Turbulence, turbulence

All night long last night and through the morning today, the entire New York City area experienced torrential downpour. I woke up in the middle of the night to the rain loudly tapping my windows, and I knew this was going to be really bad. Some subway stations  got flooded in uptown Manhattan. I even got a flight alert notification saying that my early morning flight today might get delayed due to heavy winds. I had a two-hour buffer between the time that my plane was scheduled to land and the time of my business review meeting. I needed to make this meeting.

So, the flight took off a bit delayed. But as we were ascending, the worst turbulence that I can ever remember began. The plane didn’t even feel like it was going straight. It felt like it was going sideways to the left for a few minutes, then sideways to the right, then as though it were tumbling down but trying to lift itself up all at the same time. None of the feelings made sense. I was sitting at the front of the plane and looked back to see people’s facial expressions. For the most part in First Class, people were fairly nonchalant or passed out. But the people in the front of Coach looked disturbed. A colleague who sat back there told me that at least 2-3 people were yelling at the back of the plane, and several others had their eyes closed and their hands together as though in prayer. Let’s all just brace ourselves.

It lasted for over 15 minutes. Even the flight attendants were not allowed to get out of their seats. At least we finally got to a clear, smooth path. We didn’t die. It’s all good news.

Outgrowing friends

I had brunch with a friend today who was visiting from Seattle. She and her now husband have been living in Seattle for almost six years now, and although it was originally intended to be a temporary stint since they both were born and raised in New Jersey, she’s grown to love the city a lot, as well as the friends she’s made there. The two of them have enjoyed the careers they’ve been growing in, and they love the west coast way of life.

She told me that although her husband ideally says he wants to move back to New York/New Jersey to be closer to their childhood friends, she doesn’t see that being a huge plus in their life, as so many of their friends’ lives have gone in directions where she can no longer relate to them, and she’s changed herself, too. She’s lived in other places and has other ways of thinking. She’s outgrown them, and they’ve probably outgrown her in their own ways. It’s a hard thing to confront. She even had the “tough talk” with one of her friends who asked why she hadn’t come to visit her when she’s in town. I don’t even think I’ve had a conversation that confrontational with anyone.

All of our lives are changing. It’s hard to relate to people who stay in one place their whole life when you’ve moved around, experienced other things and other places and other people. We can’t always grow in the same direction, but dealing with it continuing to move forward is the only way to go. There’s nothing wrong with growing up and moving on. It doesn’t make us bad people. We’re just adults making adult decisions now.

Work friends

The office has been pretty quiet this week due to a lot of work travel for many people across teams. I’ll be away from the office Wednesday through Friday of this week for customer visits in Boston, and other colleagues are in San Francisco for everything from a major conference for a platform we use, to internal product training for the sales team.

One of the colleagues in my office who is on my team and I were talking about our colleagues in general and our general work environment, and we both agreed that for the first time in both of our careers, we actually liked the people in our office and would not mind and would even welcome spending time outside of work with almost everyone. It’s a rare instance to have that be the case, where you aren’t sick of work people where you’d like to see them in a more social, less professional environment. Sometimes, I even find myself missing some of my colleagues when I am away or they are away from the office. That is a very strange feeling for me because I’ve never quite had that before. Things certainly are not perfect here. But it helps when the colleagues you see regularly are supportive and multi-dimensional, and have lives outside of work that we can talk about and enjoy discussing.

Empty house again

It was almost like reverse empty-nest today: Chris’s parents left to continue onto the next segment of their trip. And our house was empty again. We did the laundry, ran the dishwasher, and tidied up the bedroom. It was quiet. And we caught up on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and Chris did his finances while I caught up on my book that I’ve been neglecting on my Kindle. And when we talked to each other, it’s almost like I could hear a slight echo of my voice in the living room. It seemed so strange.

I wonder if that is part of the feeling that “empty-nesters” get once their kids leave the house. There’s no noise. There’s no towels or clothes everywhere. There’s less to fuss over.

 

Miserable spring

It’s been a cold, miserable winter here in New York. Even though it’s technically spring now, it still feels like winter. And Chris’s parents didn’t pack for a winter trip when they came to see us. So while Chris is trying to drag them around to see as much of the city as possible, both his parents have been resisting due to the cold temperatures and the frosty wind, which this weekend, seem to be quite harsh.

It’s funny to think of us dragging them around the city when it’s cold. I then started thinking about all the cold Thanksgiving trips we’ve taken together, and even when it’s been extremely cold as it has been in Switzerland or Germany, we still trekked out and maximized our time. It’s a bit different with Chris’s parents because they’ve visited New York so many times; not seeing a museum or eating at a restaurant wouldn’t be a big deal to them. But their motivation to get out and see things on their trips here is so much lower than when we travel to cold climate places. Sometimes, I kind of just wanted to be warm at home with them, too, instead of out. But Chris would never allow it. 🙂

 

Shoes in the house

Today, we hosted brunch for Chris’s parents, his mother’s cousin, and his family. His mother’s cousin’s mother was also in town visiting from India, so we had a pretty full house of eight people. Everything went pretty well from the food to the conversation. The one bit that I noticed was not normal was that no one took off their shoes when they came in.

We’re a very Asian household in that we always remove our shoes when we go into our apartment. I strongly dislike outside dirt in the house, and everyone knows how dirty the streets we walk on all day long are. We step on everything from dirt to spit to dog pee and poo, and I don’t want any of that inside my house. But then, there’s always the conflict of having people take off their shoes when either a) they’re too elderly to bend down and take them off like Chris’s mom’s cousin’s mother, or, well, if they’re just older and you feel awkward telling them what to do. I felt a need to clean the floors after everyone left, but then we ended up going out because Chris was in a rush to get us out to enjoy the daylight hours on a Saturday.

