Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Endangered species: jobs that are slip sliding away

In the extremely unlikely case that I will be coming up with another career for myself any time soon, thanks to CareerCast and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I’ll know which ones to avoid. That would be the ten jobs on the list that are forecast to experience the greatest declines by the year 2022.

If I’d had my heart set on becoming a tax examiner/collector, well, boo-hoo to me. There will be 4 percent fewer of them out there. Why is that, you might ask? According to the article, this decline will be predicated on federal, state, and local governments coming to their senses and simplifying the tax code. I’m guessing it’s because automated tax preparation applications are catching a lot of the errors that the taxman used to find.

Thanks to Kindle, online everything, and – I’m freelancing here – the general decline in literacy caused by communication in selfies-only - there will be 5 percent fewer printing workers. Which is kind of too bad, as this means a decline in printer’s devils, which has to be one of the best job titles ever.

Sadly, I would probably not be able to find work as a drill-press operator, as their ranks will decrease by 6 percent. Probably just as well. Given my mechanical aptitude, I’d likely drill press my thumb out of existence.

I would say, alas, I will never be a flight attendant (down by 7 percent), but coffee, tea, or me, a plastic smile, and a polyester uni were never going to me anyway. There’ll be fewer stews because there will be fewer airlines and fewer flights. (Fewer flights? Does that mean that they’ll be cramming us in as strap-hangers. Yikes!)

It’s not just the printer’s devil’s job that’s going to hell. Less printing means less demand for paper. So those brawny lads, the lumberjacks, will see their ranks topple by 9 percent. (And if I thought I’d lose a thumb as a drill press operator, I’d likely manage to whack a personal limb off while in the process of whacking an arboreal limb off.)

I’m sure I’ve done so since then, but the last time I actually remember talking to a travel agent was in 1976, when one was explaining the “bicentennial nightly” fare that was some kind of steep discount on the red-eye.  They’ve still managed to hang in there – and will for specialty travel – but we will be saying Bon Voyage to 12 percent of them by 2022.

Since it’s the only job on the top (bottom?) ten list that I actually would have wanted to have, I’m sorry to see newspaper reporter go. But come 2022, there’ll be 13 percent fewer Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lanes, intrepidly asking “Who, What, When, Where, How” for the Daily Planet. (Oh, how I wish this had been my profession, so I could more properly mourn its passing.)

No more meter readers, I’m afraid – down by 19 percent. No great loss – who wants to wait around for the meter reader? – unless, of course, you’re a meter reader. Or someone holding one of the few decently paying blue collar jobs out there. (Will someone tell me what exactly it is that people who used to be meter readers, lumberjacks, and drill press operators are actually going to do?)

Farmer is also going to be a thing of the past, with 19 percent fewer of them. Thank you agri-business! I was actually surprised to see that the median salary for the Old McDonalds of the world was $69K. Then I ran the numbers in my head and figured out that they were probably making about $13 an hour. Not much reward for risk of weather, market fluctuations, pestilence, exposure to chemicals, danger from machines, manure...

The most dire outlook is for mail carrier, with hiring predicted to decline by 28 percent by 2022. Like everyone else, most of my bills and statements now come electronically. Moving forward, I plan to have all of them arrive that way. But in 2022 I still hope to be getting magazines, cards, and the occasional physical object through the USPS. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

But what if there are no appointed rounds to complete?

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Monday, July 28, 2014

See you in the funny papers. (On not going to Comic Con.)

Well, looks like I missed Comic-Con International in San Diego (sexual harassment and all – although, in truth, the description of the “bad stuff” sounds like it could have occurred at half the tech shows I went to over the years, and 90% of the financial services trade shows – think models teetering around in 4 inch heels and popping out of French maid outfits on all fronts ).

And I don’t plan on being any where near next week’s Boston Comic Con.

But I’m just a no-fun kind of gal, not into fantasy, costumes, role play, super heroes. (As they used to say, a hero ain’t nothin but a sandwich. Except in Boston, where we’d have to say a sub ain’t nothin but a sandwich, or a hero ain’t nothin’ but a sub, or something like that…)

Anyway, Comic Con’s being in the news got me to thinking about the role that comic books have played in my life. Which is minimal.

