UneasyJet and other airport tales “It is what it is” series

Disclosure: Angry customer ranting at a particular airline. No offense intended with any passengers, staff or random readers.

I’m writing this sitting in a table outside the gate in Terminal 2 in Lisbon, a rather small terminal for the passengers it sees daily. I’m sharing it with a lovely old lady whom I do not know the name. Both of us have experienced, it seems, several poor experiences and waits provided by Easy Jet. In a way, Easy jet is promoting social bonds with strangers, some better than others. I wonder if easyjet is inspired by a mix of Murphy’s Laws with Black Mirror.

 

Let’s dig in:

1. “Nothing is as easy as it looks … everything takes longer than you expect”  

Do I need to say more? Of course I do, I am in a ranting strike. This could perfectly be the airline’s slogan, that could easily stretch to other airlines. Low Cost operators seem to suffer from a syndrome of lack of consideration for the customer, some sort of customer experience autism. So far Easy Jet is painfully the worst.

Today’s delay was not warned with a push notification on the mobile app. I realized it was 1 hour delayed upon passing the security checks, 70 minutes before the original flight time. After looking a second time, it was already in 2 hours delay. Reason: A crew member late for work, so it seems, and domino effect of the South French strike… when I am flying to Luton, with an airplane that came from the UK. Seems to me that the crew member may be in trouble… or maybe was caught on a low-cost connection flight delayed if we want to stick to Murphy’s Law.

“…and at the worst possible moment” – I’m particularly annoyed with the lack of push notifications (they never come up when they should) because I could have seen my nephews this morning if I would be aware of this delay. Easy Jet – indirectly challenging family ties. Maybe again, a side effect of the privacy policies kicking in Europe. No idea. Blame Murphy!

MjAxMy1lNzY0NTEwZGIwM2U4YWFm.png

2. “Natures sides with the hidden flaw” – The cattle treatment boarding experience

Easy jet is the perfect example of how animals humans really are. We are not godly beings, nor are we greater than any other creature of the animal kingdom, particularly the cattle we raise. Fair point! Let’s dive deeper into this, shall we?

a. The Cow Bell: It is rang, and we all rush to queue in a line that interrupts the flow of equally anxious passengers waiting to board the neighbouring gates. Then we wait for 15-20 minutes standing, reality which most of us know very well. You may say: “you will all arrive at the same time, why you queue so early?”, As this may be the reality for normal flights, us who have been trained in low cost airlines, know this is simply not true.

“On Behalf of Easyjet, we wish you a pleasant flight?!” The punctuation is not arbitrary. If you pay attention, it almost ends in a question mark, not as a statement, but as unmistakably doubt. The voice is either poorly recorded from an actual human being, or it us a poor computer system. The voice has a theatrical but unemotional tone in a strange slow motion monochord tone. Either the person or the computer clearly fought against themselves to portray such unrealistic words. Tip for EasyJet: pay 10$ online and have a professional actor / actress recording a message.

cartoon-2

b. The Inspection: 2 servants of the airline, easily noticed by the uniform, walk the lines, inspecting the possessions of all passengers. It is usually small ladies, that can easier blend in and pass through the mass of people and bags. Very strategic. Do not get deceived by the stature. Their mission is to coldly mark luggage in a polite order (rarely a request) to voluntarily (ish) give these away to be transported on the hold, for there is not enough space to accommodate everyone and everything safely.

