I don't know how Bryan Cheung does it. I believe he flew over 100,000 miles last year, and I'm really quite surprised he's still sane.
Why do I say that? Because if any of his trips are anything like the one I am currently on, then I have to give him some sympathy and a newfound respect.
Right now I am in Frankfurt Germany with Mike Young (who actually had to take a train to Paris last night), and so far this trip has been a bit of a comedy of errors for me.
I am loathe to complain, because this is all stuff that can and has happened to anyone, so I don't think I'm a martyr for it happening, but it has been a pretty rough ride so far.
How it starts
It all started Wednesday night, when Amazon emailed me to let me know that my Kindle (I got one for Christmas, ordered it December 2nd, but have been waiting forever to even get an approximate ship date) would arrive for me THE DAY AFTER I left. A small thing, but if anyone knows me, they know I've had an unhealthy obsession with getting one.
Thursday morning, the day of our flight, I wake up to find out that some plumbing problem in our apartment building had flooded our toilet and shower (hopefully with different water ;) ), and I wouldn't be able to use the bathroom or take a shower. I called Mike and he said it was okay that I take a shower at his place.
But, alas, in the rush that ensued after that, I forgot a camera for the trip, AND my international converters. Power might be nice, considering 99.9998% of my work is done on one of those fancy computers the kids rave about these days.
I get to Mike's, and I'm able to take a shower, and we head to the airport. About 40 minutes into the drive I realize I forgot my jacket.
Not good news considering that it's about 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit where we're going. But, I remind myself that I packed a sweatshirt, long sleeve shirts and plenty of thermals, so I should be fine.
Oh boy, was I naive.
The plane ride
We get to the airport and our plane is delayed, so they move us to another flight leaving about a half an hour earlier so we won't miss our connection.
I'm 6'4, so flying in economy is rather painful for me, as it inevitably means that my knees are next to someones ears, or they're spread out into the aisle so that the Panzer that they've converted into a drink cart slams into my knees.
Thankfully the first flight was pretty short, only about 2 hours. But the second flight, on a beautiful Lufthansa plane, was a ride, let me tell you.
The lady in front of me decided she wanted to sleep the entire way. I don't blame her. Except that she was like 5'4 and the seats were made just right for her.
So she reclines her seat so far back that it literally forced my knees into the aisle, and her headrest was about 3 inches from my forehead. I actually heard her stretch and yawn to the guy next to her "Life is great". For you, lady, but the giant, lumbering white guy behind you is getting his legs amputated.
I should have just asked her not to lean so far back, but on a 10 hour plane ride, I needed something to do in between chapters of my book, so after the meal was served, and she tried leaning back again, I just used my hand to hold her seat up. She kept trying for what seemed like 30 minutes, at random times. Over the next couple of hours she tried slamming the seat back, but by now I was having fun with this ridiculous passive aggressive game of "What's stronger, her back or my arm?".
I do regret not just asking her to stop leaning back so far, but at least I have a somewhat humorous lesson to share with people who believe that leaning back in their airplane seat affects nobody else.
After we land, we decide go to baggage claim, and fairly quickly, Mikes bag comes. I wait for mine, as he goes out to meet Paul Bakaus, who's picking us up.
But, guess what? They lost my bag. Yep, the bag I packed with Paul's laptop that we're delivering to him. The bag with my thermals and sweater, and fresh clean clothes.
So I go to baggage claim, but because Mike checked both bags in his name, and he's not with me, there's only so much they can do. They try paging Mike and Paul, but they didn't hear it. So I go out to the main area and try to find them both. I page both Mike and Paul again, and again they didn't hear it.
So after searching for 20 minutes, I finally find them, we go back in, give them the appropriate numbers, and they tell me they'll keep doing a search, and deliver it when they find it.
Thank God Paul was able to take delivery of it to his place.
Thank you, Netherlands
Mike and I planned to take a quick weekend trip to Amsterdam to do some sight seeing, so we board our train, and get into Amsterdam around 6pm.
We eat dinner and mill around. Frankly, it's freezing cold. All I have is a tshirt and jeans on, and I am hurting.
The next day we make it to C&A which is like some European Kohls, and I was able to pick up a jacket, a pair of jeans, some more shirts, some socks and such, and for a fairly reasonable price.
We decide to rent some bikes and tour around Amsterdam, and check out a cheese farm where they make, you guessed it, cheese but also clogs.
We ride back, and go out to dinner again later that night (which was a really delicious Indonesian place). We head back to the hotel and go to sleep.
At about 4am I wake up freezing cold, and having massive chills. This is a strangely familiar feeling, considering that just a few weeks ago I recovered from the flu.
And now, I have it again.
For the past 2 days I've had a really bad fever and have been struggling to even move out of the bed. And even though I've been taking sleeping aids, I can't stay asleep for more than 4 hours.
So, I'm sick, jetlagged, and dressed like a homeless person.
Luckily, though, I think the fever finally broke last night. I didn't wake up in chills (just drenched in sweat), and I'm beginning to feel a bit better.
The point. There is one, and I got it
Thankfully, though, God has used this time to teach me some valuable lessons.
For one, that He will provide for all my NEEDS. During this entire time, all of my basic needs were met.
Another lesson was exactly how few my needs are. A lot of times I get hung up on the creature comforts of life, and I forget just how little I actually need.
Another lesson I learned was from a verse that I haven't read in a while. It's from Proverbs 3:11 & 12:
"My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights."
Many times (and I should probably say MOST of the time) I do resent it when my life doesn't go quite as I had planned it.
I need to change that.
One other thing that has really hit me again and again while being at Liferay, and that is just how small my problems in life really are, especially compared to the leadership in the company.
Business is tiring, stressful, hectic, and demanding. Those of us who don't carry the daily burden of billing, cashflow, HR, employee management, client relationship management, etc, are spared the daily anxiety of dealing with it. But somebody does deal with all of those things.
And while I was able to get my luggage back, and my flu will go away, and plane seats will one day become comfortable, the painful struggle of pioneering a company with 60 people dependent on you is tough.
So my griping comes with the understanding that it's rather mild in comparison to other's real struggles.
I also learned I am incredibly blessed to even be in the position that I am. Yes, I miss my wife desperately, yes I feel like the devil kicked me in the gonads, and yes, I probably stink like the Los Angeles "river", but in the end, here I am in my fourth European city since joining Liferay, working at a company with and for people so insanely talented that it makes me giddy, and with a life thankfully rich with a wonderful, if somewhat fractured, family, rich in quality friendships, and overall, I am quite content with my life.
The other lesson I've learned, and Mike actually came up with this, and it would be to have the option to be tranquilized on long flights and placed in a tube, a la the Japanese capsule hotels I used to watch about on "That's Incredible!".
You would get a shot, be placed in the tube, and wake up in 12-15 hours later in your city of choice.
Maybe they wake you up half way through so you can avoid the DVT's, and maybe use the restroom.
I don't know about you, but I'd be up for it :)