Sure, if you didn’t have the 50 cents for a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book, but you did have a dime, you might head over to Sol’s Pharmacy and pick up a Little Lulu or an Archie  or a Dennis the Menace.

But mostly, they were something that, as fifties kids, we knew we were supposed to go for, but didn’t.

No, they were not in the same category as the pogo stick, another item that TV kids all seemed to have, but which I never saw in real life until I was well into my adulthood – and well passed the age at which it might seem like a reasonably good idea to hop on and give it a go. But they just weren’t around.

(Another pogo-stick like item was the odd beanie, as worn by Jeff’s friend Porky in the Tommy Rettig Jan_Clayton_Tommy_Rettig_Donald_Keeler_Lassie_1956 (1)episodes of Lassie. While we did see kids wearing coonskin caps (hard to avoid at our house, given that one of those coonskin cap wearing kids was my brother Tom), but this cap of Porky’s and other so-called fifties kids who were clearly the conception of someone who’d been a kid in the 1930’s or 1940’s. Well, get out of here on your pogo stick, pal. Say hello to Slip Mahoney and the other Dead End Kids when you see ‘em. And leave a hand free to take your comic books with you, why don’t you.)

Anyway, comic books were never my thing – or the thing of any of my friends.

Yes, it was interesting to read the the ads in the back – sea monkeys, body building, space shoes – but for those of us committed to the written word, comic books were kind of boring.

I wanted a book to be a real book.

Give me the long form and let me imagine what Nancy Drew and her pals the girlie Bess and the mannish George looked like when they sped around in Nancy’s roadster. To some of us, one word is worth a thousand pictures, I guess.

I guess I got my funnies fill by reading the funny pages in the daily and Sunday newspapers.

I followed the soap-opera, serial strips, like Apartment 3-G, about the working gals in NYC (no, not that kind of working gal: Margo was a secretary, Tommie was a nurse, and LuAnn was a teacher) and Gil Thorp, in which the brush-cut wearing Coach Thorp dispensed sage advice to teens, and always took time out to wish us a Merry Christmas. Then there was Dondi, the little war orphan who never aged, although the war he was orphaned in  shifted over time from WWII, to Korea, to Vietnam. (If it’s still going, it must be Afghanistan or Iraq. Good thinking to have picked a black haired, black eyed kid, rather than a little blond, blue-eyed Dutch boy who wouldn’t have outlasted WWII.) I also read Gasoline Alley, if only because they had a character with the wonderful name of Moon Mullins.

I similarly read the funnies where each strip contained it’s own self-contained story: Dagwood and Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Maggie and Jiggs, The Kazenjammer Kids, (wordless) Little King, and the (similarly wordless, I believe) Caesar, which featured a dog. Some time during the first grade, I remember telling my friend Bernadette about one of the Caesar cartoons that I found especially amusing. Only I pronounced his name “Kay-zar”. Which Bernadette corrected: she was nearly a year older than I, plus had a brother and a sister who were in college. So she was in the know about advanced pronunciation, etc.

I also liked the single picture/caption cartoons that ran in the dailies: Little Iodine and Dennis the Menace.

As I got a bit more sophisticated, I added Pogo and B.C. to my repertoire. And as I got a bit more sophisticated I grew to despise the pietistic, unfunny, and exceedingly repetitive Family Circus.

And then, of course, back in the adult day when I still read a physical newspaper, there were Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes, and Dilbert.

But comic books? Nah?

I think that at one point we inherited a pile of early-fifties comics that had belonged to my older cousin Robert. My Aunt Margaret was in the habit of occasionally going through his belongings, boxing up anything she decided he’d outgrown, and depositing them on our doorstep. Thus, we became the owners of what was a tremendous collection of baseball cards that might have been worth something today if we had left them neatly boxed and catalogued. Since half the players were no longer active, who cared? We attached them to the spokes of our bikes with clothes pins, which made a wonderful clacketey-clack noise as you pedaled around.

