Location Isn’t Everything

imageBack in the early ‘80s, I worked as a consultant for one of the then Big-8 accounting firms. Despite the fact that the Big-8 ultimately became the Big-6 and then the Final-4, working for one of those firms back then was a big deal. During my six years as a consultant, I traveled a lot. That sounds exciting doesn’t it? Well, I should mention something about that travel. I didn’t always travel to Boston or New York. I traveled to Providence, RI; Lowell, MA; Syracuse, NY and the aptly named Sevier, NC.

Far from exotic, exciting or romantic places, but I have always tried to enjoy business travel. As Colonel Sherman Potter, M*A*S*H 4077 said in an episode of that great TV show:

If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

I bring all this up because my blog friend Damyanti ended her recent blog post with the prompt:

What was the last city you traveled to and how did it make you feel?

That sounds innocuous enough, but it really isn’t her entire question, it was merely the part I could answer. Her entire question was:

Been to Paris? What is the one thing you remember the most? Would you go back again? What was the last city you traveled to and how did it make you feel?

These questions were part of her blog post about a recent visit to Paris. Her post is amazing, and you should read it if you haven’t already done so. Go ahead; read her post and come back, I’ll wait. Her story is full of the kind of imagery that Damyanti folds into all of her writing. Words that make even the casual reader imagine himself in Paris, in the Louvre or in a café. Unfortunately for me, her questions came after my visits to Salt Lake City, Utah; Omaha, Nebraska and Ames, Iowa.

Don’t get me wrong, those are all great cities. I’ve been to Salt Lake City twice before and I’d be happy to go again. I’ve been to Ames a dozen times and I hope to go back soon to see my family there. I’ve only flown in and out of Omaha, but I’d actually like to spend some time there someday. All great cities.

None of them Paris.

Seriously, Omaha Nebraska. Is. Not. Paris.

But, Omaha is where I needed to be last Friday, and it felt pretty good to get there.

For those who might not be aware, last Friday was the day that a (avoiding adjectives) man set fire to a regional radar facility near Chicago, disrupting air travel at both O’Hare and Midway airports. My flight from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Des Moines, IA (DSM) was scheduled through Midway and was immediately cancelled.

There is no feeling quite as disheartening as being stranded in a city where you don’t belong. Our company event was over. My coworkers were returning home or heading on their way to vacation destinations. Suddenly, the layover in Iowa that I had scheduled as easy as 1-2-6 two months earlier had become a mini-nightmare.

I started the frustrating process of contacting the airline. While watching TV news shots of lines at Midway’s ticket counters spilling onto the streets of Chicago, I faced their virtual equivalent. Southwest Airline’s website became unresponsive. Their iPhone App responded, only to say “I can’t process your request at this time” and their customer service phone line reported hold times of between 1 ½ and 2 hours.

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Two hours isn’t a long time if you’re watching a football game, but when your check-out time is rapidly approaching, two hours is longer that you have to act.

On the road from Omaha to Ames

With Southwest unable to help themselves, let alone me,I turned to a larger, more capable airline. Delta had a working website and planes that were still flying. None were flying to DSM, but one was flying to Omaha. My brother lives in Ames, Iowa and he used to pick me up in Omaha in the days before Southwest flew into DSM. People in the Midwest look at distance differently than people in the Northeast; I can’t drive for 2 ½ hours without crossing one or two state lines. He once said of the 5 hour round trip: “around here, they refer to that as a single 6-pack drive.” I’m sure he meant Pepsi.

In wrapping up her story, Damyanti said: “But it is the people who remain with me” – True of Paris and also true of the American high desert and Midwest.

With my hastily arranged boarding passes in hand, I had a few more things to do. Our company meeting had been in Park City, Utah. SLC was 45 minutes away and I needed a ride. I also had to alert my brother to the fact that I wouldn’t be arriving in Des Moines. A coworker exited a meeting to help me get a ride to the airport. A driver agreed to squeeze in an extra airport run and my brother agreed to the cross-state ride.

On the way to the airport, the driver and I were talking about the fire in Chicago and the thousands of people facing disrupted travel plans. I thanked her for helping me deal with mine, and I joked that I was actually going to get to Iowa earlier than originally planned. She looked at me in the rearview mirror and said:

You know, I once heard that your life is defined by what you do when presented with the need for a Plan-B.

As I look back over my 60 years, I find that statement to be true. That will be the prompt for several future posts for me; maybe you can make it one of yours.

41 thoughts on “Location Isn’t Everything

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  1. It IS always the people, isn’t it?

    I’m always making Plan Bs, and thrive on firefighting — wonder what that says about me?

    Thank you for the link to my post, Dan–I’m grateful to friends like you, because without support like this, I wouldn’t have a blog.

