Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stank On A Plane

One of the perks of my job is that I get to travel.  I don't travel much anymore, but I was recently asked to go see a few customers in Portland and was excited to get away for a few days by myself.  I decided to leave on the Sunday, mainly so I didn't waste most of my day Monday travelling.

The downside to travelling to Portland is that there are only 2 flights a day out of Calgary to Seattle via Horizon Airlines.  The first leaves at 6:30 in the morning and the other leaves much later in the day.  Alas, I had to be at the airport before 5 to ensure I got on my flight.

I did arrive at the airport around 4:45 AM and got myself in line to check in.  I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.  Did I mention I waited?  For over 45 minutes, the same 2 families were standing at the counter while the ticket agents tried to help them.  It drives me nuts when people travel by air and don't have what they need and then back everyone else up while they get sorted out.

Needless to say, everyone in line is starting to panic a little, because the flight was supposed to close at 5:30 and we still had to get through Customs and then security.  By 5:45, I was at the ticket counter and less than a minute later, I was on my way to Customs.  That's how it's done people, have your confirmation and passport in hand and pre-pay your luggage fee.  Sigh.

Customs was a breeze - once again, I had everything prepared, signed and ready to go.  Stampy stamp, I'm on my way. 

Then I hit the security line.  Dead. Stop.

I could not have been more frustrated - every single person in every single line had something wrong with their bags.  I get that paying $20 for your bag might cause you to just do carry-on.  However, if you are carrying on, then follow the rules - put your liquids in small containers in a plastic bag OUTSIDE your bag.  Sounds simple right?  Well, it seems as though everyone thinks they don't have to follow these rules. 

Security was having to open and check each bag coming through, remove the offending items and then re-run them through the x-ray machine.  You can imagine my frustration watching this and knowing I'm already late for my flight.  However, I knew other people from my flight were behind and the gate agent came through and told us they were holding our flight for us.  Super.

All I had was my purse and my laptop.  I was wearing flip-flops and paid the $20 charge for my bag so there was nothing to getting me through.  I made my way to the gate and still had time for a coffee- they were delaying boarding because so many people were held up.

I know it was early, we were all tired and maybe didn't get to do our morning constitutionals like we do every day, but it was about half way through the flight when...

someone farted.

This was not your average fart people.  It wafted about the whole plane, filling our nostrils.  And there was nowhere for it to go, as we're on a plane and can't open the window to let fresh air in.  Gross, I know.  But if that wasn't enough...

they farted again.

Hey people, I'm not judging, I've farted many times in public and it ain't always pretty.  But I can say with absolute certainty I have NEVER farted on a plane.  Not to say I never would or will, but wow, after the first one, I think I would have gone to the bathroom on board and tried to pass the gas in private.

I survived.

I met up with my friends Jerry and Julia and we had a super fun day shopping around and catching up (I haven't seen either of them for over 5 years).  It was a little bit short but some time is better than no time.

I had my client meetings and got set for my flight home.  The flight from Portland to Seattle was quick and easy and thankfully, I had a seat to myself (when you have ample hips like myself, it's really nice on those little planes to not have to squish yourself in beside somebody).  I landed in Seattle and had about an hour to kill before my plane took off to Calgary.

Just before the plane started boarding, I asked the counter agent if I could have a seat to myself if the plane wasn't full.  Once again, they were able to accomodate me, but I would have to sit at the back of the plane.  Big deal, these days, they load from the front and the back so I didn't care where I sat. 

Big mistake.

There I was, happily settled in my seat, air blowing in my face.  Life was good.  Then a lady came to the row of seats ahead of me, and when she went to put her carryon bag up above the seat, this waft of body odour hit me like a ton of bricks.  What the h?  I was tired, on the last leg of my journey home and then this?  The worst thing was that she just couldn't seem to get her air vent or light quite right so she had to keep fiddling with it.  And you guessed it - every time she lifted her arm, stink-o-rama.

I will try to explain just how bad this smell was.  Imagine not showering or doing laundry and wearing the same clothes for about a month.  Put maybe some garlic with a dash or two of very aromatic spices and this is what I got every time I took a breath.  The people the row over and back from me were also effected by the smell, so I know it wasn't just me.

And the icing on this cake?  She brought fish and chips on board with her for dinner.  I kid you not.  It was literally a buffet of disgusting smells.  Why, when there is no where to go, no way out, was I caught behind this woman?

After the flight attendants did their first round of service, the one noticed that 4 of us were breathing in to our shirts trying to protect our poor olfactory receptors.  Moments later, we were presented with cinnamon teabags to hang off the table trays and give us a little bit of relief.  That did get us through the rest of the trip and we were all too happy to breathe in jet fuel on the tarmac just to get rid of the smell of what was on that plane.

Now, before you go all "don't be mean, Kerry" on me, all I am saying is that it is common courtesy to bathe when you are going to be in a confined area for a period of time.  If you can afford a plane ticket, you can afford a shower.  You don't even have to use deodorant or soap, water gets a lot of the stank off. Clean clothes also solve a lot of the problem.  

I'm just saying it was not pleasant and I'm so glad the flight was only just over an hour.   And that is my stank on a plane story.  What's the worst thing you've ever smelled?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Reunited and It Feels So...Good?

Next weekend is my high school reunion. 20 years have gone by since I've seen a good lot of people that are going to this thing. 20 years. All of the insecurities I had as a teenager are starting to rear their ugly heads again. Let me tell you a little bit about my high school days...

I grew up in a very small town in rural Saskatchewan - Shaunavon to be exact. Population - just over 1500 people. High school population - 142 students from Grade 8 to Grade 12. If you were even a little bit different, you REALLY stuck out. Of course, we had the usual cliques, but they only had 10 people each, so the cliques were cliquey.

