Sunday, December 2, 2012

There's Something "Romantic" About Airports

Picture this: the quaintness of Long Beach Airport's 1941 Streamline moderne terminal (though slightly upgraded to 2012 standards) set against a slightly drizzly Southern California Sunday night.

In the outdoor concourse, people of all ages and backgrounds assemble in a sort of organized, almost Rockwellian stillness. A middle-aged couple stands outside the gate, with passion obviously still afire, sharing a kiss before the woman departs. In another corner, a young man waits nervously and not-so-patiently, pacing the mosaic tile floor with a single flower in his hand, clearly waiting for his special someone to come home. In a more modern airport, one might find a larger crowd with professional drivers and families all waiting for their loved ones to come home. But tonight, it's a pleasant environment for the casual observer.

Sitting on a bench, the wife of an older couple whose husband's arm is around her, leans over to a young couple and asks, "are you married or just engaged?" Holding and squeezing a young woman's hand, he replies, "oh, we're just dating. We met a few months ago." The older woman continues with polite and charming questions and offers her own advice on dating and relationships. It's very clear that she and her husband still haven't lost that special twinkle in their eyes for each other.

When flights arrive, there are those simply determined to collect their luggage, but in other scenes, there are embraces, both short and long. Couples debark, holding hands, with a certain bounce to their step as if they, and quite possible are landing for their honeymoon or an anniversary trip.

Particularly tonight, there are knit hats, wool coats, scarves and the wardrobe makings of what some might see out of "Sleepless in Seattle." Call me crazy, or even a bit too idealistic, but the air is filled with the warmth of an embrace -- an embrace that almost makes one want to purposely miss their flight. Calmer heads prevail as the embrace becomes outstretched arms, fingertips touching, and that special someone walking towards the gate as the sliding double doors shut.

To me, I'm now noticing there is indeed, something quite romantic about airports. Naturally as another friend has put it, "depending on who you're picking up or sending out."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

the Big One-Oh!

I can pretty closely remember the day in junior high when Mothers' Markets were handing out free samples of wrinkle cream ... the kind that prevents wrinkles, not the kind that causes them. Since that day, I've had an unnatural pre-occupation with aging.

I think it was comedian Dom DeLuise who when asked for his age, responded, "I can't remember ... it changes every year." With that, I try to come to grips with reality as I was gently reminded by text message tonight to register for my 10-year high school reunion. Yeah, I suppose ten years isn't that long, but in the grand scheme of things, it represents more than a number. It represents a decade, an era, and a traditionally accepted benchmark of time and associated accomplishment, or lack thereof.

In my work life, politics is scattered with people from all walks of life and from all stages of "professional development." Outside my office door, I've got high school volunteers who think I'm ancient, idealistic college interns, hungry 20-somethings, soccer moms, retirees who'd scoff at my being concerned about age and even highly trained professionals just looking to change careers. And, in some measure, they're all doing similar tasks. I largely think of these people as ageless.

But, I digress. Getting that simple text reminder to "purchase [my] reunion ticket," prompted me to start filling out a bio sheet, a bio sheet that led me to write succinctly what's been going on in my life for the past 10 years ... and in 850 characters or less. Characters, not words. Yikes!

Just as funerals offer closure to those in mourning (ha ha, dramatic, right?), putting a few thoughts on my last 10 years offered me some closure to the fact that, yes ... I think I'm becoming a grown-up.

I'm turning a new leaf and turning my frustration with age into a positive: I've had a pretty cool life with some pretty fun experiences.

Here are a few things I shared in my bio (and some that I didn't) that I'll share with you, with some expanded comments:

--I planned a cross-country trip for +800 people: It was a great honor, and honestly one of the most fun jobs I've had to be able to serve on senior staff for the California Delegation to the Republican National Convention in Minnesota-St. Paul in 2008. What a neat experience to be at the center of political news for a week, to be with the most active, involved, influential volunteers, donors and elected officials in California Republican politics for a week, and of course, to visit the Mall of America!

--I sang the National Anthem in front of 22,000 people: As a last-minute addition to the program, and mostly because we forgot to make arrangements for a singer, I got to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at a rally for a certain Vice Presidential nominee / Alaska Governor.

--I jokingly advertised for a Prius dealership: Getting involved and helping out with the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Follies (a musical comedy starring business, community and philanthropic leaders ... and me), we made a plug for a local Prius dealership who gave us a Prius!

All in all, it's been a fun 10 years. I'm looking forward to the next 10, and many more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Engaged ... for a day. (or Facebook is Out of Control)

So it started on Sunday night when my friend Cristina and I were celebrating our budding friendship. It was a fairy-tale story: boy meets girl, girl smiles at boy, girl and boy laugh with each other, boy proposes. This time, the genesis of those steps took about 10 minutes, and this engagement was clearly a joke.

This blog post is primarily dedicated to an examination however, of my generation's reliance on the internet and social media (ie. facebook) for up-to-date information.

