A Business Traveler’s Resolution 2018

A dear, dear friend of mine gave me the great idea of creating a Top Ten list of 2018 Traveler’s Resolutions. Some of them will be specific to helping me grow, and some will be beneficial to all of us who travel on a constant basis. I have learned in my life that it’s the little things in life that go the longest way.

As I always do, I will start with a story.

As I was travelling to Dallas on Thursday, I forgot my new Bath and Body Works lotion was in my in my check on bag (such a rookie move). Ugh! As I saw my little, unnecessary suitcase get pushed off to the rubber gloves attendant checking line, I was so frustrated. I knew what it was. Couldn’t I just take it out and chuck it and move on? Nope, I had to wait and wait instead. As I stood there waiting my turn to have the rubber gloves run all over my undies, I watched as people lost perfumes, lotions, wrapped gifts and hair products that were clearly expensive. Some would shrug their shoulders, some would beg, some would be rude and some cry. It was interesting to watch, as  I sincerely love watching people. The gal just before me was kind of an eccentric chick. You could tell she didn’t travel often, but she didn’t suck at it. She took off her boots knowing that that had the steel rods in the heels, and she didn’t wait until waved into the scanner to go through knowing it was meant to be a fluid flow. Rubber Glove Guy frisked her floppy, little, hippy-looking bag only to find a little, tiny body spray. You could tell it was cheap, and it was mostly gone anyway. He held it up to her and she smiled and said “Hey man, thanks for doing your job and keeping us all just a little bit safer in our times of travel.” She went on her way.

Clearly, it’s this kind of thing that makes me take my AirPods out and attempt to engaged in a conversation. I rushed through my frisking, and did all I could to end up next to her on the train. Seeing as I normally get my way,  this happened. I put my AirPods completely away, and I told her, “Hey listen, I am in an airport about 50% of the days, and I really admire the way you handled losing your spray to security. I have seen so many rude reactions to people who are just doing their job. After all, the rules haven’t changed in about a decade, right?”

The hippie chick went on to tell me a story, albeit short, it was quite inspiring. Immediately when I heard it, I thought to myself, this is awesome. There are only a few people in the world who care enough about other people to do something like this for someone else. I have a handful of friends who fit this category, but not many. I know in 2018, I want to be one of them.

She said, “I didn’t used to be that nice, but you will never believe what happened to me. I was traveling to see my sister in Austin last month because we were working an exhibit. We are both artists, and we were working on a project together. It had been forever since I had traveled, so I absentmindedly, packed my art supply in my large carry on. There was approximately $400 worth of NEW paint in there all of which were over 3oz. in volume. As soon as I saw my bag go in for checking, I knew what I had done, but  I couldn’t miss my flight to go check it because of the exhibit. My heart sunk, my stomach turned over and my eyes filled with the biggest of tears. The man found the paints and asked what I wanted to do. You could tell he felt terrible. I explained that all I could do was leave them. I know for some business travelers, $400 isn’t much, but for me it’s almost a month’s rent, and big hit in my budget.” I stood quietly listening and honestly, I was fighting back tear for myself as she told the story. All I wanted was to have a stack of Amazon cards to dump into her hemp bag.

She went on, “I returned to Atlanta early Monday morning, and saw a TSA gate attendant with a brown grocery bag waiting at the top of the escalator with my name on one of the white boards. As soon as I saw it, I knew. He handed me the bag and smiled. Not only did the agent save my paint, but he went the extra step to find out my return time and wait on me to return them to me. Ever since then, I simply find the best in each situation and realize that they are just doing their jobs. Anyway, this my stop.” Jaw dropped, I said “I am Meredith. Merry Christmas. You just made my day.” She said “Bye Meredith. I am Iris. Merry Christmas to you too.”

Meredith (and hopefully Other Traveler’s) 2018 Travel Resolutions

  1. Carry a stack of $5 Starbucks Gift Cards to give to service men and women and exceptionally caring flight attendants.
  2. Give up an aisle seat for a middle when I can tell it would make the flight extremely more comfortable for them.
  3. Find an opportunity to take a First Class selfie with everyone in it and post on the blog.
  4. Compliment three fellow travelers on every trip, but make them authentic. I know if I take off my AidPods and look and listen, there are plenty of compliments to give.
  5. Sing a song with a fellow traveler in a plane, a train, an Uber or a hotel.
  6. When I see someone crying from leaving someone they love at the airport, remember for a minute, that the airport isn’t always a place of business, but for some, it’s goodbye to their friend, spouse or parent. Perhaps it’s a trip to say goodbye to a lost loved one. Perhaps it’s for a joyous occasion to see a new baby or a wedding, but maybe from someone who can’t conceive or who has been looking for “the one” for years. Take time to look around and be willing to hand over a tissue, be more patient in security or just simply make eye contact and say hello to them. In a nut shell, just slow down for a second.
  7. Snap a photo with a pilot with the cockpit in the background.
  8. Don’t eat more than one pack of Biscoff cookies per week.
  9. Pack my backpack with a small toy or fidget for the crying baby or toddler and give it to them when they can’t be consoled by a parent’s love. When the parent’s look at me and apologizes, simply say “Don’t worry. I get it. You’re doing a great job at the hardest job on Earth.”
  10. Always leave an individually wrapped Lysol wipe in the seat behind me for the next person so that they may “Always Clean Their Tray Table”.

