This is the most important choice of your career.

6:30 a.m. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (in yesterday's clothes.) I got travel-trapped here after a thunderstorm.

After three hours’ sleep, I checked out of a hotel this morning with the same desk agent who checked me in four hours earlier.  This unscheduled hotel stay involved washing certain articles of clothing in a hotel room sink and drying them with the blow dryer. This is surprisingly doable!

Travel tip: Hyatt Place in Charlotte offers spectacularly good, free coffee in the lobby. Marriott New Haven are you listening?? (Seattle's Best? It kinda is.) It all started flying home from a pretty cool week at Yale where I’ve been working a little lately.  There I sat in my aisle seat in a far back row. (Boarding Group 6. Shoot me now!).

An irresistibly¬†cheerful woman wearing¬†black nylon shower cap (I have no idea why, but somehow, she made it work.) chatted on FaceTime next¬†to me. I‚Äôll call her ‚ÄúRoxy‚ÄĚ, cause she was a ‚ÄúRoxy.‚ÄĚ You‚Äôll see. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll be landing in Charlotte in¬†20 minutes‚Ä̬†was the last thing I heard before¬†turbulence sent¬†me rifling through the seat back pouch for the little blue airsick bag. As it turns out, I didn‚Äôt need it. Because¬†this:¬†our full plane takes a¬†sharp upward turn (out of barf-inducing turbulence) into a¬† ‚ÄúWhat is happening!?‚ÄĚ vertical climb. Roxy: ‚Äúuh-oh.‚ÄĚ This is the¬†Captain speaking:¬†¬†‚ÄúCharlotte airport is closed because of thunderstorms. We've been re-routed to¬†Raleigh to wait it out and re-fuel." Roxy pulls a mini-bottle of vodka out of her bag and mixes¬†a cocktail right then and there. We deplaned in Raleigh which boasts blue-lit¬†device-charging power points between every pair of seats. (Charlotte Airport are you listening? Up your charging¬†game. Puh-lease.) Three hours later, we¬†re-board¬†and taxi¬†to the¬†end of the runway.¬† When we should have been speeding up...¬†

we slow-rolled to a stop. Roxy: ‚ÄúUh-oh‚ÄĚ For the next hour, in the dimly lit plane, a blue-suited flight attendant¬†walks¬†up and¬†down the aisle,¬†finger¬†poking¬†the air above each¬†seat,¬†counting passengers ...five¬†times.

(Roxy told me that.¬†I was face down on the¬†seat back tray through most of this.) Over the intercom, our captain opens with‚Ķ ‚Äúthis has never happened to me before‚Ķ‚Ä̬†



“We're returning to the gate because the on-board passenger count is different from the gate staff passenger count and we can’t take off until we rectify this. FAA weight regulations. I'm so sorry."

Roxy:  (Polishes off her drink with an eye-roll.)

Past midnight at Raleigh International Airport" a stout man with a clipboard and pencil bobs right to left up the aisle counting and calling names...

Man: “KIRSCHBAUM!? COURTNEY!? Me: Here! 

Man: Roxy... Roxy (Cutting him off before he gets to her last name.)¬†‚ÄúRight here, honey!‚ÄĚ

Count complete. Clipboard jockey leaves.¬† The door closes (again) and we (finally)¬†take off for Charlotte.¬†¬† For the record, the weight on my driver's¬†license is¬†‚Äúoff‚ÄĚ too but it‚Äôs never kept me from getting out of the driveway. When we deplaned in Raleigh, about 20 passengers¬†bailed.¬†

They didn't get back on the plane. They missed the stupid-hour-hell-count and the trip back to the gate.

Their newly empty seat seems to say...

"Bye!"

"this isn't working for me."

"We're so outa here!" 

"Had enough of THIS!"

"Hertz, here I come."

"I told you so!!!"

Sure of my destination and plan, I stuck with it this flight.

It wasn't great or even good, but it was worth it.

I don't feel great in yesterday's clothes, 12 hours late getting home, riding on three hours sleep and a free coffee,  but I feel good about my choice.  I saw this in a gallup poll this week:

Less than half of U.S. workers are in good jobs. Forty percent of employed Americans are in good jobs, 44% percent are in mediocre jobs and 16% are in bad jobs. Huh? That means almost 50% of you don't want to get back on the plane. 

Some passengers made the choice not to get back on the late-arriving, barf-mobile. Some wish they had.

Getting "back on the plane" because you think you have no choice is a private jet ride to misery. 

Not judging. I've ridden in that jet and all the free champagne in the world won't take away the sinking feeling of ... "I shouldn't be here."

You don't have to take that trip.

You might have to pay to change your ticket. (It will be worth it.)

Nothing compares to the freedom and general amazing-ness of calling the shots in your own career. If the proverbial plane is not taking you where you want to go, get off. And the sooner the better. 

Rent a car.

Ask for a voucher or hotel reimbursement. 

Cancel your ticket and book another, yet don’t let someone else’s schedule become yours. Charge your phone and make a new plan. Wear Tuesday's clothes on Wednesday if that's what it takes. 

"I feel good about this" success in your career has a lot to do with making the right choice FOR YOU when it comes to getting off the wrong plane at the right time.  

Talk to me? What information would help you make better choices in your career?

Hit reply and let me know where you want to go and what you need to know to get there. 

Court.

P.S. Job Hunt School is your ticket.  Get on the right plane and leave the wrong one. You can enroll today. P.S. Know someone who might like these emails? Forward this to them and tell them to click...

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