Friday, 11 July 2008

There is a God after all...

In my previous life as an IT person and eventually a Functional Director for a very large ‘Blue Chip’ global American I.T. manufacturer, part of my role required I undertake international travel. There were many reasons for this type of activity over a twenty something years career such as technical support, client meetings, attending and giving training courses for new software product releases, project management meetings, meetings about meetings, meetings to discuss what we knew and more meetings to discuss what we didn’t know and anything else that fell in-between; consequently my arse was often wedged into an aeroplane seat built to accommodate a size zero model who would find getting her arse and thighs in there pretty much tough going.

I can’t begin to tell you how I delighted in the vagaries of air travel; for example negotiating that plastic table with drinks and food precariously perched on it just as the numpty in the window seat needed to go for a waz whilst the aisle was completely blocked by a trolley and two flight attendants. Or even better, given that the table was a feature of the back of the chair in front of me and as such not under my control, it has not been unknown for the incumbent of that seat to recline at speed and with such force that the contents of my flimsy table would be jettisoned fairly and squarely over me. Over time I got smart and stopped dressing up for air travel and just wore anything that a quick hose down wouldn’t sort. It got so I would take at least one change of clothes in my hand luggage as there were a few occasions when I was in one country whilst my luggage was a tourist in another; on one occasion I arrived home before my wayward luggage turned up two days later. Had I known that the last I was to have seen of it was at the check-in desk on the outward bound leg of my journey, I would have simply saved myself endless time and trouble by not bothering my arse to pack it and lug it there in the first place.

I could have merely headed off on my travels with one clean pair of knickers, a tooth brush and one non crease business suit and blouse with suitable shoes in my hand luggage. The downside of this of course is that I'd end up performing a juggling act eking out a meagre ‘capsule’ wardrobe over a three day period whilst trying not to resemble a disheveled old bag lady with hygiene problems. But at least you weren’t office bound first thing Monday morning at your excruciatingly early breakfast meeting still in the stained and crumpled outfit of the unfortunate slightly insane looking international traveller. Of course an occasional solution was that the company would reimburse me for the purchase of a blouse here, some underwear there, to tide me over when I could prove my case had gone awol but it got to be so regular they assumed I was a lazy bint and just fibbed about the loss of my case so that I could expand my wardrobe at their expense from each country that I visited. If they’d seen the shite that I’d bought out of desperation and haste because my tight schedules didn’t allow for shopping trips then they may have revised that assumption. Looking like Bozo the clown was not a great ambassadorial look for the global corporation I was supposed to represent. Anyway, had that bloody suitcase of mine accrued air miles I’d have been laughing.

However, good background info as this might be, if you are still awake this far in, I have a tale to tell. As I progressed up the company ladder, greasy pole, whatever you may call it - I promise that I did that without any arselicking whatsoever, without the learning of funny handshakes, by being devoid of the backstabbing activities of some of my colleagues and by simply relying upon and being grateful for the bad judgement of those clearly bewildered people who for some reason thought I had talent and promoted me – as such with each step my perks improved. More often than not, I was booked to travel ‘club’ class; an oasis of comfort and joy away from screaming babies, queues for the loo’s, drunks sleeping with their head on your shoulder whilst they snored and dribbled over you and the low class punter that polluted the air for fifty seats around him because he didn’t have the good grace to stop dropping his guts whilst in such close company and in a pressurised area. Those were also the days when you could smoke aboard an airliner and kill your fellow passengers with extra concentrated and recycled passive smoke throughout the cabins. Bad as it was, at least that went some way to masking the fug from Mr Fartyarse’s backside.

