using the cross streets over our head.  One group went one way, and myself and my new boss went the opposite.

We requested our Uber and proceeded to watch it’s progress on it’s way to find us. I think the original ETA was about 5 min. However, as we continue to watch the progress, we begin to notice that the Uber seemed to be moving in the opposite direction and the ETA is getting longer, not shorter.

After the estimated 5 min and a few more has passed, and we seem to only be further from having our Uber arrive, I decide to give our driver a call.

I get her on the phone, and immediately it is clear there is much confusion as to where we might be.

I spend several minutes telling her where we are based on the streets (which in my mind should be the easiest landmarks, especially for someone whose business it is to drive on said streets) and when that fails to help her locate us, I start naming every landmark I can spy with my little eye.

Meanwhile, obviously not cluing into any of my landmarks, she is trying to tell me where the Uber pick up spot is using landmarks of her own, which may have been effective, if I was from the area, and had ever been to that specific part of town before.

But neither was true.

Then she proceeded to tell me we would need to walk to her, because all the streets around the stadium were closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to us, even though I gently informed her that I was watching numerous cars drive on those streets as we spoke.

I finally decided that this may be a fruitless venture, and told her I would cancel my request so she could just find someone who knew where the pick-up spot was.

My boss and I decided to walk down a few blocks, further from the stadium, before requesting another ride, in the hopes that we would have either better luck or an Uber driver who actually believed in GPS.

Of course the other group had somehow found one of DC’s best drivers and had already been picked up and were halfway back to the hotel.

We get to our new “pick up spot” and request another car.

This one is about 8 min away, but at least seems to be moving in the right direction in the first few minutes, so we are hopeful. About 5 min in, my phone rings. IRead More »

Keep Calm and Travel On….

So, I have my first trip of 2018 under my belt. And while it was a short trip, there was still time for a couple blog worthy encounters.

I was especially excited to be heading to balmy Sioux Falls, SD, where the real feel temp when I got off the plane was -19 degrees. Yes, that is a negative sign before the 19. This was an extra shock to my system, since Old Man Winter hasn’t really decided to show his face in Colorado yet, so it’s been easy to forget temperatures like that even exist.

It was all good though when I collected the keys to my rental and walked out to find I had been given a super exciting…. Dodge Grand Caravan. This seemed a bit excessive for just me and my little old carry on bag, but hey. It was almost midnight and -19 degrees. It wasn’t worth walking back in to exchange it. When I climbed in and realized this Caravan came complete with heated seats AND a heated steering wheel, I must say it was better than any fancy Maserati! Seriously. Is there any invention better than heated seats??

I think not.

I was also surprised, although maybe not as pleasantly, when I started driving and realized that this particular Caravan also performed a low grade vertical “bounce” as it proceeded down the road. Think all those low-rider vehicles you have ever seen that literally bounce in time to the over active bass thundering through their tinted windows. That is what my Caravan was doing. I still haven’t figured out why someone thought a mom-mobile needed to bounce down the road like I should be listening to “Drop it Like it’s Hot”, but it indeed was.

I managed to avoid frost bite during my short time in SD, mainly because I only went from my car to inside and back again. I don’t think the real feel temp ever made it above -4 degrees. I actually heard a couple people talking about the temp when I returned to the airport and using phrases like “It really wasn’t that bad”. I’m pretty sure they just said that because they never fully thawed out and were numb their entire visit.

One of these folks  was the gentleman I sat behind at the gate for my return flight. And he said this exactly 10 times. I know, because I had the pleasure of listening to him have the

Exact.

Same.

Conversation.

with 10 different people over the course of 30 minutes or so. The only difference was when he called Dan (yes, I know everyone he called by name, because he used Siri to voice dial all of them). He first called Dan on his home phone, which was disconnected. So then he had Siri call Dan on his mobile. When Dan answered, my friend’s first question was if Dan had disconnected his home phone. To which Dan replied, “Oh, yeah. I had to get rid of that. All I ever got on that thing was those Viagra calls”

Can we all just agree as part of our 2018 resolutions, that speaker phones really have no place in public spaces? Seriously. Everyone within hearing vicinity does not need to be a part of conversations about what you had for lunch, what Netflix show you binged on last weekend or the delicate reasons your home phone was disconnected.

