Thursday, 8 September 2011

About unexpected situations!

Hello my dear readers,

I'm sorry that I left you without these very informative and enlightening blog posts for this long. But I hadn't forgotten you, I was just busy getting myself into situations I could write about. This time I will write about what to do when you find yourself in an unexpected and a tricky situation.

Heidelberg, Germany Easter 2010.

I will only write about practical situations where you've been physically in a difficult place. All of that emotional and social stuff that involves communicating with human beings and maintaining relationships with them, will need to wait.

Weekend in Comrie.

Okay, let's begin.

I want to write about this, because things keep happening to me. Usually when I go outside, something happens. I won't write about every possible situation in this post because it would turn into a book. And because it's very late and my brain is on its sleeping-mode already, I will only give a few scenarios that I've needed to deal with.

Gaiberg, Germany 2010.

I will list the situations first so that you may imagine the inconvenience of the situation.

The recent ones:

a) You parked your car at a parking garage which closed while you were out. The car can be accessed again at 12 noon the next day. Unfortunately you're flight departs at 11am, 200 kilometres away from the parking garage.

b) You're driving up a ridiculously steep hill and because you didn't change the gear to a smaller one on time, you stall.

Other memorable situations:

c) You thought you were going to fly but it didn't happen. This could be caused by many reasons. Just to mention a few examples, these are some of the reasons why I have been stranded:

i.    A bird flew into the motor of the plane.
ii.   You miss your flight because you were queueing to the wrong check-in desk.
iii.  It apparently snowed in Amsterdam and they closed the airport for days.
iv.  An Icelandic volcano erupted and there was an ash cloud floating in the air.
v.   The pilot gets ill.

d) You've visited a toilet in a wedding party but for some reason the door doesn't open and you find yourself trapped.

e) You're in a foreign city and you need to get from the train station to a bus station which is 10 minutes away. You're bus is due to leave in 25 minutes. The city has three bus stations and you're not quite sure what the one you need is called. You don't have a map.

Tiia in Heidelberg 2010.

Can you imagine the hopelessness of these situations? Well, I assume that because you're reading this you're my friend (or a stalker), and because I choose my friends very carefully and only accept creative and strange individuals who are very good at getting themselves into unbelievable situations or the unexpected situations just happen to them (and my stalkers must have some sort of urge to make their life less simple) that you have been in a similarly tricky situation before.

The advisable thing to do is to try and avoid these situations before hand. There is no reason to look for these situations. They certainly do make your life interesting but if you're anything like me, they will happen without actively looking for them. 

My car key photographed on a forest adventure trip in Finland.

If you occasionally would like your nerves to relax, make sure what time the car park or a shopping centre or any building that you visit closes. Note that the time that the car park closes can be different from the building it is associated with (this is what caused the situation a!).

When travelling, always make sure you've planned all parts of the journey and made sure that you have enough time to make it to your connection.

If you're flying, consider how late the airline you're using usually is and make sure there is enough time to get your next ticket and move your luggage to the next plane. Avoid flights that require a change of an airport. Always make sure you know exactly where you're flying! Airports are labelled with the big city they are near of but they are never in centre of towns and often they are somewhere far in the middle of nowhere. If you've booked a flight that comes with changes, you have less to worry about because your airline has the responsibility to take care of you, but it's good to check what the changes look like anyway.

If you're travelling by land, think about how late your transport is likely to be. Trains are often a little bit late. Buses are likely to break down, especially certain local buses and cheap travel buses. Traffic jams can occur. Make sure you've thought about how to travel all the legs of your journey. Remember that to check the timetables. For instance, there are places that do not have public transport on Sundays.

If you're travelling on a ferry, make sure that you know where you need to be, when you need to be there and what you need with you. It's more straight forward than flying but they will want you on it early and will require certain travel documents.

The Netherlands.

