Sunday, February 27, 2011

Traveling corner to corner

Heading home to Chicago today after a week in California.  Great week for work, and it's been awesome to have my family along with me for the ride.  We fell in love with San Francisco!  What an amazing city!

This trip started last weekend when I was in Burlington, VT.  But last Sunday morning, I wasn't only coming home from VT, I would be traveling from Burlington, VT all the way to Los Angeles, CA.  My itinerary looked like this:

Fly Delta from Burlington, VT to JFK in NY.
Fly Delta from JFK to O'Hare in Chicago.
Fly Southwest from Midway in Chicago to LAX in Los Angeles.

The total trip would be over 3,000 miles, traveled in the span of around 14 hours.

What could go wrong?

My 9:00am flight from Burlington was delayed till 10:00am.  It was only a 45min flight to JFK, and since my next flight didn't take off till 11:50am, the delay wasn't that big of a deal.  I checked the Delta phone app before we took off in Burlington to check the status of my next flight.  It showed that my 1hr 45min flight from Burlington would put me in past 11:50am, so they rebooked me for a 4pm flight to Chicago.

WHAT?!?!?!   My flight was only going to be 45min!!!

Seeing as my flight from Midway to LA was at 3:50p, this wasn't going to work.  Seeing as the conference I was going to started Monday morning, this would ruin everything.

Got into JFK at 10:50am and I calmly walked to the Delta counter.  Nope, I ran to the Delta counter like a prison escapee running from the law.  Explained the situation, a little frantically, and that I must be on the correct flight.  The attendent was very helpful, equally confused why I was rebooked, and got me on the original flight.  Whhhoooo.

Before I left the counter, "I'm very grateful you fixed this.  But I have to make sure - is my checked in suitcase going to be on the correct flight.  Everything I need for work is in there."

She says, "Oh yeah, you made it in time.  You're all good.  It will be waiting for you in Chicago."

What could go wrong?

Landed in O'Hare OK, got my carry-on's and stood by the baggage area waiting for my suitcase.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited. 

No suitcase.

During this waiting time I got an automated call from Delta that my 4pm flight from NY was delayed till 5pm.  Remember...I'm standing in Chicago when I got this because I took the correct, earlier flight.  

Went to the Delta office.  They had no idea where my bag was.  I filled out the necessary info, expressed my disappointment and the urgency of me getting my bag for work, and they explained that they would have it delivered to my hotel in LA.  

While walking to my car at O'Hare, I called Delta for an update.  No update, no suitcase. 
Before I drove to Midway for part 2 of the journey I called again.  No update, no suitcase.  
While I was in Midway waiting for the plane I called again.  My bag arrived at O'Hare at 2pm - it had been on a United flight.  What?!?!  This was at 3:00pm, I was taking off from Midway in less than an hour.  

I asked the girl if it would be on the next flight to LAX.  It needed to be on the next flight to LAX!  She said she would send a note to make sure they put it on the next available flight.

Called back when I got to LAX, almost 5 hours later, and the guy I talked to said it was still in O'Hare.  It wasn't on a flight.  The other lady's message hadn't gone through. 


This guy didn't send a message, he made a phone call.  And then the rest of the story was more waiting.  Couple calls in the morning to confirm that it was indeed on it's way.  On Monday at 4pm I got a call from the hotel desk that my bag had arrived.  

What could have gone wrong?

Now, you also have to add to the above story that the 2hours I was in Chicago between flights was spent frantically trying to find my son's birth certificate so that he could fly with me.  This search included me stopping by my office at Moody and then ripping apart our filing cabinet at home.  It was in the filing cabinet, the folder it was in was turned around and inside another folder.  Just a little more stress for the whole day.

What could go wrong?

I was thinking of that question while on the way to the hotel in LA.  Did I really think that nothing would go wrong over the span of 14 hours and over 3,000 miles?  

Yeah, I did.  When I walked into the airport in Burlington early that morning, I was thinking of what a great, exciting day it would be.  That something could or would go wrong wasn't even a thought.

How dumb.

Something can always go wrong.  

We all have this wrong expectation at times.  We assume our spouse will always be perfect, our kids always well-behaved, our job always stressless, our church will always be perfect. 

What could go wrong?

We shouldn't make excuses for interruptions, errors, or mess-ups - but we should allow for them and then respond to them correctly, wisely, with compassion, and as calmly as possible.  We should have the expectation in the back of our heads that a "Plan-B" might be necessary, or we might need a contingency plan.  This is true for relationships as well as the day to day of life.  

Maybe the reason why you're having issues with your church, job, spouse, kids, or whatever is because you have this wrong and unrealistic expectation: perfection.  

What could go wrong?

Something.  Anything.  

Don't allow an unrealistic expectation to rob you of having joy in the journey.

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