Cheers to great trips, fun people, time with girlfriends on the weekend, new stories, and clean tray tables in 2018! Thanks for following!

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A Major Award- Miss Universe

Hotel Bars: This could be a blog all on it’s own. I do hotel bars completely opposite as I do life. For life, I am extra social. I don’t really need or desire “me time”, and I believe “me time” is also referred to as sleep. In social situations, I am normally the organizer and planner, and there is no shortage of wine intake or fun. For some reason, in hotel bars, I am the total opposite. There are several reasons I think that I am this way.

  1.  I love watching the night unfold as others come in and out and slug martinis and cabernet after work. Over the course of four hours, that gets pretty funny.
  2. Typically, I have work to do that I would prefer to knock out when I am on the road rather than at home.
  3. I don’t want to be one of the stars in the show mentioned in #1.

With all that being said, when I am in a hotel bar, I always find the corner either next to the service bar or on the opposite side. Whether or not I have work to do, my laptop is ALWAYS in front of me and my earbuds are always in. I don’t know why, but it’s just the way I roll in hotel bars. Sure, I could do room service and work in my room but I have a screaming aversion for popcorn ceilings and ambient light. More on that on www.MeredithisExtraWeird.com (kidding, that is not a website, but a true statement nonetheless).

Now on to the story… When I travel to Pleasanton, home of my work’s corporate headquarters, I always stay my last night in the SF Marriott by the airport. It is my favorite airport because they have great food and the best views of planes taking off and landing over the bay. It has a HUGE lobby bar full of corporate workers, families and international travelers. It kind of reminds me of the SkyClub on Terminal E in the Atlanta Airport. It was a Thursday Night, and I was settled in to my corner. Well on this memorable Thursday, my normal “I have no desire to talk to you social clues” were not working. I spotted this guy from across the bar looking my way, and then he started to stumble over. Unfortunately my corner seat had an open bar stool next to it. Ugh. This dude was smashed.  I am not talking about chatty and liquid confidence smashed. I am talking about offensive and sloppy smashed. This is probably better for me because I am much better at being mean to sloppy drunk people than chatty drunk people.

“Hey thereyoulooksbeaubeautiful in your flowugh dress,” he said to me while leaning into my space. “Letstalktoeach other and close work top laptop.” He then shut my laptop. Bad move Sloppy Joe. I bowed up a bit, and verbally keyed him into my social cues. I was quite abrasive, and if you have ever crossed my condescendingly raging path before, you’ll know it’s not a fun place to be. Sloppy Joe continued. The situation escalated. I put my headphones back in, grabbed my laptop and moved to the other side of the bar. He followed. I chose to ignore him from here on out. He didn’t choose to stop. The bartender took his drink and closed his tab. Sloppy Joe hated that. He went off the handle. He screamed to the bartender “Are you seriously taking my drink? I am just trying to talk to this hot bitch.” Of course I chimed in letting him know that he needed to work on his charm. He didn’t like that either. He reached over and grabbed my wine, letting the bartender know that if I took his, he was drinking mine. At this point, all I could do is laugh and the huge bar was all engulfed in this scenario. Moments later, the cops came and he earned a nice escort back to his hotel room.

Whew! When this ended, the bartender inevitably brought me a new unSloppy Joed chardonnay, granted me 2,500 free Marriott points, and I attempted to slip back into my reclusive hotel bar world. No such luck.

I turned to my left and there stood the nicest man, Chris Kyriaki. After some research I have found, that he is a legit dude who crowns people around the world for random reasons. Feel free to find him on social media. He is a stud. He had experienced the whole situation with Sloppy Joe, and he said that based on my response, I had earned “Miss. Universe- Kyriaki,” and with much ceremony, he presented me a sash and a crown to recognize the new honor. As much as I wanted to smash my face into my  laptop, go upstairs and fall asleep staring at popcorn ceilings, I decided the world was telling me to reload. I shut my laptop, loaded it in my backpack and enjoyed the evening with my new title and my new found friends. It was nice to feel like a wildly undeserving and made up princess for a day. Oh the people we meet and the things we do.

