Monthly Archives: March 2011

Persistence and perseverance

Last thursday, at 4pm, I was supposed to take a plane from San Francisco to North Bend to celebrate a good friend’s 70th birthday, who had came all the way from France with his wife. He’s a huge golfer and one of his dream was to play Bandon Dunes. We had planned everything to give him the experience of a lifetime. 

We all met at my office and drove to the airport. Once there, we checked-in, went through security, and we were walking to the gate when a screen announced that our flight was cancelled. Really? OK. Let’s just get on another flight to get us close to our destination, and we can drive there. Destination: United customer service desk.

A smiling dude asked us what happened. We explained the situation to him (including the birthday, the fact that we had to be there before 8am etc…), he briefly looked at our tickets and declared that there is nothing he can do, but he was happy to refund the tickets. We asked him if he could at least check, and he said no. After a few exchanges in the most polite way, we convinced him to at least look if there were other flights that would get us closer. He turned on his computer, type a couple of letters, and then told us there is nothing, but he could go and get his manager. He left and went to sit down on the other side of the desk, chatting with someone else (the manager never came).  

In the meantime, two of his colleagues noticed the situation and decided to jump in. They were very helpful, and clearly embarrassed by what happened. Despite all their efforts, nothing was available for us to fly anywhere near our destination. They offered to put us on waiting lists etc… 

With no flights available for 48hrs, our only option to get to Bandon Dunes was to rent a car. It’s an 11 hours ride. But what the hell? Since the plane was cancelled, there must have been other folks impacted, and that should give us some flexibility with our tee times. 

Obviously, we had to wait for our luggages (up to 2 hrs according to United) to come out. While two of us went to take care of the car, the others waited for the luggages. We rented a mini van for the one way trip (we had confirmed with united that we could use our return tickets). By the time we were driving, the luggages had arrived, so we were on our way. At 6:15pm. On a friday night. And we had to cross the Bay Bridge, coming from the airport. Traffic. 

We took a couple of short cuts, and made it through the bridge by 7pm (which was quite good) and were finally on our way. Estimated arrival time: 6am. Ouch. 

We were driving fine, and at 11pm, we saw a sign indicating that all vehicles will be screened north of Redding. Screened? What does that mean? We didn’t really know, so we continued. At some point, we switched the radio to the AM updates. “Chains required”. WTF? Chains? 

We had never realized we were going though the mountains, and obviously, didn’t have chains. We went all the way to the check point, thinking someone there will sell chains. No luck. The folks checking the vehicles told us to check the gas station a few miles behind us. We went there, and nothing. We looked around, asked folks, checked a 24hrs Wallmart. Nothing. No chains. It wasn’t the “chains” season, so everybody was out. What do we do? 

Go back home? It’s a long drive. What if the weather gets better? Well, they actually forecasted worst weather for the next 36hrs. We finally decided to stay at a motel. Of course, the first one we picked was full, but the second one had vacancies. By the time we went to bed, it was 1:30am. 

We decided to wake up at 5:30am to check on the weather and the situation. It was exactly the same. Chains required. We had until 8am before the first store open. Back to sleep for a couple of hours. At 7:30am, we brainstormed, and decided going back home was now a serious option on the table, especially since the weather forecasted at Bandon Dunes was 50mph wind, and 1.5 inches of rain. 

We decided to call Hertz, to ask them if there is a price change in case we return the car in San Francisco. Yes there is! It is twice more expensive! I tweeted to them, hoping for someone more helpful, but they replied that I should talk to customer service (yes, according to them, twitter is not customer service). Basically, we had to find chains, since going back home was suddenly looking very expensive!

By 9am, after going through yellow pages, we finally found some and by 9:30 we were on our way. By 4pm, we arrived at Bandon Dunes. 

We played the day after. It was actually a gorgeous weather. All those obstacles that wanted to prevent us from fulfilling a dream. But we didn’t give up. There was always one of us to remind us of the dream, and that we were not going to let events stop us. 

What is true here is also true in the business world. Persistence and perseverance will lead us to unexpected and beautiful places. 

Wenger’s reaction in video after the game

Nobody knows what would have happened if Arsenal would have stayed 11 men on the field. And nobody is questioning whether or not Barcelona dominated the game: they did. But it is true that at 1-1, 11 vs 11 with 30 minutes left to play, we, the football fans, would probably have witnessed an amazing game.

That’s what pisses me off. A clown, coming out nowhere, who has never played football, decided to take this away from me. He took away from all the fans what could have been a great game. If you’re a Barcelona fan, you’ll probably say that’s football, since your team qualified.

But if you’re just a football fan, you left that game with a weird feeling that something wasn’t right, and that the spectacle offered today was quite poor because of a bad decision by the ref.

FIFA, who’s supposed to be the gate keeper of the game’s spirit, need to change some rules. How come you can penalize a forward player for kicking the ball at the end of the play. If he has any doubt that the whistle was blown, in a stadium packed with 80K screaming fans, he will continue. That’s what they teach you at football schools. That’s what happens in every sport (even worse in american football). So either the rule has to change (if you kick the ball > 3 seconds after the whistle blow for ex), or FIFA has to punish those referees who ruin a game.

The funny part is that Wenger is the one who’s going to be punished. I really don’t know how he managed to keep his cool.

Last week-end, in France, the professional referees decided to go on strike (surprise, surprise!). The Federation decided to put amateurs instead. Well guess what: they did a much better job. No major case except one penalty that wasn’t given in 10 games. Not bad. Maybe we just need better referees.

UPDATE: this is really a referee’s monumental mistake. According to the FIFA rules, here are the cautionable offences:

  • unsporting behaviour
  • dissent by word or action
  • persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
  • delaying the restart of play
  • failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
  • entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
  • deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission

I don’t think Van Persie had any unsporting behavior with that kick (he had on his first yellow card though). 


Wael Ghonim at Ted Cairo

Wael Ghonim at Ted. Very inspiring talk, and some very similar concepts than those I’ve talked about in a previous post