If we did, indeed, take possession of a stack of late 1940’s – early 1950’s comic books, we no doubt pillaged them, as well. What we didn’t tear through likely went to the Boy Scout newspaper drive. (Recycling was not invented yesterday.)

All this musing brought on by Comic Con.

Getting old, getting old…

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Friday, July 25, 2014

“Weird Al”: marketing genius

As someone who’s spent her career in the technology sector, and and as a marketer, I want to take a moment on this sultry summer day to salute “Weird Al” Yankovic for his absolutely brilliant take on the Mission Statement.

Mission Statement. Vision Statement.

How many hours did I while away thinking both inside and outside the box to help come up with just the right set of words to express just what the company was about.

By now, I have blessedly forgotten the distinction between Mission Statement and Vision Statement – is mission the tactical and vision strategic?

No matter, in the word of my sister Trish, who sent me the link to this:

Weird Al really nails it in this one!

Weird Al

I tend to flub it when I try to embed anything from You Tube, but please go and check this one out: “Weird Al” Mission Statement. It’s definitely worth waiting through the ad.

If you’ve ever worked in business, I guarantee you’ll be amused by this one. Especially if you’ve been in tech and/or marketing. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, off there pursuing careers in odd-ball fields like teaching, law, or medicine, here’s what you’ve been missing.

As I listened through this for the first time, I started making note of what was missing: seamless, robust, scalable, best of breed, globalization.

It was as if “Weird Al”could read my mind in real-time, as there they were.

If I had a dollar for every time I used any of those words. I’d only need a dime for each use of “seamless integration” to get rich.

The only missing word that I could find was “collaboration.” (Get with it, Al.)  And “paradigm shift” is just so nineties.

Anyway, this was my laugh of the day. Hope it’s yours, too.

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And a tip of the corporate cap to Trish for sending me this link. Such synergy between her finding this and my need for a Friday post. World class thinking there, Trixie!

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Toys will be toys, especially if you’ve got $$$

If you, like me, are already sitting around wondering where summer went, and how you can salvage some of the dwindling hours we have left in it…

If you, unlike me, have some serious walking around money that is not already earmarked for boring stuff like new shades in the living room, repairing the hole in the ceiling that the HVAC installers gouged in ours last fall, and – jumping seasons a bit here – the pricey but beautiful sweater I just saw in the Peruvian Connection catalog…

You might want to check out this article on Huff Po on some nifty summer toys for the rich folk that are on sale at (mostly) Hammacher Schlemmer, which I believe translates into English as “silly, overpriced stuff that no one in their right mind would buy.”

Huff Po does some serious sneering, I’m afraid, but, seriously, what’s not to dislike about a set of campfire roasting rods from for $119.95. Yes, as HS tells us, these are “patented [and] counter-balanced” and come with a “stainless steel ‘line’ that terminates in a pair of roasting spits.” All the while keeping the kiddies “a safe distance” from the campfire.

But this is right up there with the perfect snowball maker in terms of sucking some of the joy out of childhood. (The kind that comes from taking a teenie-weenie risk, and from using an implement  - your mitten’d hands: snowball; a stick: toasting marshmallows -  that you have on your person or can easily create on your own.)  EVERYTHING DOESN”T HAVE TO COME IN A PACKAGE!

Come on, parents and grandparents of America, don’t you want your little ones to experience the satisfaction that comes from mastering the difference between a stick and a snake? From figuring out the risk/reward of pulling a stray hot dog out of the fire?

Sheesh…

If you’re in a bit more of a spending mood,Hammacher also offers $699.99 electric roller skates. That should help with the fight against obesity, no? I’d say that these babies would be unsafe at any speed (they go 8 mph), at least for the pedestrians in their way. Bad enough having to dodge runners, bicyclists (get off of my sidewalk), folks in Hoverounds tearing up the pavement (slow down, gramps), and tourist gawkers on Segways (you’re supposed to be in the street, pal). Now we have the prospect of electronic roller skates?  Oh, for the days of the simple skate key…

Then there’s an inflatable version of Twister for $2K, which they call the “Color Dot Game” because the Inflatable Twistername Twister was already taken. The good news is that there’s more room to twist around in. The bad news is, it’s still, well, Twister. (Maybe I’ll sign up for the inflatable Trivial Pursuit when it comes out.)