I would also warmly recommend you to always have a plan B. It's possible that your original plan will go wrong because plans just sometimes tend to do that. Then you will be grateful that you did think about alternative options and you don't need to panic so much when things do go wrong. And also you will be happier and more confident when they are going according to the plan, because you don't have to worry about what to do if it doesn't work.

And when things do go wrong, don't panic. Stop and think. What the current situations is and what you can do to get out of it? Don't worry about how you ended up in the situation and most importantly, don't start blaming anyone. The last thing you need is a fight when the situation is awkward already.

Tuomas in Tornio.

Okay, so how did I survive in the example situations?
a) You parked your car at a parking garage which closed while you were out. The car can be accessed again at 12 noon the next day. Unfortunately you're flight departs at 11am, 200 kilometres away from the parking garage.

I was with four of my friends visiting Helsinki. 

A few panicked. One started to calm them down by telling them what we needed to do if we couldn't access the car. How I would need to take a train back to my mum's place to make it to my flight and how some of us needed to stay behind and get the car out the next day. One of us phoned her brother who studies in Helsinki and was taking a care of a few things at his term time flat that day. He told her sister that she was too late because he's already at home, and because he was with his girlfriend he didn't really give much thought to the situation that his sister was in.

The guy at the restaurant that we had been eating in had said to us that we couldn't get the car out. He had apparently locked his car in there before and told that they refused to let it out of there when he had phoned them.

I wanted to find this phone number and phone them. There were, however, no signs anywhere telling me the phone number. One of my friends then told me a number that I could phone and ask for the number I needed. I phoned there but wasn't fully convinced about their professional abilities because the lady that answered the phone was at one point trying to find the number to the parking garage's security people on Wikipedia. In the end, she managed to find the number though and I got to speak to the guy who had just locked the car park. He told me that he had already gone home but he promised to come back after I explained our especially difficult situation because we didn't actually live in Helsinki and I was meant to be out of the country by the time the parking garage would open again.
A few of my friends then figured that we should complain to him when he comes how there aren't any signs outside saying that the car park will close before the shopping centre will. They were soon pointed out though that it wasn't the man's fault and that he was actually exceptionally kind to come and save us in his freetime.

Lesson of the story: Be nice to people and they will help you. If that doesn't work, use the plan B.

On the way to Tampere-Pirkkala Airport.

b) You're driving up a ridiculously steep hill and because you didn't change the gear to a smaller one on time, you stall.

Scotland has too many hills. And silly roads where people drive way too fast and squish poor animals. Anyway, so I was driving along one of these silly roads and didn't have quite enough speed and the gear I had on was too big for the hill that I was up against. So I stalled.

I wanted to panic because it's not ideal to stop on a road where people drive 60 miles per hour. Nor slide down that hill. No no, it was bad. But I stopped. And breathed. And to everyone's surprise did a successful hill start and drove up the hill.

Lesson of the story: When driving, stay calm. When something goes wrong, don't worry and do what you need to do. (And although not a part of this particular story, passengers please do not scream or give any unnecessary advice.)

Scotland 2012.

c) You thought you were going to fly but it didn't happen. This could be caused by many reasons. Just to mention a few examples, these are some of the reasons why I have been stranded:

i.    A bird flew into the motor of the plane.
ii.   You miss your flight because you were queueing to the wrong check-in desk.
iii.  It apparently snowed in Amsterdam and they closed the airport for days.
iv.  An Icelandic volcano erupted and there was an ash cloud floating in the air.
v.   The pilot gets ill.

Ah flying. If there isn't a strike or delays or cancellations, it's really quite lively. But if you fly a lot you will experience strikes, delays, cancellations and lost luggage. It's part of the experience.

i. I had been spending my winter holiday in Oulu when my flight got cancelled because of a bird that flew into the motor of the plane on it's way to the airport. I was then put on an extra flight that flew around midnight, so it was alright. And instead of being picked up straight from the Helsinki airport, I took a taxi to my dad's place and bused home the next day and ended up being late from school. Going to school was a bad move because I walked into my Swedish class and found out that we had a vocabulary test that day. Of course I got it all wrong.

