Yes, it’s a struggle to work in Hawaii, especially when your day is spent attending a training session on another island and the only place to eat lunch is on the waterfront watching the cruise ships glide smoothly by as you enjoy your fresh salad.
I say this a bit tongue in cheek, as I know I am enormously blessed this week to be working in Hawaii while my family members on the mainland are in a real struggle, emotionally and physically to stay warm and safe from the ravages of winter storms they have been experiencing. As I snapped photos of Aloha Tower and coconut trees with my iPhone before my training session began, I felt some sense of guilt that my family may find my photos irritating, as if I have no empathy for their winter blues.
But all is not paradisaical in Paradise! The morning of this trip to Oahu, I set my alarm for 4:10 am., my back-up alarm for 4:15 am. and my true, throw- myself- off- the- bed time was 4:20 am. I am not a morning person and this proved irritatingly difficult. It was cold and dark; cold for Hawaii at about 62 degrees. I showered and scrambled to find my work outfit for the day in the dark, not wanting to wake up too completely. I threw a banana and bottle of water into my purse just in case, hoped for a hairdo, and headed out the door. After driving for 35 minutes to the airport and finding a parking stall under a tree to improve my ability to locate my car later that day, I was off to check in for departure.
Hawaiian Airlines is wonderfully Hawaiian. I can count on smiling customer service agents to indulge me in my half-witted attempts at humor at 5:30 in the morning. I scored a “Pre-Check” on my boarding pass so I enjoyed my “don’t have to remove your shoes” status as I moved quickly through security (laughing at the things we consider status symbols these days). My agent asked if I had a miles number since I might as well get the miles for the First Class ticket my company paid for which will give me double the miles. Friendly, smiling and thinking of me at 5:30 in the morning! That is Aloha.
Hilo, Hawaii is humid. Humidity and acres of carpet and “aloha print” fabric covered sofas create the fragrance of mildew; setting off my sneezing and asthma reactions I get every time I enter this airport. But it is home, and I am always grateful for it’s small size and ease of starting or ending my travel. My first time ever on a First Class flight proved to be entertaining. I was assigned row 1, a window seat. Lots of legroom and a long seat belt, one thing Hawaiian Airlines is wonderful at, taking into consideration the girth of some of our local citizens so we don’t have to “be shame” and have to ask for a seat belt extender. My neighbor seat was occupied by a jovial local male who promptly ordered a couple of Miller Lights, mind you this was a 6:30 a.m. flight. I ordered a diet-coke, and knowing it was only a couple swallows, hoped it would help me wake up. By our arrival 50 minutes later in Honolulu I was first to exit the plane, chuckling to myself at the antics of my seatmate and his buddies who were already “hanging loose” and commenting about being ready for a nap!
My day was full of learning about laws and best practices but the lunch hour of dining on a tasty Cobb salad at Gordon Biersch Brewery on the waterfront of Aloha Tower Marketplace filled me with relaxation and appreciation for the Hawaii life that I live. As I enjoyed my salad and gazed at the water and the cruise ship gliding past us on to an adventure I forgot for a moment that this was a work day and I was getting paid for this. As I returned to our little Hilo airport in the dark of evening and successfully located my car under the tree, I felt a sense of gratitude for where I live, what I do, and for my Ohana on the mainland that I hope are staying warm and safe while they await Spring.