The Only “Yank” At The Table

The Only “Yank” At The Table

This post was originally started in August 2013.  I found it in my drafts today and decided to finish and post it.  Enjoy!

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grand cayman, life is a trip

Grand Cayman is quite the magical little island…

I don’t know how else to really explain it. Things happen here and that’s all I know.
When I came here last year around September is when I met most of the people I still know now. It was amazing to me that I was meeting so many people from so many different cultures around the world. When it was happening I was just awestruck that I was in the presence of so many people who were impressively similar to me in their love of life and adventure I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I’m pretty sure that was literally caught with my jaw down a few times.

When I first met “everybody” I was invited to “Gavin’s Irish Stew” dinner at his house. It was an intimate setting with 15 of his closest friends. I was a tagalong at the time, but I think I knew maybe 2 other people who were coming.  I arrived with one of my friends, I met the few who were already there and then greeted the ones who followed in attendance. This is when the awe began… as each guest arrived I began to notice that everyone was from different countries of the world.. This was one of the first times of many to follow where I was the only “yank” in the equation, and you know what, I’m totally fine with that… I invite it actually.

I watched as folks joined the party from South Africa, England, Ireland, Scotland, Mexico, Honduras, Trinidad, Canada, Kenya, the US, and Wales. It was amazing… in the sense that once I realized it I didn’t have words and I kinda just sat back and took it all in. It was my element. This was the reality I like.  I may be the “yank” in the sense that I was born in the United States, but I consider myself a citizen of the world and these were my people.

When I returned to Denver after that trip I started to feel like I had more friends in Cayman than I had in the city where I lived.  I just instantly clicked with all of those people and it was so easy to get along and be friends.  I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time, but then it hit me!  In order to leave your comfort zone, move to a totally different country, in most cases not knowing anyone, and integrate well you’ve gotta have an outgoing personality or you’re not gonna make it.  And also in a situation like that where everyone is from somewhere else you start out with already having something in common, you’re not from there.  That was it!  With a passion for travel, culture, and people I was right at home.

As life would have it, since then some have moved on and left the island and others have arrived.  I am one of the arrivals.  A few months after that trip to Cayman in September, I returned again to visit my new friends.  It was on that trip that I met my best friend!  He recently became my husband, and now there are 2 Yanks at the table.

Xoxo,

Em

Hanging Over in O’Hare

ohare-tunnel

So I left you in Chicago!

I was saying that I usually cringe at the thought of connecting through The Chicago O’Hare Airport and that last week (well 2 weeks ago at this point) was no different.  After I encountered a standby snafu and had to make that Plan B
I told you about last week which took me to Chicago for about 6 hours before I bought an American Airlines ticket through Miami to Grand Cayman… it was a long day!  And it was a Saturday, and I went to a party the night before so needless to say I wasn’t just layin’ over in O’Hare, I was hangin’ over in O’Hare!!  Don’t judge me.

Having only ever flown United Airlines in and out of Chicago I have not really left the B and C concourses and only sometimes venturing to the F concourse for a United express flight.  Well, let me tell you.  The O’Hare airport is more than the trippy light tunnel with the moving walkway!

map-of-chicago-o'hare-airportWhen I had to actually look at an airport map to know where I was going I realized how HUGE the O’Hare airport really is! The American gates are on the G, H, K, and L terminals…who knew?!  That’s a lot of space!  And once I started making my way over to my gate in K I got to see a lot of stuff along the way.  I want to give O’Hare, and Chicago really big props on the amount of things I saw in the airport that day.

As I journeyed through the seemingly endless sunny corridors I
found many bits of art on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.  Some was really cool and some was really… interesting.  But then it got even better!  As I went past the line I’ve never crossed Hall of art in O'Hare International Airportbefore – at the intersection of Terminal F – the airport got even cooler! I found a wall lined with photographs at the microscopic level and they were beautiful!  I had to stop and see what they were.  After reading the info plaque I saw that it was an initiative by the Institute of Genomic Biology to bring awareness about their most recent project.

hen I came into an atrium area tat was circular and had a
staircase going up to a second level.  In between the levels was a beautiful mosaic called “On the Mosaic wall at O'Hare International AirportWings of Water” .   This mosaic is made up of 35,000 pieces of Venetian glass and tiles to show how air travel and water link cultures around the world.  It was completed with help from the students in the After School Matters program.