Lesson of the story: Cancelled flights are nothing to worry about because you will be put on another one. Unexpected Swedish vocabulary tests are a serious problem.

Made it to school! This photo is actually from a Christmassy chemistry class but it'll do. Jonna, Anna and I.

ii. Queueing to wrong checking desks is something very idiotic to do. Some airlines are trying to confuse you by sprinkling several check-in desks all around the airport. It's a stupidity test and you have to find the right one. On time. Mine closed a minute after I found it but there was another lost person in front of me and he spent the last minute that there was left asking stupid questions. There was nothing I could do. I didn't get on the plane. I cried. I got the last of my monies out of my bank account and bought a new ticket. I slept at the airport because I had no money left. There were some construction workers jackhammering the floor next to the very uncomfortable bench that I was trying to sleep on.
It wasn't that bad really, there are lots of people sleeping at airports. They have interesting stories to tell. You learn a lot by socialising with people who are travelling as well.

Lesson of the story: Don't miss your flight. If you do, or if your flight leaves really early or arrives really late it's sometimes the best option to sleep at the airport.

Just an expected ending to a Scottish holiday really.

iii. I was trying to go home one Christmas and it snowed. When it snows in places that don't consider themselves 'north' they close down. My flight was cancelled. I spent the day in the new ticket queue with all the other people that were trying to go home for Christmas. And went back to the airport the next day. And my new flight was cancelled as well. So I did it again. Get the picture?

Those days were pretty frustrating and I didn't really want to spend my Christmas in my flat alone eating a pot noodle. A few of my friends then told me that I would be welcome to go down to their place for Christmas. I spent my evenings looking at the tickets to go down and was ready to book them if my third flight wouldn't get me to Finland.

That third flight however took off. And I even made it to my connection and didn't have to spend Christmas in Amsterdam.

Lesson of the story: Flying around Christmas time via middle Europe is a bad idea. If you need to fly around that time, do it via northern places.

Christmas in Finland.

iv. When volcanos explode or other such natural happenings occur there is nothing you can do. I was happily spending time in the southern Germany when a happy little Icelandic volcano called Eyjafjallajökull started to erupt. When I found out about this I was with my friend who had been aupairing in Germany for half a year and had a lot of luggage to move back to Finland. We were staying in a lovely hostel and kept booking more nights to stay there. The owner of the place pitied us and served us wine on the house and turned the radio louder when the song I believe I can fly came on. 
We were trying to follow the media to find out what was going on with the volcano. We came to a conclusion that we might need to stay in Germany for quite a long time before we could fly again. I had horrible assignments due soon so I really needed to get back to Scotland and my friend was starting work very soon in Finland. We then proceeded to buy a lot of train and ferry tickets. This was, however, more difficult than it could have been because we both had problems with our bank accounts. I managed to lend money to my friend and I was helped by a friend who was also stranded elsewhere who purchased me a ferry ticket.

My friend and I then separated and started our long and complicated train journeys to different directions. And all I needed to do was to find my other friend who had my ferry ticket somewhere in Belgium. This was suitably made more difficult by the fact that both of our phones were about to die. Fortunately I spotted her walking on the side of a motorway near the harbour. She even thanked me for my company on the ferry ride although it took 27 hours and I slept 25 of them.

Lesson of the story: Sometimes travelling by land is more reliable than flying. Never trust volcanoes.

Catching one more train to get to a harbour.

v. My flight got cancelled because the pilot got ill. I was then put on a new flight which left the next day. This was a problem because it meant that I missed my train up from Manchester and needed a new plan to get home. I phoned my flatmate who was lovely and made up a new plan for me to get home.
The airline paid for a hotel room and for the bus transport to and from there. This was one of my favourite experiences! I met so many interesting people who were on the same flight with me and came to the hotel. I don't normally even stay in hotels so I had to take everything out of the experience. I drank some coke, had a bath, walked around in the dressing gown and slippers, spent a suitable amount of time deciding which of the two beds I wanted to sleep in, looked out of the window, phoned my friend to tell her what happened and took photographs. Then I slept for the few hours that I had time to and went to the breakfast with my new temporary friends and I tasted all the good looking hotel breakfast foods and drank a lot of coffee.