And so in time, with club class being the order of the day, I became much more enamoured of the idea, the practicality and ease of international travel at spoilt brat level. No more slumming it in cattle class or being on a plane that sported an outside toilet. “No, I’d arrived”, I told myself smugly as I peered back at cattle class. My how I loved travelling and my smugness grew with each trip I took; that is until one day, recessions being what they are, the IT marketplace being what it was – a rapidly dwindling one with diminishing returns, subsequent layoffs and company closures - a dreaded circular on head office notepaper was placed onto my and every other managers desk. “Oh dear god”, we all shrieked as though we’d witnessed a disaster. “Oh for fuck sake”, cried another, as he grasped his desk to steady himself whilst his secretary rushed for the smelling salts lest he fall to the floor in a faint. And so the memo went:

Given the recent downturn in company profits, poor performance in the marketplace as a whole coupled with poor financial projections for the 3rd and 4th quarter results, it has been decided that from now, all international travel will revert to economy class. Club class will be for exceptional circumstances only”.

Well you could have heard a pin drop and shipped in a team of Paramedics on standby such was the shock as it settled in. We moaned, complained, threatened to refuse business trips and manipulated anyone and everyone into reinstating our spoilt brat status but it fell on deaf ears but we knew the score. The top of the tree would be the ‘exceptions’ that got to travel club class; the exalted few that wouldn’t know a day’s work if it bit them on the arse; the people least likely to benefit from a stress free journey with some truly hard graft at the end of it.

And so it came to be. In time we learned to accept it, to realise that controlling costs saved more jobs and in return the company had a fighting chance of survival.

So, there I was one day, arranging with our newly appointed in house travel company, a trip to our manufacturing plant in Minnesota, USA. I wasn’t looking forward to the cramped conditions for an eight hour flight but this was a trip I couldn’t get out of. There was a three line whip on it.

“Okay Ms Mob”, said the travel agent as she went on to confirm the details of my flights, hotel and car details back to me. As I thanked her and went to replace the receiver, she said “you do know that as an introductory offer we are upgrading you to club class, don’t you”. I could have kissed her such was my joy at this news. I perked up immediately, checked she wasn’t on day release from the local loony bin, and promised to bring her back a gift for such generosity.

It was a laborious trip to the airport, hampered by bad weather and the usual traffic chaos on the M25 motorway which has earned the moniker of being the largest car park in Britain. I rushed to check-in and prepared to wave goodbye to my luggage and wish it a nice holiday wherever in ended up. But imagine my joy at being told I had been upgraded yet again to First Class? I was almost delirious at the prospect of travelling in true noboff style. Dear God, in the space of no time at all I had gone from being a rear gunner at the back of the plane to hobnobbing with the captain, the rich and famous and of course the elite members of the cabin crew. I could have danced a jig right there in the airport.

Due to the lateness of my arrival, I was fast tracked through. I felt like royalty what with someone carrying my hand luggage, whizzing me through security checks, and seeing to my every need. My head was spinning at the speed of it all but at the same time, I was aware of a woman, desperately trying to not only keep up with me but to surpass me if she so could. I knew the ‘type’; clearly a spoiled little madam with a huge sense of entitlement and little manners with it. She seemed clearly miffed that I was receiving such elite assistance but that didn’t dissuade her from barging into me at every turn in an attempt to somehow achieve one better than me by getting on that plane before me. I couldn’t believe the dirty looks she kept throwing my way and it became a battle of wits to keep one step ahead of her for it became my goal to thwart this new nemesis who was such a dreadful little bully. Finally, when we reached the departure lounge we parted ways. Me, unnoticed by her into the first class lounge, her, for a quick dash through duty free for her cheapo cigarettes and booze.

What a different world the other half live in compared to us mere mortals. This was better than anything I’d experienced before or was likely to again. But it was all too short lived for I was being gently led by the elbow, towards the plane because first class passengers board first, in a gentle an orderly manner and without someone behind me dead legging me with their swinging hand luggage as they push forward like eejits trying to get inside the shops for the January sales.

“Hello madam, may I take your coat?”, asked the rather posh flight attendant smiling widely like I was ‘someone’ as she took my jacket and hung it on a hanger in the wardrobe.

“Champagne madam?”, she enquired as I settled into the extra wide beige leather seat that could easily accommodate four size 12 models and leave room to spare.

I settled back into a chair that was sheer bliss and picked up the film guide that listed the twelve or so films that I could choose from to watch on my individual DVD screen. This was in the day when this technology was prohibitively expensive for your average punter so I was mightily impressed.