 

I went up the stairs to check it out and I found a complete hydroponic urban garden!!  Say Whaaaaat??O'Hare hydroponic garden  It was not only beautiful but responsible too because some of the restaurants that inhabit the O’Hare airport create dishes using the herbs and vegetables that are grown in this garden!  I also noticed a lot of flight crew members enjoying their coffee and snacks between flights up there on the comfy looking green lounge chairs.  They must have been savvy to this little airport gem for some time!

I have to say, I’m really proud of you, O’Hare!!  And next time you’ve got some time in that airport between flights, take a hike!!  And go check out all the hidden treasures that the Chicago O’Hare International Airport has to offer!!  Cuz it’s a LOT!!

Xoxo,

Em

So, Yeah, I Fly For Free…

Usually, I cringe at the thought of connecting through the Chicago O’Hare Airport and last weekend was no different….

After trying to fly standby from Denver to Grand Cayman to no avail I had to make a plan B, and fast.  Some of you know that I fly standby, which is great and amazing and fantastic when it works and it’s the pits when it doesn’t!

Here’s the deal:

Yes, I fly for free (ish).

BUT….

I ONLY GET TO GO IF: there are available seats, and no other flights delayed where they re-route paying customers onto my flight, and if the weather cooperates and doesn’t throw a category 5 lightening storm at me, and if I don’t get bumped by “revenue standby” people who just wanna get home sooner – I get it, but still!  And sometimes when they’ve put everyone on the plane and there seem to be some no-show passengers they’ve been paging on the PA for the last 10 minutes you get your hopes up a little that you might actually get on the plane… and then a little more with each additional airport page that goes out and each lingering second that they still haven’t showed up.  And you can tell on the screen at the gate that you’ll be next to get on if they don’t show up.  You kinda hold your breath a little….fly for free, life is a trip

But… wait…. What’s that?  In the distance, down the terminal some commotion catches your eye.  No!  Please no!  It’s that stupid couple running toward you in a tornado of clapping shoes and bouncing bags and they are yelling at the agent “wait, we are here!”

Crap.

And what’s still worse than that is when your name actually gets called, and you get your seat assignment, and you get onboard, and you put away your bags, and you sit down, and you put on your seatbelt, and you breathe…. but only a little because the aircraft door is still open.  And then this…

The gate agent comes onboard the plane and calls your name over the PA to collect your bags and please come to the front.  The couple they were paging 45 times in the airport who never showed up…showed up.  And you’re back in the gate area.

This is when the Plan B’s come out and your critical thinking skills need to be on point!

Step 1. Don’t take it personally.

For the record, this is not me… I would never wear something like this to the airport

After 26 years of flying standby, sometimes I still do.  I am grown; and I admit I have sought out the corner of a gate area behind the podium to, quietly, and usually with sunglasses on, drop my head let out a few tears of frustration before collecting myself for the dreaded stage 2 of pass travel.

 

Step 2.  Check out all other options.

departure monitor, life is a trip

Brain must start thinking rapidly about all possibilities to get you to your destination.  This consists
of your knowledge of basic geography, your computer skills, and your time management.  Without these you’re screwed.  You need to look at the departure monitors first to see if there are other flights.  If there are no direct ones, you’ve got to think about what location will get you closest and then find out if there is a connecting flight.  Once you have a chosen route you need to log into the employee website to get an idea of the loads to see if you even have a chance in hell to make it happen.  If all options fail, move to step 3… and hopefully avoid step 4.

 

Step 3.  Buy a ticket on another airline.

gty_buying_airplane_ticket_thg_111130_wmain

Yep, then I’m right back there with everyone else in the world who has to pay for airline tickets.  But with a lot more stress involved.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice luxury to know that I have a seat on a flight and no one can kick me out of it.  It’s just the time, effort, and anxiety that precedes the actual purchase of said flight that takes some management.

 

Step 4.  Sleep in the airport.

Bundle up, find the darkest corner you can, and make the best of it.  It's gonna suck.

Bundle up, find the darkest corner you can, and make the best of it. It’s gonna suck.

This is a LAST resort!  This happens when the day got away from you, you stood by for all flights you could, and now there are no more flights leaving because it got too late, an there’s weather so all hotel rooms are booked up too.  *Travel Tip* always travel with something you can use as a blanket!!  Airports are really cold at night with no people in them!

So I skipped step 4 and found myself in Chicago last weekend.

To be continued…

Em