Furthermore, if any passenger attempts the serious offense of having a second carry-on bag bigger than a wallet hanging on their neck, they will then need to either risk damaging its goods by compressing everything in the main carry-on bag, or pay a fee for the privilege of occupying 10cm more of space, and still be disposed of the bigger bag during flight. It takes swiftly moves to escape the inspection, something some of us have learnt along the way. Unfortunately these secrets cannot be shared to not alert the inspectors :).

carry_on_luggage_2429865

c. The false start: After surviving the inspection, you will see movement at what it seems to be the end of the queue. The host smiles politely at a screen (not so much at you) while taking passports and boarding passes that are barely verified. The passengers mimic the smile in a primitive hopeful social reaction, before frowning gradually into an angry state. We, passengers, have not realized the space and time still left to occupy before boarding the mighty craft. There is this square shape area (or in Lisbon case, a long line surrounded by a never ending temporary construction barrier), where we are pushed cosily together against each other, compressing bodies as much as we did the goods inside our small bags, looking into random directions like lost flamingos in an attempt to ignore the unbelievable uncomfortable strangers proximity touch. (Trying to keep a pink picture of this to not offend anyone by calling us pigs or cows).

I am sure there is a hidden Marketing strategy called “the Cattle treatment”. The purpose? I have no idea! Surely you don’t need to ride the rush-hour subway in Tokyo to experience it.

'Ugh, traffic.'

d. Stairway to heaven: After surviving these stages, you are finally at the edge of the stairs that will concede the privilege and easiness of flying. You are literally a few steps away, and look up beholding the door in awe and admiration (mostly relief), barely noticing the fierce weather. The boarding is within reach. You take the first step up, carrying your impossible heavy mini bag with you as quickly as you can, before stopping half way through. You queue in the stairs, while the wind and rain remind you once again of your own true nature. The familiar compression of bodies starts once again, now unfavoured by the steep stairs. You compressed against the backside of the person in front of you as people below try to go up as quickly as they can, in some sort of wave that freezes on the break. Upon this situation, you look to the side and contemplate the aircraft wing pretending normality. You are trapped. It is a slow march until the actual door of the plane where you work on creating as much space as possible between peoples butts and faces.

The heard starts to move slowly and you are stepping into the door. A polite smiley pony tailed face welcomes you, providing a false sense of hope to which you again mimic as the survival instinct to socialize kicks in. To be fair, it is your best choice.

e. The Throne: You finally realize what made the stairway march so slow. Inside the craft passengers are fighting for space for their bags over their heads, and trying to squeeze into the seats they have been assigned to. There is the risk of having a bag falling on your face, so never assume nothing. Once again, people squeeze against each other while targeting any remaining space available overhead before catapulting their bag up. It is a fight for resources and only the first ones survive. To the impossible tall man that waited the line to move in the boarding gate, fate has it that there is no space for the bag, and so he must place the baggage under the seat, leaving no leg or feet space, risking a severe knee injury.

Luck favors the short and the first in queue in low cost flights.

Seat-Reservation-Cartoon1

3.  “If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will go wrong, is the one that will cause the most damage”

You miraculously made it! Congrats! The wait is over… You are finally seating on your desired uncomfortable seat, which is a relief comparing to the hour you just spent queueing (please noticed that I did not included the security checks on purpose, that perhaps deserves another post).

There is a false sense of relief that makes me believe I will miraculously arrive on time for my afternoon meeting. How presumptuous of me! As I am leaning backwards almost drifting into sleep, when an (un)expected announcement comes. “there is a malfunction on the plane, we are waiting for a technician”, “We are delayed due to queueing of planes, “We are waiting for a passenger”, “We are expecting delay in take-off authorization due to the delay of the flight”… The lady in front of me is saying that sometimes they make you wait on the plane so the threshold is not met outside, and they do not have to pay any delayed flight compensation. Happened the last 4 times…

'I saved 10 minutes at the hotel with speedy  checkout, 10 minutes at the car rental with instant check in. Now I'm spending 6 hours on the runway.'

The power of contrasts in shaping customer experience here: What counts is the first and last impact. The boarding experience is surely the most consistently awful one. The booking is made quick and easy (if you learnt how to skim through all the extras they try to sell you when booking a flight and checking-in), and the time you leave the plane upon reaching the destination is surely an amazing one.

