Rental Car Shuttle Driver - When I arrived Monday evening, I discovered I had reserved a car at one of the only two rental agencies (out of the 650 that are on-site at the San Francisco airport) and needed to take a shuttle to their property. I happened to be the only rider when the shuttle came, so I got some quality time with the driver on my 10-minute ride. I found out he manages the outside operations of the rental agency and was just shuttling to give his other workers a break. They are short staffed and carrying double duty. In my quick trip, I realized whether working at a large corporate company or at a small rental agency, the mantra these days is do more with less staff.
Rental Agency Representative - After I arrived at the rental lot and got off the shuttle, I wheeled my luggage into the office to pick up my car. Keep in mind it was 8pm PT, which is 11pm ET and I'd been traveling for about 12 hours. Read: I looked a hot mess. I stepped foot in the door and one of the Representatives behind the counter proclaimed, "Do you know who you looked like when you walked in the door?" I mustered all the charm I could in my haggard state and said "No, who?" "Annie! The way the light shined on your curly hair I thought you looked like Annie." I laughed and said "I hope that is a good thing." Now, not being at my best, I didn't process the fact that (A) Annie isn't a real person and (B) Mr. Smarmy Rep was possibly hitting on me. After I got my car and headed to the hotel I realized how attentive he was in assisting the Rep providing me a vehicle and I all but ignored him. Not that this guy was even close to my type, but the fact remains that there are reasons I'm single because I'm oblivious.
Mr. Flu - After a week in sunny California, I began my trek back home to the frozen tundra. As I sat at the gate waiting to board, I observed a man a row over on his cell phone. Aside, I'd love to have a dollar for every cell phone, iPad and mobile device I see while traveling...I'd be a millionaire. As he was talking I heard him say "Yeah, I've had the flu." Gulp. This man is about to bring his flu-genes on my plane. Thankfully I'm on the way home, but I surely don't want to head home and get the flu. Thankfully, I never saw him on my plane, which means he was sitting far away from me. Note to self: Bring a mask.
Eight-year Old Comedian - When you sit near a child on a plane, it can be gloriously enlightening, or terribly annoying. Thankfully I sat in front of a hilarious 8-year old boy that would take the YouTube world by storm if I could have videoed him on the trip. Before the plane took off, his parents made sure he had his gum ready so he was prepared for the ear-popping exercise. He stated, "Wow, this pack of Chic-lets have lasted me the whole week. That's awesome!" As we landed in Minneapolis, in the falling snow, he proclaimed "Our plane is scraping the snow and the wing is damaged!" His Dad quickly silenced him but I almost lost it laughing - not only at his proclamation, but at the poor parents who were probably so ready to get off the plane before he said something else uncontrollable. When we got close to the gate, Mr. Comedian asked his Mom, "So, since we're getting home late tonight, shouldn't we skip church on Sunday?" His Mom replied, "But, we missed last week so we don't want to miss two weeks in a row." He continued pleading his case, albeit weak, and didn't win that one. If I was a parent, I'd much rather have an entertaining child like him, than a poor, crying baby on a plane.
Extreme Flight Attendant - On my last flight home from Minneapolis, I encountered a flight attendant that is either very legalistic or fresh out of training. As we boarded, he informed us (more than once) that our plane was full and don't put anything but rolling luggage in the overheads. After six of those announcements, he retracted that statement indicating he miscalculated and that we could now put other things in the overheads. I knew this was not someone to mess with. As we prepared for takeoff, he would comb the aisles and when he found a violation, he would state "Safety is our first priority. I'll need you to put that tray table up." "Safety is our first priority. I'll need you to put that bag all the way under your seat." Needless to say when he came by my row, I sat perfectly still in hopes that he didn't nail me on some violation. We had to sit in de-icing for about 30 minutes and a man a couple rows in front of me whipped out his electronic reader to pass the time. I knew he was in trouble and when this Flight Attendant spotted him, he whipped out the "Safety" speech. I appreciate his extreme attentiveness, but glad we didn't crash, lest I slid down the exit row slide incorrectly.