Today Sucks 3


I’m typing this blog post on a borrowed computer while I wait at the Salt Lake City airport. It’s entitled: “Today Sucks.”

The sucking started when I was awakened at 4:00am by the alarm panel in my Utah house beeping every few seconds to report a communications error (like a smoke alarm with a dead battery, but with more frequent beeps). Really, alarm system? REALLY? You needed to tell me that at 4:00am, instead of 7:00am when I normally wake up?

Next, on my drive to the Salt Lake City Airport along I-15 to fly back home to Seattle, I noticed an endless stream of taillights ahead of me. Traffic between me and my destination (a mere 26 miles away from that point) was a parking lot. After exiting the freeway and taking massively clogged back roads to the airport, it still took me 2 hours to drive what normally takes me 45 mins.

Because of the delay, I missed my flight. I had received a free upgrade to first class on the 4:45pm flight, but now I have to wait here at the airport for over three hours until the 8:11pm flight. When I tried to check in at a kiosk at 4:30pm (I had to check bags with Christmas presents in them, so even though I made it to the airport before my flight, it wasn’t with enough cushion to check bags), the computer wouldn’t read any of my credit cards to auto-load my itinerary. When I finally dug out my Delta SkyMiles card to type in my SkyMiles number manually, I misstyped it twice before getting it right… and receiving a pop-up message that I “need to talk to an agent.” Sucky.

There were more people than usual waiting for the Delta SkyMiles Medallion desk (I’m clearly not the only person affected by the traffic accident). I finally got to speak with an agent, and she put me on the later flight. But no first class seats were available, so I’ve been assigned seat 27B… as in all the way back in row 27… in a middle seat. So now I have to wait an extra 3+ hours to fly home to my smokin’ hot wife whom I haven’t seen all week, and if my luck keeps up I’ll probably have to sit between a crazy cat lady in 27A and a Jehovah’s Witness in 27C.

For the first time in years, I didn’t pack my laptop in my backpack for this trip. That was stupid, and it sucks. I am working on a major project that is set to launch any day now, and I could have put this 3.5 hour wait to good use. Then I found out that Google is providing free WiFi on flights between now and the end of the year, so I could have worked an additional 2 hours during the flight. That’s extremely frustrating.

But then, the suckiness started to fade. After I sat down for a couple of minutes and stopped seething, I noticed the intricate harmonies of my favorite Bach piece playing on the Muzak: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. Take a listen as you keep reading. Seriously. It will help the rest of this blog post make more sense.

It really is inspired, and inspiring. It immediately calmed me, and in the calm I began to realize a few things.

First, I should be grateful that I even own a house in Utah that I need an alarm to protect. Many people around the world (and even here in our own country) don’t have a house at all, and I’m fortunate to have a few. I’m fortunate that the alarm company tests its equipment regularly and discovered the communications error with my system so that it could be addressed (which it was later in the afternoon) and my house protected.

I should be grateful that I wasn’t involved in the accident that caused the traffic jam on I-15. I searched online and found that a semi-truck tipped over near Midvale and crushed a car, injuring two men and killing a 24 year-old woman.

I should be grateful that I was able to get off the freeway and navigate my way to the airport, even if traffic was bad on the arterial routes. At least it was moving.

I should be grateful that American Express gives me free Delta Platinum Medallion status, so I don’t have to wait in the extra-long lines when I check baggage, and bypass the long security lines at the airport – just like I did today.

I should be grateful that there even was a later flight, and that were was any room available at all on it, whether in first class or the very last row where they always stick the screaming babies. The world is currently celebrating the season of the birth of a baby whose mother couldn’t find any room in a downtown hotel so she was forced to deliver him in the middle of the night in the barn out back and let Him sleep in a feeding trough. I’ll probably live through flying coach.

I should be grateful that I have access to the Delta Sky Club airport lounge, where I can enjoy a quiet atmosphere away from the bustle of the terminal, sit in comfortable seats, enjoy free WiFi, drink free drinks and eat free snacks, and use their free computers so I can write on my blog. I should also be grateful when the counter agent in the lounge gives me a discount coupon for a decent restaurant at the airport (“It’s the staff’s favorite,” she informs me), and grateful still when she notes that row 27 on this flight is a rarity: an exit row (complete with extra legroom) with seats that actually recline, and that the two finalists for the Miss. Sweden competiton are sitting in seats 27A and C (ok, I admit I made that last part up – it’s probably still the cat lady and the Jehovah’s Witness… or more likely TWO cat-owning Jehovah’s Witnesses with colic-ridden babies on their laps).

I should be grateful that I even get to partake in the miracle of human flight! (Watch this video if you don’t get that reference.) Just a couple hundred years ago, families spent months in covered wagons or pulling handcarts through snow just to journey a few thousand miles West, losing family members to disease and exposure along the way. I get to cover hundreds of miles in relative comfort, and then complain when the flight ends so quickly that I miss the ending of the movie on the little TV that folds out of my seat.

I should be grateful that I even have a smokin’ hot wife to fly home to, who likely has some sort of baked goods sitting on a cooling rack in a warm and well-lit kitchen, rather than walking into a cold and empty house. Lots of people are alone this Christmas, and nobody should be.

I should be grateful that I have any employment whatsoever. Too many people in the current economy are without work and worry about how they are going to pay for their basic needs. Even if I can’t spend these few hours working on my business, I’m grateful for a dedicated business partner who is still using these hours to our mutual benefit.

I should be grateful for free Internet access so that these 3.5 hours fly by. I should be even more grateful for the Internet in general, since without it, I’d be forced to get a job where I actually have to get my hands dirty.

I should be grateful for the musical genius that is Johann Sebastian Bach.

And I am grateful… for all of these things and more.

I need to log off now so I can use this discount coupon to buy food, for which I will be grateful that someone else cooked and brought to me, instead of me having to go out into the jungle to kill, skin, butcher, cook, and serve it.

And I also need to practice my Swedish.

Just in case.

Update: As it turns out, there were a few unassigned  upgrade spots left, so I’m grateful to be sitting in first class seat 1C right now as I fly home and sitting next to a fellow BYU alum named Mark who writes this blog and who (as far as I know) owns no cats.

  • mere

    You make me tear up when you write like that
    love ya

  • Steve,

    I really enjoy reading your posts about all topics. I have always loved the technology-driven pieces to satisfy my inner geek needs. However, this entry truly resonated with me as I am much more emotional than logical at times.

    Gratitude is tough to muster up when the reign of minor misfortunes cascade upon you. You captured it very eloquently here how we all need to remember how fortune has smiled on us frequently and blessed us with an amazing life and times.

    Take care, my friend. Well written and well said.
    Chris

  • Crista

    STILL trying to pick myself up off the floor….you totally crack me up. And the gratitude part at the end is a nice reminder of the fact that things could always be worse. Nice job. 🙂