SD had one more special encounter in store for me before I left. The planes that fly back and forth from Sioux Falls to Denver are very small. So small, in fact, that even my little carry on bag won’t fit in the overhead bins.

So I was prepared to be whacked in the head a time or two during the boarding process.

You might think, from the amount of times this happens that I have an abnormally  large head. I really don’t think I do. I have spent time comparing my head to other heads, and it falls quite squarely into the average size category.

What is abnormally large, however, are the sizes of the backpacks, bags and other various and sundry items that people carry on their backs in small enclosed spaces these days.

And what seems to be inversely proportionate to how big the back appendage, is how little these people’s spacial awareness is. While some of the biggest offenders of this seem to be the generation who have a lot in common with perennials, basic spatial theory and area awareness seems to be leaking out of the general knowledge banks at an alarming rate.

Thus I get whacked in the head on a regular basis.

This weeks offender, with an especially large back pack on her back, decided, for whatever reason, to start practicing her washing machine spin cycle dance moves right next to my seat. This led to several good whacks to the side of my head, but I may have been able to lean away from the aisle and avoid further injury until she moved on, if it was just that.

But of course it wasn’t.

She and her friend then realized they were standing next to their seats and my spin cycle buddy offered to help her friend put her equally  large back pack into the overhead bin. All without removing her own backpack, which is now turned squarely in line with the side of my head.

You’ll remember I said that these planes are small. And that normal carry ons will not fit in the overhead.

This, however, did not stop our back-pack laden friend from trying to shove her friends mutant pack into these bins.

With every shove on the backpack, I got the resulting “opposite reaction” up aside the head. I literally had to put both my hands up and push back on the bag with all of my Superman holding back a speeding train strength to stop it. (Going to the gym is for self defense, boys and girls). The gal finally turned around with a puzzled look as to why she could no longer move, and finally realized there were other people on the plane with her. Her response?

“Oh”.

But she did remove the back pack and threw it on her seat for the rest of her wrestling match with the overhead bin. So I did arrive back in Colorado, awake and alert and concussion free. It’s good to be home!

Thank you 2018, for making my first trip a memorable one. Cheers to many more memories over the next 361 days!

 

Be The Exception

Let me be upfront and say this is not going to be one of my usual posts. But I have been processing a lot of things over the past couple of days, and have some things I want to say. Some of you may choose not to read any further, or not read this whole post. That’s ok. No hard feelings. Maybe some of you will stick with me and hear me out. I hope so. Maybe this is something I just had to say so I can go back and read it again when I need a reminder.

I’m sure everyone is well aware of the events of the past weekend and all the conversations that have been going on since then. The thing that has struck me in all of these conversations and that I keep coming back to, is the fact that the real issue seems to keep getting lost in conversations that only continue to perpetuate this real issue.

What has amazed me continually over the past couple of days is that the stories that are constantly popping up in my news stream are more about how certain people responded (or didn’t) to the issues, and not about the issues themselves. It has become another example of  armchair quater backing by those who are not involved in the decisions and don’t have all the facts, using the opportunity to point out why the other side is wrong and highlight all their shortcomings (which, ironically, is part of the issue).

The one story I actually saw that came close to highlighting the issue, chose instead to focus on a game of “who said it best” comparison between leaders instead of on the actual message.

I have no political clout what-so-ever, and no one is going to accuse me of saying it best, I am sure, so I wanted to say it again here and let it soak in for a minute.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite” ~Nelson Mandela

We were not born hating anyone. So why have we so willingly allowed hate and anger and disparaging others to become our default response to anything anymore? When did we lose sight of the fact that no matter our skin color, religious beliefs, political views or anything else that sets us apart and makes us “different” that we are all still human beings? Why is it the minute someone dares to disagree with us, or express an opinion that might differ from ours we are so quick to tear them down and tear them apart; attacking not just the differing viewpoint but who they are as human beings?

