One of the ways that C and I were preparing ourselves for living in Spain was to watch a whole lot of travel videos on YouTube. A few months back, we got rid of cable, save for our Apple TV. As such, we have very few channels to watch live television, but we can watch as many YouTube videos as we'd like.
Initially we'd search for videos about Valencia, and we'd watch vloggers talk about a typical day in Valencia. However, we also stumbled across a guy who writes travel guides and makes videos, Rick Steves. Rick has never actually filmed a video of Valencia, but he has many videos on Spain including a whole video on travel tips and suggestions about the country in general, rather than any particular city.
I'm fairly certain it was while watching one of his videos that I heard the most useful piece of advice about traveling, which I've extrapolated for living as an expat: Be "curious not furious." Curious not Furious has become my mantra when I've found myself in situations where I'm getting aggravated...and one that I probably repeated to myself 50 times while I was traveling back to Atlanta last Friday.
Friday morning, Mom and I had a 4:30 taxi call as Mom had a 6:45 flight. She was supposed to fly from Valencia to Frankfurt and then Frankfurt to Atlanta, arriving home at 3:00pm on Friday. My flights weren't supposed to begin until 10:30am, and I'd arrive home at 8:45pm on Friday.
Unfortunately, Mom's original Frankfurt to Atlanta flight was canceled as we were headed to the airport. She was now going to go Frankfurt to Denver then Denver to Atlanta, arriving home at 10:45pm. When we got to the airport, I attempted to use my Spanglish to see if there was a flight that would arrive earlier, and we were told that she was on the best flight possible. I also tried to confirm that her vegan meal would have transferred, and was told that she hadn't ordered a vegan meal. After some aggravation, Mom checked-in and headed to security. Curious not Furious.
Rather than making Mom walk all the way from gate 54 back to gate 1, where my check-in counter was located, I deposited Mom in the security line and told her that I'd come find her when I got through security.
I walked down to gate 1, checked-in, and instead of being on my 10:30 flight, the agent moved me to the 6:00am flight. Given that it didn't matter what time I got to Madrid--the flight from Madrid to Philly was leaving at 1:00--I took my boarding pass and headed back to security to meet up with my Mom. Unbelievably, the line had grown significantly in the 10 minutes. By the time I got through with security, I had to boogie towards my gate since it was now almost 5:15, and boarding began at 5:30. I found my way, WhatsApped Mom to wish her a safe flight and sat down to wait for them to call my zone for boarding. Next thing I know, I hear my name being called over the PA system.
It seems that I was selected for extra security screening (got to love the SSSS designation on your boarding pass), and had to be escorted to the security counter to be swabbed, wanded, and questioned. Curious not Furious.
I finish with the additional security, get back to the gate and take the tram on the tarmac out to my plane. I've checked my suitcase and only have my 2 small carry-ons which I plan to store under the seat ahead of me. When I get to my seat, my seat mate is already sitting...and manspreading into my seat with his feet where my bags are going to be. I've decided that I'm not interested in his machismo, so I sit down, put my bags under the seat in front of me, and buckle in, thereby frustrating my seat mate who has had to move his feet, close his legs, and share the space with me. Curious not Furious.
It is a quick 55 minute flight, and I get off the plane and walk into the airport, never to see my seat mate again. The first thing I do see is a coffeeshop, so I stop for my first cup of the day. It is now about 7:15am, and I have to wait until 11:30 before the departure board in the airport will show me what gate I will be leaving from. I notice the gnawing voice in my head "this is the dumbest thing..." and take a deep breath. Curious not Furious. Fortunately, I do know that I have to leave the main terminal and head to the Satellite terminal, so I board the tram and head over to go through boarder control.
When I get to boarder control, there is a sizable line that isn't moving very quickly, so I queue up and wait my turn. Forty-five minutes and a few questions later, I am sitting in the second coffeeshop of the day waiting for the departure board to show my gate. I spend a lot of time playing with Snapchat filters. At exactly 11:30, gate 1 is flashed on the screen, and I walk to the gate. It is an empty flight and the flight attendants allow us to move around the airplane finding open rows so that we can all spread out and get comfortable.
Stay tuned for the rest of the adventure tomorrow...including vomit, dogs, hair checks, and lost passports. It was quite the day!