Yes, I can surely stop flying low-cost airlines, particularly when they are not so low cost anymore (300£ flight? I paid less to South Korea!), and I can’t wait for that time to come. As of now, due to sometimes cost, sometimes schedules, sometimes airport and sometimes all, I have to keep my complaining mind complaining every time I have the dreadful task of booking with Easy Jet. And please remember, especially true at low-cost flights, as Murphy has it, “If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something”.

It is what it is…

“It is what it is” series 1: mastering the fall

I’ve been falling all my life. Always in unexpected places, on flat surfaces, and in awkward ways. Many have confessed to feel embarrassed when associated to my person when I awkwardly lose my balance on the street. But there are some valuable lessons from being unbalanced on flat surfaces….

The calming life by the sea, with the boats swinging in the wind have brought me into a calm mindset every time I set foot out of my temporary house when I arrived in Wales 1 year ago. I was happily walking around the marina one morning and feeling energised by my new surroundings, when I noticed a bike shop. In a very personal impulsive way, I swiftly changed direction towards it. Not that I am a biker, or intended to buy one just yet… Then, 3 meters from the entry, this invisible chain was connecting only two small pillars amongst 10 unconnected ones. I stepped confidently forward and suddenly I see the sky disappearing from my eyes and metamorphosing into red bricks and textured gray concrete. Elbow and knee meet the ground in one perfect slow motion fall… and blank.

it-takes-skill-to-trip-over-flat-surfaces-5601869

I entered the shop not deviating my route after the event, and the owner looks in awe at me after witnessing this most amazing fall… I believe that was the first time I heard it is what it is in this country, this dreadful sentence that would mark so many more awkward moments the year ahead. Let’s just say I had a bruised elbow (dor de cotovelo as we say in Portugal) for the next month and a half.

Just as much as burro velho não aprende línguas, or literally translated, old donkey doesn’t learn languages (how I love the nonsense of literal translations), the sentence “it is what it is” is the perfect example of an excuse to not change what you can. You may not avoid a fall, but you can totally manage how to react to it, because it is what it is, until it isn’t!
How to master the art of falling in 3 steps:

1. If you have to fall, do it gracefully: Those who have witnessed, more than I like to admit, these countless (un)expected moments, have said I fall in slow motion. Somehow I will unconsciously predict it will happen a few moments just before it does, almost like a muscle memory resulted my long experience mastering the art of the fall. If you have to fall, react quickly, do it calmly, and embrace gravity for the natural law it represents, even if it doesn’t feel like that when you are in mid air.

2. Get support: When you fall, the slow motion effect will assist in getting support. Avoid falling face flat on the floor. The only time your face interacts with the floor is upon seeing it coming dangerously close. It is ok to show you are human in the moment of the fall, as terror will run through your veins and you will most likely show a deformed expression mirroring your immediate unbalanced existence. However, your existence is the one of a warrior, so fall on your knee and elbow / hand. Fall as it was meant to be and conquer the floor. The pain will be sharp but you will not feel it just yet. Accept it is natural and inevitable, which brings me to the most important part: the cliché – it doesn’t matter how you fall, but how you get up!

3. Get up in a single motion: Never stay down for long. With the same speed and calm you fell, get up in a single movement. Almost like break dancer, make three synchronized movements that end with you standing tall with feet on the floor. The expression on your face must also transform into normality again. You will be a bit bruised, and so will your ego, but a small period of temporary amnesia will help you get through the initial shock and social embarrassment, allowing the pain to build only in your body. Then laugh it out to disguise the pain, and carry on reacting as if nothing happened. Others with you, may feel as embarrassed as you are, so it is in a way a social sharing experience.

fed1b239b5256992d116404cd7fb4abdbaa69137_m

One year ago “It is what it is” quickly passed through the bike shop into the work place. Everyone at work uses it to justify the events resulted from running a complex and fun operation where every day is different and the unexpected happens. Despite the healing and comfortable benefits this sentence brings to ones acceptance of surrounding circumstances, it is what it is… until it isn’t, and won’t settle for anything less. The unexpected never truly is!

