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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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leaving on a jet plane, nothing like the song
another frog
Flight leaves at 7 AM, cab will be here at 5:15, not panicking at all. Even though:

Reasons For Vague Unease
a.) shoes are still wet.
b.) clothes in dryer drying.
c.) clothes in washer washing.
d.) I have never flown Delta before and it scares me to try new things that hold my life in their hands.

Things I Cannot Find
1.) My sunglasses. So as to look cool when I walk in, see someone I know, and fall over something.
2.) Something for Disco. I guess the red dress. I seriously was going to go shopping and look, and then I didn't. But it is pretty and God knows it should get some wear.
3.) Bourne Identity to make svmadelyn watch it with me.

Things I Need to Pack
i. clothes from above.
ii. laptop and accessories.
iii. something else I know I forgot.
iv. toothpaste and toothbrush.

Okay, see, the thing is, flying has been slowly but steadily moving into a worry of some kind. Intellectually, blah blah blah, but the reptile brain is not amused. Taking Nintendo DS with brand new annoying Sudoku game, a book, a blanket, and absolutely no sleep in hopes one of the four will help. The fifth choice is to take my ritalin directly before the flight, which is still the weirdest effect I can imagine, but it completely and utterly calms down anxiety and panic like magic. It also helps me sleep, which granted, *does* make sense. I think it's the hamster in a wheel thing that my brain tends to get into. Focusing makes pretty much everything easier to deal with.

(Have not tested this on claustrophobia. I read a *story* about *spelunking* and started breathing too hard. That, my friends, is worrisome.)

So yes, find this weird. I always wonder now if I'd taken amphetamines in college, I'd be passed out in like, ten minutes, blissfully dreaming.

Okay, so probably my last post before I leave for con.txt. So, um--okay, right, the freaking hotel is wireless, I'm a junkie, I will be checking my email surreptitiously between panels or something. But! If a fanwar breaks out, send me links! So as it will be easier to find.

I'm so bad at this traveling thing. So bad.

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Have a most excellent time, and be safe! =)

Also? DS on plane trips == best invention in the history of inventions, especially when all four people in my family have either ADD (my 14-year-old) or ADHD (the rest of us). So bringing the DS is definitely a good idea. =) I tend to also bring a sudoku book, for the "please turn off all electronic equipment" portions at the beginning and end of the flight, but you've got a book on your list, already, so...

Have fun!


also, I hate flying. This morning I stumbled off my fifth flight in as many days and wondered if staying here in DC was a viable option. I have friends! And my laptop! And a Metro card!

I used to work for Delta Air Lines, and while it has been a long time since I was a part of that team, I still prefer them over any other domestic airline. We're not unionized, which is kind of a Protestant way of working; you talk directly to your bosses, they talk directly to you, everyone must work their own problems out because you're neighbors (seriously, most neighborhoods south of the city are all Deltoids) and most likely, grew up in the company together, because it's a company that promotes from within.

People start where there's a spot to start; your baggage handler might be working his way through college, or he could already have an MBA and is just waiting for somewhere in his field to open up. Or it was like that a decade ago.

Bill Cosby's brother Russell used to work in baggage handling. The ex-CEO started out as a baggage-handling intern, then when he became an employee, was a fact checker for company manuals. I started out in the fact-checking department, too.

We have a craaaazy maintainence schedule; the most rigorous in the country. We work ahead of the FAA guidelines for when things should be repaired or looked at. Every plane is taken apart to the nuts and bolts and put back together every 18 months. That's six months ahead of the recommended schedule.

Each month in between and between every flight, the planes are gone over and over and the systems checked and rechecked. The pilot has the ultimate say over whether or not the plane takes off and he or she knows that the company would rather he sit on the ground until he is satisfied than save the company money (even in tough times) because people are more important than profit. If there's something that feels off to him...he's going to look into it until he's satisfied. That always makes me feel good.

A properly maintained aircraft has a lifespan of about 20 years. Delta has always kept their fleet as young as possible. So not only are you getting the best maintained aircraft, you're getting the youngest in the industry.

It's one of the reasons why the rest of the company - the land based departments - were very spare and frugal and sometimes a little behind the times. The personnel department didn't get computers until the early 90's. All the money went into state of the art equipment for the front lines; reservations, air traffic control (we have our own guys who talk to the pilots from airport to airport and had the kind of sophisticated touch screen computer technology that people use today ten years ago) weather, aircraft maintenance (the mechanics make as much as the pilots) training, and equipment.

I've been through flight training simulations with both pilots and flight attendants when I worked for corporate communications. It's always going on. While you're qualifying for a certain aircraft, brushing up while you fly the aircraft, maybe take a few practice runs at a new airport because every.single.airport in the world and it's weather conditions are programmed into the simulators. It is SO cool.

The flight attendants know so much about helping to keep passengers safe, even though they normally just hand out drinks. All sorts of details inside the plane are designed for your safety. The way the plane information card describes how you should sit during an emergency is so that you have the hightest probability of exiting the aircraft. (Don't volunteer to be the exit row person, though, unless you're a serious bodybuilder; those doors are heavy) Even the way the flight attendants strap themselves in is designed for them to be as safe as they can be.

