Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Of Blizzards and Resolutions

Back in August, my mother, daughter, and I visited my sister in Savannah for the weekend. When it was time to leave, our first flight home was cancelled. Our second flight home—the next day—was also cancelled. And so on and so forth until we got a three-connection itinerary that took us to some of the most delightful airports south of the Mason-Dixon line before we were desposited, twelve hours later, in New York City.

We were lucky. It was summer and we didn’t have anywhere to be, and I work for myself. We stayed calm. Others among us—namely the other passengers on our first flight—all must have been heart surgeons with actual hearts in their carry-on luggage because everyone needed to get home ON THAT DAY. No ifs, ands, or buts. We watched in amusement as people plugged numbers into their cell phones with such force that we were surprised that the phones didn’t break on contact. We watched as every single passenger berated the ticket agents for this inconvenience, as if the ticket agents were responsible for the fifty mile an hour winds in New York. We watched as husbands yelled at wives, and wives yelled at children, and children played in the aisles, blissfully unaware that their trip to Hilton Head had been extended by one, or maybe two, days.

It all came back to me as I watched the news coverage of the “Blizzard of the Century” these past days. Oh, and since the century is only a decade old, should we have trotted out that moniker too quickly? So willy-nilly? Surely there will be other blizzards in the next ninety years; what will we call them? Anyway, many reporters worked through the night to bring us this news: “It’s snowing. A lot.” But pity the poor reporter who was stranded in LaGuardia Airport—a hell hole on regular days—to talk with travelers who had just a slim hope of getting home before New Year’s Eve or in this calendar year. Amazingly, they were all extremely calm. One woman, carrying her Port Authority-issue mat with her in case she needed to sleep on the floor again, spoke of washing up in the rest room, eating lots of healthy airport food instead of junk, drinking water, and waiting it out patiently. She knew that there was nothing to do but be positive, and as a result, was incredibly calm and poised. She even had on makeup! I don’t know about you all, but the first thing to go in the face of life’s inconvenience is makeup. But this woman was all made up, dressed fashionably and appropriately for the weather, and had every hair in place. She talked about the beauty of the snow and the kindness of airport employees. Jim and I looked at each other in awe, wondering where this Zen-filled woman had come from. And if she would ever make it back there.

How we react to life’s inconveniences really shows our true colors, don’t you think? I know it’s easy to go with our first instinct, which for me is to rail at the injustice of it all. But by taking the high road along with a deep breath, accepting that things sometimes are out of our control, is not to relinquish the upper hand. It’s called ‘going with the flow’ and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to do that whenever I can. (I can hear my family members laughing heartily at this proclamation but I’m going to give it my best shot; I’m proven myself to be spectacularly pig-headed and not flow-going.) This resolution will prove to be challenging and will definitely take me out of my Type-A comfort zone but hey, it’s worth a try. And it will be far less challenging than sleeping on a Port Authority-issue mat in the middle of LaGuardia airport. That, my friends, takes a force of will I just don’t have.

How did you weather the storm, Stiletto friends? And what are your resolutions for the new year?

Maggie Barbieri

10 comments:

  1. Here in the west (Central California foothills) we've been dealing with lots of rain, mud slides, bridge closures. Bridges opened yesterday, but it's pouring again and the river is raging, so they'll probably close the bridges again. Doesn't affect us unless we want to visit someone who lives on the other side. Need to be careful when going to town though, because of flooded roads and mud. Plenty of snow in the mountains.

    Marilyn

    ReplyDelete
  2. A truer statement couldn't be said: How we react to life's inconveniences really shows our true colors.

    I absolutely agree. Keeping perspective, being thankful for the little things, and appreciating what we do have can definitely help. Some people won't ever 'get' it, I don't think, but hopefully those people who react badly to whatever situation they're in will gain a little perspective in retrospect and apply a new philosophy the next time around.

    We can hope, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A truer statement couldn't be said: How we react to life's inconveniences really shows our true colors.

    I absolutely agree. Keeping perspective, being thankful for the little things, and appreciating what we do have can definitely help. Some people won't ever 'get' it, I don't think, but hopefully those people who react badly to whatever situation they're in will gain a little perspective in retrospect and apply a new philosophy the next time around.

    We can hope, anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My NYC-bound sister had her Monday morning flight canceled. So she's heading back tomorrow after being home an extra three days. I don't think she's minded, as it's meant more time with Mom, a pedicure, and seeing her friends! I've been stranded plenty in the past with all the book-related traveling. And I think I was one of those people punching numbers hard into cell phones and whining to the ticket agents. Maybe that's why I travel a lot less now. If I'm going to be stuck anywhere, I'd rather it be home. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love when we get bad weather and the local news talks to any idiot they can find who, in a very agitated and loud voice, says something like "This is just complete bull! I mean some of us need to get home/to work!" Yes, it is total bull that WEATHER, you moron, is purposely standing in the way of your important life. Why, somebody should do something for you to resolve this to your satisfaction!

    It's terrible to be caught without comforts and food, etc. (like the people who stranded on a train in Queens over night or maybe trapped in a car on a snow-bound expressway for hours). If you are safe and have at least some basic amenities, there's nothing to do but try to be positive and ride it out. You only make it worse by insisting on being futilely worked up.

    Lastly, I'll say that when I've been open to any sort of positive aspect of a real derailing of my plans or situation, there have been times--not every time, but still--when I get some benefit from what actors have called "happy accidents". Basically, I discover or receive something I would never have otherwise gotten because things went hay-wire or close to it.

    Glad all of you seem fine in all that NYC snow, Mags.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Luckily everyone in my family lives within 20 minutes of each other. We really don't have any travel problems over the holidays. The weather here in PA was cold and we only had a few flurries so we had no problems.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love weather like this because if no trains are running, I don't have to go to work. The snowstorm did cause an outage with my cable service (no phone, internet and TV), but luckily I had plenty of books to read and hot chocolate to drink. As for communicating with the outside world, I had my blackberry and use the web browser of my kindle. Who knew I would be using it. Glad I had one.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, we were blessed that we didn't have to go anywhere when the snow was falling and we haven't been able to think about things like vacations in years, so we don't travel much anyway.

    Just the same its important to be flexible and have a 'go with the flow' mindset rather than get bent by weather or traffic. I like to think I do pretty well with that. (Still working on DH ;)

    Its true, there are a lot of hold-ups and inconveniences in life we can do nothing about....except thank God for the blessings remaining and use whatever resources we have left to cope. I've had a lot of practice with that in recent years. DH has had seven major surgeries since 2005 (and innumerable check-ups and follow-up procedures.) Spent a lot of time waiting for procedures. Everyone wants to be done NOW and getting away from there, but that's not possible. You wait all day sometimes to see the doctors. You wait to be called, you wait for each stage of the procedure, you wait to be told when you can go, then you wait to hear the results. Sometimes it even took two or three trips around their parking deck just to get in there and start all the other waiting!

    Maybe its not all the same thing but it kinda sounds like it is to me.

    Well, anyway,
    Happy New Year!
    Susan M

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, boy, do I know about waiting in doctors' offices (and looking for parking spots in their lots!). Hope 2011 is a healthy one for you guys.

    Happy New Year to you, Susan M!

    Cheers from another Susan M :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you! Hope 2011 is great for you as well.

    I like your name too ;-)

    Susan McGaw

    ReplyDelete