Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Travelling Through Life

In my position in life I think it’s important for me to be honest about the fact that I am not perfect and sometimes I make the wrong decision… I live my life with my gut and at the end of the day that’s only way it’s possible to continue to evolve and stay motivated. In life, however, a lot of control is in other people’s hands, and learning to negotiate your day can be a lesson in patience and negotiation especially when you’re stressed… I truly think that being reasonable is an important characteristic to develop, because as human beings we find it hard to see outside our own context or frame of mind….

This week I’m thinking about the challenges of running a company the size of aussieBum – completely unexpectedly, whilst still having to deal with the day to day obstacles that are common to all human beings, some more than others… I never expected the company to become what it has today – I honestly just wanted to make enough money to pay my basic bills so I could hang out- stress free – at the beach…. As funny as this may sound, I have had to deal with some of the consequences of the company’s success – like having less time to spend with friends and family, or even at the beach… Don’t get me wrong, when I go down that thought path I kick myself because I love my life and everyday of what I am doing…I have embraced it completely and am so grateful and excited about everything that’s happened, but taking a step back, I can tell you, we’re all human and individually I have passions and interests that keep me motivated and keep me excited about life, the same as everyone else, and last week was one where I did have to deal with being human – just like we all do….

So… This is what happened… I was running late for a flight to Melbourne on a Friday – which is not a good day to be running late to the airport, as the traffic is horrendous and flights packed full of grumpy corporate types… On top of that I was under a lot of pressure with work as I’m leaving next week for two weeks in the United States, and I had to be at the airport for a family matter – my dad wasn’t well.

Now I’ve realized that especially in stressful situations I will always get a particular kind of cab driver… I also realize that this is because I am bad with directions and don’t know the names of streets or anything else for that matter…Also I’m a person that when I go to a restaurant, I can never decide what I want to eat – because I have options, and I suppose when I’m trying to explain directions I can be confusing for that very reason – I have options which make sense to me….

My challenge in this case was that all the control was in this guys hands and he wanted to know the names of every street, and was not fussed about the fact that I was in a rush, and if I stressed him out he would go slower… I had twenty minutes and even though after every instruction I apologized for having to give the instruction – he was still going slower than the national speed limit by at least 20km/h… Deep breaths Sean… DEEP breaths…

Now – my dad’s in hospital, and I just really want to get there and do the right thing. So as we get stuck in another traffic jam, just in front of the airport, I thank the poor taxi driver – give him a $10 tip – jump out the car with my bag and run through the traffic in what I imagined to an impressive Chariots of Fire move. Blasting into the airport finally, (I do have the perk of skipping the line because of my position and some of the success I have had) however, I try and explain to the lady at the front of the line that my plane was just about to leave without me and would she mind if I quickly checked in… Mistake – of course she thought she was also running late as her flight was leaving soon (an hour and a half later)… I didn’t even have the strength to argue, I just showed the person checking everyone in that my flight was literally leaving then and there and with another look of: ‘and it’s not my problem’ later and I was running down the airport corridor to my flight (which was of course leaving from the terminal farthest away)….

After all this, (running through the airport ducking and diving in my torn jeans, t-shirt and trainers, through all the corporate suits) I arrive at the departure counter, out of breath and sweat pouring off me, only to find a lovely flight attendant who politely jingles ‘welcome to Qantas….’ Simply all I could think of to say was – FUCK (just out of being at a complete loss for words, without the presence of mind to say my name or hand in my ticket)… Thankfully, which I found so endearing, it turned out she was the nicest person of them all… When I was at my worst, couldn’t think to say what my name was or find my ticket and wallet – sweat pouring off me, looking like I’d just arrived after being chased by the police, she was the type of person who could empathize with being stressed and human – I didn’t look more or less important than anyone else and without thinking she just tried to help me out… I don’t think anyone can put a price on those kinds of moments and were it some one else they might have told me to change my tone of voice and rudely ushered me onto the plane or called security and removed me from the premises…

…Getting onto a plane last can be awkward especially if the plane has been delayed because you’re the passenger running late… Best of all (not) was that I got the window seat in row two, having to squeeze past a very serious older business man who didn’t look very impressed… after apologizing again and again we finally took off and the rest is history, and even though maybe I sound like I’m trying to make excuses for the fact that I was running late, I am not, and I don’t even think I was in the right necessarily!!! I just think some days we’re just human – running late and we say the wrong thing, and unintentionally annoy people etc I take this back with me to work and dealing with people on a daily basis – each with their individual lives and stories, I try can keep these things in mind… …. ;)



  1. Wow Sean. Thanks. You just inspired me to be the best at my job, no matter who is at my door. I see a lot of students each day, and sometimes it gets just too much. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That is QANTAS service for you. Nothing beats that smile from the staff no matter if you're coming home from overseas or just flying domestic. Don't want to sound like a QANTAS ad but they looked after my little sister when she was in the States so they have my loyalty for life.
    I wish it was always like that but they are definitely more friendly than other airlines more often.

    Something you guys have down pat at aussiebum. the occasional few times i've had to deal with customer service they've been outstanding. Nothing is better than great customer service to make you feel special and come back for more.