Although I would be the first one to break my neck in it – that is, after I’d lost my lunch – I will say that the Human Bowling Ball ($5.5 K) looks like fun. That is, if you’re the type that likes to break neck/lose lunch, or watch others doing the same.

Since there are so few left who are willing to take mallet in hand and participate in the annual family croquet outing – come on, who wouldn’t rather sit there and drink wine and gossip? – maybe we can get someone to spring for this before next summer. I can picture this fitting in perfectly in my cousin MB’s back yard. Perhaps we could vary things up a bit and roll after Canadian geese. (I have a nominee in mind.)Human Bowling Ball

We’ll just have to figure out who gets to wipe the goose poop off.

Hammacher Schlemmer has all sorts of other summer goodies: a Barbecue Dining Boat that will set you back $50,000; something that lets the entire family walk (or stand) on water simultaneously for $999.95 (didn’t my brother Tom have something called “Jesus Feet” back in the 1970’s?); and a frankly quite fun-looking Inflatable Water Park slide for $8K. (I think this item may be from Sharper Image, not HS.)

You can also get an Inflatable Military Obstacle Course for $12,500.

Personally, life is enough of an obstacle course these days without adding in some inflatable military impediments.

No tree in sight? And, if you’re on an ocean beach, there probably isn’t much in sight other than a couple of scrub pines, there’s a Floating Rope Swing ($3,800).

Flying Hovercraft ($190K). Killer Whale Submarine ($100K). Motorized Monocycle ($13K – see the above on electric roller skates). Water Skier Controlled Tow Boat (for those with no friends, a high risk tolerance, and a spare $17,000). A Personal Submarine, which I guess must be a bit more water proof and depth capable than the cheapo Killer Whale Sub ($2 million: Paul Allen, step aside).

And just in case you build up a powerful, hungry kind of thirst playing with (and paying for) all these toys, you can get a Classic Snow Cone Cart for $4K.

Oh, whatever happened to the Classic DIY Lemonade Stand?

I guess if you need to churn out “up to 500 lbs. of finely granulated ice per hour,” this one’s for you.

But Snow Cones? Snow Cones! Really….

One good slurp and you’ve exhausted the colored sweet gunk and are stuck with a sopping paper cup filed with ice.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nice way to derail your future, bro

Every few months, whether we need it or not, it seems that there’s some teenager putting a stake in the heart of his or her future by doing something truly dreadful. Something truly dreadful that generally involves sex.

Last week’s sordid story comes out of one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country, St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. SPS has been around since 1856, and is 100% residential. None of those down-market day-duckers mucking things up and detracting from the 24/7 SPS experience.

Anyway, the story currently making the news rounds involves a senior male who, on the eve of his graduation, has been arrested for sexually assaulted a 15 year old female sophomore. Allegedly, he was playing a game with a group of classmates in which they were trying to “hook up” with as many girls as possible before the school year ended.

The student who’s been charged must have been falling behind in the head (ahem) count, and resorted to force. As of this writing, this is not something that any of the other play-ahs resorted to. So far.

I’m not going to name names here. Google St. Paul’s School and one or two other words and you’ll find it. But what this guy’s name is doesn’t really matter all that much. What matters is that, again and again, we hear too much of this and variation on a theme stories. This one involved e-mailing a girl, inviting her to a off-limits rendezvous spot, and sexual assault. No gang-bangs, no roofies, no drugs and alcohol, no Instagram, no FB bragging. Just good old-fashioned sexual assault.

It will come as no surprise that the accused student is an athlete. Something about that culture seems to bring out the worst in some young men, that’s for sure. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that he had been accepted to Harvard.

