Overcoming travel woes – humor is when you can laugh at yourself anyway
This one is for poking fun at yourself. Do you recall any story where you were embarrassed at first and then later you had a belly laugh at your own expense? I have got a black belt in that resort and is the reason why family members strongly dislike traveling with me.
A while back I had to go to Venezuela. Final destination was Puerto Ordaz and that meant that I had to make a pit stop in Caracas first. Caracas is the capital of Venezuela and the issue with the airport is that there is a domestic and an international side to it that you must pick up your luggage at one just to lugging it over to the other – on foot, on the side walk. On the way to my final destination everything went according to plan. On the way back however, things did not go so well.
The local Puerto Ordaz airport was an adventure right from the get go. The first surprise was that there was no security check worthwhile mentioning. This occurred just before 9/11 but nevertheless this was not something I expected. The 757 was parked right next to what you could define as a terminal and we needed to board the plane by merely walking over and boarding the plane using mobile stairs. The only thing I was really missing was livestock. We had a very eclectic group of people on board.
We took off and after a short while got to Caracas. My brief stint to the country was not enough for me to learn any significant amount of Spanish, but I could at least follow the landing preparation announcements. We un-boarded the plane and I could not wait to get my luggage and get over to the international terminal. I stormed to the luggage carousel just to find myself standing there with no luggage and all alone with the carousel stopped after all the other passengers had gotten their luggage. I was mad as a hornet – all of this was costing me valuable transfer time. I spoke with a luggage handler, gave him 10 Bucks and 5 minutes later he showed up with my luggage that he had retrieved from the airplane.
Now I stormed out of the airport building and was looking for the walkway. I looked back and forth quickly and then my heart sank one or two levels below deck: I had landed at a completely different airport and this was not Caracas at all! What I had failed to notice was that I had another layover airport to stop by and this was it. In the meantime I could see the plane – the plane I was supposed to be on – take off. I went back into the airport building to the check in line. It took a good 2 minutes before the check in folks were able to contain themselves, they were laughing so hard. It was a little miracle but I did manage to get on the last flight to Caracas that day and another flight over to Miami that night. I was not able to get back home until the next day though.
There are, as always, a few take away lessons that can be learned from this story:
- When traveling to other countries with a different language than yours, check your itinerary – carefully.
- Never assume that ground luggage handlers are always wrong. The mistake can be on your side.
- Listen to your wife more carefully, as she had totally gotten the extra stop and even told you so. Improve your listening skills.
- Book the earliest flights of the day because when you screw up like this there is a much better chance that there will be another, later flight that can still get you home.
- Do not take yourself so seriously and let check in personnel have a good laugh at your expense. They have so little to laugh about.
- Remember that these people were laughing with you and about you.
Have a good laugh at my expense. I did not mind it then and I do not mind it now.