Important Lessons from “Excess Baggage”

I’ll skip the age old adage of “thou shalt not do things at the eleventh hour” go to themore  important life skills I learnt from my little adventure.

1. Smiling and be polite.

This would be the easiest of the lot for me and anybody else to practice. I have a very outspoken personality and talking to strangers is not a problem for me. I lost count how many times I said Please and Thank You. “Please can you hold the door for me”, “Thank you, that’s very kind”, “Thank you so much!”

All the assistance I had made my journey to Gatwick made life a bit easier and these strangers did it without asking anything in return.  Dress decently, look good, ask nicely, and people would –God willing – be obliged to lend a hand.

2. A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed.

I honestly can’t thank my friends and friends of friends enough for helping me through. It is not the status of the person that determines how much help you receive; it is the level of familiarity and trust. In my case these were the people who are very close to me. Half of them are undergraduates like myself, the rest are working adults.

Ordinary people who know you well will be more willing to offer assistance than high ranking officers who are simply acquaintance (in most cases, these type of people will only acknowledge you if you happen to have what they want or if they want to associate themselves with your successes).

3. Communicate

I sent out and reply messages and calls right down to the last bit of power left in the Blackberry. Seriously, thank God for the creation of internet and 3G! Without them I couldn’t have reached so many people and exchanged so much information in short notice.

Social networking sites can be very useful when used in the right way. Also, word your help request properly.  “I need help” and “I need help with [insert request] by [date, time]” makes a lot of difference in the type of respond you get and the speed at which help is provided.

Stupid train and waiting lounges not equipped with power points for charging. At that point in time I was willing to pay a pound for even 15 minutes of charging time which would last me another half hour or so. Recent mobile phone models charge to full battery pretty fast, my Blackberry timed about an hour and a half to be fully charged from almost zero capacity (I only got to recharge it when I reached home).

I know I probably sound like a wreck in my status updates, in real life I sound and look quite collected apart from looking a bit tired if I say so myself. Perhaps I should consider working in the air traffic control office. For that job the operator is required to notify the pilot or ground staffs of any foreseen problems and provide emergency protocols in a calm manner. Can’t imagine someone going “OHMAIGODDD, YOUR LANDING GEAR ISN’T WORKING!!!!” over the radio when the pilot is already sweating it out navigating the control systems.

4. Take and keep only what you need.

I missed my first train by two minutes because I had too many things. Had I travelled with one luggage and a backpack I could have ninja-ed onto the train in good time. If physical excess baggage is already capable of causing so much hassle, imagine the burden of emotional baggage.

This incident forced me to get rid of old stuff I hardly use or no longer need. The urgency of the situation made very clear the essential things that I really need. I had a lot of clothes (70% of it was plain white shirts, practical lingerie, and socks) as I was preparing to work the day after I arrive in KL (fortunately the company had a delay on forwarding me the joining details so I’m due in the office only on Monday)

Old, holed pyjamas – throw.  Free t-shirts – sentimental value but not much loss, bye-bye. Primark shirt – the cost to pay for the extra baggage can buy hundreds of the same article, discard.

All of this made a humbling experience. In case I turn snob, please remind me of all I’ve been through and the people who helped me. If that doesn’t work, whack me with a wok. Credits to mummy for bringing me up with survival skills. None of steps I took is taught in any lectures or text books. You have to figure out for yourself when faced with life’s challenges.


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