Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Ahhhhh. The summer travel season. Full flights. First-time fliers. Extreme heat in the greenhouse that is our concourse at O'Hare. Thunderstorms. Infinity small children.
It's glorious. In the completely seniority based system that is working for an airline, you probably have to have 35-40 years with the company to have a vacation in the summer. The senior peeps HATE to work in the summer. Why? It's way harder. But it shouldn't have to be!
Here is my top ten list of things anyone can do to make traveling easier:
1. IF YOU NEED IT, BRING IT YOURSELF
This is my golden rule of travel. Don't ask me if we have pretzels. The little monitor that was in the gate room told you that the service would be beverage only. We don't have free food anymore on most airlines (hell, US Airways was charging for cokes for awhile there!). Please also don't tell me you NEED a blanket. First of, the airline blankets in economy class are NASTY, but that's a whole 'nother rant. Secondly, if you NEEDED it, you would have brought your own. The same goes for a cooler for your insulin, a whole bottle of water, a microwave for your baby's bottle, pillows for your aching back and toys/cards for your children. And when I tell you, politely, that we don't have what you supposedly "NEED", don't roll your eyes at me. I'm not being rude, I frankly just don't have it. I will do my best to help your situation but airplanes don't come stocked with fridges, microwaves, and endless supplies of everything.
2. NEVER EVER EVER TRAVEL WITH A BABY (or multiple children) BY YOURSELF
Seriously people, don't do it. Find a way and bring a friend/parent/spouse/whoever. I am not kidding when I tell you I can't step off the plane to help you fold down your stroller while holding your child and the 32 bags you decided not to check. It's FAA rules, baby. It may be harsh, but I'm telling you these things for your own good. Bring someone with you. You will thank me later. I could go into greater detail about how you should never travel with a baby, period and expose them to the myriad of disease available aboard an aircraft, but I'm really trying to be less judgmental about this.
3. IF YOU CAN, JUST CHECK YOUR BAGS
99.999% of the time, they don't lose your luggage. If you can, just check it. Don't try to pack for a 10 day trip (because in fact, most people pack what they need for about 6 months instead of 10 days) in a carry on bag. Which leads me to...
4. YOU PACKED IT, YOU STOW IT
Another little gem that I'm not kidding about. I cannot help you with your carry-on bag. First of all, if you need me to "help" you with it, it's probably way too heavy. I'm also not really tall enough to stow my own sparsely packed bag, but at least if I hurt myself doing that, the airline will take care of me. We were expressly told about 600 times in training not to ever pick up anyone else's bag since we are not eligible for occupational injury coverage if we get hurt. I'm sorry, but my meager paycheck is more valuable to me than helping you with your way too heavy bag. Harsh, but it's the way it is. However, I will be more than happy to gate check your bag that is either too large or too heavy for the overhead bins. (Sidenote: if you bring on two huge bags or more than two bags, I will be so angry at both you and the gate agent for allowing you to board with your grotesque amount of stuff.)
5. IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH FIDO, LEAVE HIM IN HIS BAG/KENNEL
It's great that you think Fido or Fifi or Barney the cat is the cutest, best pet in the world and want to show him/her off. It's unfortunate that he/she hates being "all cooped up" for hours, but remember, YOU did this to your pet when you chose to bring them onboard. Take them to a vet, get them a tranq pill, and LEAVE THEM IN THE DANG BAG.
(I once had a flight where this crazy lady actually took her dog into the lav where he poo-ed on the floor. We don't have the capability to clean feces up onboard so we have to lock off that lav for the remainder of the flight. As if we didn't already have lines at every bathroom anyway. Thanks, lady. You officially earned your idiot card.)
6. WHEN THE FLIGHT GETS DELAYED PLEASE DON'T ASK ME ABOUT YOUR CONNECTING FLIGHT EVERY 5 MINUTES
So important for so many reasons. First of all, you probably booked your flight on hotwire.com where they love to provide people with 15 minute connection times. Laughable! Second, unfortunately, I don't have a super secret computer in the back galley where I can email the gate of your next flight and have them "hold the plane" (btw, we RARELY hold planes anyway). Try to sit there and relax for the remainder of the flight. There is not a whole lot we can do while we're still in the air. I'll be happy to take your credit or debit card and bring you a vodka tonic if that's what you need to relax.
