Tonight is the last night of being a certain age and moving swiftly into my next year. If you are like me you don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year, it is usually thinking about how old I am getting. I decided that this year I would not move forward until I recognised and appreciated the year that was about to finish. So much has happened in the last 12 months it hardly seems possible it all took place in such a short period of time. Let’s see…four weddings, one wedding announcement, one baby announced and newly arrived, a visit from my Mom and Dad, an incredible trip back to San Diego to see all of our friends, the trip continued to Georgia for one of the aforementioned weddings and a wonderful visit with the happy couple, 4 trips back and forth to Pune India and a whole new world of first time experiences, one high school graduation, the trip of a lifetime, to South Africa, planned and paid for…those were some of the good things but like every year it has had its sad times as well; the loss of my much loved Mother-in-Law, the loss of a friend (way before her time) and the loss of my little Westie (Maggie). Alongside these major life events ran the little things in life; meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones.
It has been a full on 365 days and I didn’t want it to pass by without recognising, appreciating and learning from it before moving on to the next chapter of my journey through life. I hope before your next birthday you can do the same.
If you don’t do a lot of Business travel you are probably thinking how can First and Business Class have any downsides when compared to Economy Class. I think I have mentioned in the past that one unpleasantness when traveling long haul is the odour from flatulent co-travellers.
I now believe I have enough data to draw a scientific link between upper class travel and excessive amounts of intestinal gas. The cause of this is modern cabin design. You may be asking what is my proof? Well, after experiencing numerous (too many to count or remember) Economy Class trips and comparing that to the multiple Upper Class trips over a 21 year period I think I have a good data set to work with.
Here is my hypothesis: when travelling long haul in an upper class cabin travellers have room to stretch out enough to sleep. 21 years ago upper class travel was more specious but you were mainly sitting in a reclined position with extra leg room. However, with the modern design of upper class cabins, which allows you to lay fully in the prone position, people are much more comfortable and can actually fall deeply asleep. This combined with the pressure in the aircraft creates excessive amounts of intestinal gas.
The difference in Economy Class is that you spend the flight with your knees wrapped around your ears trying to drown out the sound of the wailing toddlers and grumpy pre-teens “who are bored and didn’t want to go on this dumb trip in the first place.” So, getting yourself in a position physically or emotionally for sleep is damned impossible! Hence intestinal wind stays put.
Whereas; if you are in upper class and are the type of person who likes to read or watch movies before attempting sleep you will no doubt be subjected to wafts of odorous fumes from sleeping passengers.
Conclusion, foul bodily odours are more pervasive in upper class cabins lending a smelly musk to the entire experience.
Have you ever wondered how people tend to lose just a single shoe? We can’t blame the washing machine or dryer in this instance like you can for socks. On our recent trip to Rhodes, Greece Pam and I saw a plethora of single shoes, these lost (soles) seemed to be everywhere but were missing their (sole mates). Okay I promise that was the last pun. But seriously how does this happen? A single flip flop might be explained by someone losing one in the water. A lost tennis shoe is puzzling but the best one of all was a lost hiking boot. Yes we saw one hiking boot with no laces. You could accidentally lose a tennis shoe out of your beach bag but if you were hiking how did you get home? Where did your laces disappear to and where are you now, wondering around wearing one hiking boot? Very strange indeed.
I am travelling to India tonight for work, upon arriving to the airport I find out that I had been upgraded to First Class. In all of my years of traveling I have only flown First Class once and it was a short domestic flight which just meant bigger seats. Never have I enjoyed First Class on a long haul flight so after what can only be described as a tremulous few weeks I welcomed the the upgrade with all of the joy of a kid at Christmas who just got the one gift they were sure Santa would say was one step too far.
I was checked in at the extra special secluded check in desks which led on to the new extra special Security checkpoint. I was then advised by a hush toned lady that I could proceed to the First Class lounge and yet another surprise, my upgrade included a lounge upgrade to the distinguished Concorde Room (which I never knew existed). It was a lovely, dimly lit area with fireplaces and cosy sitting areas. After a light dinner I boarded the plane. For the first time I got to turn left instead of right at the cabin door. I was escorted to my seat in “row 2” which was actually totally on its own with the nearest neighbours shielded from direct sight lines.
I was handed over from my seat escort to Paul the Cabin Manager who informed me I could have whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. It was lovely to hear but at that very moment the one thing I wanted more than anything else Paul could not provide, that was my lovely wife to share this experience with.
The Business Class services I have been fortunate enough to experience have very good so I could not imagine how much more could be done to enhance the journey. My area could only be d scribed as a mini room instead of the Business Class pod I had in the past. There was seating for two, in case I was expecting a visitor to drop by. I had my own wardrobe, was given pyjamas, a wash bag and noise cancelling headphones. Wow, I was impressed!
