Do you want to know Peter Greenberg a bit better? He recently sat down for a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and answered questions related to travel. He also told some personal stories and explained more about his travels and daily life. Here are some snippets with your questions and his answers.
RobertKCole: Assume you have 2 weeks pure leisure time. No work related reports, reviews, interviews, etc. You are paying for it yourself (no special non-public discounts or promotional freebies.)
How would you spend your vacation?
a) Where would you go? (Destination)
b) How would you get there? (Transport)
c) Where would you stay? (Accommodation)
peter_greenberg: For starters, I haven’t had 2 weeks off in 20 years. Assuming I’m not dreaming and I did have the two weeks, you’re talk to the one person who would not travel. I would sit at home and watch as many Law & Order marathons as I could with an ample supply of macaroni and cheese, rice pudding, Haagen Dazs and even Swedish Fish. But the the beauty is I wouldn’t be schleping through an airport.
But since that wasn’t your question, I would give you a more appropriate answer. For me it would be:
a) Lau Archipelago in Fiji
b) I would fly Nadi on Fiji Airways then down to Suva and from there a full day trip on a long boat out to the islands
c) In the past, I’ve just made arrangement to stay with the villagers. Total immersion. No TV, no radio, no Wi-Fi, and no Swedish Fish. And that’s where I’ve done some of my writing because it gives you time to take a deep breath and think.
zennk: What are some of the worst experiences you’ve had with airline customer service, flights, or hotel rooms. How did you cope with those bad experiences?
peter_greenberg: The key is we know that from the moment you decide to go somewhere, until the time you return, there are about 47 different points of abuse that are awaiting you. The key to a successful journey is not to be surprised by the abuse but to anticipate it, and then to mitigate it. When I get a rude gate agent, an angry front-desk clerk, and an indifferent cruise ship employee, I don’t engage. I assume by the time I got there, they had already been abused. So I search for common ground to let them know I feel their pain. You can tell just by the body language of an airline gate agent if they’re going to be happy or combative. They are automatically expecting you to ask for something. They’re already prepared to say no, and not always in the nicest way. So the common ground that I seek is letting them know that I know they’ve had a really bad day… and if there’s anything I can do to help them. The best way to get anything is not by asking. Worst-case scenario, I try all that and it still doesn’t work. Never take no as an answer from someone who’s not empowered to say yes in the first day. Seek out a supervisor and approach with them with the same MO. Your job is to figure out the common-ground conversation starter that might make their day better.
MsWinterbourne: If you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?
peter_greenberg: I’d go to a place that I know I sleep the best–Lucerne, Switzerland, Fiji, Tasmania, Madison, Wisconsin or Fire Island New York. And not necessarily in that order.
MsWinterbourne: I love Fire Island! What are your favorite places to hangout and do you have a favorite place to buy food?
peter_greenberg: I’ve been in Fire Island since I’m 6 months old (thank you mom and dad). I’m also a fireman there. Anywhere on Fire Island is great for me…by the Lighthouse, the Sunken Forest or way out by Watch Hill is great. Or of course on the great South Bay. As for buying food, you can always find me at the Seaview Market, where I worked for four years.
timerz: What do you remember doing on 9/11; how did the event change your views on travel?
peter_greenberg: It didn’t impact my views on travel. The worst 4-letter word that starts with F is “fear.’ I watched as it impacted so many other people’s views on travel. I felt then as I do now that it was important for me to provide as much needed perspective on it as I could, so that people realized they not only could travel, but they should.
On that Tuesday morning, I was in the green room at NBC about to go on the air of the show when the first plane hit the building. The first report said that it appeared a small plane hit the World Trade Center. I took one look at the picture on the screen and ran down to the control room trying to tell anyone who would listen that it was no small plane. While I was pleading my case, the second plane hit. I stayed on the air for both NBC and MSNBC for the next 16 hours. It finally hit home when I left the studio shortly after 1 am thinking I’d just grab a cab and go back to my hotel. When I walked outside, I did not see a single human being or automobile. No movement whatsoever. It was as if they had evacuated NY and hadn’t bothered to tell me. I will always remember walking back to the hotel, not on the sidewalk, but up the middle of Fifth Avenue. The wind had changed and I could suddenly smell the unmistakable smell of burning electrical conduit, fuel oil and flesh. I’m a fireman and used to the smell of burning, but that night obviously was indelibly etched into my memory for life.