Airport Ruminations

As I sit in the Nashville airport, waiting for a friend to arrive on a later flight, I start to notice the quirkiness of airport life and I remembered this long lost post, stuck in draft since last November… It’s an injustice to you poor readers that I plan to rectify with a quick spell check and the push of “publish.”

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The scene: Orlando International Airport the Tuesday before Thanksgiving

The Orlando Airport… it always leaves me with the impression of it’s complete and utter predictability. You have two types of travelers: the Disney families and the Conference Goers. The Disney Families are excited and pale on arrival and depart sun burnt and cranky… with. out. fail. More than not, when you take a gander at the ceiling in any given section of the airport, you will see at least one Mickey shaped balloon that has gone astray. Now, the “family” definition could be further expanded to included the “groups”. While there are fewer of the groups, they are easily identified by the matching t-shirts and occasional flag carrying leader… these troupes and their invariably neon shirts make me smile every time. Sometimes they even have walkie talkies, bless ’em. You also have the “teen” groups. They are of debatable age but they act like 16 year old on their way to band camp… these aren’t so fun.

I pose the hypothesis that the busyness of the airport is less related to the holiday schedule as it is in direct relation to Disney deals and conferences. Orlando has a crazy number of hotels. Nifty little factoid for you: Orlando and Las Vegas battle it out each year as to who has more hotel rooms. I’m not sure who’s up at the moment but I have a feeling it’s Orlando. We also have the Orlando Convention Center which I think is about double the size of the airport. You do not want to get lost in that building.

I often find it odd the things you can buy in an airport. As I write this I’m hanging out near a Crocs kiosk. Why would I buy shoes at the airport? Maybe it’s attributable to the Conference Goers. Wearing those heals running miles at the convention center for a week… I guess I’d be tempted to buy some Crocs for the travel home as well. The books and magazines are oddly more tempting for me… to be honest, as a pathological impulse buyer, the entire Hudson News stand is tempting.

Here’s a question for you: are you for or against bringing food onto the plane? Okay, I know, airplane food seriously leaves something to be desire but there is something cruel about the guy who whips out his McDonalds fries during take off.  It’s torture. I treat myself to Starbucks immediately after getting through security. I’m always chugging it down because I don’t want to be that person who carries coffee onto the plane then, while struggling to get her carry-on into the overhead bin, pours said coffee onto one of the sore-footed Conference Goers in his way-to-expensive suit. I just can’t bear the thought, so I chug.

The chugging of coffee brings up another airport issue… well, more like an in-flight issue. I can’t stand going to the bathroom on an airplane. I managed to make it from New Jersey to Dublin without peeing. It’s an art, I know. BUT, as you may have experienced a very particular personal effect that coffee has on the digestive system, I always worry that the chugging of said Starbucks delight will intensify the negative possible side effects. There is a lot of praying that happens but the worry isn’t enough to deter my from my Venti Soy Latte.

Another travel novelty, although it doesn’t really have to do with airports or flying, is the dramatic weather changes from one location to another. Florida is humid. Period. It is always humid even when it’s “not humid.” I travel mostly North seeing as I’m pretty much as South as one can get so there is almost always the cool relief when I land in a new place. Traveling to see my sister in Vermont.. it’s usually ridiculously drastic. For example, it’s a refreshing fall day in Orlando so naturally it’s about 80 with a couple degree heat index. Not bad, if you live here. I haven’t had my air on for weeks. I’ll be in Vermont in about 4 hours and it’s approximate 30 degrees. Yes.. a 50 degree difference. YIKES.

At least once I’ve left my coat on the arm of the couch at home only to arrive in Vermont with only a t-shirt on my back. Swell. I can’t actually remember a time that I traveled anywhere that was warmer than Orlando. Wait, that’s a lie… I went to the DR in December and it was quite nice.

Returning to Orlando, especially during the winter, is, well, terrible. No matter how nice you thought it was when you left (80 degrees) you arrive and feel the humidity instantly. You get out to the pick up loop and you literally want to strip. I’ve been known to take off shoes and socks. It’s like walking into a sauna fully clothed… ew.

Airlines. I ❤ Jet Blue. I’m a tall girl, they have leg room, enough said. But not really enough said. They have TV screens in the back of every seat with satellite TV and standard ear phone jacks so you don’t have to buy their special pair. And if you do need to buy a pair, they are only $2… nothing is only $2 these days. They serve a variety of complimentary snack and drinks. I just heart them. The End.

Only thing that would make OIA better? Jamba Juice and a Wow Bao. I guess I’m partial but I think the whole city would be made better by the presence of a Wow Bao. Please Wow Bao city planners hear my plea! (Read more about my Bao love HERE)

 

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So, back to the Nashville airport…

  • The Disney paraphernalia has been replaced by Cowboy hats and boots.
  • While the business-types are always prevalent, the red-faced tourists have disappeared and hippie looking guys with guitars have filled in the difference.  I feel like I should tote my guitar along with me when I come to Nashville so I can look like I have a legitimate reason for being in town. 
  • I realize that Starbucks in any city/airport is still a Starbucks… and I’m grateful.

 

I guess that’s it for now.  What about you?  Any profound (or not so profound) airport observations? 

While you think about that… I’m going to go back to people watching and see if I see anyone famous.

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OTS

I’ve been robbed. I’ve become a statistic.

