Filed under Travel

Just Ask For It

The other day at brunch (because I live in the city now, and that’s how girls bond), we were discussing how to get what you want. The simple answer my friend put forward is to “just ask”. I’ve been testing that theory now, and am shocked at how far I can get by just having the nerve to ask for what I want. Here is my small list of things that work to ask for:

1. No bank fees. This one I’ve mentioned before as a suggestion from Ramit Sethi I got awhile back for my annual credit card fee. I just called, stated how long I’ve been a client, and that I didn’t want to be forced to go to a different bank. I’ve also saved tons of money in over-draft fees by just going into the bank, playing dumb and asking the fees to be taken off. I’m shocked at the amount of people who wont do this because they’re too shy to stand up for themselves.

2. Extras at restaurants. Most servers also think that having to pay $0.50 for ranch dressing is lame. I assure you there’s no person back there making sure all the condiments are being accounted for. Make sure you ask for this right away though, not after they may have already put it in the computer. Similarly, be weary of places that ask “or” questions. You usually can get both for free. A good example of this is at Chipotle where they like to convince you that you can only have black beans or pinto beans, or only one salsa. If you only get one, I will laugh at you.

3. Travel boosts. Because I have a silver medallion membership with Delta I often check a bag because it’s free. The problem being that I don’t like waiting for my bag after a long flight. Whenever I travel I ask the person who is checking my bag if they can put the priority tag on my bag, usually with some story about running late for something. This also works for other things while traveling. I find that because of my age, people will assume I’m OK with whatever I get, but will be more than willing to accommodate if I ask outright. I’ve been bumped to a cooler car at car rental places, given an ocean view at hotels where I was originally supposed to look out over parking lots, and allowed to “check out” Sky Club lounges while waiting for flights.

4. Free samples/coupons. Send an email to your favorite companies saying you love their stuff and if you can get coupons or their latest product for free. I started doing  this when I went gluten-free because everything was so expensive and I didn’t even know if I would like their stuff. Usually if you play on a company’s sense of pride in their product, they’ll want to prove to you why you should choose their product, or retain you if you’re already a client.

5. Medicine. The next time your doctor goes to write you a prescription, as if they have any trials so you can see how you react before buying a whole bunch of it. Also, ask your pharmacy if they’re giving your antibiotics out for free. They’ll often have extra samples of stuff. Of course, you have to actually have the prescription. This post is to encourage you to ask for things you need, not get you addicted to drugs.

6. Work stuff. Please, please, please also apply this mind set to your work. If you’ve been working at a company for awhile and doing well, put together a solid argument and ask for what you want. I used to be jealous of my friend who asked his work for things like, higher pay, mac (instead of windows), new office chair… even tracing paper – and got it! Then when I went to quit my job to move back to Minnesota, I asked for my most ideal situation – work the same job from wherever I wanted. Surprising result: my hard work stood up for itself and they obliged.

The most important thing to do is ask nicely but forcefully. Going into the proposal you should already have reasons why you should get what you want, and the mind-set that whatever you’re asking for is completely reasonable to get. If you don’t get what you want, no worries. At least you asked.

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Picture Thursday: My Happy Place

Take a trip to my happy place.

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My Two Identities

I’ve been thinking lately about how living in Florida for the past two years has changed me. I moved down here knowing no one but grandparents who sometimes didn’t know me. Down here there has always been a deep fear thinly veiled beneath the surface. It was more acute in the first year, but hasn’t completely evaporated. My original fear was about how I was going to make friends, how I could get a job when I have no contacts, and how I would survive in a state that, frankly, read like a different country. After these things were tackled, the fear then shifted to “what am I missing at home?” After a few months the deeply unsettling thought crept in that life back home moved on without me. People got married, they’ve had babies, and they’ve become different people. Even scarier — so have I.

When I moved away from Minnesota I was not utilizing my major, I had bills that felt heavy on my parents’ faces, and my lease was up. I wanted to escape who I was. I had built up an enormous system of the same bars, the same regulars and the same fights. While I’ve realized some of these things are worth returning too, there were just too many bridges that have were burned, too many things that went sour, and I needed to wipe the slate clean. I needed to go somewhere where no one knew who I was, nor cared to ask.

I spent a lot of my beginning days going everywhere by myself. The guy at the movie theater stopped asking if I wanted to upgrade to the large popcorn, the bartender at the pub and I began our own repertoire, and I was able to sit at a restaurant reading alone with ease. It was amazing being able to start from zero and rebuild everything. To figure out how this completely solo version of myself wanted to carry out daily activities. I soon realized what traits of myself were based on my situation, and what stubborn parts of my personality would never go away.

It didn’t come without it’s own cost. Back home everything kept moving. The longer I stayed here, the more obvious these changes became. Easy conversations with some of my best friends suddenly felt strained. I was suddenly not “in” on inside jokes, and big events were sometimes found out through hearsay. Yes, I’ve built up a new group of friends with its own dramas, jokes and events, but it became harder to pick up the pieces of who I had been. Everyday I seem to become closer to this new person, even if sometimes I don’t want to be.

So now I’m on the verge of moving back to Minnesota, and I realize I now have two identities. Both Minnesota and Florida are home to two versions of myself, and in both states I have incredible bonds with people I truly love. I feel divided into two. I’m afraid that this feeling wont go away. That I will forever be looking at the other with a “grass-is-greener” eye, yearning to go back.  Needing to be that other person. And the people who took me into this strange state and became my new family, I can’t just toss them out now that I’m moving away.

I cannot be in two places at once, and now I will always wonder what I’m missing in my other life.

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If you were 20 years old again

What would you do if you were 20 years old again? Would you point your fingers on a map and travel the globe? Fall in love?

“Que je sois tout simplement heureuse, dans tous les sens” – I’d just be happy, in every sense.

This is my hope for you this week.


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Picture Thursday: Norway

Lately all my free time has been consumed with planning my upcoming summer trip to Norway. The more we plan, the more it become real. Today I was caught with how profound thinking “On June 29 I will be a quarter century old and standing in Fimriete, home of my great grandmother” was. Hiking boots; I need hiking boots.

Let’s Be Adventurers

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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