Is part of it because we all so easily have a “voice” now with the plethora of social media platforms available to us? Or because those platforms allow us to voice this anger and hate safely and anonomously from our own living rooms, hidden behind our keyboards? I wonder: Would we be so quick to say those same hurtful things if we had to look the person we were tearing down in the eye and remember they are in fact a human being?

And here’s the real kicker. Even if we are standing up for the “right” side of the issue, if we do it using the same hate, anger and disparaging comments, doesn’t that make us just as wrong? This only spurs more anger and hate from the other side and drags us further down the path of division and conflict.

It has to stop somewhere.

“…People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite”

If we learned to hate somewhere along the way, can’t we un-learn it, just like any of the other bad habits we have picked up along the way? It won’t be easy, just like dumping any bad habit isn’t easy. It seems to have become part of who we are as a culture.  But doesn’t it start with making the choice to not engage in the hate and the anger, and instead choose to try a different strategy and respond with hope and love? Wouldn’t it be harder for the other side to continue to respond with the hate and anger, if it isn’t being fueled with more of the same, but instead dampened with it’s opposite? And I know that I am going out on a limb here, but what if we remebered that the person behind all the hate and anger on the other side is still a human being too? They, at some point, had to learn that hate somewhere. And what incentive do they have to change or learn anything new if all they are seeing reflected back to them is more of the same?

Here’s the thing. I don’t believe that the hate and horribleness that was demonstrated in Charlottesville this weekend is the majority opinion of our country. I still believe that there are more of us that still believe in love and humanity and hope. I think that the group that wants to propegate hate and conflict have just chosen not to be silent, and are getting the attention that goes with speaking out. So what if those of us who believe in love and hope decided we weren’t going to be silent any longer either? And not in a hateful, confrontational, angry way, but in a loving way, focused on inspiring unity and bringing us together? The “Golden Rule” became golden for a reason, so what if we focused more on only responding in ways and saying things we would be okay with hearing or receiving about ourselves?

I realize most of us probably aren’t in highly influential roles or the public eye, so our default response may be “what can I do about anything”? But it has to start somewhere. So what if each of us chose to be the Exception in our small circle of influence? What if instead of engaging in the negative conversations on Facebook or Twitter or whatever platform you are on, we chose to start a positive one instead? What if instead of returning insults and anger to someone who may have chosen to disagree with us, we return love? What if we had every conversation as if we were looking the other person in the eye?

If each of us chose to be the Exception where we are, and could maybe affect 5 people, who chose to be the Exception where they are, could the Exception eventually become the Rule?

I am in no way trying to say I have it all figured out, but these are the things I’ve been wondering over the past couple days. While I hope I can say I have never been part of the anger and hatred on the scale that was seen this weekend, I have definitely been guilty of anger on a smaller scale.  And for that I am truly sorry.

But I have a choice. As do you. Every day. We can get bogged down in the past and stay stuck and continue to perpetuate the cycle. Or we can choose today to be the Exception and try to make love and hope the rule.

I choose to be the Exception.

Making Mountains out of Ant Hills

So my recent encounter with the bat got me thinking about other wildlife encounters I’ve had over the years. The proximity of this encounter to the 4th of July made me recall another such encounter from a 4th of July weekend a couple of years ago.

I had decided to spend the holiday weekend with some friends in lovely Crested Butte, and planned to drive up that Friday. About a week prior, I had been rear-ended, so my car had been in the shop, and I picked it up that morning, packed up and hit the road.

As anyone who has spent any time in Colorado knows, you can’t get to any of our lovely mountain towns without going over a mountain pass.

The pass I was crossing that weekend was Monarch: About 12 miles up and 12 miles down, with  2 lanes most of the way with an occasional third lane to pass.

About halfway up, I moved into one of these passing lanes to get around some of those sight seeing, slow pokes, and suddenly my car revs, revs again and dies completely.

In the middle lane. With heavy, holiday weekend traffic flowing by on both sides.

I’m still not 100% sure how, but somehow I made it back over to the side of the road and out of traffic before my car came to a complete stop.

I waited a few minutes and tried to start it back up. No luck.

And of course, there is no cell phone service on the middle of Monarch pass either.

Now, it’s a holiday weekend, and I’m on the path to the mountains, so there are a LOT of other cars flying by. Do you think anyone could be bothered to stop and see if I needed help?

