first impressions

Being the obsessive planner that I am, there's always a nagging little voice that cautions me to pack some "necessities" (i.e. clean underwear, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste and mascara) when flying, just in case they lose my luggage. Being the optimist that I am, I usually ignore that little voice. This week I'm re-thinking that policy.

On my way to Oklahoma City for a workshop I'm running I ended up checking every box on the "Frustrating Things that Can Happen to Delay, Complicate or Hinder Your Travel Plans" checklist. Stuck in the plane for two hours on the tarmack in a massive thunderstorm waiting for weather to clear up so we can take off? Check. Missing the time for my connecting plane? Check. Finding out the connection was also delayed due to weather, going to that gate, realizing the gate had switched to a totally different terminal, finding the new gate and waiting another hour before hearing the announcement that the flight is cancelled? Check. Spending an hour and a half in line waiting to re-book? Check. Realizing that all along I had been re-booked automatically and could have just gone to the mysterious, unlabeled machine sitting ten feet from me and printed a new boarding pass? Check. New, re-booked plane being delayed an hour and a half (making the total time spent in this second airport nearly 6 hours)? Check. Finally arriving at my destination, only to spend forty minutes watching every single piece of luggage wobble by on the conveyer belt - except mine? Check. Standing in line for another twenty minutes to file a claim? Check. Being assured that my bag would arrive "on the next flight, or at the latest early tomorrow morning," and that the delivery service would bring it to my hotel right away? Check. Finding out that the delivery service collected my bag by 7am, yet not getting it until after 3pm? Check.

I can certainly understand all the weather delays (after all, I don't particularly want to be flying in a massive thunderstorm, anyway), but losing my bag meant not only that I didn't have the projector needed for the presentations, but that I'd have to welcome 33 workshop attendees wearing the sandals, jean skirt and t-shirt I wore on the plane, with washed but otherwise unstyled hair, and (gasp!) no make-up. I'm not kidding when I say that mascara is critical to my sense of peace with the world, so this last bit was particularly horrifying.

I'm not sure how I came across to all these folks, but it wasn't exactly the professional, suit-wearing, put-together image I wanted. And, once my suitcase did arrive and I snuck upstairs to change and remedy the lack of mascara, I noticed a definite difference in their interaction with me. Isn't it funny how first impressions are formed? Karl teases me for caring so much about what I wear, even changing clothes multiple times in the morning because "it just didn't feel right," but it's so clear to me that it does make a difference.

Next time I pay attention to the little voice. At least about the mascara.

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