International travel can be one of the more fun aspects in one’s career. However, to do it successfully, one must be willing and ready to adapt to the varied cultures and customs throughout the world. For example, getting used to reading and understanding “military time.” You know every hour after noon becomes a greater number rather than the U.S. “o’clock” system. It’s not a difficult concept; however, if you’re not accustomed to it, you can make mistakes. It happened to me after a week-long conference in Sydney, Australia. I cavalierly looked at my flight information and, for whatever reason, convinced myself that the flight’s departure time of 20:00 was 10:00 o’clock in my world.
Why I thought that… I have no idea. It was, of course, 8:00 pm–not 10:00 pm! So, I ambled up to the counter at the airport to check in and, surprise, there was no one in front of me… or behind me… or anywhere near the check-in counter, save one lonely attendant. When she told me that the flight already had departed AT 20:00 (8:00 o’clock, Bob!), I felt stupid, panicked, depressed and stupid again. The bright side of the story is that I got to spend another night/day in Sydney. Not a bad outcome for a bonehead mistake.