Of course not.

After 15-20 min, when I realized help wasn’t going to appear, I decided I had no choice but to hoof it up the hill until I could get reception and call for help.

So that’s what I did. I made it up, made my call, and made it back down without any further issues.

When I got back to my car, I climbed back in to wait, but quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. It was July. And almost 90 degrees. It was hotter than blazes in my car.  Mountain passes aren’t exactly known for having ample shoulders, so there were barely inches between my car and the traffic on one side and between my car and the steep up-side of the mountain on the other. I didn’t feel like adding getting hit by a car to my weekend, so I decided the hood of my car was probably the safest place for me.

The thought did occur to me that perhaps a stranded gal, sitting on the hood of her car in the middle of a mountain pass, may raise some curiosity among my fellow holiday travelers and maybe someone would finally stop.

No such luck. A few helpful people did lay on their horns as they went past. As if I was just sitting there for fun and to irritate them as much as possible.

Luckily, I had brought water with me. It’s Colorado. We don’t go far without water. So I sat on my hood, drank my water and waited for help to arrive.

After about an hour of waiting, I realized I was suffering the consequence of drinking my water. I needed a bathroom.

These are not that abundant in the middle of mountain passes.

I start weighing my options.

Like I said earlier, there was not much room between my car and the mountain cliff. And nothing but a very steep climb on that side.

Across the road, there was about a foot behind the guard rail before a very steep drop down. And not a lot of privacy options either way.

I decided to go with the down option and crossed the road and climbed over the guard rail. I thought if I could climb down just a little ways, at least the vital privacy portions of me would be blocked by the cliff face and I could make it work.

There was a fairly thick sapling that I thought might hold me and act as my “rope” to lower myself down a bit. Have I mentioned it was a very steep drop??

The sapling holds me, and I baby step down enough that I think I’m safe and decide to go about my business.

I’m squatted and balanced and almost through, when all of a sudden I am aware of a very intense burning and stinging on both of my legs.

I had been trying very hard not to look down and see how far I had to fall, but I looked down fast at that moment.

I was covered from my knees to my belt in red ants.

Yup, I had decided to rain on their anthill. I guess I couldn’t really blame them. They hadn’t asked for a flood.

Needless to say, privacy was no longer high on my priority list, and I jumped up, wildly dancing a jig. On the side of a cliff.

I managed to rid myself of my hitchhikers, get myself back together and back over the guard rail to flat ground.

Somehow that very unusual sight of a crazy lady dancing a wild jig was still not enough to catch any good Samaritan’s eye or cause even one person to tap the brakes to see if help may be in order.

Guess I didn’t need to worry about privacy so much after all .

Back on the hood of my car, I realized that now would not be a good time to find out I was allergic to red ants. Luckily, another hour later, when my help finally arrived, I had not passed out or gone into anaphylactic shock.

I still take all precautions to ensure outdoor bathrooms will not be needed in the future.

Things that go bump in the Night

Some of you may know that I recently moved. While my new house is still technically “in the city limits”, it is enough outside the hustle and bustle that we can enjoy up close and personal encounters with our wildlife neighbors.

Sometimes a little too up close and personal.

The other night I closed up the house and got ready to head to bed. I went up the stairs, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got in my PJ’s and had just climbed into bed with my book, when something moved out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a moth, and turned my head just in time for something much bigger to swoop by.

This was not a moth, but a bat. In my room.

Now, I am not freaked out by most of the creepy crawly creatures we share the planet with. Give me a mouse or a snake or a spider and I can deal. Even in my bedroom.

But put wings on the critter and let it blindly dive bomb my head and it’s  a whole other story.

I threw the book in my hand over my head as a shield, jumped off the bed, and made my way across the room in a half run, half crawl position. (I’m sure there was logic behind this stance at the time). I somehow managed to throw open the sliding glass door on one end of the room and make it back to the stairs and down without making physical contact with the bat.

Once downstairs, I bravely took up my post:-hiding around the corner at the bottom of the stairs – and cautiously peeked up the stairs every few minutes waiting for the bat to fly out.

