Do you trust the process?
A life lesson from flying
I mentioned in last week’s newsletter that I was worried about my impending trip to the UK, my first in 8 years. There were several reasons for it. It would be my first time meeting my partner’s family.It required entering the UK with my freshly minted and as such untested 10-year UK visa. (I always get antsy with border crossings, even coming into Vietnam which I’ve done several times by now.) Mostly though, I was worried about the connection.
My partner and I usually fly with Vietnam Airlines. We’re not in love with them, but they’re mostly reliable and they’ve become our go-to carrier. They also normally fly direct to whichever destination we were headed for, which is a big plus for us who value convenience. But not this time.
This time, we couldn’t book a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City to London Heathrow. We had to book a domestic flight up to Hanoi, then an international flight from Hanoi to Heathrow. This domestic-international connection business was new to us, and we were left with several unanswered questions:
Will we be able to check in for both flights at the same time?
Will our luggage travel straight from Ho Chi Minh City to Heathrow, or do we need to collect and re-check it in at the Hanoi international terminal?
Where do we go when we get off the domestic flight in Hanoi?
Will we have enough time to transfer?
My partner and I are the anxious traveler type, the kind who’d rather arrive at the airport four hours before our flight and wait for the check-in desk to open. Having this many unanswered questions, needless to say, did not suit us.
Let’s ask at the check-in desk what will happen with our luggage, we said, hopeful that if anyone had the answer to that question, it’d be the person checking our luggage in and putting the tag on it.
Our hopes were soon dashed. The check-in staff seemed exceedingly unsure of herself as she frantically flipped through our passports, looking for who knows what. We tried to indicate where our Vietnam visas and entry stamps were, to no avail. She kept searching, looking slightly distressed. After 15 minutes of stressing us out, she finally printed our boarding passes and luggage tags. Your bags will go to London, she said. But the 15-minute fluffing with our passports had thoroughly destroyed her credibility, and neither of us believed her.
Once we were through security, we realised we had no idea what to do once we got to Hanoi. I thought we could wait and ask a flight attendant once we’re in the air—they are likely to have done the connection before. My partner thought the more people we ask, the better, so he set off in search of a Vietnam Airlines staff who might have the answer to our question.
The first person he found—a staff sitting at a random gate—didn’t know, but helpfully called someone who supposedly knew, then proceeded to tell us that we must walk from the domestic to the international terminal once we landed—there would be no bus transfer. My partner, knowing the distance between the two terminals, was dismayed.
The second person he asked—the staff at our gate—said there was a bus transfer, but couldn’t give specific instructions as to where to go once the plane landed. The third person he asked—a flight attendant—confirmed there was a bus transfer, but confidently said we needed to collect our luggage in Hanoi and re-check it in, which directly contradicted what we’d been told by the check-in lady.
At this point, we’d spoken to four different people whose job it was to have the answers to our questions, and we weren’t any more enlightened than we had been when we left the house that morning.
Trusting the process
In the end, we found a couple of Vietnam Airlines staff holding up a not-so-conspicuous sign for “international connections” as we came off the domestic flight. They confirmed our luggage was going straight through and walked us to the shuttle bus stop, though they didn’t understand our English when we asked what to do once we got to the international terminal, and we ended up going to the wrong place and wasted 20 minutes queuing. We made our connection, without time to spare.
On the way back, we were told by the check-in staff at Heathrow that our luggage would travel through to Ho Chi Minh City, but upon landing in Hanoi discovered that we needed to collect our luggage and deliver it back to the airline staff, whom we almost walked straight past because of a misunderstanding.
As we waited for the shuttle bus that would take us from the international to the domestic terminal, I said to my partner, that didn’t work out too badly. We could have trusted the process and not stress about all those unanswered questions.
I never trust the process in Vietnam, he said. Experience has taught me not to.
I nodded. He had a point. Things tend to not happen in the way they are supposed to in Vietnam. Everything is confusion and chaos. Trusting the process seems almost a folly.
But then again, it’s not just Vietnam. Though it’s more disorganised than most as a country, you could easily argue that all of life is like it. Things tend to not happen in the way they are supposed to. Much of it is confusion and chaos. We never know what’s going to happen, and our vision is only perfect in hindsight.
What do you think?
In the same way I had to decide whether to trust Vietnam Airlines’ process to get us (and our bags) from Ho Chi Minh City to London, we all face this question in life, over and over again:
Do you trust the process?
Do you trust that things will work out in the way you expect them to? Or do you expect things to go wrong at every turn? Is this a question you’ve asked yourself? Is it worth knowing the answer? Reply with your thoughts, leave a comment, share this with someone you trust.
Until next Friday… Stay thoughtful,
Photo by Philip Myrtorp on Unsplash
I’m happy to report, post-trip, that the meeting went well.
This also went well, though the border agent put the entry stamp on the visa itself as opposed to the empty page next to it. This, I’ve never seen before. And now I’m worried about the next time I enter the UK with this stamped-on visa. The worry never ends.
I trust but verify. I learn all I can, as you attempted to, about the process of whatever it is I am going through. Once I believe I know all I can and I have done all I can do to ensure positive outcome, I let it go. Whatever is going to happen will happen.