7. USE THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT CALL BUTTON WISELY
Please don't ring it 2.5 seconds after the captain has just made an announcement to the effect of "Flight Attendants, be seated." That means it's going to be bumpy and I'm most likely not going to disobey the captain to get you another glass of water that you can spill all over yourself in turbulence. This also goes for 2.5 seconds after take off or before landing. I need to be seated for those important things too. And if the button is on your arm rest and you are pushing the one with the person on it and there's an annoying bell ringing over and over, yep, IT'S YOU! And everyone on the plane is trying to figure out who you are so they can punch you in the face! (This also goes for children who think it's funny to push the button over and over. Newsflash: it's not cute. Make your kid stop it.)
8. PLEASE LEARN HOW TO READ SIGNS BEFORE APPROACHING THE TERMINAL
Guess what people?!? Gate B4 is probably between gate B3 and B5 and you know what else? There are HUGE signs everywhere that tell you how to get to the B gates, C gates, BFE gates, Baggage Claim, usually a few restaurants, Red Carpet Clubs, etc. Just because I'm walking through an airport in my uniform, does not mean that I'm familiar with it or have ever even been there before. The aforementioned eye-roll when I tell you that I'm sorry but I don't know how to find whatever it is you are looking for is totally unnecessary. OH, and there is an airport diagram in the back of that magazine in your seat pocket if you are going to a large airport that you are unfamiliar with. As always, you can take that fabulous magazine with you if you need further reference.
The same goes for baggage claim. As working crew, I can't check my bags (99% of the time I don't know my final destination for the day) so I have no idea what carousel your bags will be appearing on. What I do know is that there will be a LARGE sign that says our flight number and where we came from and it will generally be above the carousel that your bags will appear at. Usually, there are also several announcements made to help with that. It's amazing how that works.
9. PLEASE DO NOT PARTAKE IN THE GALLEY OLYMPICS
This is one of my absolute favorites! Do you know how much of a tool you look like doing your calisthenics in the galley? As soon as you leave, I will be mercilessly making fun of you, especially if it's on a 4 hour or less flight. How do you sit through movies, plays or sporting events (the latter having MUCH less comfortable seating than an airplane)? I've been to many of the above activities and I can't remember seeing anyone doing little exercises during intermission or on a beer/bathroom run. I also will make fun of you because, in general, you are coincidentally the biggest douche-bag on the aircraft. Sit down and take a nap. Flying makes people tired. Trust me on that. You will enjoy your trip much more if you just rest and relax.
10. IF THE SEATBELT SIGN IS ON, YOU SHOULD BE IN YOUR SEAT WITH YOUR SEATBELT FASTENED
Ahh, the best for last. I completely understand your burning need to use the lav. I realize it's been about 25 minutes since you boarded. I can tell that you apparently have a bladder the size of a pea. BUT, I still have to, by law, tell you that the seatbelt sign is on. Because, you know, it's easy to miss the 50 million or so lighted signs all throughout the aircraft. If I don't tell you that it's on and you get hurt, guess who gets in trouble... ME!! Um... no thanks.
SO... here's the deal and I'm gonna make this really simple for you. If I tell you that the seatbelt sign is on, that is your cue to evaluate the necessity of your bathroom needs and either sit down or get in and hurry up. I don't really care for accidents of any kind, even if you are a grown man or woman and should have the ability to know better. Sorry to use a sickening pun, but I know that shit happens. If you gotta go, you gotta go. If you don't, get back in your seat and we'll try again in a few.
NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ask me if you can go to the bathroom or try to have a 10 minute conversation with me about why the captain hasn't turned the sign off yet. I'm just going to keep telling you, "Sir (or ma'am), the seat belt sign is on. Sir, the seat belt sign is on. Sir, the seat belt sign is on." Because that is what I have been trained (legally) to say. It's non-negotiable so I really don't want you to look at me with a puppy dog face and beg to go to the bathroom. I can't assess your urgency, but I'm not going to give you permission. If you need to, get in and take care of business and then get your butt back in your seat.
Basically, if you take one thing away from this rant... ok, I'd rather that you take two things away from this rant...
1. Contrary to the words above, I don't hate my job (most days, anyways). I also don't mind the average traveler. I just believe that...