Coincidentally, there’s a thread I read on Facebook where someone asks the question: “If you are a shoes-off household, do you tell people who enter your house to take off their shoes? Why or why not?” And the responses varied wildly from “always, yes,” to “never, it’s their shoes and their feet,” all the way to “to some people of some ages, yes, and over a certain age, never.”

I still don’t like shoes in the house and even take my shoes off at houses where people don’t take off their shoes.

Foster drama

After a long hiatus due to scheduling conflicts, I met up with my mentee for tea during my lunch break. My work schedule has been pretty chaotic the last two months, so it’s been harder to meet her for a break during the day. She just had an anxiety attack last night, and so she really wanted to see me.

It’s her spring break period, but she hasn’t had any plans to do anything fun and has been wandering around the city on her own. Her foster mom randomly decided to take a two-weeks long trip to the Dominican Republic without telling her. She left her some money and prepared a bunch of food for her in the refrigerator and told her foster dad she would be taking a vacation. She also communicated that she’d be leaving to my mentee’s social worker. But she never told my mentee directly before she left. At the same time, her foster sister, who used to be her friend before she became a part of the foster system, is in Florida for the foreseeable future and is not on speaking terms with her. The only one left at home with her is her foster dad, who works all day long and doesn’t get back until she’s fast asleep at night. So she’s scared to be alone in the house. And she’s upset because she has nothing to do during the day.

I was sitting there listening to the situation, and I wasn’t sure what to say. I’m not even sure she wanted me to say anything because she seemed like she just needed someone to listen to her. I asked a few questions to follow up, asked her how she was feeling, what she thought she could be doing to make her time productive. She seemed much calmer at the end of our time together.

We hugged before we parted ways as I dropped her off at the youth center she goes to for therapy. “You’re so calm,” she said. “I need more people like you who are just chill.”

She thinks I’m calm? Really?

Having a taste

To have an early celebration for Chris’s dad’s birthday, we took his parents to an upscale Green restaurant in Midtown East. It was clearly a fancy restaurant, as most of the clientele  were wearing suits and ties. We sat down, and Chris ordered a bottle of wine. The usual thing that happens when you order a bottle of wine is that the server will open the bottle and give the head male (because we still live in a sexist world) a taste. If he likes the taste, then he will continue to pour for everyone. If he doesn’t, he needs to request a new bottle and have another taste, then pour for everyone. In this case, Chris had his taste and really did not like the wine, so he asked for another bottle. The server frowned and said that he cannot return the bottle after it had already been opened. Hmmmm, then why would you even bother offering a taste? We insisted that we didn’t want the wine, and he asked his manager, who then proceeded to suggest some other bottles. Chris chose another one, and we had that one.

Why would you have the whole motion of having a taste and approving or disapproving to then say that if you disapprove, you still cannot change the bottle? The pretentiousness of restaurants like this is ridiculous.

The new LaGuardia airport

Tonight, we took Chris’s parents to see a presentation at the School of Visual Arts auditorium on “Projects in Planning: The New LaGuardia Airport.” The designers of the new airport, which is slated to fully be ready in 2021, presented on their design, the progress, and some photos representing what we can expect when the new version of LGA is opened. It was really exciting to see this, especially in light of the fact that I’ve always disliked this airport from the moment I entered it. It looks old and shabby, it has no proper public transportation to it the way EWR or JFK have, and it’s just a poor welcome to any tourist or visitor who comes to New York City. Plus, the airport is so crazy and paranoid about flights during even the slightest inclement weather, so you’re constantly prone to delays going through it. Anyone who has ever said s/he prefers flying out of LGA versus JFK or EWR has already lost some respect in my eyes.

The new LaGuardia has two new walking bridges where planes can actually go underneath; ample windows and thus natural lighting to enjoy in pretty much all parts of the airport, and concession stands everywhere. It’s actually an experience that people could enjoy instead of just view as a place to transit through to get them from point A to point B. I’m not sure if we will still be here in 2021 to enjoy it regularly, but I’m eager to experience it and see how it compares to the travel experience going through JFK or other more pleasant and aesthetically attractive airports in the world.

Pre-sales vs. post-sales

For the last ten years of my career in digital advertising and technology, I’ve always been in a post-sales role. I rather be in a role that nurtures and takes cares of existing customers than hunts and gathers brand new customers. There’s certainly a skill set that is unique to both, and in a pre-sales role, there’s a very fine line between being the cheap used car-type sales guy and actually being the sales person who properly identifies customer’s needs without making them feel like they are being “sold” to. No one likes “salesy” sales pitches, as ironic as that sounds. I’m terrible with being put on the spot with little preparation or anticipation of questions, and oftentimes, that’s the exact situation that sales people have to deal with all the time.

I traveled down to Orlando to visit a customer today with a sales person that I will say… oftentimes comes off as “too salesy.” He doesn’t always prepare properly for his meetings and has a reputation for using his sales engineers as a “crutch” because he doesn’t know our product very well. Given that the goal of the meeting today was a program review and a meet and greet, it was clearly a post-sales meeting, which means that I’m the owner of it. And I’m happy to say that it went extremely well; it was probably the best all-around customer meeting I’ve had since I’ve started here. And part of the reason it went well was because my colleague and I actually complemented each other well with the types of questions and points we raised. The conversation flowed. The best presentations I’ve participated in don’t really feel like presentations, but feel like conversations that have constant engagement and back and forth from both sides. And that’s what this was. And then it suddenly hit me: maybe my super salesy sales colleague would be better suited for a post-sales, account management role.

But…. you can’t really suggest that to someone who has to hit a quota and is locked into a role at your company, can you?