I Volunteer as Tribute?

If you’re talking about flying standby, then the answer is no.

Sure, I’ll volunteer for all kinds of things: bringing napkins and utensils to parties (not food; I’m sure the guests want to live to see another day); picking people up or driving someone to a destination; taking my sister’s place so I can fight some kids for food. But when you’re talking about giving up my seat on the flight I paid for? And throwing my travel plans to the wind? In that instance, no, madame, I cannot volunteer as tribute.

Katniss
You’re a better woman than me, Katniss.

Am I the only one that remains unaffected and unmoved when they make this announcement at the airport? I remain right in my chair, flipping through my silly magazine, patiently waiting to board. There’s never a voice that says, “Self, help out a fellow passenger and give up your seat and take the voucher and just fly another time/the next day.” If anything, I marvel at the brave souls that respond to this cheerful plea by heading up to the counter. But I can marvel right from my seat, clutching my boarding pass until my knuckles turn white. Let me explain a few things about your flying Square Peg:

  1. Short of unavoidable/uncontrollable changes to a flight, my aim is to arrive where I need to be exactly the way I arranged it.
  2. This Square Peg is all for trying new things (within reason; I’m a proud square peg, after all), but let’s not get crazy.

The only time I’ve responded to an announcement to approach the counter was when they asked if anyone wanted to upgrade to first class. I basically raced up there. Selfish. Worth it, though.

Let me know: have you ever agreed to give up your ticket and fly standby? Did you collapse? Seriously, what inspired your decision? Kindly assuage my curiosity and tell me in the comments. Of course, it won’t change my mind, but I’ll marvel at you all the same.

Honorable Mentions.

Sometimes in life, people, strangers, pass through and offer us what we need at the right time. Whether it’s a smile, a seat on the train, or offering you half of their sandwich because they caught you eyeing it on an airplane and heard your belly grumbling angrily and likely wanted to avoid some type of violence (true story), you just never know what the kindness of strangers may bring. Here are a few times when the random actions of others both took me by surprisethanks and made my day.

To the gentleman at Phoenix Sky Harbor *Airport who saw me vainly struggling to attach that tag thing (seriously, why is that thing not user-friendly?) to my luggage and gently took over and attached it for me, thank you. May your proactive nature and lovely conversation be rewarded by someone who isn’t savagely commanding her suitcase to behave. 

To the lady here at the OK Corral who was in line in front of me at the cafeteria and paid for both her meal and mine (to my everlasting shock and surprise), thank you so, so much. I don’t know what I did to gain that kind act, but please believe that anything related to food and the acquisition of food binds you and I together until the end of time. (By the way, I see her from time to time, and she continues to be one of the sweetest persons walking these halls.)

To the group of concerned fellow *flyers who realized that after hours and hours of waiting, my gate was changed without an announcement and my flight left without me: thank you for ensuring that once I boarded a plane, I was able to quickly get off for the connecting flight and finally, finally get home. Your outrage on my behalf was enough to soothe the wild, combustible emotions going on inside of me, and to the guy who firmly informed the other passengers to let me off first: you, sir, will always be golden.

To the charming gentleman on the train who announced to the entire car that no man should be seated while women stand around them: will you marry me?

To the lovely woman who stood next to me in London while we watched Renée Zellweger film scenes from the third installment of the Bridget Jones series and held on to me while we breathlessly considered the possibility that Colin Firth was also waiting in the wings (alas, he wasn’t), to have my excitement equaled with a stranger was awesome. Thanks for waiting with me until we realized that our Colin wasn’t there that afternoon and for being someone with whom I can say “our” Colin. (Because I rarely share, y’all.) 

Just a few moments in life when I was astonished by people, and in a good way. Have any random acts of kindness you’d like to share?

[*Not lost on me that so much stuff happens in the airport. If the terminal didn’t offer such sweet opportunities for carby, vacation eating, I would side eye it more than I already do.]

This Square Peg…Loves to Travel.

So, yours truly is a travel bug. I love everything about traveling, from airport eating (i.e., all diets are quickly hurled to the ground and abandoned once your feet touch the terminal floor), to the tons of people-watching I participate in, both at the terminal and wherever I travel. Having just returned from a relaxing trip to visit my cuzzo and her hubby in Puerto Rico (I’m actually sitting here at JFK airport, waiting to board the plane back home), I thought I’d delight you with This Square Peg’s personal do’s and don’ts for traveling. (I remain a square peg even while traveling, in case you were wondering.)

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This Square Peg’s Travel Do’s

1. Do find a Cinnabon at the terminal. Just do it.
2. Do pay attention to your surroundings. Not merely to ensure that you’re not in the vicinity of possible weirdos, but because people-watching grows exponentially at the airport and on the plane. As a writer, I can’t emphasize the creative boon that comes from all these walks of life converging in this one place.
3. Do bring your patience. I just saw a pigeon walking around the terminal. Screaming babies, people randomly staring at you, flight delays–bring your patience and hold on to it for dear life.
4. Do abandon your high-brow reading choices and take advantage of the glossy, fluffy magazines around you. Come on, do it. Replace the New Yorker with Us Weekly. At least for now.
5. Do expect to pay $1,000 for bottled water and snacks/food. Your budget is out the window, friend.
6. Do remember that you’re traveling! It’s fun, even if a TSA agent pulls you aside to do a random security check on your palms, ostensibly to double-check that you haven’t been handling incendiary devices. True story. See #3.

This Square Peg’s Travel Don’ts

1. Don’t walk on the moving terminal thing. Oh. Just me? Cool. I don’t walk on the moving terminal thing. I just mastered escalators. I’ll walk to my gate, thank you very much. And I find that I’m moving at the same pace as the elitists on the moving thing who cast uppity looks in my I’d-rather-walk direction.
2. Don’t use your headphones in the terminal. I mean, unless you’re blasting Streisand on a low volume (impossible, if you ask me), you need to listen out for gate changes, flight delays, opportunities to upgrade to first class. And you want first class. You do.
3. Don’t forget to marvel at these airport employees. They answer the same question 100 times in a row. Some are crabby, yes, but most seem calm and collected in dealing with all these people.
4. Don’t forget your phone charger!
5. Don’t diss long layovers. In fact, seek them out. I’d rather wait two hours for a connecting flight than nearly fall to my death running on that slippery terminal ground to get to my flight in minutes before it leaves. (True story. Sigh. See #3 in the Do’s.)
6. Don’t forget to travel as much as you can, as much as you can afford, as much, as much, as much.