But I am shocked that someone bright enough to get into Harvard – even, as is likely, via the affirmative action for privileged white athletic male route – was stupid enough to jeopardize his future to notch a meaningless sexual encounter.

Is he a sociopath? An arrogant punk? An entitled POS? All of the above?

I suspect that, whether he ends up in jail or this all gets lost in some he-say-she-say persiflage (or, as is unlikely based on what’s come out so far, that this is a boyfriend-girlfriend gone wrong thing), he’s probably kissing Harvard good-bye. They’ve got a character clause in that acceptance letter, thank you.

I know that at 18, an awful lot of boys are doing a lot of thinking with their little head. Still, you’d think these high-prestige schools – especially those that are 100% residential and, thus, have so much responsibility to and for their students; or is in loco parentis just plain out of date and quaint  – would get better at instilling in its charges (as their parents apparently haven’t) that this behavior is god-awful. And if the moral appeal fails, and if the Golden Rule derivative: what if it’s your sister/niece/friend doesn’t work, you’d think that they’d parade out the object lessons on what can happen if you engage in this sort of behavior.

I.e., you probably don’t get to go to Harvard. You probably don’t get the  posh internships you’d hoped for.Your fancy-ass network probably turns its back on you. A woman you really want to go out with may think twice, but that will be thinking twice before rejecting your request for a date.  Etc.

And while they’re at it, why not drum into the heads of their female students that, if a boy who has never spoken with you, nodded at you in quad, sat with you in the dining hall, shared a snide observation about a teacher, smiled at you at a game, told one of your friends he thought you were cute, retweeted your droll tweet, or done anything that leads you to believe he has some true interest in you, you’d be better off deleting an e-mail invitation to meet in a remote, off-limits place where it will be just him and you. On second thought, you might not want to accept that invitation even if you do have one or two checkboxes regarding his interest in you.

Maybe there’s no such thing as an Archie and Veronica date – two straws in the malted – anymore, but, for all their knowingness and sophistication, today’s girls would do well to heed an occasional warning from on of us dried-up old prunes.

But, if you do accept that e-mail invitation – after all, it’s a senior jock and he’s asked you – I am not blaming you, honey. You ARE the victim here.

Wonder what this young fellow’s parents are thinking just about now.

Wonder if they’re ashamed, sick at heart, aching for the young girl, and angry with their son.

Wonder if they’re focusing that anger on the girl. (Slut. Tease. We all know the drill.)

And wonder what’s going on in the mind of this young man these days.

Is it shame? Is it anger at the girl for (at least in his mind) leading him on, for lying after the fact, for telling?

Is he thinking he did something wrong? Or that he’s the victim here?

Or is the realization seeping in that he screwed up big time, and is probably not going to be living the life, or having the career, that he envisioned when he got into SPS, when he got the thick envelope from Harvard giving him the good t news?

Although it wasn’t part of my playbook, I’m quite sure that meaningless sex can be fun and entertaining. But that would be only when it’s consensual.

Suckering in a younger girl so you could score some points in a sex game with your bros. Well, that takes meaningless to a new low.

But this guy’s fellow gamers will be distancing themselves from him faster than you scan yell “Score.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Put a needle in this Haystack, why don’t you

As someone who has actually owned a car in a densely occupied urban environment where the parking ain’t easy, I well understand the frustration surrounding the hunt for a parking space.

When I had to commute by automobile – never, ever, ever my preference – I initially tried to get by without paid-for parking. I did get my Beacon Hill sticker, which entitled me to park on our fair neighborhood streets if and only if I could find a space. Which sometimes took a long and brutal search, which generally ended in my giving up and paying for overnight parking in the nearest garage.

After a while I smartened up and got worker-bee parking in that garage.

For $100 a month – it’s more now, but still a bargain – I had to exit by 10 a.m. each workday, and could enter only after 4 p.m., but had unlimited in-and-out on weekends, holidays, and snow days. Since I have been blessedly blessed with good health, I seldom had to figure out what to do on a sick day. On vacations, I parked at the airport or left the car at my sister’s.

