Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Count Your Blessings

Too often, I think we take our lives for granted.  And when life throws us a curve, we respond as if life as we know it has ended instead of taking it in stride.  I believe I am guilty of doing exactly that.

Today, I am writing to you from Bellingham Washington.  Why, you might ask, are you in Washington?  Back in December I wrote briefly about my sister and that is the subject of today's post. She has had a tough month.  Along with the infection that took her by surprise, the subsequent hospitalization, the mental fight she had with the hospital (who refused to comprehend that SHE.DID.NOT.HAVE.THE.SUPPORT in Kentucky), the release AMA (and subsequent threat, by the hospital staff that her insurance would not cover her illness), the flight across country to check into a Washington hospital, determine the infection has spread to her blood, the immediate need to remove (on Christmas Eve) the prosthetic hip to stem the infection, the "need" of the surgeon to fracture her femur to remove the joint resulting in massive quantities of pain, the fact that they are unable to replace the hip until they can verify the infection has been removed (8 weeks from removal) so a temporary "spacer" was placed where her hip should be meaning she is unable to place any weight on the hip (seriously...stop and ponder the ramifications of this, for 8 weeks, unable to place any weight on half of your body), being moved from a hospital to a convalescent home for two weeks, followed by her release yesterday.  To sit at her boyfriend's home and "recover".  Recovery means counting the days by performing 3/day antibiotic iv infusions, high doses of narcotics, until her body tests free from the infection.  Then, and only then, will they go in and put in ANOTHER prosthetic hip.  And she will then get to recover from that.  Again.  For the third time.

So, I flew out yesterday to help her out.  I was at the airport in time. Went through security fine, got to my gate, waited for my flight to Chicago to be called where I would fly out later direct to Seattle, land at 1130 at night and rent a car and drive the 100 miles to Bellingham.  But as I attempted to board my flight, I was told that I was scheduled for the next day.  Since I HAD looked at all the flights on Tuesday AND Wednesday, I thought "OMG how could I have made that big of a mistake (and gotten through security in the process)" when the attendant informed me the issue was my Chicago-Seattle flight had been cancelled because Seattle was expecting a huge storm and they had rescheduled me for the next day.  Instead of panicking, I waited to find out what the alternative was, if there was one, and as luck would have it, they got me on a different airline, a DIRECT flight, that left in an hour and would put me into Seattle at 830 vs 1130.  Through it all, I tried to be accepting of what was happening.  I don't know if it worked in my favor, but I know that instead of arriving at an ungodly hour in the morning, I made it at a reasonable hour, even given having to drive under some less than ideal conditions (as of this morning I was looking at 12 inches of snow).  My goal this week is just to try and make my sister's life a little more comfortable. 

So, when life throws those curves, it might be a good time to count your blessings.  Because those curves?  Sometimes they just need a little perspective.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Momma Always Said...

Do you have sayings in your "mom" repertoire that you can trace DIRECTLY back to initially hearing from your mom?  I do.  More than I can count.  And of course my husband mocks many of them.  "Six of one, half a dozen of the other" is one he mocks.  Now days, I just say "same-sies".  Fewer words needed.  Sorta like texting.

But one of the cute little saying my mom was fond of was "you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar".  Now, we all know most of these sayings ARE true, but it's always nice to see them play out.  I got a chance to do just that.

We have a trip to Mexico planned.  Everything was all booked and shortly before Christmas I got the dreaded email saying that our flight information had changed.  And as we all know, changing flights are RARELY for the better.  So, I did what I normally do and put off dealing with it until after the holiday.  Heck, I put it off until after I had my tree down.  Finally I "grabbed the bull by the horns" (see what I did there?) and tacked the issue.  Our airline was American (yes, that was fun too, hearing they had filed for bankruptcy AFTER we had our flight booked) so I went online to see if there were any options that might work for us better than what our new changes were.  There was.  Although, the options returning (the changes they  made had us returning at 1145 at night with the kids needing to go to school the next morning) meant that we would put ourselves at risk if we didn't get through customs quickly in DFW, so I decided to just deal with the outbound flight.

I called American and when I got hooked up with an actual person, I was, well, sweet as honey.  I explained my dilemma (flight has us arriving later than I had hoped), had some options where the representative could start.  The representative found the changes that I wanted before I even suggested it and offered the change at no fee.  He then asked if I had any issues with the return trip.  I said I did, but even though it would mean some tired children upon return, I was OK with leaving it.  He made the changes, took my email address and said he would send me a change of itinerary.  I disconnected feeling very satisfied and thinking that people really DO respond better when approached in a nice way.  I went to my email and checked the changes and the representative had gone ahead and reconfigured our return flights such that the delay was minimized an we would be landing 2 hours earlier than expected.  BONUS!

This experience wasn't really anything new to me. Well, the extra effort the representative went to was nice and unexpected, but more and more I have found that the simple rule..."people respond in kind" almost always holds true.  Especially when you are dealing with customer service issues.  I suspect that they have a SUCKY job.  And hopefully, it just takes one person being nice to make their day.

I like making people's day.  I find that "what goes around, comes around". ;-)