They think of everything they can to make everything as safe as the possibly can. And they're good people. You'll be safe.

Back when I was there, they, we, they tried to make sure all employees weren't just good workers, but good people. There were classes that were part of our jobs that made sure we understood how to save money and to make good purchases on equipment - to get the most bang for our buck. And there was an unspoken culture of neighborliness, that you looked out for you co-workers. Brought cassaroles when someone was sick, visted them in the hospital. Noticed if someone was feeling down. You didn't get taken to the company shrink, your co-workers checked up on you and took you to lunch. They worked on making us "teams" without and before all the 1990's team-building mumbo jumbo. We were already living it.

Honestly, Jenn. I loved it so much. So many instances of the goodness of people. You were encouraged to be intelligent, on top of your game, a team player and kind. And okay, frugal and a saver.

I used to copyedit the in-flight magazine. And I was the voices of all most all the characters on the Size-wize instructional video, which I don't think they show anymore. My main job, before I left was as ombudsman; I was internal customer relations. Delta was going through a lot of merges, and the biggest financial problems in the history of the airline (we bought Pan Am assets, and the Pan Amians didn't exactly reveal all their liabilities and some things were in shoddy condition.) People were scared, and could call in anonymously to this hotline. I'd sort of weekly take the pulse of the worries and find out the answers to their questions, and publish them every week. I got to talk to all sorts of people at all sorts of levels of the company. It was very cool. Not always easy, because some of the issues were tricky, but very cool.

Such interesting people. The adorable math geeks that figured out the most effective routes for each plane and wrote brilliant programs to automate it. (It had been done originally with magic markers, pens and string) The ferocious man who headed up flight safety (the FAA called HIM for advice.) Hilariously, until he got promoted, the fuel economy guy who reported the price of airplane fuel every week was named Johnathan Leak.

The beautiful former flight attendant who worked her gracious way up to being in charge of all airport operations, not just flight attendant ops. Brillant, beautiful, a really Steel Magnolia. And a fellow redhead.

And the little old man from Personnel, who was so in love with his company that he stayed at work for sixty years so he could make sure they were hiring the right kind of people for the accounting department. (The kind that would stop for a damsel in distress on the side of the road and change her tire, even though they were freaked out by being late; that happened to me.) They had to make up a new kind of service pin for him, because no one had ever stayed that long before. They put a diamond in it, even though a diamond anniversary is 75. He said wryly, when they gave it to him, that seventy-five years of service might be pushing it a little much, since he was already 80.

You can also tell one of your flight attendants that you're anxious, and they'll keep an eye on you, and might give you extra cookies. :D

From my experience, they are very good people

And? I'll be thinking good thoughts for you. ::smooches::

I seriously, seriously love you right now. A *lot*. Saving this for opening while on the plane to re-read and zen to.

I'm so glad. ::hugs::

One last thing? I've debated about telling you, but I'm proud of it. In the remote chance that there is an incident offsite with an aircraft that needs to be investigated, we have an automated phone system that calls a cast of god knows how many people at once to wake them up and tell them where to go. They wanted a calm, friendly voice to firmly deliver the news. I'm that voice.

So yeah, I'm the voice of doom. But I'm a sweet voice of doom. It's just something that internal staff would hear, but I was still pretty chufffed about it.

When they tested it, the ex-CEO, who I used to do special projects for, ran into me in the hall and he saw me and laughed..."You called me this mornin'" he drawled. "Calmly put the fear of God into me, even though I knew it was a drill, and then I hung up and thought, 'was that Susi?'"

You know my dad was a minister, right? Then he said, "Well, Susi, you certainly had a good teacher (at putting the fear of God into folks), because I swear, I was ready to go wherever you told me." And then he patted me on the back so hard, I thought my lungs were going to come out the other side of my chest.

I AM the Friendly Voice of Doom. Or I was. I don't want to know if they replaced me. :D

I can't wait to meet you!

Coming down to the wire myself -- I'm already at the point where, "If I want a reasonable chance of it arriving by my trip, I have to order anything else I want to take NOW NOW NOW," is coming into play, and this weekend I want to get a jump on the subsection of my "to do" list that is meant to be taken care of the weekend before I go so I won't be trying to deal with it at the literal last minute. (Which is a scary enough list, though so much of it is small tasks like finally sticking velcro onto my MP3 player case, or reinforcing the back seam of my Ten coat, or cleaning the bathroom before I have the goddes spending the night before we leave together. Oh, and I should get a jump on test-packing my backpack to get a sense of whether I'm going to need a bigger bag, and tracking down my US-to-UK electrical plug converter so I'll know if I can't find it in time to buy a replacement.)

I'm sure you're already off, but be safe and have fun.

You know I think the only thing that has ever made flying tolerable for me is knowing that statistically more people are killed by donkeys each year than by plane crash.

re: flying

I recently took a klonopin before flying. It turned my usual barely-controlled panic into a kind of disinterested "huh" at takeoff and landing. Oh, modern medicine, you wonderful thing, you.

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