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Cheers to hiding behind laptops, but also shutting them down from time to time. Remember, always clean your tray tables. Happy New Year my friends!

 

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

One day I realized that my blog posts might actually be more about me and my personality (um how do I say this nicely) ”quirks.”  So a friend offered to pen an autobiography.  We’ll call her Debbie because she nailed it like Dallas. I can’t believe how well she knows me or maybe I am just that obviously weird.

I follow my own (kinda crooked) arrow.

I started this blog because I notice things like how Holden was observant to the world around him.  I find humor and wonder in the goings on of every day.  I love people and their nuisances.  However, I’m also self-aware enough to know that my “observations” could also be a by-product of my OCD. I think I’m a bit OCD but not the kind where people say they have OCD instead of just calling themselves what others call them; anal.  Is asking for an airline blanket to be able to put your backpack and shoeless feet on anal or OCD?  Sure, some people make their hotel bed (only on an upper level floor – not a bed in a ground level room with exterior doors and definitely not in a room with adjoining doors) before the cleaning crew visits but do they also clean the shower, wipe down the toilet, recreate the first tissue box tissue pretty poof and then check all that three times before leaving the room?

So here are a couple of details about little ‘ole me.  Yep, I’m kinda little.  Sometimes I need help hefting my suitcase into the overhead bin.  I’m strong but, well, not tall.  And I’m not quite that ‘ole yet.

I was raised in the south, close knit family and all which accompanies that.  I think nowadays it’s called dysfunctional.  My people owned a meat and three in Bodunk, North Carolina.  My waistline didn’t like it but the primary recipe ingredient growing up was Crisco, we are talking white gravy-white biscuit-deep fat fried southern.   I grew up with what I like to call three brothers but technically only one pain in the neck of a brother and two similar cousins, so I was a bit of a tomboy.  “Hey watch this! Ouch!” was my motto growing up. I still got that attitude. By the way when you lose at anything in my family you will get heckled by goat sounds coming from the mouths of all of them so I’m now a tad bit competitive.

I used to be kinda big, um lb number started with a “2” at some point, but I’m not anymore.  That experience has shaped me (smaller dresses means more of them, neatly, in my suitcase next to my travel steamer) and gave me insight into the adage, “everybody’s going through something.” So I like to think it also helped me to develop, at least my old weight’s worth, in empathy awareness.

I’ve been lucky to have a bunch of life experiences from surfing on the coast while getting a couple of college degrees to being a ski bum in CO.  That has helped me become a gal who likes steak tartare and Russian River Valley chards (I do like the wines) as much as chicken wings.  But I don’t eat chicken wings so much anymore because we have some chickens in our backyard at our house, you know the kinda house with the fence in the front yard?  I love my chickens but I also love that we are five minutes from a metropolitan area where I can play tennis in a competitive league and whoop some stay at home mom ass.  My friends give me a bit of grief every occasionally.  I buy cute tennis outfits and then get on the court and grunt when I serve.  But, in my defense, it takes a lot of might for a short gal to get the ball over that net.  Some of that grief from my friends also comes from belting out Patsy Cline tunes when I get a little tipsy. “Tipsy” is what us Southern gals call drunk.

My favorite TV show is Jeopardy.  I kinda got a thing for Alex Trebeck, c’mon who doesn’t like an ageless, witty, sometime mustachioed Canadian? I love being able to answer all those questions in the comfort of my own home where people don’t think I’m showing off by being a smarty pants, I just like the game of it all.

While I used to be all about hemmed jean shorts, some kind of athletic sandal with unnecessary amounts of Velcro and shaved bangs (thank Heavens I was funny otherwise I would have had zero friends) I’m now as comfortable in an Ann Taylor Loft suit in a boardroom as I am getting spider bites planting peonies in my yard.  One day, I’ll write about the time my finger swelled up so big from a spider bite I had to visit an urgent care directly after getting off the plane and the 67 year old urgent care doctor insisted on giving me a ride in his Subaru to my hotel all the while explaining to me the virtues of dream catchers and zodiac signs.

My work takes me all over the country where I give presentations to a bunch of guys in suits in boardrooms but I also have audiences of people with their “feet on the street.”  My favorite parts of my job are working with my team and helping to try to craft creative, audience specific, presentations and messaging.

I travel so much I’m referred to as “Norm” in the Sky Club, Baggage Claim Carousel B Restaurant, every Marriott lobby bar,…….you get the point.  My life experiences and my desire to escape a little bit, I don’t have the attention span to read novels, compels to me write this blog.

And remember, ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES.

Backpack on a blanket- come on!

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