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March 3, 2005

What Do You Mean I'm In The Wrong City?

Having spent 15 years in international sales, working for a week in Australia, followed by a two days in Washington D.C, and one day in Canada was not unusual. By the end of the meeting in Washington, tired but feeling successful, I dashed to the airport for a 7 PM flight to Toronto. I had my time well planned. I would get to the hotel about 10 PM, have a good night’s sleep, and arrive refreshed at the 8 AM meeting with our Canadian distributor.

The plane arrived about 9:30 PM, on a cold, January night. Snow was piling up on the taxiway and I was relieved I could grab a cab and snuggle down in a warm hotel. As I stood at the luggage carousel, bag after bag went by with no sign of mine. In spite of all the jokes about lost luggage, this was a rare occurrence for me. Little did I know it would be a lucky break.

I reported my lost suitcase to baggage service. When the agent asked where I was staying, I whipped out the fax from the distributor, showing the name and address of the hotel. With a puzzled look on his face, he said, “Mrs. Massie, I hate to tell you, but you are in the wrong city.” HUH? WRONG CITY?

“This hotel is in Ottawa, not Toronto.” I realized then that when I booked my flights, I never checked the actual address of the meeting. I just assumed it was in Toronto, the home of our distributor.

Looking for a rapid solution, I thought I could rent a car and drive to Ottawa.. Not knowing the geography well, I asked how far it was. The response had me reeling - about 275 miles. OK, I had better try to take a plane, but he said he did not think there were any more flights out that night. Yikes! It is now 10 PM and I have to be at the meeting at 8 AM. Looking at the snow in the glow of the streetlights, I knew I did not want to rent a car and drive nearly 300 miles on strange roads, with no sleep, in the middle of a snowstorm.

Meanwhile, I could see the service agent’s fingers flying over the keyboard. Hearing the tired sigh in my voice, he immediately said, “It looks like there is a 10:30 PM flight on Air Canada. That gives us 20 minutes to get you booked and over to the other side of the airport.” He did his magic on the keyboard, made some phone calls, closed his station, whisked me into a go-cart and off we went. Arriving at the gate as the door was closing, I thanked him profusely, and dashed aboard.

We arrived in Ottawa at midnight. I still had no bags, but the agent had informed me that my bags would catch up with me in the morning. Taking a cab to the hotel, I stepped to the reception desk at 1 AM, all the while visualizing my head hitting the soft pillow. “I’m sorry, Ms. Massie but we have no room for you.”

WHAT? I HAVE A FAX HERE SHOWING MY RESERVATION. “Mrs. Massie this room was not guaranteed and, with the winter festival in town, we had to give the room to someone else. All of the hotels in town are sold out.” In spite of his words, I knew that somewhere was a hotel with a vacant room, I just had to find it. I asked for referrals to other hotels.

As I called down the list, I heard “NO “ after “NO” after “NO”. With each NO, I asked for the name of another hotel. I was not going to give up. And so the chain went - a no, a referral, and a new phone call. FINALLY, I got a YES. At 2:30 AM, before turning out the light, I called the airline baggage service and gave them my hotel information.

The alarm went off at 6, into the shower at 6:10 and a knock at 6:30. Standing outside the door was a bellman with luggage in hand. “Phew, I could change my clothes.” When I walked into the meeting and was asked the usual question about the quality of my trip, I was able to say, “EXCELLENT, everything worked out just perfectly.”


This trip reminds me of the times I have ended up in the wrong place – not necessarily physically, but emotionally. How many times I was positive I was headed in the right direction, going down the correct path, only to realize it was a mistake - a wrong decision, a detour in life, or a side step in a career.

We all take wrong turns and end up in the “wrong city” at some point on our journey. What we need to remember is, not whether we made a mistake, but to put our embarrassment aside and take action as fast as possible. Challenges can be stepping stones or stumbling blocks – it is our choice. We must focus on ‘how we can’ not on ‘how we can’t’. The next time you find yourself in the ‘wrong city’, remember that your life is not determined by what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you. Go over, go under, go around, go through, but never give up

Tragedy into Triumph”… An uplifting page turner for those days when life is pushing you down. The reader rediscovers their inner strength with which, through day-to-day struggles, they have lost touch. It will inspire your soul, tickle your funny bone, and stimulate your mind. To learn more about the book, visit the page about

Lynne's book

on this website.

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