That night, we "updated" our facebooks to indicate our relationship status would be, "engaged." It started on Monday afternoon. Within the first five minutes, we had 6 "comments," on this change. By the end of the night, we had almost 40 comments ranging from, "that explains the Xanax," and, "liar, liar, pants of fire," to, "try as you might, we're still making you do activities [as a church assignment]," "I know [to] who ... ha ha ha you two are gonna make great babies," and "time to get plastic surgery on that nose -- it just grew about ten feet in two seconds." The rest of the comments were kind, innocent congratulatory remarks expressing genuine joy for a true farce. These certainly don't even include countless phone calls and texts we had fielded over the course of the afternoon.

Poor Cristina even got a call from her mother who was balling and chewed Cristina out for a good ten minutes on the phone. "Let me explain, Mom," was promptly responded to, "No!" and a hang up. This had gone a little too far.

On Monday night, the Church I attend hosts an activity known as FHE (Family Home Evening). It typically involves s brief spiritual thought / lesson and then a fun, wholesome activity. You're all invited to come ... let me know and you will absolutely have a fun time! Advertisement aside, we began the activity when one of the church leaders whose enthusiasm for matchmaking and gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle nudges on dating and marriage is well known stood up. Many of our readers know and love this leader ... let's just call him John B. John B stands up during announcements and says, "before we start, can we all congratulate Anthony on his engagement? And, why don't you introduce your fiancee?"

We took the status off after less than 12 hours after we had put it up. This little practical joke / social experiment had played its course and we had a good laugh over it.

Tuesday: I get a delightful e-mail from my mother. Not a phone call, but an e-mail. Subject: ???????. Body: ARE YOU ENGAGED?

So, I called dear mother and explained to her that it was a joke. She took it well and said, "do you know how I found out?" My guess was it was one of my cousins who are on Facebook, which bothered me a little bit because I had clarified to them that it was clearly not true. No, her brother in Taiwan skyped (is that the right word?) my mother AND grandparents to congratulate them. Fake engagements ... the gift that keeps on giving.

There's an old expression: don't believe everything you read in the papers. I suppose the modern day version would be: don't believe everything you read on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Remember when the customer was always right?

Those who know me know that I have a colorful history with those in customer and food service. I like to think that I'm polite and that I'm fairly well versed in how one ought to behave and conduct themselves with those who aspire to serve others.

Last year, I took a series of back-to-back trips for work, for the holidays and for play. The drama started when I returned from a family affair in Chicago. A good friend of mine picked me up from the airport. We waited at the baggage claim patiently for my luggage. Other people's pink and leopard and neon green luggage came down the carousel, and countless black strapped bags, too, but not mine. The carousel stopped, my luggage never came, and that's where the evening began.

I walked myself (some might say marched) over to the customer service counter where any normal person might assume they might be assisted. The lady at the counter was lovely, her demeanor was pleasant and her countenance was angelic. Wait, nevermind ... that never happened. Instead, a tired, emotionless woman asked if I needed help without even looking up from her computer screen. I explained that I had just landed from Chicago but that I couldn't find my luggage. The woman asked me for my claim ticket and I told her that I didn't have it anymore. They had stapled the claim ticket and put it with my boarding pass. Without a boarding pass, I didn't think I needed the sleeve anymore.

"Well, without the claim ticket, I can't help you," the woman said. "Well, I'm not obligated to help you that is, but you can fill out a courtesy form and if your luggage arrives you can pick it up or we can have it delivered to you at your expense," she added.

"So, you're telling me that you've lost my luggage, but I have to pay you to get it back?" I asked quizzically.

"No, sir, your luggage isn't lost. It's delayed," she replied.

Whew! I was somewhat relieved and asked "So you know where my bag is?" She said no. I asked, "so it's lost?"

"No, sir. Your luggage is delayed," she repeated.

"Madam, you don't know where my luggage is, it's certainly not here. THAT is the definition of lost," I stated.

We went back and forth a few times until I said, "You don't need to get upset with me."

Offended, she replied, "I'm not getting upset."

"You're raising your voice," I said.

"You're raising your voice, too," she quipped.

"I'm raising my voice because you've lost ... I'm sorry: delayed my luggage and thousands of dollars of posesssions. That's why I'm raising my voice and that's why I'm getting upset. Why are you getting upset?" I said.

My friend who had come to pick me up is in the corner of the office, back turned, visibly embarassed. Those around me are looking on with great curiosity, either astonished that an airline could be that incapable, or more likely shocked that I would call them out on it publicly.

It's an interesting story particularly because I eventually got my luggage back, to my mother's home (and heavens only knows how they got that address!), without charge.

Madam customer service at the LAX counter ... who knows what wrath you'd face if the luggage wasn't delivered at all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paranoid, party of one?

A frequent topic of discussion in my circles lately has been "eating out ... alone."

