Things Don't Always Go According to Plan
While the worst of the pandemic is over, Covid is still around and some anxiety remains with new variants, especially for those who have weakened immune systems.
Life may not return to what it was pre-pandemic, yet many people are trying to get back to doing things they did before – working in an office or store, eating out at restaurants, seeing shows and concerts, and taking a long-overdue vacation.
Everyone needs a break. Life can be frenetic. A change of scenery, time with family and friends, being in nature, exploring a new city, or having new experiences are beneficial on many levels. After an almost three-year break, it seems that everyone is taking a vacation. Airports are extremely busy, hotels are booked, and cities are bustling with tourists. From my Facebook and Instagram feeds, it looks like every other person I know is on a trip somewhere – Lisbon, Madrid, Tel Aviv, North Carolina, Aspen, Mykonos, Croatia, Paris, Rome, Santorini, Ibiza, and more. The pictures look amazing and everyone seems to be having a fabulous vacation.
Yet, not all vacations go exactly as planned. Some people get stressed with the planning. So many things can go wrong either before you get to your destination or en route. Airports have long security lines, flights are getting cancelled due to staff shortages, missed flights, passports left at home, lost luggage, hotels may not be what was expected, rain ruins a planned beach day. Shit happens.
I am currently on vacation. I met a friend from high school in London. I hadn’t been to London since college and was so excited. I booked a flight, researched hotels, got restaurant recommendations, made a list of all the must-see spots, and outlined an itinerary.
The trip was off to a great start. It was so nice seeing my friend Irma and traveling together. We had amazing weather, walked about 10 miles a day, saw the major tourist sites, Rolling Stones concert at Hyde Park, visited museums, took the tube and bus, explored different neighborhoods, and ate at restaurants, food halls, and markets. Then, four days in and my phone was stolen from the front pocket of my crossbody bag. I grew up in NY, rode the subway every day for many years and know to be careful. This isn’t the first time I have traveled to another country. And yet, this happened to me. I was upset and annoyed.
Irma and I were in a shop looking at clothes, as were many others. All of a sudden, I sensed that my bag seemed lighter. I look in my bag and see my phone is missing – my iPhone I bought about two months ago. I start to panic – everything is on my phone: flight info, health forms for travel, calendar, contacts, etc. I found the security guard and the manager. I called the police and filled out a report. Not much they could do. While I still had a day and a half in London, I was not flying straight home, but would be heading to Israel for work and vacation.
I started thinking about my best course of action. Should I just use my iPad and get a cheap phone and a local SIM Card? I was going to be working and needed something functional and dependable. I decided to go to the Apple store and try to figure out what to do. Six hours, an expensive purchase later, and after calls with my cell carrier and Apple support trying to get everything up and running, I had a new phone.
While I was upset and emotional, upset with myself for this happening, feeling violated, questioning how someone could do this, annoyed with having to spend a lot of money on a new phone and my time spent differently than what I anticipated, I took a deep breath. And another one.
If anything, this was an inconvenience and a hassle. It is just a phone. My wallet wasn’t stolen. I wasn’t hurt in anyway. This happened toward the end of the trip. Perspective. In this moment, I had a choice as to what I would focus on. It is okay to feel upset and angry, but not linger in those feelings. I decided to focus on the positive.
I appreciate my friend Irma who without any hesitation stayed with me the whole time even though I told her she should go do something instead of staying with me. I am grateful to the staff at the Apple store who spent hours sitting with me, had so much patience, let me use a phone to make all the necessary calls, and showed me empathy. I am grateful to the woman at hotel reception who made her phone a hotspot so I could set up my phone when the hotel WiFi wasn’t connecting. Everyone was so nice.
We can plan all we want. And then, something unexpected happens. What matters is how we deal with the unexpected. In that moment, deep breaths, focusing on the positive, a good friend, keeping things in perspective, and then taking a walk helped, as did some wine. What I took away from this experience is that there are really kind, empathetic people.
This won’t stop me from traveling. While there are people out there who are thieves, there are a lot of nice, friendly people. Take the time to be kind to someone. Talk to strangers. I enjoyed all the people I met on this trip and with whom I had spontaneous conversations – whether on a bus, in a store, or at a festival in the park. There are a lot of interesting people.
Travel. Talk to people. Be kind. Stay safe and watch your personal belongings.