2. YOU have a HUGE influence on how your airport experience is going to play out. If you prepare well and go into it with a good attitude, you'll be fine. I have limited resources and lots of rules that govern what I can and cannot do. If I tell you no, it's not because I am being cranky, it's because I have a good reason. Of course, no one can control things like weather and planes are exactly like cars and have breakdowns now and again, so the best laid plans are sometimes foiled. But 9 times out of 10, trips are uneventful and, dare I say, pleasant, if you follow my simple rules and just chill out. If it takes a vodka tonic and/or a prescription medication to get you to chill out, I suggest you order one/bring some meds. I realize that not every gate agent or flight attendant is nice, but kill them with kindness. It's harder to be rude to someone with a genuine smile on their face. Good luck and safe summer travels!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Work is mostly an exercise in survival right now because all everyone wants to talk/debate/whine about is the upcoming furloughs and it irritates me. It's going to be a long month until we find out the outcome. So far, not that many people have put in for the voluntary so I am still on the chopping block. I think the bids for voluntary furlough close on the 20th of July so I will be relieved when it's all over and I can start thinking about the potential next chapter in my life.
I haven't been sleeping well lately (what is up with the sun coming up at 4:30 a.m.? NOT COOL!) and my layovers have generally been so short with early morning check-ins. It's made me a little testy and kind of affecting my mood and energy level. I even passed up going to Taste of Chicago last night because after flying all day and taking the train and bus home in the heat, I was just done. Like I said, I'm kinda boring these days!
Marathon training is not going as well as I'd like it to be. I'm having trouble fitting in long runs when I am on layovers because of the time that they take. When I've been home, I just haven't been putting in the time that I need to. Luckily, I started about a week ahead of time so I am not exactly falling behind and all of the shorter runs I'm doing on treadmills at hotels can only help to add mileage for the week. I just need to get focused. We'll be shopping for gyms in July so hopefully that will give me some motivation.
I just need to get through the next five days of working until Sunday when we finally go on our long-awaited trip to Boston. I've been telling Adam that I'd take him pretty much since we met and I promised him a trip to Fenway Park for his birthday (which was in Feb). I think we'll both be antsy all week working but the payoff should be AWESOME! We have rooms at some great hotels and I am super excited to eat a lot, see my family, and do the Boston touristy thing with my first-time visitor!
Friday, June 26, 2009
The ironic thing is that I was thinking about him earlier this week because we were joking back and forth on Facebook about Michael the break dancer from the Bachelorette (he's a tool, but that's beside the point). I was telling Sabrina if he was one of those NYC Subway breakdancers, his song would be P.Y.T. by Michael Jackson. Which is one of his best songs ever! Did you see Shawn Johnson's dance on Dancing with the Stars to that song? It was AWESOME. MJ's music will be forever classics. It always gets people of all ages on to the dance floor. One of my favorite movies of all time, Zoolander, has an awesome scene where Hansel and Derek do a "walk-off" and it's set to Beat It. The gong sounds at the beginning of Beat It, when the male models are warming up always makes me laugh. I love Michael's old school stuff.
May he rest in peace.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Anyhoo, it was still a huge and really hard decision to make and when I was putting my choices into the computer this afternoon, I felt more emotional when I saw the dates on the screen. The scariest part about all of this is that the vast majority of the offered furloughs are going to be for 30 months... 2 and a half years!!! That's longer than I've actually been with the company! Ug. On the bright side, if all works out and I'm able to do other things for the next 30 months, by the time I come back, I will have enough seniority to hold a line every other month and I'd be at almost double my current pay rate! Again, if I get the evil INvoluntary furlough, I get NO seniority accrual, so if I ever get called back, I'd be even worse off than where I am today. I wasn't kidding about it being an overly complicated system. Most times it works though, like last fall when we didn't have to take furlough.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Moving sucks... especially because we got in from Texas late the night before and I had an obnoxious and annoying doctor's appointment the morning we moved. Oh, and neither one of us has a car so we had to rent a mini-van, which gave us only 24 hours to get everything done. AND it rained all day. But it's over now and the only major casualty we had was my couch which did not hold up well in the rain and we couldn't get it up the stairs at Adam's even with assistance from his neighbor.
We bought a new bed, dresser, futon and 2 nightstands from IKEA so we had an assembly party all weekend. For the time being, all of my stuff was in the living room, waiting to be put away. It was a fiasco!
New bed... still in pieces!
Hellacious living room... DO NOT ENTER!
Where is all of this stuff going to go????????!!!!!???????
Guest room, littered with mattresses, junk, futon pieces, the Tivo... what a mess!
