Great Trip -- Until the Landing

for the week of March 25, 2002
by Rubel Shelly

There's an old tale about a fellow who leaned too far over the railing on a skyscraper. As he plummeted toward the unyielding concrete below, he was heard by someone at her window on the thirteenth floor saying, "Not to worry! Everything is all right so far!" I have a real-life version of that yarn for you.

The United Nations had arranged for a conference In Monterrey, Mexico. It took place last week, with practically all of the UN's 189 member-nations sending delegations. It was to be a significant conference on an important topic trying to find a way to address situations of extreme poverty in the world.

Monterrey's huge Cintermex Conference Center would be the site. Experts on development financing would make speeches to the delegates. And thousands of business leaders around the world would see and hear the presentations via an elaborate media network. Translation into the major languages of the world would be provided by a firm from Germany. Everything had been arranged.

A major glitch occurred because of a mistake by the agency in Germany that booked travel for the translators. Instead of getting them to Monterrey, Mexico, the travel agency sent them to Monterrey, California. There were red faces all around for UN and Mexican officials, as well as the travel agents!

I wonder if they enjoyed their flight? I wonder if they ate well and managed to get some sleep? I can just imagine them stepping off the plane feeling reasonably refreshed after so long a flight and eager for their task. What a shock it must have been to find out their landing was one country and 1,500 miles off!

Some companies and individuals have been known to "cook their books" or misrepresent products. For a time, stock values climbed and bank accounts bulged. Then came the landing! Smooth travel for a time, but a most distasteful landing in court, in jail, in bankruptcy, in despair.

There have been dizzying flirtations that turned into torrid affairs before terribly hard landings. The trip seemed so exciting until the unintended destination was revealed divorce, alienated children, job loss, and despondency.

In the apocryphal story, "Everything's fine so far!" ends with a deadly splat on hard ground. In the real-life version, skills and competence don't make up for winding up at the wrong address in work, in relationships, or in eternity.

If your destination really matters, pay attention to the route you're traveling.

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