Airplane etiquette

April 28, 2008

I was on a plane back from Halifax the other night, and an event occurred which got me thinking about proper airplane etiquette.

The horrible fog approachesTo put it delicately, somebody in my vicinity tooted.  Lethally.  I’m sorry, I know the subject matter is a little crude, but it’s precisely what happened.

I had been sitting there, quietly reading Wired, gently breathing in and out, and on one of my inhales I got the distinct sense that something wasn’t quite right.  That sense rapidly developed to alarm as wave after noxious wave washed over me.  I was gasping for breath, clawing at the windows, wondering what in the great green earth this person had consumed to produce such a horrid stench.

The stewardess was at this moment moving down the aisle with the drink cart, and the funny thing is, even though it wasn’t my doing, I was desperately hoping that the fumes would dissipate before she arrived.  I did not want to be implicated as a culprit.  Implied guilt overrides actual innocence.

I know I wasn’t the only one who sensed the miasma in the air.  Nobody with anything approaching a sense of smell could have missed it.  If there had been a bloodhound in the midst of that fog, I suspect they would have turned inside out and croaked on the spot.  And yet nobody said a word, nobody even looked around, everyone just stayed studiously concentrated on whatever they were working on.  I didn’t even pull my sweater up over my nose, though I so desperately wanted to, for fear of drawing attention to myself.  Everyone would have assumed it was me, and the only person who would know otherwise would be the one who actually committed the heinous act.

So I got to wondering: is that the proper thing to do in such a situation?  Just pretend nothing happened and ride it out?  I guess at that point there’s not much that can be done to reverse it, but part of me wonders if maybe it was intentional, and there’s somebody out there flying the friendly skies and blasting really nasty gas and getting a great big chuckle out of it.

I’m too reserved to say anything in that kind of situation, though perhaps I should have.  I’d bet that experience knocked a full 2 years off my life.

Image by hoyasmeg.


Gratitude – 04/15/2008

April 16, 2008

Today, I am grateful for:

1. Orange juice.  Sweet, nourishing, guilt-free nectar.  This stuff is a godsend on plane rides.

2. The PS3 firmware update.  Better audio support, and a brand-spanking-new store format.  Granted, I’m actually on a plane typing this, so I haven’t had the chance to use it myself, but the word on the street is that it’s worth the while.

3. Successful business trips.  I had a customer meeting today that went, in my opinion, pretty well.  I’m quite sure that when I log in tomorrow a plethora of issues will arise, but in the meantime I’m riding the high of moderate success.

My failed attempt to save the planet

March 3, 2008

Well, my effort to reduce my energy consumption has been a resounding flop.  We got our first utility bill after installing the electric heater in the office and turning down the heat in the rest of the house — and the bill is higher than it was last month.  Gas consumption was pretty much exactly the same, and electricity consumption was up a smidgen.

Fie on thee, electric heater, for teasing me with promises of warm offices and near-zero fuel bills.  Fie.

The Team I’ve Never Met

February 28, 2008

There’s one aspect of teleworking that I’ve found a little bit hard to get my head around, and that’s working extensively with a team I’ve never met.

Let me clarify: there’s my immediate team, and I’ve flown to Houston on a couple of occasions to meet with them. So that’s covered.

But a lot of my work involves projects, and for one of the projects I’m leading, I have met exactly 1 of the 10 people on the team. And this is six weeks into the game. It’s not a bad thing, per se, but it definitely requires a different coping strategy. Given that I can’t just trot over to people’s desks to talk to them when I see they’re off the phone, I find myself calling and leaving a lot of voice messages, or trying to carve out time in our calendars to talk. It takes away from the spontaneous camaraderie of the team, but it’s not insurmountable.

It certainly hones your skills at distinguishing people by their voices. You really don’t want to be that guy who, six months into a project, is still asking “Who was just talking?”

It also makes for one of my favourite experiences: the first meeting with someone you already know very well. I’ve already created mental images of what all these people look like, and at least 95% of the time I am so way off that I spend the first few minutes of our physical acquaintance just rubbing my eyes and trying to adjust to the reality. However, I really enjoy the goodwill and enthusiasm that accompanies a first-time meeting with someone you’ve worked alongside for a while.

It’s one of the small pleasures in life, and I’ll take it.