Tim Foolery

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When Travel Turns Inconvenient

I heard an interesting story today. This woman who was a first year Analyst at one of the big Investment Banks in New York. She had been working on this one major project – she was working 15+ hours a day for nearly six weeks.

The day she was to present her findings and recommendations, she slept in. The stress and lack of sleep finally caught up with her. She didn’t sleep through her meeting time, but she couldn’t make it to the office before her time slot was up, but she persevered. Getting up, frantically getting dressed and running to the subway.

Getting from the Upper East Side to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan usually took her 45 minutes. But not today. As she boarded the waiting train, the announce came on: The train would be going express to her station downtown. Other passengers who had a stop en route grumbled as they left the car.  Her train shot downtown like a bolt of lightening; passing a dozen stations that would had added so many minutes to her commute.

This Analyst arrived at her meeting, three minutes late. Luckily the man who was scheduled ahead of her was also running late. No one knew she had nearly missed the biggest meeting of her young career.

So what, you may think, right? Think of all those people who were mildly inconvenienced by the train running express; they ended up arriving just a couple minutes later than anticipated, but the express saved this one woman.

Delayed Departure Board

Delayed Departure Board


As we travel this holiday weekend, I think back not to the times where a flight delay caused me less time at the pool, or me to arrive late for a connecting flight to find no space for my bags in the overhead bin, but to the times that a delay helped me.

I think to the times, when my dad was dying and I would get the call from my mom that says “It is really bad now, the doctors think you should be here” – yes, there were several of those calls.  I’d leave work, racing to O’Hare knowing that it would be hard as hell to make the flight I booked, but I would try.  When I’d run through the airport, checking the departure board and I’d see that the flight was indeed delayed and I could actually make it – those were the times I knew the universe was on my side.

I’d hear fellow travellers grumbling about how this 30 minute delay just ruins their trip, while I sat there quietly thanking the events that brought this plane in a few minutes late. This delay would allow me to see my dad one more time.

Before you get angry during events like this, think of the one person this may be helping. How awful is this delay really?


  1. Totally agree. With many years of biz travel under my belt, I’ve seen it all. And I’ve adopted a much more casual mindset to when delays or inconveniences occur. It’s often out of my control and getting bent about it serves no purpose. Good article!

    • Tim says:

      Thank you Jeremy. Us frequent travelers need to think back to the time when this was new and scary and not add to the stress of those who are not on planes all the time – it’s just better for everyone. Thanks for the note!

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