When I started freelancing, car ownership became more problematic. I couldn’t justify paying for full-time parking for a car I seldom used, so I hit the streets. A complete and utter drag that eventually resulted in my giving my beloved Beetle to Volunteers of America.

So you’d think I’d be all over an app that let’s people more easily find that elusive space.

Well, not if it works like Haystack.

All wrapped up in a combination of like a good neighbor and unleash the inner greedster verbiage:

Help your neighbors by offering your street space before you head out with a simple tap. Cancel without penalty at anytime if nobody has taken your spot.

Not planning on heading out, but willing to move your car for the right price? Offer your spot for extended time during the most in-demand hours to help your neighbors who need it most.

Haystack lets you alert a fellow Haystacker that you’re about to leave your space, giving your estimated time of departure, your location, a description on your vehicle, and a head’s up on how long you’re willing to wait. The charge for this is $3, of which 75 cents goes into Haystack’s coffers. (The “willing to move your car for the right price” option is called Make Me Move, and lets you set your price.)

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, what happens when hapless, app-less Mom and Dad Ohio with three squalling kids in the car see you get into yours and think, hey, it’s my lucky day.

Well, maybe Dad Ohio is not Midwest nice. He’s Midwest pissed. (Those three squalling kids…)

And forget about Mom and Dad Ohio. They can go find a garage.

What about those neighbors who, like you, have a parking permit. They see you get into your car and think, hey, it’s my lucky day. Only to have the Haystacker wave them off. Only to see the Haystacker give it up for his fellow app-savvy urban parking guerrilla.

Having narrowly avoided a couple of I-saw-it-first confrontations of my own, and having witnessed plenty of them, this does not end pretty.

It’s one thing if you actually own the parking place, quite another when it’s a place the city owns.

Anyway, Haystack launched in Baltimore, but has come to Boston.

The Hub of the Universe – at least the folks who run it – is not exactly excited about this:

“That has implications that at first blush are alarming to us,” said [Mayor Marty] Walsh’s chief of staff, Daniel Koh. “When a space is available, it should be available to anyone, regardless of whether they have extra money to pay for it.”

…Haystack’s 24-year-old founder, who says his app is an innovative solution to one of urban living’s great frustrations, contends the company is not selling public property at all. Rather, it is selling information about public parking — specifically, when spaces are about to open up.

“There’s no sale of physical property,” Eric Meyer said. “This is neighbors exchanging information for a fee, and they have every right to do that. What you’re really paying for is convenience.” (Source: Boston Globe)

Although Boston’s official tone was initially somewhat open toward Haystack, they’ve now come out saying they’ll put a stop to it.

In this, they’ll be following the lead of San Francisco

City attorney Dennis Herrera has threatened to fine three services —MonkeyParking, Sweetch, and ParkModo — if they do not cease operations, accusing them of “hold[ing] hostage on-street public parking spots for their own private profit.”

“It creates a predatory private market for public parking spaces that San Franciscans will not tolerate,” Herrera said in June. “Worst of all, it encourages drivers to use their mobile devices unsafely — to engage in online bidding wars while driving.”

Sweetch is like Haystack (only costs more). MonkeyParking is auction based. And ParkModo

…has taken to hiring drivers — at $13 per hour — to occupy street spaces at peak hours in busy neighborhoods as a way of increasing app usage.

How neighborly can you get?

Personally, if someone wants to order a pizza, do their laundry, or find the nearest hookup via app, well, have at it.

If you want to auction off your own personal, personally-owned space, have at that, too

Boston will be coming up with an app that let’s people know where metered spaces are open, and that makes sense to me. But there’s something completely unsavory about the Haystack pay-up app approach to a public good or service.

I know there’s no stopping the march of technology, but I’d be just as happy if someone put a fully-loaded needle in this Haystack.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Flightmare

Perhaps because I was never a super heavy business traveler, I escaped my full time career with relatively few travel horror stories.