It is now time to take off so I will finish my 18 year old whisky and enjoy my flight to the fullest because once I’m off the airplane I will be in the land of over stimulation. Never ending throngs of people,traffic, car horns, vibrant colours, incredible food and light very people. See you on the other side!
Today I felt as if I was part of a lab experiment conducted to test the human threshold for the number of meetings sustainable in one day, without totally losing one’s mind. We have all had days with marathon meetings or even back to back meetings that test the capacity and robustness of your bladder. Today took things to an all new, almost unnatural, level. My day started at 07:00 and my first meeting at 08:00 just like every day however today once finished with the normal 3 meetings on the trot routine there was no break, then before I knew it 1:00 came and went with me still in meetings. By this time I was beginning to wonder if going to the loo while on mute was even remotely acceptable or professional. By 1:20 with an afternoon of more meetings ahead a miracle happened and my meeting ended 10 minutes early. My bladder was overjoyed! I even had time to get to the canteen for coffee before the afternoon barrage started. Mercifully my last meeting ended at 6:30. I’m not sure if I passed the endurance tests because by this stage I was babbling incoherently!
This week I have had a new experience and one I do not wish to ever repeat. As humans we have evolved over millennia yet we still have a couple anatomical oddities, one the appendix, two the gallbladder. It is the latter that I had an unwelcome experience with. One has to ask why do we still have this organ that we can function normally without. Yes, it has a job to do but the liver is pretty good at holding its own, in the bile production stakes, considering we no longer have a need to digest such things as roots and bark. Yet the gallbladder remains and for many of us becomes an evil enemy causing literal gut wrenching agony. It is mostly due to these little stones made up of cholesterol and other biological goodies, that decide they fancy a vacation to another part of the body. So they pack their bags are hit the road. Their first stop is the bile duct and for some of our bulkier tourists this is a very tight squeeze. So tight in fact that it creates, for the owner of the gallbladder, excruciating pain that lasts over several days. Finally, when the human owner is ready to perform self surgery, using a steak knife and a hand held mini vac, the little bastards squeeze through and are gone on their merry way. The relief is tremendous, you come out of this pain filled fog back into the sunlight. Then it hits you, what if the remaining gallstone population decide to move on. The thought sends tendrils of dread through me. I can honestly say that never before have I wanted someone to cut me open and rummage around in my abdomen but the thought of those little bastards coming back makes it sound like a reasonable idea.
As it is a new year, new beginnings and all that I thought it was time to share my new most embarrassing moment. It has taken me the best part of two months to get up the courage to share this with you. Here goes…in late November I started a new job and on my first day with the company I had to go into London to the Head office before going off to the client site where I was to be based. So, you know how awkward first days can be, it feels like you are the new kid in class. It is one of those things you just want to get through. Well picture this, I arrive on time all ready to go and I am told I will be meeting with the Operations Manager to get all the paperwork etc. in order. After a few minutes this very nice lady comes to get me and we go into a glass walled meeting room, not quite a fish bowl but close from the middle of the wall to the floor the glass was frosted.
We get started going through the various bits of paperwork as she is explaining things to me I get this sinking feeling. Not emotionally, I mean sinking as if I seem to be shrinking away from the table. I start to think “what is going on, am I having some strange panic attack? No, that can’t be it because I’m not nervous in the least. What the Hell can this be?” The whole time this is going through my head I am continuing to feel like I’m getting smaller. Then all of a sudden bam! I’m falling backwards, but not far off the ground, now I’m somersaulting backwards onto the floor!! I am mortified. The poor Operations Manager jumps out of her chair to help me up looking panicked now herself. Asking if I’m okay. I was fine physically but unbelievably embarrassed and still unsure of what happened. When I unceremoniously got back to my feet, I looked at the chair that only moments ago was fine but now is flattened to the floor. It was kind of an S design that obviously my ass was too much for! Then I remember feeling this flood of relief as I realised the frosted glass had saved me from office wide humiliation. I have since learned that particular chair had been sidelined and bound for the bin that coming weekend. (I still think I just squashed the poor thing.) There you have it, my new most embarrassing moment.
I just heard an advert for Peppa Pig World that if you buy a ticket during a limited time you can get the second day free. I have a couples questions here; when they say the second day is free do they mean real days or Peppa Pig days? I ask this because Peppa’s days appear to be about 6 minutes long. Any parent or grandparent who has been subjected to Peppa Pig knows this. My next question is why? Why would any sentient being want to endure a second day? 6 minutes long or not!
