Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Six impossible things before breakfast July 12, 2008

So I recognize this blog is morphing a little bit from “reminiscences about my first solo backpacking trip through Europe in preparation for the second” into “why airline travel sucks,” but bear with me as I purge those demons. We still have 21 days left until I get on my flight to Iceland, so there’s ample time left to get through it all.

Meanwhile, I had to take a short little flight yesterday from a small, indiscriminate city in Ohio to the east coast. It was an AirTran flight, and although I’ve heard them referred to as “another Express Jet waiting to happen,” I weighed the odds (and the super discount fare), and figured I’d endeavor to survive it. 

Anyway, when I got there, the line to check in baggage stretched halfway across the airport…and wasn’t moving. Twenty minutes into my wait, I noticed the same family that had been at the self-service monitor when I arrived was STILL THERE. At first I thought maybe they’d biffed it somehow: like their baggage weighed 100 pounds apiece or contained their prized fireworks collection. Forty (!!!) minutes into the wait (this is simply to check bags, I hadn’t even faced security yet), I was close enough to the front to see that ONE guy was working the entire counter – and not well. People in the self-service lane (which had two monitors) would check themselves in, and then wait for ten minutes before the dude would come and put the tags on their bags. Then he’d return to the other end of the counter and the entire ‘process grinding to a halt’ scenario would repeat.

To my surprise, people were taking this more or less in stride. In fact, the only real pointed gripe I heard came from a seven-year old girl who looked at her mother and said with incredulity, “FORTY minutes to check bags!?”  However, when 25 minutes before the flight was to leave, a female AirTran employee came out from her siesta and announced that the baggage room for our flight was closed, a near riot erupted. At least 40 people by show of hands were still waiting to check bags, and the pushing and jostling and f-words started to erupt. I think I heard someone scream “Attica!”.  In the end, I made it on and somehow my bag did too, but in all honesty I’ve seen third world airlines do a better job than this particular arm of AirTran.

On another topic, while on my run this morning, I started thinking about all these different business ideas and alternative income strategies floating around in my head. I’d be lying if I said I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life or even where I wanted to live or spend my time or hang my hat, but I feel myself starting to think differently and really trying to see what’s possible. I think – at least for me – the biggest obstacle in my way has always been my own brain. For me, the mantra of the next 16 weeks will be to consider the impossible and find ways to do it anyway.

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Alice in Wonderland, and my related thoughts of the morning:

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Most people may not find these things “impossible”, but considering the limitations I consistently place on myself, they’re downright fantastical considerations for me:

1. Keep and somehow do my job while I backpack Europe for 13 weeks.

2. Start a second blog to chronicle what I eat on the road – Anthony Bourdain on the cheap.

3. Somehow sell some inventions I have floating around in my head.

4. Move to Manhattan

5. Start a little restaurant serving fresh made organic juices and finger foods

6. Master time travel, go back and save Lincoln, Kennedy, and Malcolm X. Come back and see if that makes a big difference. If not, make some more trips and get rid of a few random folks – perhaps chosen out of a hat? Keep mixing it up until we have flying cars and Oprah is president. Then take a nap.