“Bellini’s madam?, how many would you like?”, she asked, before returning with a beautifully laid out platter of Bellini’s, wild smoked salmon, Beluga caviar and soured cream. It was a Kodak moment if ever there was one. God I could have cried at the sheer luxury of it all.

I was in seventh heaven and thought life couldn’t get any better when what do you know, hiking her own hand luggage and dripping with sweat and hair stuck to her forehead, along comes little miss spoilt madam who on seeing me tooled up to the hilt with superior alcohol and food, stopped dead in her tracks. “Oh my God”, I thought, hiding my absolute delight, as I registered the look of shock and horror on her face that perhaps in her eyes I was a ‘someone’ to be reckoned with after all and that she’d blown her chance by being insufferably rude to me. It was a moment that I shall never forget to my dying day. She quickly gathered herself and moved on and I turned my head and watched her struggle through first class, right through club class and into ‘economy’ class and then lost sight of her in the throng of people vying for the best overhead locker to store their duty free.

I tried, really tried, not to let those feelings if smugness overwhelm me for it isn’t a nice thing to do but I asked God for forgiveness this one time and completely indulged myself in a little smug delight at what happened. Half an hour into the flight I rose to stretch my legs and strode to the back of the first class area.

Whilst I was stretching, someone in club class caught my eye. I couldn’t be sure, so I looked again, and looked some more. Just as I was scanning his face in my quest to see if it really was him, he looked straight at me and our eyes locked. “Dear God”, I muttered when I realised it was the head of my division, a man so very full of himself, a deeply unpopular man because of his lack of fair play with several acts of cronyism under his belt, travelling to the same conference that I was. His face was a picture when he recognised who I was and that whilst he was in club class, here was one of his management team larging it up big time in first class.

“Oh hi John", I said, as I smiled, hugging this golden moment to myself.

“Oh erm, hello Mob”, he stuttered, as his face reddened with obvious anger at my one-upmanship and clearly racking his brain as to how I’d flouted the company travel policy to get myself out of cattle class and into first class.

“Catch you later John”, I said as the flight attendant asked me if I wanted to have my in flight meal now or wait until later.

On that I turned my back, headed back to my seat and wondered at how life can sometimes come up trumps when you least expected it.

I’m no longer smug about such things, I’ve matured and realise that material things are worthless in the scheme of things. But that day, for once in my life, I realised that there was a God after all.....


auntiegwen said...

What was it our mammies said about good things coming to the just ?

or if ye fell outta windae ye'd land on a mattress ?

You enjoy it my lovely, I now call it Karma and I truly believe everybody gets theirs

Working mum said...

Hi! Popped in for a visit as we seem to have lots of bloggers in common. Great story; I will be back!

Suzy said...

Ahhh....First Class! Someday I will be there.




Anonymous said...

You had it coming, totally deserved. I loved this story, a perfect day. Could not have happened to a better and well deserving person.


Kitt said...

Great story! Sometimes the stars align.

Thanks for the award, too! I'll "claim" it in the coming days.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Auntiegwen - definitely Karma! Love the comment about landing on a mattress! Hadn’t heard that one but my God the Glaswegians do have some fantastic sayings. I love that you remind me of them from time to time.

Working Mum – welcome, yes I’ve seen you around too – we clearly have good taste! I’ll pop around your place and sneak a look when you aren’t looking!

Suzy, everyone deserves first class, except people like those two in my story. For me these days first class treatment means a kind act or a kind word from a friend or someone I least expected it from. Keep blogging you’re bound to get there.

Eileen – I don’t know if I deserved it but I enjoyed it! In the manner of an old lapsed Catholic with a double first in guilt, I am sure I paid for the smugness somewhere down the line! Who gives a shit? It was great at the time.

Kitt – ta hen. Display your award with pride – oh wait a moment, that’s another bloody sin isn’t it?

belle said...

Wow! Simply fabulous, dahling! Excellent tale, I hope you dine out on it often :)

Mima said...

I once ended up travelling club class due to work, and I thought that was heaven, so I can't even imagine how you must have felt up in First!! Maybe something to dream about!