I was quite involved in my school, athletically and otherwise. I played almost all the sports we had - I wasn't a superstar, but I was a hard trier. I was in the school plays, worked on the yearbook and tried my hand at peer counselling. We went skiing almost every weekend out at Fernie and in the summers I was a lifeguard and swimming instructor. I babysat all the time, worked a lot of different part time jobs and tried to stay busy. Not a lot of time for friends in there - I guess I valued earning money to buy clothes over developing friendships. Or did I work because I didn't really have a lot of friends? Hard to say.

As someone who never had a best friend growing up, I can say it was a little hard to live in Shaunavon. Sure, I had friends, everyone for the most part was pretty nice to me, but I didn't have that one person that I could say had my back or that I could turn to when times were tough. I think that's why to this day I have a hard time opening up to people.

What brought these feelings on is the slide show I agreed to do for the reunion. I'm getting pictures e-mailed to me from everyone so we can take a walk down memory lane and also get to know each other a little better at this stage in our lives. I realize now just how much I missed out on. Gosh did everyone have a fun time. I wish I could have been there to experience some of those moments.

Not that I totally regret my life - I have a tremendous work ethic now. Playing all the sports I did helps me work on teams. I like to think I've been a good coach, teacher and mentor and hopefully that will help to shape me into a successful mother.

I remember one particular incident that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. There is one girl that I was pretty close with - Kim. We would walk to school together, play after school and hang out. For some reason, and I don't remember what it was, I didn't invite her to my birthday party one year. Her birthday was just shortly after mine and rightly so, I didn't get an invitation to her party. It was after school and I was waiting for my mom (who is a teacher at the school I went to) in her classroom. With tears pouring down my face, I watched almost everyone in my class walk across the school yard on their way to Kim's house to celebrate her birthday. Without me. My mom said something to me that day that didn't really resonate until later on in life. She said "I know it hurts now. But when you go away and grow up, you'll find friends that will be yours for the rest of your life".

You know what mom? You were right. The friends that I have now are incredible. I don't see them as much as I would like, but I know without a doubt that they are they for me, that they love me for who I am and want me to be happy.

And I have no reason to be insecure - I'm good at what I do, I wake up in a good mood (almost) every morning and I've aged well. Sure, I've put on a lot of weight, I started my family late and I don't own my home, but I'm alive and it's my life. I'm not proud of everything I've done, I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I'm in a good place now. Gosh, would life ever be boring if it were perfect. Wanna know something else? I'm looking forward to seeing everybody and catching up with them, insecurities aside. They're all hard-working people just like me. They've all had struggles, just like me. Nobody, not a one of them, is perfect.

See you in just over a week, SHS Class of 1990!

P.S. Thanks to facebook, I've been able to connect with a lot of my old classmates. While I don't exactly pick up the phone and call them, I do feel closer to them, have sent Christmas cards to one or two, and gotten some excellent advice on mothering from a few of the gals along the way. Lastly, I'd like to add that Kim is a lovely woman and I'm really glad to have found her again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Who Are The People In Your Neighbourhood?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love love love to watch people.  I think most people are curious about the other beings we share this world with, but I go past just seeing people - I wonder what makes them tick, what their lives are like.  The longer I live in my place, the more I seem to notice my neighbours - especially now that it's summer and everyone is outside more.

There's a lady that lives at the end of my row of townhouses that gardens endlessly in the summer.  I've never really spoken with her, but she always seems to have visitors sitting with her in the front yard.  She literally spends her entire day outside as long as the weather is good.  What peace she must have in her life.

A few doors down, there is a really full house.  Our units are all 2 bedrooms, and there is a single mom with her three kids and she has a roommate with a dog.  That house must be crazy inside - which is why I think one of the little girls is always playing outside.  She is fearless -  running here there and everywhere- little Miss Independent.  Peace and quiet must be very rare in that place.

Come down a couple more doors and we have my cousin and his wife, our neighbours.  We don't really see much of them - I guess we're not high on their list of people to visit with.  I suppose that's alright - you don't really want family all up in your business all the time anyway, but it's nice to know they're there if I really need them, and I know they would be.

You know who I feel really sorry for is the kid that lives just outside our front door (well, in the unit directly in front of us).  He is homeschooled and I think quite lonely.  He is always by himself, and even if I see him with other kids, he's off to the side doing his own thing.  He doesn't seem to be very well socialized and some of his behaviours are odd.  He will sit outside our front door and bark, trying to get the dogs to react to him.  Poor kid.

We have the unofficial Neighbourhood Watch guy who goes around peering in the yards, making sure nothing untowards is happening.  I hope he just sticks to the yards and isn't a peeping Tom, that would be creepy. 

There's the old couple who look so sweet  - they are always sitting out on their front step in their lawn chairs watching the world go by.  The wife can't walk very far, so every time they go somewhere, the husband has to bring the car over and he escorts her.  There is so much love in that action, and I can only hope that if I am fortunate enough to live that long I feel that kind of love every day.

And then there's our neighbours we enjoy the most - Steve, Leah, Jarrett and Madison.  We are so lucky we met Leah - she has a dayhome.  She was gracious enough to watch Vaughn for me a few times before I went back to work.  When I was looking for somewhere full time for Vaughn, it was not going well at all.  I asked Leah if she would take Vaughn and at first, she was hesitant because he was so young and not walking.

Thankfully, she agreed to take him 3 days a week and we're so happy.  It's so great to walk out the front door, 2 doors down and drop Vaughn off.   When I pick him up at the end of the day, he's always in a great mood and some days it seems as though he doesn't want to leave.  I never worry about him and know that he is in great hands!  And the more I get to know her, the more I like her.

So those are the people in my neighbourhood... I wonder if they wonder about us like I wonder about them.