    I’m thrilled you used my questions as a prompt for your post– I’ve been stranded in nightmares like the one you describe, and had some fantastic family, friends and yes, strangers, bail me out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted to spread the word about your post Damyanti. I really like that post. I need to add a comment there. I liked if but I was in too much of a hurry to write this. People, Plan Bs and a little luck always seems to work. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. cool post – I like how you break it up – and all the photos and video was cool.

    love this
    “If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

    and I will try and check out her blog post – but not sure if I have time right now….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Dan, for sending us first to Damyanti. Her post about Paris and traveling in general is excellent. Of course her descriptions about Paris and the Parisians made me smile and also a bit homesick.
    As for Omaha, I happen to like this city. I’ve been several times, always in the summer. People are outside, enjoying themselves after the long winter months. The city has done a lot to create a lively downtown. This is not Paris, but Damyanti is right: we can choose to enjoy ourselves pretty much everywhere if we pay attention to the place and the people around us.
    You know that I love road trips across America. Small towns, big ciites, rural and urban settings, all of them have something for us. Again, a matter of leaving our comfort zone to look at new surroundings with a curious eye.
    Two great posts in one! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. I figured that you would like her post and I’m glad you came back. I have seen do many small towns in the US that I always go in with a good feeling. It is the people, and small towns have some of the best people.

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  4. Which Big 8 ? I was with Deloitte, Haskins & Sells :-)

    Sorry about your flight hassles. What a frightening thing about that guy and the fire! We’re all so vulnerable. Plan B’s have always been on my radar.

    Love the Midwest states and have been working on a “series” of posts about that topic – including the wind farms in Iowa !! I really have to stop reading you because it’s uncanny how often you write about the posts ruminating in my head! Think I’ll just rename my blog “What He Said”.

    Liked by 2 people

          1. Ha i thought about the railroads and I know you love trains ‘n all, but I pre-allocated the railroads to – well – to me :-) i’ll let you ride the “Reading RR” for free.

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  5. That situation in Chicago made the news right down here at the bottom of the world! I’m sorry you were caught up in the after effects, Dan. Your taxi driver is so right! It is all about how we handle things, especially the unexpected … Hmmm … I can feel the cogs turning as I type, can you hear the screeching protests of brain cells being forced to think? Perhaps it will become a post or perhaps it won’t … in either case thanks for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was wondering if the Chicago news had spread. One person attending our meeting was scheduled to go to London through Chicago on Friday. I don’t know how he made out. It was crazy. I was glad to be able to hide out for a few days in Iowa. Unexpected events give us such challenges. Of course, now that I made it my prompt, I have to remember some. Thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts. Jill.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading so many good things about Omaha, definitely need to spend some time there. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see my brother very often, and Ames is a bit of a hike, so hanging in Omaha always seems like a delay for me. Maybe I’ll get lucky and have to be there for business at some point. Thanks for adding the support for an overlooked city.

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  6. Good post, Dan! I’ve never been to Paris, but I HAVE been to Salt Lake City. It was in September, and the weather there was so nice it was unbelievable. I also got a chance to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsing with a full orchestra. Truly amazing.

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    1. Thanks Paul. I haven’t been to Paris either but Salt Lake and the high desert area are beautiful. Apparently, do is Omaha. Heating the choir rehearse must have been a great experience.

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    1. Exactly. I tried not to weigh in on the man who started the fire. I don’t know what brings people to that point. I feel bad for people who missed important events or had to resort to costly work arounds. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

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  7. I did not realize we had a connection with this incident, Dan. My daughter had a flight ticket first thing that morning from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago, Illinois. She had to get a ‘travel credit’ or something, get in her car and drive there for a rehearsal dinner and a wedding the following day of one of her good friends from college (UD). So amazing that this circle of life brings me to the ‘background’ goings’ on at the exact airport she was heading towards on that same day! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing how these things bring life stories together. I hope everyone was able to make it to that wedding. I was thinking that as bad as I felt, I was going to be on vacation this week anyway so a delay wasn’t really hurting me. Something like a wedding, with all the planning and expense, I can’t imagine if that got messed up. Thanks fro coming by and adding your story to mine.

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  8. super-cool post, young man! :)
    * * *
    @”Been to Paris?” – well, I lived in Paris, France for several years and I also visited Paris, TX: there’s even a kitch and small Eiffel Tower… you have to see it, to believe it and I did! :)

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  9. Dan, being stranded in a foreign place is a subject of a horror story. Would you like me to spin it? Ha, ha! Just saying.
    Plus, I think it is true that Plan B’s are requisite. Considering how complex and out of proportion things can get. I have heard that if neither A nor B works, then perhaps it is the time to merge them and come up with C.
    Great post, man. Have a great weekend yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess life hands you many opportunities to write a horror story. This certainly could have turned out worse than it did. Plans A. B, C and on up the line may all be necessary at times Peter. Have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Seems as if I am always employing plan B. Your posts remind me why I don’t travel much. I wouldn’t have the patience for it. I’ve gotten spoiled in that when I intend to carry something out, I do it NOW. I am much one for waiting, which drives me absolutely bonkers. I’m not one who relies on others to tell me when or how to do such and such. Yep, spoiled. I really enjoyed your post and again thank you for giving me something of quality to read. Have a great weekend, Dan. Love, Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. It would be nice to be able to proceed without waiting, but for the time being, I’m usually on someone else’s schedule I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you have a great weekend too.

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      1. Bless you, Dan, for having the patience. Since I have been out of the work field for over 20 years, I have created my own schedule. There are drawbacks believe me, because it would be so nice some days for someone just to tell me what to do so that I don’t constantly have to arrange my day according to this that and the other. I am my own boss creating a life when my life completely crashed and burned with my accident. But that is a long story. I hope you have a good weekend too!!! Have FUN! Love, Amy

        Liked by 1 person

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