Anonymous said...

You lucky old MOB you, one day as a treat i want to be in first class, large comfy seats mmmmm Champers mmmmm not fussed on Blinis but hey I am sure they could do a billymeat sanrnie lol

WT said...

I tried emailing you at two different addresses, but both got returned.

blogthatmama said...

You're only human, MOB, it's natural to feel that way. Once my boss found out the BA were doing a BOGOF and that two seats on Concorde were cheaper than both of us flying business class to New York. We boarded the plane from the first class lounge in Heathrow, I've never been more excited on a business trip in my life and yes, I asked to go into the Captain's cockpit and they let me! Fantastic..

Breezy said...

That must of been so so sweet not only first class but someone you don't like being there to see and envy you. You should of told him the company considered you were worth the extra expense!

ciara said...

i would totally enjoy my one day of smugness, too. i hate people who think they're just so much better than everyone else.

i happen to get first class just ONE time, and it happened to be the one time that i was running late for my flight! LOL

WT said...

So, you'rethe bitch my mother was telling about! btw the booze and cigs she got duty free were for me.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Belle - Tis a great tale to tell and people are usually entertained that the 'baddies' as it were for once didn’t trounce all over the little guy – moi

Mima – you deserve every bit of luxury that you can get. I hope some amazing stuff comes your way. Club really is good and to be honest, no matter how much dosh I have I would not pay for first class as club is good enough. It was nice to have the experience though.

Valleys Mam – now I would say the same about champers, can’t be fussed with the stuff and would rather down a good bottle of full bodied red. Champagne – fizzy white wine that leaves the most God-awful hangover the next day. The in-flight meal was astonishing though – proper china wear, crystal glasses etc that you would find in the finest restaurants. And the choice was mind boggling. Lovely jubbley!

WT – no need to mention the email stuff as we have already exchanged a couple. However, I might have known that the woman who was being such a pain in the arse as I raced my way trough the check-in process was Australian and possibly related to you. Do you have her name at all? I’d like to send her some photo’s of me larging it big time in first class.

Blogthatmama – what a fabulous experience. And to get your hands on the captains cock – pitt! You must have made his day as much as he made yours. I am in awe of you that you got to travel on the old bird before she was scrapped. It used to fly over my house in south London every day and what a magnificent sight she was.

Breezy – as I said, there was a God that day! I couldn’t have planned it better. He had a face of stone every time I stood up to stretch and caught my eye.

Ciara – yes bummer about being late for your flight because you could have soaked up the luxury of being a first class passenger for so much longer. Never mind, you must have enjoyed your flight as much as this old bird did.

aims said...

Darling - only you could tell this story the way it deserved to be told.

Aaah....did they give you heated towels after your meal and a mint before you disembarked? Did they invite you back ever so softly? Sigh....

Tina said...

First Class. I think I've had a good day if I get a seat on the bus...

You are my idol.

And you'll find that one of your dandy little awards has guilted me into doing a post. See how cheap I am?

The Oriental Express said...

God has shown Himself to be always full of humour. It is His way of humbling the arrogant.

I love your concluding paragraph!
Great writing. Keep it up!

From Singapore with best wishes,

Choo Choo

Casdok said...

Oh how the other half live!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Have never travelled either Club or First Class (in fact haven't travelled much at all), but that was a first class travel tale - very funny. M xx

Lehners in France said...

MOB, what a classic and I can relate to it soooo much. The travel, the luggage and the arseholes. It must have felt good. Debs x

Terry Whitaker said...

Beautiful, Just beautiful!

merry weather said...

I would have felt exactly the same as you MOB. Savouring every moment, because hell, we all know that rotten times happen too.

Ah, the luxury of a little one-upmanship :)

So you were an international IT person - interesting... More, please.

Mopsa said...

Do you miss the high life MOB?

GoneBackSouth said...

It's a great feeling, being upgraded. Like you're being let out of prison. And sitting in that cabin is so much sweeter when you've paid 10% of what the person has paid!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Great story!!!

