Friday, November 9, 2012

The reluctant traveler

I have friends who love to travel. When asked what they would do if they had six months left to live, they answer "Travel". To which I reply, "What would be the point?" The older I get, the more important comfort is, and traveling is frequently not comfortable.

I am old enough to remember when flying was fun. You could not even get into the terminal without a "skycap" checking your bags. There was no gauntlet of security to run. Friends and family could accompany you to the gate to wish you farewell and greet you at the gate upon your return. Meals, such as they were, were served on all but the shortest flights, and even those provided a whole can of soda instead of a token amount in a plastic cup.

Ticketing was much looser then, too. On one trip home from college, my flight was canceled. The crowd at the airline's ticket counter was large and getting ugly. I carried my ticket to an empty ticket counter of a rival airline and was able to exchange it for a new one routing me through a different city, no extra charge or fees. Another time, during the oil crisis of '73-'74, I returned from abroad to discover I had missed my connecting flight because the schedules had changed. This was in New York. Someone suggested I take a bus to the other airport and catch a commuter shuttle to Boston, which I did. The stewardess (and back then they were all stewardesses) collected tickets only after everyone was on board. My ticket for the canceled flight was accepted, no questions asked.

Ah, the good old days! If Romney/Ryan wanted to take us back to the '50s, they should have focused on making travel fun again. And think of the jobs that would be recreated: skycaps, ticket agents, baggage handlers!

The business trip I mentioned in my last post held the potential for becoming the trip from hell. When I booked it, the plan was to fly out a few days early so I could rent a car and go visit my dad. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but between Hurricane Sandy and Winter Storm Athena, the whole enterprise was in jeopardy. I imagined all the possible snafus that could occur: I would get to Detroit but no farther, I would get to Westchester but there would be a problem with the rental car, I would get the rental car but get stuck white knuckling it to Boston, upon returning the car I would not be able to get gas for it, I would return to New York to find out the training had been canceled, the hotel where I was supposed to stay in White Plains would have no power (they were not answering the phone Friday morning, so yes, this was a real possibility), hotel rooms would be in such short supply I would be asked to bunk with an out-of-state utility worker, the flight home would be canceled, etc. High anxiety.

Other than not visiting my dad, the cancellation of the trip has been a boon: I was taking today as a vacation day anyway, so now my sweetie and I are going on a ramble, I was able to reclaim the time slot for my Saturday massage (which I really need after all this stress), and my daughter and I can now attend "Fiddler on the Roof".

Me so happy!

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