For nearly 20 years, I have spent Christmas morning with my best friend and her family (more on that later). Seven years ago she left me behind and moved her entire family to Las Vegas. Not willing to pass up that great, calorie-laden breakfast and present-opening gala, I have visited her every year since the move.
The key to the annual visits has been finding a non-stop flight there and back. Usually, this is not a problem, but this year the decision was in limbo due to a variety of reasons (more on that later — maybe). Ultimately, I could not miss our annual get together and scouted the flights for the trip. Usually, a specific airline always offered a non-stop flight. This year, either due to the lateness of the booking or changes in route carriers, I had to select a different airline; one I had never flown before. The seats were a mite bit tighter than usual, although as a coach flier, the difference is hard to measure. I thought they were comfortable, which I suppose is all that matters.
On the way up, I found myself the center of attention of four youngsters ranging from less than a year to six. The little drooler kept climbing over his parents to get to me (perhaps the bouncy rides on my lap had something to do with that) and the others just enjoyed seeing some adult who clearly was not very mature. I think we all had a good time. The Moms were happy for the time off and I had fun, especially when it came to drawing time and I drew the girls a picture of a Santa on water skis (what can I say, I’m a Florida boy). They had a blast trying to copy the picture themselves (and did a darn fine job of it, too).
As an aside, I was able to chat up with them about my recently published book, copies of which I not-coincidentally had handy. I exchanged sales information with them and hope they will become “fans”.
The return flight was, as usual, a red-eye. Now, I don’t know what the theory is with airlines, airports or whomever decides that the only non-stop flights backfrom Las Vegas to Ft. Lauderdale must travel over midnight (and across three time zones), but it has been that way every year I’ve flown. For the most part, all airlines treat these flights the same: dim the lights, sneak around for beverage/food service (less of a worry these days) and let the people try to sleep. I have yet to be able to sleep on an airplane, but I have been able to close my eyes and rest.
Rest was not to be had this trip, as a couple in front of me (from Australia) were having fun with each other and whichever passenger they could engage. They were heading to South Florida to go out on a long cruise and they were understandably excited and happy. Their time zone issues were no doubt different as well. Since I don’t sleep on planes, I wasn’t overly disturbed by their playfulness (anytime I see someone happy in coach class, it’s a wonderful moment). They did receive a “scolding” from one of the flight crew, though. I guess boisterous doesn’t play as well on red-eye flights.
Of course, since I was not sleeping, it afforded me a little time to get engaged in conversation with them…a conversation which not-coincidentally found its way to my newly published book. Later, as we waited for our luggage, they asked me if I had a card or other mnemonic device to give them (no, they didn’t use the word “mnemonic” at five in the morning). It sturck me that I actually could benefit from a “business” card or other item (bookmarks seem a bit over-the-top) to give people a quick reference to remember the website/book info.
It was a great vacation. My holiday visit with my best friend (and her first grandson – more on that…oh, you know), some opportunities to pitch the book and a revelation about a small marketing tool that had been overlooked as I plotted out the grander schemes. Happy holidays, indeed!