Tag: Security

Thoughts on Air Travel

“How much sleep have you gotten in the last three days?”
“…twelve hours…maybe…”
– Parents and C.

Hello, darlings!  J. and I have returned from Merrie Olde Englande but I’m not at all intact!  For some reason I didn’t adjust to English time at all this trip, and no amount of Tylenol PM could fix me.  And rest certainly wasn’t on the agenda because J. had never been and there is SO MUCH TO SEE/DO.  All of which I will faithfully recount, as soon as I have recovered from the exhaustion induced headcold fog I’m currently clawing my way out of.  Thank goodness I’ve the weekend to rest before going back to work.

And now, a few observations.

Small Dog, upon arrival.

Item the first.  Some women look good when they travel.  I am not one of them.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve been flying at least a couple times a year for a good portion of my life, how much I hydrate, how many naps I squeeze in, whether or not I put on makeup, how many vitamins I’ve popped, or whether I’m seated next to the banshee child from Hades or a perfectly silent baby, I will inevitably arrive looking haggard.  My hair will be in desperate need of a wash, my skin will have turned to an ashen mess, and my eyes will be rimmed in red agony.  And also inevitably, on every flight there will be a leggy blonde in skinny jeans that fit her properly, a flowy cardigan, the perfect carry-on bag, at least one unobtrusive and flattering accessory, flawless skin, and perfectly mussed hair that will come out of the jet in the same lovely condition it went into it with.  I hate this woman. 

Item the second.  Terrorists will make an appearance.  I’ve had some experience with the fallout of their behavior.  A few years ago I was flying out of Brussels back to the States, my family was on their way to the UK and I was back off to university.  It was a day after the UK-based terrorist plot to use liquid explosives on airliners had been discovered and dismantled (2006, if you don’t recall in these fast-paced times) and the resulting chaos was ricocheting around airports world-wide.

Do be safe, dear, and don't talk to extremists.  See you at Christmas, maybe!
Goodbye, dear. Be safe and don't talk to extremists. See you at Christmas...maybe.

My parents drove me to the airport, waved a cheerful goodbye, and off they were down to Calais to take the ferry across the Channel to Dover.  And there I stood in the Brussels airport staring blankly into the pandemonium.  There were security guards everywhere, dogs, and barking airline employees informing me that I would not be permitted a carry-on on my flight so I would either need to repack everything or throw my carry-on and everything in it away.  I had turned in my European mobile phone (and so had my parents) so there was no way to keep in contact, and exchanged all my money for US dollars so there was no way to pay for anything unless I wanted to eat the exchange rate fees on my US credit card.  And they were on their way to France (without me!).  A very nice Middle Eastern family made room for me with their group on the floor where we all repacked, stuffed, sat on suitcases to close them, and repacked again to make sure we were within weight requirements.  Going through the security screening took nearly two hours, but it didn’t matter because my flight was delayed for five. 

After the foiled terrorist plot this past week, Heathrow had stepped up security but J. and I actually made it through in good time with only a frisking.  Unfortunately, after we were frisked and shown into our containment area, we weren’t allowed out again and so I had to forego breakfast.

And item the third.  Continental’s new entertainment system?!  Amazing!  You should fly with them just for the countless movie options!

A Day In The Life (or, Retreat! Retreat!)

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich…this is my symphony.”
-William Ellery Channing

A worthy, worthy goal, my loves, but how is a girl supposed to resist the allure of the fabulousness we endured during our secretaries retreat today?

How can a secretaries retreat be fabulous you ask?  I shall tell you.

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Well, if we MUST...

First of all we went to the local ski town/get-a-way for many of the rich and famous.  We were treated to an incredible suite in an amazing five-diamond winning lodge-style hotel, because the guy who is head of security there used to work for our police department and likes us.  We were given the works!  Valet parking, personally escorted to our rooms, a charming young man sent up to light a fire for us, lunch at the five-star restaurant on the house, and the grand tour of the premises.  He pointed out the various celebrities homes on the neighboring mountain (many of which he’s run security on), walked us through where a certain un-named actress was recently married, took us through the rooms where a past president stayed, gave us several un-repeatable bits of gossip into the lives of some celebrities and dignitaries as he led us through the rooms they occupied, and also told us stories about the incredible lengths they go to in this place to preserve privacy

Sidenote – why oh WHY am I a secretary?!  Why didn’t I go into protocol, start in the government and military circles that revolve around themselves in England and work my way up through the fabulous hotels of London, doing the obligatory stint in the Queen’s service of course, and finishing up in a place where interesting people whirl in and out and ask you for nothing but to keep their secrets?  Whilst leaving five hundred dollar tips!  My only recourse at the point is to somehow break into the world of writing and become one of those interesting people with secrets, I suppose.

Back to our tale!  After being wined and dined, we spent two glorious hours attacking the local outlet stores that include everything from GAP to Coach!  I justified buying myself a few things by buying even more things for other people, knocking a solid three family members off my Christmas-shopping list in an hour.  Completely disregarding the fact that we are still paying off the four new tires currently cushioning my car.  Christmas is coming, and there will be no goose to get fat because C. will have pawned it in desperation.

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Small Dog lives it up.

And believe it or not, we managed to have a lovely meeting in which frustrations were discussed, problems were solved, training was accomplished, and much needed venting got done.  It was glorious.

“Why don’t the guys ever go on retreats like this?” asked Wise as we pulled out our folders, took notes, and stretched our feet luxuriously towards the fire.
“Because they don’t know how to do things properly,” I retorted.  “Peasants.”