Ego logic bosses

Mere peasants, who succumb all their resources to the Master of the Land. We deprive our children from their daily basic needs, we steal from our neighbors, we hide our precious goods in camouflaged wholes in the ground where we plant beautiful trees to disguise these resources, all to fill in the masters pantry just a little bit more.

You shall never suggest the master how to organize their pantry, you must give him subtle hints so the master absorbs those into his “own” ideas. If you ever dare to bluntly change course of action without permission of the master, you must face the wrath and the fire piercing out of his eyes, and being marked for life.

excellent-smithers-release-the-hounds

Ego Logic: the one’s inflated Ego absolute argumentative reason

I’m sure all of us have experienced such Ego Logic bosses. I define it as the belief that despite reason, common sense and/or factual proof, one’s own ideas / arguments must be perceived as the right ones. This is broken down in 3 parts:
1. The Core dynamic: The need of feeling complete ownership of ideas / arguments is so strong, that ego logic boss narcissism will emerge to transform his thoughts in absolute reason that others are expected to understand, accept and praise.
2. The Creator Complex: Ideas / actions must always emerge from the Ego owner. If ever these ideas come from another party despite having concrete proof, facts and arguments, the Ego owner will classify them as wrong and will override them with some strange logic and distorted truth.
3. Insecure Apathy: There is an apparent absence of comprehending the impact certain actions have on others. The Ego logic boss must at all times feel in control of all that is happening, because his own insecurity does not accept others to take independent actions unless authorized and supervised. Their sense of security seems to feed of the others insecurity and the need to feel superior.

Why people suffer from Ego Logic? I really don’t know. And they don’t know it or ever admit it either, I am sure. So you can only assume by what you observe. However I have encountered and experienced living in the “shadow” of such bosses.

funny-quotes-Deja-Poo.jpg

Mr. Charles was the first. A grumpy old human, proudly showing his round belly with a cigarette in his mouth, the 40th of the day at 1pm in the afternoon. His skin was 15 years aged and burnt. Even his glasses were stained by the tobacco. Grotesque little man, lost some precious brain cells to nicotine, which greatly affected his judgment (when the habit of smoking was not even left aside when putting gasoline on a boat…). Mr. Charles sailing skills, left many praying and valuing life a little more and his inconsideration for all the inferior humans around him was legendary. No skills for customer service, business, management or life for all that matters. Speaking with him was a dreadful task I was fortunate enough to endure only for a couple of months on rare occasions. I learnt to cut these moments short by agreeing and pretending to have some urgent task to attend to.

Mr. Nando, a man whose logic defied the smartest of the business man. Team meetings would last an hour, with no clear agenda, no clear message or goal and with words that were wrongly translated from a foreign language no one would understand. Yet you would never dare to seek clarification of his logic, for the 1 hour could quickly turn into a long 3 hour dinner about nothing at all. Mr. Nando would go around a subject until you were dizzy, hypnotize you until time seems to stop. These 3 hours would feel like days. He was void, lost in his own world which he attempt to bring out to manage his business. The success of the “big company” was of course, attributed to his “guidance” (or should I say, to the teams own undercover way of executing without his knowledge). We would be but grateful if Nando would grant us permission to bring something that would fill his own pockets, because his “fair to everyone” was wise and almighty. Long live Mr. Nando!

maxresdefault

So many I know suffer under the management of Ego Logic bosses. Strategy is key to deal with these bosses. I will come back to this topic in a near future, but for now, your end goal must be the one with the least loss of personal energy. These people are provided with a black hole capable of draining the energy of the strongest of the stars. Best strategy is to avoid its orbit, or escape… even though confrontation is unavoidable.

I am so grateful and lucky to have now a boss that is completely the opposite.

5 ways to fail at being productive

I was once a proud multitasker. I still try to trick my colleagues by saying I am a natural… Spoiler alert: MULTITASKING IS A SCAM, an urban myth spread across to break you down slowly!

Multi-tasking1
Positive side: I am an artist!!