Oh, there were the three hours spent broiling on the tarmac at Newark Airport waiting for the weather to clear at wherever we were headed. To conserve fuel, they turned the engines, and, hence, the AC. It was 95 and sunny. Excellent!

Sadly, I never got to Frankenmuth, Michigan. After hanging around Logan for about 3 or 4 hours, that game was called on account of snow. I had been looking forward to getting a glimpse of Frankenmuth, which is not only to home of Frankenmuth Insurance (our destination) but also some sort of Bavarian theme town. Jawohl? Neinwohl. By the time our call was rescheduled, I was no longer with the company.

Then there was the terrible, weather-delayed flight to Houston that got in at 4 a.m.

And getting stranded in Orlando on 9-11 wasn’t exactly fun.

Mostly, I had to deal with minor nuisance delays and the odd cancellation that was easy enough to work around.

On the pleasure side of the travel equation, I’ve been equally lucky.

The one big hassle trip was a seven hour delay at Shannon.

Once we got on the plane, the pilot charmingly told us that the delay occurred because the plane had been struck by lightning on the way over, and Aer Lingus “knew that we would want them to check it out.” Yes, indeed.

But my travel life has been pretty much sturm und drang free.

And then there was Frightmare: Return from Chicago.

Because of some traffic issues, my cousin Ellen – hostess par excellence for my recent visit to the Second City, formerly known as the Windy City, and before that, Hog Butcher of the World – decided to get me to O’Hare on the early side. This was great, as it gave me the opportunity to get on stand-by for an earlier flight.

Alas, I didn’t make it on.

But I was content to sit there with my Kindle.

Then came the news that the 4:57 to Boston was delayed until 7:04 p.m.

Oh, what’s two hours when you’ve got three more novels loaded, and you’re sitting near a plug?

Then the flight shifted to 8:15 p.m.

By this time, the cannier travelers – business people with tickets that were actually paid for – were booking on other airlines.

Since I was traveling on frequent flyer, my options were limited to getting wait-listed on other United flights. Which didn’t work out.

At some point, my flight was rescheduled for 9-something. With this reschedule came the admission that the plane we were going to be heading back to Boston on hadn’t left Newark yet. Given that the flight hadn’t left, and given that it takes about 2 hours to fly from Newark, that 9-something take-off began to look like the lie from the pit of hell.

While we were all sitting there doing the math, the gate person got on the PA and announced that our gate was being moved from C21 to B3.

Those of us who were more fleet of foot high-tailed it over to terminal B – quite a schlepp, I might add – only to find out that we had been misinformed.

There was, indeed, a flight to Boston leaving from B3, but it wasn’t ours, and it was full already.

Back at C21, I asked the gate person whether we had misunderstood the announcement.

No, we had heard right. What we hadn’t heard was the “never mind” that had followed the initial “get thee to B3” announcement.

By this point, the flight was scheduled for 11:30 p.m.

I figured by now that Flight 744 was just as likely to be cancelled as take off at 11:30, so I got in the customer service line. My thought was that I could keep an eye on my flight, but see what my options were for the following day.

After an hour-and-a-half wait, I got to the head of the line, where a remarkably pleasant and competent young woman told me that they had jiggered things around so that a plane coming from Houston, and a pilot coming from Detroit, would be taking us back to Boston, leaving somewhere around midnight.

Just to make sure, she booked me on the 6 a.m. flight the following morning.

Fortunately, our flight did take off at midnight, more or less, arriving in Boston at 3 a.m. Eastern.

I was delighted to learn that there are plenty of taxis to be had at Logan at 3 a.m.

So home I was by 3:30 a.m., and, after a quick shower, rolling into bed by 3:45 a.m.

I was exhausted, but none the worse for having spent 10 hours at O’Hare.

Between the Kindle – and the fellow traveler conversations I had with the Nigerian woman flying to Philadelphia, the fellow Maureen with a grandson named Oliver, the retired cop heading home from Alaska, the guy from Michigan whose daughter is looking at colleges – I was plenty entertained.

If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me while traveling, I’ll have a pretty darned good travel life.

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