I know the kids adore it, not quite sure why but I can confirm that my grandkids never and I do mean never hit the Peppa Pig wall. They can watch the same episode over and over with as much glee and joy as the previous one millionth viewing. How this is possible is beyond me but hats off to the creators of Peppa because they must know more about how our kids brains work than we do. Example, they can watch Peppa endlessly without complaint but get them to come away from the telly to do some other activity and immediately you hear “I’m bored!” You want to shout “you won’t know what bored is until you have kids and the Peppa Pig of their day is driving you nuts!” I realised my Peppa threshold was once and truly breached when I heard myself practically begging my 4 year old granddaughter to watch Doc McStuffins just for a change!!
As our project team continues to grow we are getting introduced to an even more diverse group of people and with that some new behaviours. As I promised you I would do I’m keeping you informed of the very best of them. One of my current favourites, which I have yet to personally experience, but have had been fully briefed on by someone who has, is the low volume murmur. My colleague/informant started hearing this quite yet persistent noise. At first she thought it was some background noise from the office equipment. Then realised no one was using the printer or other devices. She looked around to see if anyone else was reacting as if they too heard something. Nope, everyone was head done, hard at work. Soon after it dawned on her that one difference was that she had a new desk neighbour. By this time the noise was starting to burrow its way into her brain. So, she slyly watched the new arrival and saw her lips moving and could hear the “h
Now at least she had confirmation that she was not losing her mind, she felt marginally better. This lasted for a total of 2 minutes because now that she knew what is was and where it was coming from it was no longer possible to tune out. The questions started to bubble to the surface of her mind in rhythm to the “hmmmmmumm” “Is this noise because she is reading and thinks she is doing it silently?” Could she be humming the most tuneless song known to man?” “Or is she on a mission to drive me insane before the end of her first day?” At this point my informant could no longer suffer alone so she quietly started asking others sitting in the general vicinity if they too had noticed the additional undertone that had emerged. Of course she had to do this using messaging technology so as not to make the new person uncomfortable. It was soon confirmed that several other people were on the brink of migraines from trying to first figure out what the noise was and second trying to block it out. All had been extremely unsuccessful in the latter!
For clarification this started on Monday of this week, we are now at Wednesday and no one has broached the subject with the murmurer. The British politeness gene is still in clear evidence in our office. If this was happening near me I would have had to take swift action. Newbie or not something would have been said or duct tape may have been deployed as a solution!
I know the title of this post is a bit befuddling but I hope it will all become clear. This past weekend is a great case for my question. I attended a family wedding on Saturday and it was fantastic. Everyone did something to make the day a success. Whether it was preparing food, decorating the village hall (which was the venue), creating flower arrangements etc. it all came off without a hitch even the weather did its part to make the day perfect.
It was back to work this morning so that meant an early night last night to be ready to tackle the week ahead which I knew would have its own set of challenges.
I had a feeling when I woke up this morning and found a cold sore that had developed overnight, that it might not be a great day. My taxi was booked for 7:00 a.m. and it arrived promptly giving me hope that maybe I was wrong and cold sore was not an omen for the remainder of my day. I ensured that the driver knew the route I wanted to take and mentioned that I might close my eyes for awhile (hoping this would say) “I’m too tired to chat”. However that message did not get across on the first attempt. An hour later as we approached a queue of traffic I took my opportunity to shut my eyes for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes and looked around I got the distinct feeling we were not where we were supposed to be. I caught sight of a mile marker post just as it flashed by and I thought for sure it said M40 (we were meant to be on the M42. ) Even if you don’t know specifically where I’m talking about I’m sure you get the point I was not on the correct motorway! I waited for the next junction sign to make certain I was right before speaking. Sure enough the next sign comes up and I now know I’m in the wrong place.
I said to the driver “we are on the M40 not the M42″ he said ” are we?” Which worried me even more. I wondered if he too closed his eyes for a while! He apologised profusely but the damage was done. That error added another hour and a half to my journey getting me to work at 10:45 instead of 9:00’ish.
Finally I arrive at work and there are 3 people waiting to speak to me. This was another bad sign. After these 3 impromptu meetings one of which contained more bad news I returned to my new desk (yes yet another seating change on Friday) to find out they did not set up my equipment properly and my laptop refused to play nice with my mouse or my monitors. Getting itself in such a tizzy that it eventually “blue screened” technical term for “going belly up!” I had to raise a HelpDesk call then wait for IT to arrive. In the end it was 12:05 when I was finally able to log in and start to work.
So back to my question “why does Yang have to follow Ying so quickly?” I had a beautiful weekend (the Ying) then the Yang (my rubbish day today) could not wait to balance the scales.
The good news is I will always remember the wedding and will completely forget the rubbish day.