Lesson of the story: It's not the end of the world, when the original plan goes wrong. Enjoy the adventure.

My room in Hilton Helsinki.

d) You've visited a toilet in a wedding party but for some reason the door doesn't open and you find yourself trapped.

 I was at a family wedding party with my cousin. We were little so we went to the toilet together. We didn't lock it but somehow it locked itself and we didn't know how to open it. We didn't manage to unlock it. We could see our parents out of the window and were wondering if they would notice us if we dropped our cardigans down. We did, however, think that it wasn't the most brilliant idea and decided to scream for help. Someone heard us and came to tell us how to unlock the door and after a while of trying we managed it and got out.

Lesson of the story: You never know when you get locked somewhere where you didn't want to be locked in. There are only two things you can do: to come up with a way to unlock it or to scream for help.

This window is actually from Bremen.

e) You're in a foreign city and you need to get from the train station to a bus station which is 10 minutes away. You're bus is due to leave in 25 minutes. The city has three bus stations and you're not quite sure what the one you need is called. You don't have a map.

My original plan went wrong and I found myself in a foreign city and I needed to get my self from the train station to a bus station. And I can tell you that having absolutely no idea of what the place you're in looks like and where things are is not an ideal situation. Always have a map with you. I did try to get a map but the lady in front of me got the last map at the train station. I tried asking people where I needed to go but soon found out that the city had three bus stations and everyone seemed to be pointing me to the direction of a different one. Always know the name of the station you want to go to! 

I was worried if I would walk 10 minutes to the wrong direction I would suddenly find myself 20 minutes away from the station and end up missing my bus which was the last one that day.

I phoned a friend who happened to be at a computer and found me out the route. I tried to follow it but it was difficult because I wasn't quite sure what the instructions would look like on the map and how long I needed to walk down each street. With the help of the instructions and the local people I did find the station on time though!

Lesson of the story: Know where you are and where you need to go. Ask for help when you needed. If you need to, get a taxi.

Ended up in Amsterdam!

So to summarise, when things happen, stay calm and think of what you need to do to solve the situation. Be creative and don't panic. Ask for help when you need it!

You never know what goes wrong. I have friends who often find themselves in strange situations: locked out, abroad without a passport, transporting more luggage than they can manage on their own and so on. I would tell you what they did, but it's their story to tell. And this blog post is already more than long enough for now.

Thank you for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Haha, tykkäsin tästä! Mutten mä jaksa yrittää välttää sellaisia tilanteita, on totta että ne tekevät elämän mielenkiintoisiksi. Mä en vaan jaksa suunnitella niin paljon. Mutta kyllä mä jotain suunnittelen, muuten menisi kyllä superhuonosti. Asioita vaan tapahtuu :D.

    Hämmästytti kyllä tämän vuoden reilin helppous. Kännykättömyys tuntui pikkuongelmalta. Ei ongelmalta ollenkaan. Väärään junaan on ihan kiva mennä, ei mitään ihmeellistä.

    Panikoida ei tosiaan kannata, mutta joskus voi vähän tuntua siltä. Kiva, että mäkin pääsin mukaan tähän merkintään. Erityisesti tykkäsin noista sun lentojutuista, niin jännää. Tietty tulivuorijuttu oli paras. En muistanutkaan tuota laulujuttua, ihan paras!!

    Lentokentällä nukkuminen on ihan hyvä vaihtoehto. Ja mä en uskalla kyllä enää luottaa lentoihin ainakaan Saksasta Suomeen mennessä :D.

    Kaikkea kivaa.