As I mentioned before, it was raining... both Thursday and Saturday when we were throwing stuff off the back balcony to the dumpster (which was definitely my favorite part of moving. Adam was freaking out that we'd hit this car that was about 20 feet away, but we weren't really throwing the mattresses, more like dropping them and only from the second floor, but it was AWESOME!). Anyway, it was raining and we were littering the alley with a twin bed, an OLD AS DIRT queen bed, a couch, a dresser and a nightstand. All things were soaked at one point but on Monday morning the last of it, the nasty super old queen bed was finally taken by dumpster divers. My second favorite part of moving involved calling Mom or Adam, whoever was home with me, over to the window to watch these people pack up their treasures. Hilarious.
Ahhh... fresh paint and crisp white linens! Frankly, I didn't really care much about the color of the room. In case you didn't know, Adam is green/red colorblind so those two colors kind of make his eyes hurt so that left me with blue or yellow. Sorry to you, the color orange, but you have already taken over the living room and half of Adam's wardrobe so you were never really a choice. I thought blue would be calming and nice so we set out on a paint adventure. Mom and I walked the 3/4 mile or so to Home Depot to find out that their computer system was down and therefore they couldn't mix paint. On a random note, it's completely scary how dibilitated the cashiers were without their computers. We ended up at this hilarious mom and pop paint store but it caused us to get better quality (same price, woo hoo!) paint that has my mom converted. And the woman paints a lot so I trust her judgment. It's called Devoe if you need a paint recommendation.
Oh yeah... Big ups to IKEA. We LOVE not having the wheels necessary for the top two drawers of our dresser. What we love even more? The fact that you are an HOUR outside the city and we don't have a car. Thanks. A lot. Jerks.
Ah, the futon... so easy to put together... one day this will be our A&M/Virginia Tech room. Let me know if you see any nice maroon throw blankets.
Our bathroom, which we completed about a month ago with our awesome new towels, mats, etc. and our SWEET Chicago "L" train map shower curtain.
Like I said, this place is still a work in progress. I have lots of wall art to hang. But all my stuff is put away so I'm feeling more settled and pretty happy with all the work we've done!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The weekend of May 30-31, we had a wedding on Saturday and a wedding on Sunday. Originally, I don't think Adam wanted to go to both of them but I was convinced it wouldn't be that bad and we RSVP'ed to both of them, as well as registered for the Buckingham Fountain 5K. HUGE mistake! I feel like weddings are happening earlier and earlier these days! When I was little, I remember most weddings starting after 5:00 and receptions going until around midnight. Am I crazy? It seems like with venue conflicts and reception hall time limits that most weddings are starting around 2:00 and becoming an all day affair.
Bottom line was that I completely overbooked our weekend, plus we were an extremely full house because Adam's parents and brother were staying in the city at the condo. Don't get me wrong: I'm so glad that we went to both weddings, but I will be careful in the future to not schedule anything else.
The wedding on Saturday was Adam's cousin and it was about an hour from Chicago in Rockford, IL. We drove out there with his parents and brother and went to the ceremony early to see his grandma. I loved her instantly and she had me in stitches the entire night. The ceremony was in an Asian-themed garden and the reception was at the Rockford Country Club. We had fun dancing around, although I was sort of disappointed because there weren't many other people dancing with us!
The wedding on Sunday was for one of Adam's co-workers. The groom is Jewish and the bride Christian (Catholic maybe?) so they had a Jewish wedding. It was so cool! They did a beautiful job of explaining all of the traditions in their program so we were able to follow along. The groom's step-dad was their officiant. I'm not sure if he's a rabbi or not because the ceremony was in a room at a hotel, but he knew his Hebrew!
The reception was AMAZING! Apparently you get a whole lot more bang for your buck by having a Sunday wedding. It was held at an events hall and the funny thing was that there was another wedding in one of the banquet rooms next to ours. The ladies at our table and I enjoyed smack talking this one chick at the other wedding who had worn a long white dress. Seriously, I kid you not! We had to make sure she was, in fact, not the bride, because her dress was so bad! Women of the world: DO NOT WEAR WHITE UNLESS IT'S YOUR WEDDING. Thanks.
They had the best hors d'oeuvres I have ever had in my life. It was basically some artichoke/cheese dip that had been breaded and fried. In hindsight, I was probably chasing the poor man that had them on his tray because they were SO DANG GOOD (mouth watering now just thinking about them)! The room was lit up beautifully and they had a photo booth, which I've heard about before but never seen at a wedding I actually attended. It was so much fun! The photographer running it had tons of funny props and we had a blast with Adam's other co-workers. Again, I felt like we were the only ones dancing but we still got our groove on and enjoyed ourselves.
