February 14, 2016: Day 69 (and 70)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Although Garrett and I spent Sunday apart, I was surprised with this beautiful bouquet of flowers greeting me upon my arrival home on Monday. Two cards were delivered in the mail as well. Both sweet and very thoughtful. But like the flowers, very unexpected.

Thoughtful words and gifts, out of the blue, are always special. Genuine acts of kindness.

A Valentine's Day forgotten became a Valentine's Day remembered.

Sunday, Day 69 of my 90 days off, was the big V-Day. I was in Chicago finishing my Girls' Weekend. Garrett was in Denver preparing for a Monday on the ski slopes with his son. Other than a text back and forth, V-Day was an afterthought for both of us. We both knew this when we made plans for the weekend and didn't think the worse of the other. No expectations.

As I read through FaceBook posts on the holiday of note, they were filled with words of love and pictures similar to the one above. But one particular post on a friend's timeline caught my eye.

"We do not celebrate Valentine's Day for a number of reasons. I have been a longtime believer that if the love is not evident 365 days, why should this one be filled with flowers, chocolate, gifts or cards?"

And then my friend shared the surprise card her husband gave her with a handwritten note that he loved her all 365 days of year. I smiled on the sweetness of this act. The power of the written word and genuine acts of human kindness, regardless of the perceived magnitude, are impactful.

Sometimes when you don't expect, you reap. When assessing my life to date, people I have shared this life with along the way have disappointed me far less than those who have showered me with happiness.

I remind myself of this statistic when lamenting over those who disappoint. My gifts of kindness on Monday, Day 70, were a great reminder.

A quick recap of Days 69 and 70...

Sunday was spent in Chicago. The driving crew left early in the morning for their road trip back to Des Moines while I hung with Laura and her family in their warmth of their home. It snowed throughout the day. We watched it from their large living room window, while our girlfriends battled it on the road. Their typical five hour drive took twice that time due to an accident (not there's) and the falling snow.

Laura and I enjoyed some shopping and great conversation. I kept telling her we were having another of our many sleep-overs of past together. Just 30 years later this time around and not in her family farmhouse. Dinner and Valentine's Day were celebrated with Laura and her beautiful daughter, Caitlin, at an Irish pub and restaurant in the quaint local downtown area of their suburb. We had a great night. Just like the old days.

As Laura took me to the airport Monday morning, we commented on how the best friendships always continue with ease and affection, as though no time had passed between us. Laura and I have one of those friendships.

With a hug and promises on not letting too much time pass until being together again, I went to board a plane to Omaha. I had my day carefully planned with a late lunch and afternoon coffee upon my arrival.

And then life inserted herself with her own plans.

As I was chatting with Garrett on my phone, awaiting my turn through the TSA line, an incoming call with an 800 area code showed up on my phone display. I ignored it, letting it go to voice mail. I soon learned through a voice recording that my flight was cancelled. Not delayed. Cancelled.

I quickly listened to the message twice trying to write down the various numbers provided while maintaining my position in the moving TSA line. After a phone call to American Airlines, I learned that they had no more flights available for me to get back to Omaha on Monday. I was on my own in locating another flight.

This is a perfect example of times when I have to tell myself to stay calm and patient. And most importantly, I need to get resourceful.

I quickly got out of the long TSA line and pulled out my laptop. Southwest is my airline of choice, but unfortunately across the city at the other Chicago airport. I toyed with taking a cab to my beloved Southwest, only to find out that all SW flights were booked as well.

With a stroke of luck, I found a United flight leaving in three hours. It appeared that some seats were available, but I was leery of booking and incurring expense on a second airline that I rarely traveled. Running with rolling bags down two terminals from 1 to 3, I located a United representative.

I calmly explained my situation to the woman in blue. She was puzzled at why American didn't re-book for me, noting that they already had a handful of American travelers on my intended flight switched by the airlines to the desired United flight.

And then she gave me great advice. She wrote down the exact airline jargon I was to tell American representative with the exact flight change they could 'push' from their computer.

"We do this all the time," she explained. "If I were you, I wouldn't accept this answer from them. Likely you will have to work hard to get your refund. It will have restrictions to their airline and this last minute flight you are booking with us is not cheap. American should take care of this."

Never flying American and previously dealing with Southwest, who are light years better in customer service, I found myself on foreign land. I very much appreciated the coaching from the seasoned United rep.

I call American back and immediately went on hold. And than hold again and again. The gentleman was friendly, but kept blaming United for not picking up their phone. After 30 minutes of hold, he came back on, apologizing while explaining that his call finally went through to United and was then dropped. He would need to start the process over. Was I willing to wait?

Patience...kindness...remain calm...

"Yes, thank you for your help. I really would like to get this resolved. I will wait," was my professional and composed answer.

As I was sitting and waiting on the call, the most unexpected thing happened. The United rep was suddenly standing in front of me, far away from her designated post.

"Ma'am, I'm worried that we are going to sell out of seats before you get this resolved. If you give me your driver's license, I will hold a seat for you."

Without hesitation, I gave her my driver's license. I was shocked at her kindness and desire to go out of her way to help me out.

After another 20 minutes on hold, success was finally attained. American re-booked me under United. I was going home at noon. Or so I thought. Next minor inconvenience was boarding my new flight and sitting for an hour and a half waiting for our flight crew. Again...

Patience...kindness...remain calm...

Being flustered or annoyed would have gotten me nowhere. It sure wouldn't have gotten me home earlier. I once worked with a man who insisted that a 'punch to the face' was the only effective strategy in obtaining your desired result. He called our antics 'midwestern nice' and ineffective. I have to disagree. Midwestern nice has paid me many dividends over the years.

Arrival to my front door was 3:45 p.m. Four hours later than the scheduled time.

Greeting me was a beautiful Valentine's bouquet and some special cards snuggled in my mound of accumulated mail. Lots of love and good on a day that should have been a huge downer.

And BTW...I do get 365 days of love from my husband each year, so his many gifts and thoughtful acts are just frosting on the cake.

(90 Days Off realization #12: Best put by my mom in her frequent words of advice to me...

sugar is better than vinegar)

Card from favorite friend and aunt, Kathy
Love this quote


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I used to travel with a "punch to the face" traveler....he was always pissed when I got better results and treatment in return with a little patience and sugar.

    1. Amen to that, Tom! I've never seen a 'punch' get the right result and even worse results in the long run. I will stick with the sugar :)


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