Maggie May said...

I've always had to slum it with the ordinary folk! I once asked an air hostess if I could use the loo that was just the other side of a curtain, a hands breath away from me as there was a huge queue in the the commoners toilets and she said "certainly not" I would have to wait.
Well I knew my place!

Irene said...

Isn't it lovely when you get to act like it is the most normal thing of all to be there, just for once and feel so nicely smug about it. If air travel were like that all the time, I would go see my daughter in the States more often. It is the conditions in economy class that keep me from doing so.

Rhea said...

I write for baby boomers, menopausal or not. Let's trade links!

Lehners in France said...

MOB, I've got an award chez mwah for your Birthday. Bebs x

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

like working mum, we have many fave bloogers in common and have been enjoying checking you out over breakfast!!
very enjoyable keep at it!!
saz x

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Aims - the whole round trip was first class. I will never forget it. Class!

Tina - I am thrilled that I 'guilted' you into writing a post again. I'll pop over for a read. I can't wait to read your next installment.

The Oriental Express - welcome. Yes I do believe God has a sense of humour!

Casdok - yup must be lovely to live life in such luxury. If only eh?

A Mother's place - travel is such fun but not when it's business trips. They pale quickly after a while and all you want to do is stay home.

Debs - yup, you too travel as much as I did so I guess you can empathise so very well with this.

Terry W - life can sometimes be beautiful!

Merry Weather - perhaps one day I'll expand upon my life and travels but you may need a pistol to blow your brains out with boredom if you ever read it.

Mopsa - sometimes I miss the fun, laughter, sense of achievement, accolades and teamwork. I don't miss impossible deadlines, shed loads of work, office politics, backstabbing, long hours, airports, and missing my family. So I guess the answer is yes and no!

Gonebacksouth - it was even sweeter knowing I paid nothing at all as the company paid for it!

Carrie - thank you dear lady, I thought so to!

Maggie may - what a snotty nosed cow that air hostess was. never mind - she probably picked up a dose of the clap from a one night stand as she tried to snare herself a rich businessman husband.

Irene - I guess I would travel more too but it would have to be something rather special to get me on a plane these days too.

Rhea - welcome. I'll be right over for a nosey at your site as soon as I get some time.

Debs - thank you dear generous friend. I have been neglectful of my blogging duties this week. I shall be over to grab the award in my hot little mits.

Fat, Frumpy and Fifty - dear God - your names describes me to a T! Welcome, I'll pop over to a kindred spirit's site by the sounds of it.

Milla said...

(haev finally got around to acknowledging kind people who've doled out awards. all the best xx)

Eve said...

I can imagine the joy of it, if only the sweaty competitor to the gate had been Na**mi Campb**l

Suzysoo said...

Hope all is ok with you and yours.

Award for you at mine!

Stinking Billy said...

I don't know whether to apologise for not having visited for a few weeks (I would surely have noticed this post) or to ask you where the hell you are - and have been over the same few weeks?

Your post? I loved it, loved it, loved it!

Cowgirl said...

Hiya - I came over from Debs place - so bloody glad I did!

It was indeed your day to be Queen! Great stuff!

Retiredandcrazy said...

I know that feeling well, but I have this odd suspicion that I am going to pay for it later down the line. What goes around, comes around in reverse? Great story MOB.

Highland Housewife said...

Isn't life sweet sometimes! Your description of air travel (economy class) had me laughing out loud with recognition.

Jules said...

Oh my gosh MOB I kept reading it thinking you were going to say..... "Ha! It was all a dream"
So glad it wasn't.
hope the conference was wonderful and that "John" still remembers it! Haha!

Anonymous said...

I'm on a business trip to India and about to battle to the airport to dual with a flight back to the UK. You certainly hit a chord!

Insane Mama said...

Wow, what a story, and I agree with everyone, you deserve it!

auntiegwen said...

I think a month without a post from you is too long.

Hope everything's ok ?

Lulda Casadaga said...

Too funny! It's those moments that make life worth living. I myself have never been in, I surely would have savored every minute of that flight. Any bubbly left?!