Some people eat out alone every day, many do it every once in a while, and then there are others, like myself who just can't. Yes, I use the word "can't," because it makes me physically nauseous to entertain the thought of telling a hostess, "yes, party of one." In my mind, she's thinking, "what? You couldn't even get one person to come with you? You're going to waste a perfectly good table here at this restaurant by eating alone." That said, I take it even a step further with my discomfort in even going to a casual cafe or fast food joint alone. I think I'd rather just go through the the drive-thru or maybe skip a meal.

I was meeting a friend for breakfast a week or so ago and hurriedly walked in a few minutes late. While waiting, she bumped into a friend who asked if she was eating alone. Her response was, "No, of course not. Why would I be here when I could be eating oatmeal alone in the comfort of my own home?" My thoughts exactly.

They were talking prior to my arrival about what he had done the weekend before. "Oh, I had dinner at Flemings," he said.

She got excited, "Who'd you go with? Was it a date?"

"Um, no. I went by myself," he replied.

"Oh, so you sat at the bar?" she asked.

"No, I sat at a table," he said.

My friend and I looked at each other with puzzlement thinking about the gall her friend had in eating out ... alone.

I watch those poor people eating out at the Corner Bakery or even nicer places hiding behind their book because they don't have a dining companion. People who are texting or checking their iPhones and Blackberries for emails. Why can't you be enjoying the company of a real live person. Savor the tasty food and enhance it with the joy of conversation and laughter.

Some may enjoy the solace of dining alone, being left in their thought or eating while day dreaming or planning. I'm not opposed to others doing it, I simply admit that it's something that I'm incapable of doing. Yes, I'd rather not eat than have to eat alone.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What's the matter with kids today?

Some months ago, I was was running around with gummy bears and a 3-year old at the indoor basketball court at my church. The next day, a friend of mine observed that she was surprised given my past predisposition against children. I told her that the jury was still out, but that I was warming up to kids.

Since then, I've been able to spend some more time with these youngsters. I must say I know longer refer to them as "smelly, sticky, loud, little ones that don't listen," at least not in a derogatory fashion.

Yesterday, I had one of those, "oh my goodness, I'm turning into my parents," moments when the words, "Why? Because you're deliberately defying me!" came out of my mouth. Some around me giggled that I would choose that sort of vocabulary to use with an 11-year old, but they were the first words that came to mind.

And, today I learned that little children, even more so than the 11-year olds, don't comply with your requests either. The more I said, "don't jump on me," or, "give me my phone back," or, "Uncle Tony does not like to be tickled," the more they engaged in those activities I specifically asked them not to. More importantly, though, I learned that when you fall asleep on the sofa next to the craft table at a family function where markers are present, you may wake up to find artwork on your face.

What comes to mind is the song from "Bye, Bye Birdie," that goes:

Kids! Disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, dirty, lazy loafers.
Kids! You can talk and talk 'till your face is blue.
Kids! But they still just do what they want to do.
Why can't they be like we were?
What's the matter with kids today?

Well, this weekend, I've come to the epiphany that I have moved from not wanting children category to liking children and finally to most definitely not being prepared for children.

Kids are great, but for now, I'm glad that I can observe from a safe distance.

First chronicle of an adventure

So tonight marks my first blog entry!

There's always an adventure at Disneyland, but tonight was a little different. Kendall and I put our names down for dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and started to explore Downtown Disney. A few jelly beans and yet another pair of boardshorts later, we found ourselves wandering the World of Disney for more merchandise we don't need.

As promised though, this trip provided a little more adventure than our average visit. As we walked through "World of Disney," one of those nice gentlemen with the straw hat, ear piece and red ties (aka. security), rushes by at a brisk pace speaking clandestinely into his wrist, "Control: we have the suspect in sight!" What did we do? Well, of course we did what any normal person would do: we followed with great haste.

Kendall and I made our way quickly through the store as we followed Mr. Security and his assistant (presumably a retail clerk from Quiksilver). Our best guess at this point was someone had shoplifted from them. Mr. Security made it through the entire store and there was no suspect, so we sat outside the store next to the tasty-smelling kettle corn cart observing from a safe distance.

Mr. Security's ears perked up. Well, okay, they didn't perk up, but he spoke into his wrist again. He, the Quiksilver clerk and another security guard made their way, again with haste, towards the Plaza. Beyond the bag check section about 3-4 security guards are congregated. Disney staff begins looking at us strangely as we are acting somewhat suspicious, although I suppose I chalk it up to enthusiastic looky-loo-ing. Given the looks we're getting, Kendall and I abandon our semi-stalking of Mr. Security.

We start to walk back towards Ralph Brennan's when we see Anaheim PD jogging towards the Plaza. Kendall and I look at each other and instantly 180 it back towards the Plaza. Something is definitely going on! After having our bags checked, we observe, again from a safe distance. They've caught him! Mr. Security and his faithful Anaheim PD buddies have a guy sitting indian-style (can I say that?) on the ground. Justice is served!

We can now return to have dinner having completed our mission: to find out who the suspect was and to see him apprehended.

And, if you ever make it to the Jazz Kitchen, definitely have the Bananas Foster ... scrumptious!

This was an exciting night for me to write about. I fully expect more adventures to come!