Except every time I looked, it was still there. Swooping back and forth across the room.

After about 15 minutes, I realized that this visitor may not show himself out, and I was going to be forced back upstairs to help.

I also realized, standing there in my PJ’s, that I was not exactly battle ready.

The problem was, all my battle gear was in my room. With the bat.

I scavenged around in the lower levels and finally found suitable battle gear: One of my kiddo’s sweatshirts, a large straw hat and a broom as a weapon. For good measure, I grabbed a basket off the counter for a shield.

Thus armed, I slowly crept back up the stairs. I made it halfway up before I was again treated to a fly-by from my equally panicked guest.

I tried to use the broom as a gentle guide to show him the door, but he was not having it. If I swung to the front, he went behind me. If I whirled around, he feinted to the other side.

Sneaky little bugger.

I admit. I retreated back down the stairs. But only to regroup for plan B.

From my perch around the corner, I realized that the air conditioner and the fan were on in my room, and that the wind from those might be confusing the critter and keeping him from finding the door.  The problem was, the A/C was on one end of the room and the fan on the other. And the bat was swooping in the air between.

While I was trying to gather the courage for a fool hardy, kamikaze mission to attempt to shut both of these off, I realized the bat had ceased swooping.

Maybe he had finally found his way to the door??

Armed with my broom, I slowly crept back up the stairs to see.

There he was, perched on the wall beside my bed. Resting.

I took the opportunity to creep from one end of the room to the other and turn off the fan and the A/C, and made it back to the stairs just as he decided to start swooping again.

Finally, after another 10 minutes or so, I didn’t see any more movement up there. Fingers crossed I crept back up the stairs to evaluate my territory.

No bat.

I slowly kept creeping forward and didn’t see him perched on the walls or any place I could easily see.

I was not, however, about to throw open the doors to the bathroom or closet or climb into bed without being sure.

The bugger was probably hiding in my pillows.

And I couldn’t be sure without backup. What if there was a sneak attack??

And my backup was still at work until midnight.

I text my child to tell him about the invader and outline the battle plan for when he got home.

I got, “What do you want me to do??” with the laughing emoticon, as a response.

He’s lucky I needed him as an ally.

Finally, after midnight, we were able to complete the recon mission, check the closets, under the bed and the pillows and ensure the enemy was indeed gone.

I still slept with one eye open for the rest of the night.

Spreading Christmas Cheer with Christmas Lights

I know it’s been a little while since I posted anything. I have to admit I lost my travel humor somewhere on the Island of Lost Baggage in the last few weeks of 2016. Luckily, there is nothing like traveling with family over the holidays for that humor to show back up in your Christmas stocking.

I was lucky enough to travel with my sister, brother in law, nephew, niece and son, for the first time all together, to Maine to see the rest of our family on Christmas Day.

Now I have traveled enough to realize that 4 adults, 2 kids in car seats, 12 bags of various shapes and sizes and a stroller, were going to be slightly more than a Fiat could handle. So I called ahead and spoke to a fantastic manager at the National rental desk and arranged for a much bigger car to be available when we arrived.

We made it across the country, from CO to ME, quite smoothly actually, and poured out of the plane ready for the 3 hour drive to my parent’s house.

I left the boys waiting at baggage claim and ran to the car rental office to pick up the vehicle and bring it around to load up the crew. The rental car staff were ready for us and handed me the keys to a shiny new Tahoe.

Awesome!

I pull up to the curb just as the boys start rolling out the first of the bags and we start loading up.

I will admit I have never solved a rubiks cube. But I am pretty good at puzzles.

After the 3rd time of rearranging bags and realizing there was still a bag and a stroller sitting on the curb, I turned to my brother in law and said,

“This is not going to work”

“No. I do not think it is”

This is how I find myself running back to the rental car office, saying “Please don’t hate me, but do you happen to have an even bigger car?”

I have to give them credit. They barely even gave me a funny look before they start scrambling to see what else they may have. They really were two of the best customer service folks I have had the pleasure of working with. Within a few minutes they have the keys to a shiny new Suburban available, the vehicle switch is made, and I am back at the curb to start re-loading.

