Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who's sorry now?

In a rare moment of decisiveness for me, I'm taking the trip to New Zealand that I should've taken 12 months ago. When I left my gig in Beijing, I only came to Jakarta to clear my head and catch up with a few folks. While I was open to a job offer, I wasn't necessarily looking for one — the plan was to tour a couple schools in New Zealand before flying back to the US to start my transition out of newspapers.

It didn't work out that way, of course. Whether I'm soft-hearted, soft-headed or just plain soft, I said yes when the people at Globe Towers asked me to come back and help them out of a jam. I never actually signed a physical contract (details, details), but they asked me for a year and come December 6 I'll have given them a year. The next night, I'm scheduled to fly from Jakarta to Wellington (connecting in Sydney) and spend a little more than a week in the Land of Kiwi, decompressing after a year in the Big Durian and touring prospective schools.

Except it can never be that simple. My flights are all booked on Qantas, a decision that is looking pretty silly at the moment.
Qantas Airways grounded its global fleet Saturday, suddenly locking out striking workers after weeks of flight disruptions an executive said could close down the world's 10th largest airline piece by piece
The Australian government called for an emergency arbitration hearing, which was adjourned early Sunday morning after hearing evidence from the unions and airline. It will resume Sunday afternoon when the government will argue that the airline be ordered to fly in Australia's economic interests.
I went with Qantas after an Australian co-worker assured me the strike was not that serious and international flights weren't affected (in fairness, the latter was true at the time). I've not had the pleasure of Alan Joyce's company, but this maneuver and his subsequent statements smack of a heady cocktail of desperation and prickishness.

If the Gillard government does intervene, I imagine Tony Abbott and his opposition friends will wail about the government's anti-business practices, but the world of Aussie politics 'twas ever thus. I just know I'm out $1,100 if Qantas isn't up and flying again by early December — the only reason I'm able to make this trip is because I'm relatively close for the moment. I told my parents I'd be back in Nebraska before Christmas and — barring a head-turning, must-start-immediately job offer — I'm not of a mind to disappoint them.

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