I’m up at 4:30 am, and it’s absolutely light out. Like middle of the morning light out. This is not an hour I normally see. And apparently in England, silly o’clock is associated with total daylight. Who knew. I realized long ago that the far north location here was associated with long daylight hours. It’s sometimes light until 11 pm here, which is quite a bit later than I was accustomed to, even in the far north reaches of Minnesota. But this early morning daylight thing is truly new, especially since I normally work slightly shifted hours, starting at 10 or so am and not leaving the office until 7 or 8 pm, instead of ‘first thing in the morning’ to 5 pm in the truly midwestern sense.
So why am I up today at silly o’clock, you ask? Blame the lethal combination of the volcano gods, who close British airspace periodically these days, and the BA on-again, off-again strike. In this instance, the strike is the culprit for my particular pain. And it’s a hard one to take. There is a quote on the BBC website, from a member of the cabin crew, who says,
“BA is now run by accountants.”
Um, yes, that is because BA is a business. Not a charity, not a social welfare programme, but a business. So when this flight attendant says,
“But we have families, mortgages and bills to pay – we cannot afford to lose £7,000 a year.”
It’s a bit tough for me to take. The British economy is a mess right now. We’re all just holding on by the skin of our teeth. I feel lucky to still have a job, and I can’t guarantee that that will be the case in a few months’ time.
But for the moment, I have a job, and my job involves travel. I have to go places and talk to people about my work in order for me to be viable in my field. I need to fly off to Geneva for an extremely brief but critical visit with a former colleague who is trying to find a permanent job after having worked with me for two years in a non-permanent situation. I will be giving a lecture in exchange for the visit, and I will be spending some time discussing our mutual interests while I’m there. It’s the sort of visit that is de rigueur for my profession, but it’s not always easy or fun.
So here I am at silly o’clock getting ready to leave for the airport. I had a flight booked for mid-afternoon today, but it was cancelled in the prelude to the BA strike. The strike was halted by a court order, and I was re-booked on a flight for the morning instead of mid-afternoon. I have no idea how that works, since my original flight is going still this afternoon. But I’m going early and so I’m up at silly o’clock.
My return flight is not guaranteed. I’m currently booked for a different departure city in Switzerland than the one in which I will arrive, because the availability is limited until the BA schedule is fully announced for the rest of the week. BA is in court with the unions, and a decision is due tomorrow morning and so who knows what will happen when the court decision comes through. I could be stranded on the continent, and I’ve been researching the possibilities in case the flight does not go. The trains will be expensive and take ages, but might be an option. There may be other flights on other airlines but anything I do will be expensive and painful. But perhaps necessary. So we’ll see. It’s a bit of a gamble to go at all, but I’m going. Here goes the adventure.
The worst part of this is that we have a fantastic expat meet-up scheduled for Saturday mid-day, and so if I get stranded I will miss something more important than my usual Saturday deep and intense lie-in (I’m capable of sleeping past 1 pm, which probably seems shocking to the early morning types in the readership of this blog). I can only hope that does not happen, and my weekend will get off to a truly good start with an easy trip back from the continent and a fun gathering with friends.