Shockingly, it was still a bit of puzzle solving to get everything in this massive boat. We do it, but we have used Every. Spare. Inch available. Good thing as I don’t think they rented out buses.

But we are all loaded up and ready to hit the road!

We get on the highway and decide we all need food to make it through the rest of the drive. We see a sign for a rest stop with a Burger King and that’s where we head.

It’s Christmas Day, so there are not many people in the drive through line. Just one car in front of us. But still we sit there for about 5 min before that car moves and we pull up. And we still wait about another 15 min before the guy is ready to take our order. In fact, I have to gently ask him if he has forgotten about us in order to prompt him to take it.

I realize an order for 6 people might be a little bit confusing, but it takes about 3 repeats for us to be at least 50% sure the guy has gotten it right. And when we pull up to the window, he still gets 3 of our 5 drink orders wrong.

After straightening out our drinks, he asks us to pull around the corner and park to wait for our food, as it will be a few minutes for them to grow the veggies and butcher the cows.

We pull around the corner and park in a spot parallel to the curb. And directly facing the drivers side of  a little Hyundai parked in front of us.

Now I realize that our lights are shining directly into the drivers window, and I turn the knob all the way in the opposite direction, assuming this will turn the lights off.

It doesn’t.

So I turn  the knob back and forth a few times trying to find the “off” position. No luck. Finally, I settle with it back on what I assume is the parking lights position at the least.

It takes about 30 seconds of the annoyed and irritated looks the driver starts shooting us, to realize that the lights are still not off.

“Dude, I’m trying to turn them off” I say, turning the knob a few more times.

(My sister points out, much later, that all this knob turning has done is continually flash our lights at the poor fellow, probably, most definitely, only increasing his irritation)

The guy throws a few more less than friendly looks in our direction, then suddenly he digs up a flashlight from somewhere in his car and starts flashing it in our direction.

This has the effect of a lightening bug flashing in the windshield of a 747.

“Dude, that is not going to bother me in the least. Flash away”

Of course at this point we are all laughing.

“I really can’t figure out how to turn them off” I say, flicking the knob a couple more times.

“I don’t think you can turn them off in some of the newer cars. They’re all automatic” my sister adds, helpfully.

The guy gives up on the flashlight after a minute or two, shoots us a couple more less than friendly looks, and then slams his sun visor over across his window.

“That should help. Then just don’t look over here and it won’t bother you so much!”

“I wonder what he is even doing, just sitting there anyway?”

We continue these musings for a few minutes, and then the guy has a flurry of irritated activity behind the wheel, throws his car in reverse, and hurtles back out of his space.

At first, I think he is going to back up beside us and start something.

He doesn’t.

Then I think he is going to turn his car around to face us and shine his lights into our car. Which I was actually already laughing about, since the lights from his Hyundai would have probably shone directly under our Suburban.

He doesn’t do that either. He tears out of the parking lot and disappears.

“That was weird. I wonder what he was even doing just sitting there?”

“I don’t know, but we obviously ruined his Christmas!”

“I think we successfully ruined his entire year!”  I flick the knob a few more times.

“I really can’t figure…. Oh. Look at that. I found the “off” spot”

Oops.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Hyundai dude…

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about Uber, baby

I feel like there has been a big part of my travel life that has been largely excluded to this point.

Uber.

I know there are Uber lovers and Uber haters out there, but I happen to be one of the former.

When I travel to places such as NYC and DC, where you will never catch me behind the wheel of a car, dealing with all those whirling dervishes others call traffic, I become, quite literally, an Uber VIP. I love them, and they, in turn love me.

I know people who are like, “yeah, but if you take an Uber, you have to like, talk, to your driver”.  Gasp!! Anything but that!

I actually like talking to my drivers. I have had a great many fascinating conversations in Ubers. And don’t even think about challenging me to Uber trivia. You will lose.

I’ve also had my share of odd Uber drivers. Like the guy who wanted to stop for a bottle of wine. Or the ones who have wanted me to drag my bags 5 city blocks so they don’t have to go around the block.

But my driver to the airport last week may have claimed the Number 1 worst spot.

