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.

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.