Beyond Expectations

Having traveled as much as I have these past few years, I have come to appreciate the little things.
For the most part, my expectations of people have fallen pretty much to what Seth experienced in We don't have to care, part I. As a result, I usually enter a zen-like trance while traveling and let what will happen, happen. Life is too short to get stressed out by other people's shortcomings.

However, as in part II, when someone makes an effort, it is noticeable and all the more appreciated. My trip to India in February made it all too clear to me just how low my expections of North American travel and hospitality have fallen.

Over there, real humans do everything, including answer the phone!

...and keep the coffee and tea station clean and stocked...

...and man their post at the printer & copier, stacking copies as the come out, binding if necessary and keeping the feeder trays topped up...

...and pick up your parcels once they're packed up, while you visit the next site/shop.

Coming from North America, it's a strange experience. You have to let go of your do-everything-yourself approach and let people do the job they're paid to do, no matter how insignificant it may seem. The coffee station guy does coffee all day, that's it. The printer guy does his thing and takes home a paycheque, that's all.
Vipin giving the car a wipe

Once I started to get over that, I realized I had to also let go of my Canadian thank-everyone-for-everything habit; it was getting a little ridiculous. But it did mean the coffee guy always had a smile for me as he prepared my cup'o, and my driver made a quick, unscheduled stop on the way back from the Taj Mahal to buy me some Turkish Delight-style sweets.

Assuming we survive the coming ecopolypse, I'd definitely like to go back, but only in winter. I feel uncomfortable at 24C over here; at 40-50C and humid during their summer, I dread to think how my body would react.

Finally, to wrap up today's entry, it seems that Air Canada was ranked Best Airline in North America in international survey of air travellers. Yes, I believe it.

When I'm able, I try to use AC for my US-bound trips. But more often than not I default to my second choice of American Airlines so I can make my connecting flights on the US side instead of Toronto. It's a real pain having to pass through security once to get on a local Ottawa-Toronto flight, then exit and collect all my stuff (I try to avoid checking baggage in this situation), and go through customs and security (a second time) to get on my Toronto-US flight. When flying AA I prefer to go Ottawa-Chicago-wherever so I clear customs and security once in Ottawa and am in the system the rest of the way.

I could fly Air Canada from Ottawa to US, but then I'd be stuck flying United or US Airlines on the connecting flight, and even the flight out is usually a code-share, non-AC plane. The larger AA planes really do have more room than the equivalent on the others.

All that said, I leave for San Jose via San Francisco on Sunday to visit HQ and will be flying AC there, connecting in Chicago, and picking up the usual rental.

Aside: I highly recommend getting the NeverLost GPS equiped vehicles.

I'm the type of guy who resets his expectations on a regular basis on the off-chance someone improves something. Goes back to that life's too short statement at the beginning.

...I wish we had a decent, faster North American continental rail service, more like Europe and Japan. It would take longer, but on the few trips I've taken between Ottawa and Toronto (on VIA Rail; a first-class rail ticket costs less than an economy-class airplane ticket) you get to eat real food with real metal cutlery, your cellphone works, and you can work and wander around at your leisure. It's a great deal less stressful than air travel. Cross-country hotels on tracks.


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