I should have known I was in trouble when I put in my pick up spot as the hotel I was staying at, and instead of pulling up to the front door, as most normal people would do, he pulls over at the end of the block and sits there, evidently waiting for me to come to him.

The doorman and I spend a few moments debating on whether that is my car, and then he runs down the block and tells my driver to pull up and get me. He pulls up, pops the trunk, and leaves me to fend for my own bags. Okay, fair enough. Women’s equality and feminism and all that. I can toss a bag in the trunk with the best of them.

I settle myself in the back seat, and we take off for the airport. Or at least this is what I assume, as that is what I entered as my destination.

Now, I will admit, that I do not always pay very much attention when in the back of an Uber. If my driver is not the talkative type, or I just don’t feel like talking, I may just settle in and surf my phone. Or nap. Or whatever. And I hadn’t slept very well all week, so I just tucked in and was staring rather blankly out the window. After about 10 minutes of what should have been a 20 min drive, at the most, something started nudging the back of my brain, and I started to focus on the scenery outside the window.

Which is when I realized I had already seen this scenery about 5 min or so ago.

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I decided now was a good time to engage my driver in conversation.

“Ummm, we are going to the airport, right?”

“Yes. That’s where you want to go, yes?”

“I do, but is this the way to get there? I’m pretty sure we just went in one big circle”

“I’m just following my GPS” He waves the phone in his hand emphatically for effect.

“Are you sure you didn’t miss a turn or something? Because we’ve driven by this building twice now”

“Do you know how to get there? You have directions?”

He did have me there. I can be rather directionally challenged. And I do live in a place where we have big mountains by which all navigation occurs. Take me away from those and north, south, east and west take  way more brain power to decipher.

“Well, no. I’m not from here. But I’m pretty sure we have to cross the river at some point. And not keep driving by the same building”

“I just follow my GPS! Maybe it re-routing because of traffic”

Now I have spent a lot of time in NYC lately. I know traffic. We were not in traffic.

I decide to play along. But now I am watching his GPS.

We approach the river again. The GPS is very clearly telling us to go left to cross the bridge.

We go right.

And start the circle again.

“Ok. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to go left there, and that’s what the GPS said. I think maybe I should navigate now.” I pull out my phone and start to pull up my maps.

“Ok, fine. You want to do it. Fine”

“While I’m getting this pulled up, why don’t you turn here, and head across the bridge.” This much I can figure out without my map.

So we finally make it across the bridge. Where his GPS and a HUGE sign say to keep right for the airport. Which way do we go?

You got it. Left!

And end up in the line of cars heading into Arlington Cemetery.

I realize I didn’t get a lot of sleep and may have been looking a little rough, but I really thought with a little makeup and some body work that morning, I was still passing for a live person. Not someone who needed to be taken to the cemetery.

And not only that, but my driver is literally just sitting in the line to proceed into the cemetery.

Now I am flabbergasted and more than a little irritated.

“What are we doing?? This is definitely not going to take us to the airport! This is a cemetery”

“I don’t know! I just go where it says! I..”

“Ok, well first, you need to go out that exit right there and get us back on the highway”

At least he seemed to listen to me better than the GPS.

We make it back to the highway.

“Now we just need to follow the signs. They are everywhere!”

Not that I trusted that for a minute. I still told him every turn to take.

“Can I just make one suggestion? If you are wanting to drive an Uber, I would suggest you at least learn the way to the airport.”

“I know the way to the airport!”

Of course he did. My mistake. Cemetery, airport. Easily confused.

Believe it or not, we finally made it to the airport, and I didn’t miss my flight.

If only the story ended there.

I am never anxious to leave feedback for my Uber drivers, and most times never do until the next time I request a car.

Not this time.

As soon as I dropped off my bag, I was on my phone to leave feedback on this ride.

Except my lovely driver hadn’t ended my trip and was still driving around on my dime. Probably trying to find his way out of the airport.

I text him and said “Ummm.. You need to end my trip”

I keep checking. For the next 15 min. Until he finally ended the trip.

And charged me about $10 more than it should have been.

I gave him a very good rating. And left a very long feedback message. My hope is he will not be long for the Uber world.

But despite all this, I am still an Uber lover.