Luckily, Adam took Monday off and I didn't end up getting a trip so we were able to sit around on the couch all day and recuperate!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Anyway, I am so bummed because apparently we didn't take very many pictures at Tracee's wedding! And I am not that computer smart so I can't figure out how to get the bootleg versions of her photographer's photos. There are some good ones! So you will just have to do with the few that Charlotte sent me. My camera wasn't charged (and it sucks!) so I left it in Chicago and we kept leaving Adam's at the hotel. UG!
Check out all the sweet signage behind us!! HAHAHA!
Seriously though, it was a really cool bar! We had six drinks and I think the tab was around $10. The bartender was very entertaining and the clientele were everything we'd ever hoped for. We even had to go back for more on Saturday night after the reception!
The wedding was awesome, here is a link to a picture that pretty much sums it up (I am so mad I can't get it to post on here!):
I was excited for Adam to see the reception because he had never been to a Texas wedding before and y'all know we do it a little bit different (dare I say better?) down there! The above picture was during the Grand March, which is one of my favorite wedding traditions. It's an awesome way to get a lot of people out on the dance floor. It was catered by an awesome BBQ place and Vince had a killer groom's cake that was a huge fish (awesome silver scales in the icing) with A&M on it's tail. We had so much fun, danced and laughed a lot and Charlotte and I spent the entire weekend ganging up on our boyfriends together, haha :) Sorry guys!
Congrats to the new Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Price! It was a fantastic weekend!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Yeah, that picture did not come from race day, it was definitely a little bit drizzly and not as pretty out. The race wound around the park and through the museum campus, which was really fun. I was huffing and puffing and thinking about ralphing up my Fudd's the whole time, which infuriated me because I wanted to beat Adam. We finished in 30 minutes, 33 seconds, which means that we kept better than 10 minute mile pace! Remember, I am super slow so it's the little victories that count. We got pretty nice shirts from the race that are made by American Apparel, which is a GREAT store for t-shirts (and 80's Fame-type outfits, if you are in to that sort of thing).
This week also officially marks 16 weeks until the marathon!! I have done absolutely nothing since the beginning of June so it's time to get cracking and get the mileage up. I got some awesome new shoes to break in when we were in San Antonio from my brother's gf's store (Run Wild Sports, it's at the Pearl Brewery so check it out when you go down to get your fresh veggies at the farmer's market!).
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Bad: Having to come home to Chicago to major projects. It took me about five days to actually feel like I had a handle on the organization. It also rained on the two days that we had the actual heavy moving to do. Grrrr weather! I don't want to move again for a LOOOONG, LOOOONG time.
The Ugly: On the way home, I ended up with the very last seat on the last United flight of the day. Since Adam is able to double dip with buddy passes between me at United and his mom at Southwest, he had a better chance than I did to get home on SW later that night. So we said our tearful goodbyes (haha, jk) and I ran onto the plane. I was sitting next to a man that had boarded at the absolute last second and I think he was legally blind. Anyway, like a fool, I got out my iPod for the ride, shoved it in the seat pocket and started reading United's award-winning magazine, Hemispheres (which you are free to take with you, along with the SkyMall catalog, oh how I love inflight announcements and the company propaganda that is the Hemispheres!) since you can't have your music on for take off. The guy next to me started asking if I had been re-routed off of another flight too, I told him that I was actually flying stand -by, which was the reason for my late boarding, which of course led to an "I work for United" diatribe. Turns out he's a super frequent flier. Two hours and ten minutes later, we were finishing our conversation and I got off the plane, sans iPod touch. SADNESS! I will look for it at O'Hare when I go back to work, but I have like a .00004% chance of getting it back. So, I hope that someone from SkyWest Airlines is able to enjoy my sweet and very random taste in music.
Thank goodness I got an iPod shuffle from Adam for Valentine's Day or I'd be totally hosed!!!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I have awesome before (and hopefully soon the after) pictures of the condo that was a complete distaster scene and stories from the trip to Texas. I promise this won't be the lamest blog in the world for much longer.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
On a random note, today, June 4th, is my second anniversary at United. How scary is that? In theory, you would think that with 2 years under my belt I'd be gaining some seniority, but with no one being hired to replace me in the bottom of the pecking order in over a year, I'm moving up the pay scale and not in seniority. But my next paychecks will reflect my moving into the Year 3 pay catagory! Woo hoo!
We are flying Southwest to San Antonio tonight and I CAN'T WAIT to get there. I'll be the pasty "northerner" dripping with sweat and complaining about the insanely hot temperatures (it was about 60 for the high here yesterday, FYI).