I’ve been robbed a lot; three times to be specific—four if you count the time in college when my credit card was somehow used to buy soccer jerseys and ship them to Yugoslavia.

2007 was the beginning of a crazy time for me. I suffered a major injury in May, my sister and best friend moved a million miles away in July, I witnessed a horrific car accident that left me literally holding someone’s body together in August, and in October, I was robbed at gunpoint.

Robbed at gunpoint-Day 19 of 365

Today my two co-workers and I were robbed at gunpoint. I knew the second he walked in that something was off. In my head I was thinking “what would I do if we were getting robbed?” Before I could finish the thought he saw me and made me come out of my office… I actually said “Dude, are you serious?” He and his Glock were very serious… He dragged my co-worker around by her hair… Yelled at me to get on the floor while another co-worker threw the little bit of cash we had at him… he got away with $68.40…

Our robbery was the first in a string of robberies in the small downtown area where I was working. After us, they always used masks so we were the only ones who could ID them. When they were caught, we were called in to the State’s Attorney’s office for interviews but it never went to trial since they pled guilty to avoid federal charges for a different robbery. We’d seen them and they knew it… I was paranoid for months.

The second time it was my truck in April of ‘08. Shortly after, I posted THIS to Flickr:

STOLEN CAMERA

My car was broken into Thursday night and my purse was stolen along with my phone, mp3 player, USB key and some Blockbuster videos yet to be returned… I know, stupid me for even leaving my purse in the truck. I promise I’ve already kicked myself! The thieves managed to wipe out my checking account, charge my company credit card as well as my personal cards before I could cancel them. Praise God for fraud insurance! All charges have been removed and all the money will be returned to my account shortly. 

The bummer is they got my phone and I don’t know ANYONES phone numbers!!! Please help me get my people back and send me your phone numbers!

I ask you, what is the worst thing you can do to a flickrite?

The tragedy is that they stole my camera… like severing an appendage… I feel lost…

As some of you know this has been a crazy year for me so although this wasn’t an attack to my face I think I’m taking it harder than necessary. Please pray for the resolution of all these complications and for God to restore my peace.

I had everything I needed to report the lost cards and file insurance claims but I was still shaken. In a time when land lines are dwindling, without my cell phone, I was lost. Thank God for my awesome roommate and the use of her credit card and cell phone!

I called the police and they told me to file a report online. Are you kidding me? I was freaked out! I’m a tax payer! I made them send a cop, if only for me to feel a little more secure.

You don’t know how much you have in your bag ‘til it’s gone. Things add up fast and most car insurance covers a minimum for lost property. The three Blockbuster movies I had stashed in my bag to be returned cost me over $60 alone! Throw in a camera, MP3 player, phone and you’re over $1k… let’s just say, I was still out a lot after the insurance check was cashed.

The third time, they crowbarred my door and burglarized my house just two months later…
again

 

SERIOUSLY?….

I live in Orlando for goodness sakes! The home to the “Happiest Place on Earth”!!!! Turns out that Florida is actually rated fourth in the country for robbery according to StateMaster.com.

I was numb…

I was done…

completely overwhelmed…

Overwhelmed-Day 20 of 365

In August I witnessed a horrible car accident on the Turnpike… I stopped to help and drove away that day covered in someone else’s blood… For weeks all I saw when I closed my eyes was rolling cars and bloody torn open bodies… Now I see guns flashing in my face, my co-workers being man-handled… I can’t stop the should have, could have, would haves… what’s done is done… the cops say we did the right thing… I just want to close my eyes and see nothing but the dark…

To keep sane, I focused a lot on dealing with the technicalities. Getting together insurance claims can be painful and grueling, even if you have all your ducks in a row.

A quick Google will give you lots of tips for what to do to prevent a robbery as well as things to do after a robbery has occurred. Some great basic tips can be found at CrimePrevention.org but here are a few practical things I’ve learned:

  • Trust your gut; if a person or situation seems really wrong, it probably is.
  • Know your insurance—Know what it covers, how to file a claim, your deductibles , etc. For instance, based on your plan, some things stolen from your car won’t be covered at all.
  • Know what you have—my biggest problem was that I owned a lot more than I thought I did. My stolen jewelry was estimated at over $4k for replacement but my insurance only covered $500. If I had know that, I could have purchased additional jewelry coverage.
  • Keep things to a minimum in your bag and NEVER leave it in the car.
  • Pay attention to your credit reports. You can get these free annually. DO IT. Here are the links:
       Experian
       TransUnion
       Equifax

It’s been over two years now and aside from keeping the car empty, I’m not sure that I’ve really changed any habits. Inside is another matter; I know I’m a different person. These events as well as several others earned me an honest to goodness diagnosis of PTSD. I’d always thought that was reserved for war veterans. Six months in therapy helped, especially after all the shock wore off. I saw how quickly my life could be taken from me. I knew what it felt to be completely powerless. I learned how little I cared about material things. I found out how important it is to have a community of friends around you… without my people, well, I don’t want to think about it.  There is still some residuum I deal with but I take it a day at time… all you can do is all you can do.

More than ever before, I had to remember to trust in God’s reasoning, His timing and His provision… and He got me through it all.

Have you ever been robbed? Do you have any tips to share? Tell me about your experiences and how they’ve changed your day-to-day life.