Queen of procrastination and distraction on top of this, and struggling in this moment in time, specifically due to the piles of work needed done and delivered yesterday! Here is how I’m failing at being productive:

1. Overthinking snow-ball effect – Getting stressed when I know I’m falling behind on my schedule. Either because procrastination kicks-in, or (un)expected things require my immediate attention. If these two fail, my brain goes into self-sabotaging mode. I start overthinking about what I should be doing, what I want to do to prove myself I am capable of achieving something, thought that is strengthened by my super self-criticism. As a result, I feel overwhelmed and focus my attention on something that takes that painful sensation away, just to delay it and let it build up in the background into a crushing snowball. Human behaviour 1:1 I guess. Or at least is my excuse to self-sabotage a bit more. That is why so little achieve greatness!

2. Focus on the end goal – It may sound counterintuitive, but this is one of the main feeders of my lack of focus. I tend to take out the binoculars and look on the end-goal alone. Because of this amplified vision, I miss the true dimension and distance, as well as the mountains, valleys, canyons and rivers in between. It is a reflex of wanting knowledge with no discipline for the process. To feel passionate about that vision, but having no idea or plan how to start. I suck at planning. The simple task of planning a dinner, is condensed in booking a place 10 minutes before and whatsapping the ones involved. You can imagine how well that works with my fellow UK friends.

82-insolite-34.jpg

3. Be a collector – Someone once said that as Human beings, we spend half of our time collecting, and the other half deciding what to keep. My grandfather was a master at this. Fierce entrepreneur in his mid 30’s, business and family man in the second half of his life with an outstanding consistency in his actions, always in line with his beliefs. Very genuine man, my grandfather.

As for me, I am a collector, a fierce collector, have experimented several jobs and careers, some of them very short. Have tried dozens of different hobbies (started yesterday to learn python for example, hopefully will finish the course). I feed on the novelty, on the experience and on learning new things. However, I am a terrible juggler (also tried this as a hobby for exactly 3 days).

funniest_memes_idea-excitement-over-thinking_8601

4. Self-sabotaging – related to overthinking, to procrastination, or derived by a deep fear of not achieving something? Whatever it is, I’m an expert! My boredom scale builds quite quickly. I have constant fights in my own head, self-sabotage vs belief I can be much better; thrive to accomplish a specific goal vs thinking of a million other things to do that take priority for being less important!

Would love to understand better self-sabotaging behaviour. Is there an intrinsic undermining human nature to crash? Or is it based on the “energy saving” theory of evolution, to avoid taking more effort than one actually needs to survive as a species? Whatever it is, I want to kill it!

Either way, once you pass the jumpstart of any task, it somehow becomes a motivator. Just that inertia is a pain to overcome.

Artboard-1

5. Be available to people – Fixing problems feels amazing, and working with others to brainstorm solutions is a very good learning tool. Because if this I struggle to say no when asked for help. Once someone told me I am good at serving people. Despite dreading that observation (independence is my thing!), I need to eat up my pride and admit that is a little true. Others expectations, unfortunately, do have an effect on me, specially when I feel I’m helping somehow. I feel a responsibility for fixing things. I just need to channel that same energy towards myself. Should be easier, no? Need a trigger for my selfish gene!

'So the yoga classes are working out pretty well for you then?'

I have tried all the tricks in the book to focus. Meditation, to do lists, gratitude lists, pomodoro timers, visualization techniques, piano music, jazz music, no music, disconnect the phone, clean the house, exercise in the morning, read and learn something, drive with no route, write my mind and my heart out into a paper in hope to make sense of it. If only setting aside time for deep work was easy…

There was a time in my life I was following religiously James Altucher’s life hack into luck. I have to confess I was much more focused, but at that time in my life (2011), I was less busy. Maybe I will give it another go… if I find the consistency to restart a daily ritual.

Any other tricks?

tumblr_ms78bgn6ts1s6bw99o1_1280
Will try some of these!