11 February 2018

First world problems... adventure in travel


I've heard people talk about 'patience' for years. And they talk about how to achieve or gain patience. Usually it's through inopportune times or struggles that patience is learned. I think I get it. I'm not noted as a very patient man. So what does that say about my struggles? Not a thing. It says a lot more about my responses to those struggles and how slow I am to learn.

Case in point. Last Sunday I left my hotel at 7 am in Jerusalem and took a ride to Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport. Easy. Check in with my box of goods was easy, which is rare for me there. But wait, my flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines was delayed. OK, no dramas. I'm happy to sit there for a few minutes. They said, "it won't be too long, maybe 15 minutes." Not a problem. I have a new book I'm reading. 15 became 30; 30 became 45, and 45 became "You are going to miss your connection in Istanbul, Mr Mendelsohn." Oy. What was the problem anyway? Seems the inbound plane had not left its location yet. So, wait, if the plane hadn't left yet an hour ago, and it would take 2 hours for that plane to arrive at Ben Gurion, then you and your computer already knew that I would miss my connection. That means your computer or you should have re-organized my travel plans and gotten me a ticket on another airline, so that I could be in Berlin about my scheduled time. But they didn't.

So they flew me eventually through Istanbul about 2 hours later, and I sat in the airport for a bit, watching the rain pour down outside. Then my final flight took off, and I got to Berlin. About 10:30 pm, and the place looked like a ghost town. No personnel to meet us, but what did meet me was a demolished box rounding the carousel. I was really tired after spending the whole day going almost nowhere. Who thinks of finding offical personnel at that point? I was glad that my box was in hand. I was glad to be in Germany and had to get to my AirBNB. They had been awaiting my arrival there since 3 pm.

So I got to my housing. The next morning I logged onto Turkish Airlines website and sent the above photos, with a nice note about my rain-soaked luggage and brutalized box. After another email from Turkish, asking for more information, I sent along with a narrative of the interaction, an invoice for the products which I bought in Israel and which were in the demolished box. Several more emails came from the official website, maybe even from a person (although no one signed it.) Finally yesterday morning I opened an email from the airline. The word was "The evaluation process related to your baggage is completed. Please click the button above to see your evaluation result. For your questions, you can make contact with us by message." Fantastic. Any reasonable person would have paid me what I requested. If there were issues, any reasonable person would have both checked the inbound baggage service, the Istanbul connection, or something to verify my allegation, and the photo evidence. I was shocked when the result of their 'investigation' was a most disappointing disregard.

Again unsigned. No apology. No admission. Did I learn patience? Is it too late for me to learn that just now? Lord, give me another chance.

Two days ago, on Friday I left Berlin to fly to Detroit, outside of which I'm writing this morning. I checked in to the Lufthansa Airline flights to Frankfurt and then to Detroit on Thursday morning. No problem. Took the taxi on Friday morning at 7 am to Berlin airport without a problem. Got to the counter and the agent took my luggage (new box) and handed me my boarding passes. All good. Phew. But wait, I noticed she had given me three passes. I only had two flights. Oh, maybe the 3rd was a receipt for baggage. Nope. It was a triad of flights, and now my flight from Frankfurt actually went to Dulles (Washington, DC) and then another from Dulles to Detroit.

What? The counter agent didn't say a word. She didn't inform me of any changes to my routing. I had received no notification from Lufthansa (even though they had my mobile phone number and my email address in my profile) When I asked, the agent actually didn't know anything as to why my non-stop had been removed from my reservation. "That's all I know," she said.

Instead of arriving into Detroit at 2:15 pm on Friday afternoon, I would now arrive at 6:30. OK, not horrible, really, as I would sit in the Frankfurt lounge for a while, but maybe United airlines would know what happened. It was a code shared flight with Lufthansa. The agent I rang in Chicago saw my new arrangements on her computer but was surprised that Lufthansa had not informed me, and they had actually created a new reservation altogether. If I had not rung the United agent, United would have canceled the rest of my flights from Detroit through SF to Sydney. Wow... thanks (for nothing) Lufthansa.

Seems as though a major snow storm was making its way in and through Michigan, hitting Detroit fairly hard and dumped 7 inches of snow on the airport through Friday alone. Eventually, my flight from Dulles, delayed 5 different times from its 5 pm departure to 10 pm, and then was canceled at about 7:30 pm. Again the United airlines personnel helped me a lot and secure a new flight on American Airlines, although from Reagan National not from Dulles, but with plenty of time for me to make it from Dulles. They organized my baggage, a voucher for a taxi, another voucher for a meal... and I sat on the American flight which left at 10:30 pm, arriving into Detroit at midnight. (6 am in Berlin)

My friend Glenn Harris fetched me from the airport and took me home with him for a wonderful night/morning of hospitality.

These adventures in travel were simply first-world problems. I didn't have to shovel the snow at the Detroit airport. I didn't have to work on the baggage services. I just sat most of the time. I was able to put the problems in perspective due to God's grace. Seeing things from His point of view-- that's a gift!

Did I learn patience? Was I really patient during those 5 delays?

Was I a patient man ever during this experience?


This is a hard one to calculate and to evaluate. But in the last couple years I've been self-evaluating a lot, and honestly can say, "Yes, Bob is growing in patience." I was able to relax on Friday; I had no control and freely yielded to the Lord. It was faith, personal faith in the God of the universes, which allowed me to relax. The Bible says the 'fruit of the Spirit' is love, joy..."patience... self-control." (Galatians 5.22-23) In other words, God is producing this fruit in me, as I stay connected to Him. It's not a function of my willing, white-knuckling. It's not a function of personal religious manipulation. It's a function of faith in the Lord, who is the Spirit.

As a result of that recognition, and observation... I'm more and more humbled and thrilled that the Lord Himself is making Himself real to me, and making His life in me that much clearer. Thank you, Lord. Thanks be to God.

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