Friday, May 28, 2010

Description of a Hero

He's old or he's young; he's tall or he's short. He's thin, or fat, white, brown, yellow, or black. As often as not, "he" is really "she" and the distinction is obscured by the conventions of our language. But something sets him apart. He wore a uniform, or he did not. He accomplished much, or he accomplished nothing. His efforts were successful, or they were futile. But he always dared greatly. He may have been given medals which he displays proudly, or keeps hidden in a box in a drawer. He may have received nothing but aches, pains, and scars for his efforts. His name and history may be known to many, or known to few, or remembered by none, but the benefits of his service are enjoyed by all. We call him a hero. He admits only to doing what needed doing at the time, and to not quitting. When he departs this world for the next, his life may be recounted or it may not, but the world will have been made better by his efforts. And he could wish for no more. In Arlington, there rests in honoured glory, an American Soldier known only to God, a hero representing the hundreds of thousands of others we have to thank for our liberty and independence. They are heroes. Honour their memories.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Enjoy the Journey

The author of one of the blogs I read has stated "Life is not a destination. It's a journey. Enjoy the journey." Yesterday was a journey in more ways than one. I departed on travel to a conference. Since conference activities were scheduled to start at one, I booked a non-stop that would get me to the hotel shortly after noon. No problem. My wife dropped me at the airport in plenty of time. I breezed through security, bought a breakfast burrito and a cup of Starbucks on my way to the gate and sat down to await the boarding call. I should have guessed that something was awry when my coffee cup leaped from my hand to the floor, spilling about half of its contents and bespattering my white shirt. "No problem", I thought, rejoicing that it had missed my coat and trousers. "I can change my shirt before the meeting." The next indication that something might be amiss was when they called "the persons assigned seat numbers such and such" to remain at the podium during boarding. You guessed it --my number was among those announced. Still, no problem. Then, at the podium, we were informed that weather conditions required the pilot to carry more fuel than normal so that, if needs be, he could fly to and land at an alternate destination. You guessed it again -- I was among the lucky few selected to be involuntarily bumped and was left standing at the counter with seven of my soon to be best buddies as our luckier compatriots boarded the plane. Potential large problem. The gate agents tried frantically to sort things out. I felt sorry for them. I felt equally sorry for the customer service representatives assigned the task of getting us alternate flights to deliver us where we needed to go. At least three of us ended up on another carrier with a connection through Dallas Fort Worth. Kudos to the customer service people! The connection would be a bit close, but not frantic. I'd miss most of the first day sessions, but at least get there in time to pick up my registration materials. After a brisk walk and a train ride to another terminal, I found myself seated in the aft bulkhead window seat of my new flight. I was squished in with little leg room, no way to recline, a great view of the right engine and two people to climb over if I needed to avail myself of the facilities. Still, I had a seat and was on my way. Then, the alternate flight departed a half hour late due to a maintenance delay and what should have been an easy connection became a mad dash, again via train, from the arrival gate on one side to a departure gate on the exact opposite side of the terminal complex. I arrived at the gate, walked up to the podium, presented my boarding pass and was seated immediately -- in first class! Hey, those customer service people are all right! Suddenly, I had leg room, hip room and beverages served in real glass tumblers! It was only forty-five minutes, but it was wonderful! Five minutes after I was seated, the doors closed and we were wheels up to San Antonio. The rental car was ready. The directions to the hotel were clear enough that I only had to stop one time to ask for directions. I missed the afternoon session, but I arrived in plenty of time to change my shirt and pick up my conference materials. I even treated myself to a much deserved Starbucks. Modern business travel is definitely not about the destination, but the journey. It's more fun and a lot less frustrating if you relax and enjoy the journey.