Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Business Trips Don’t Produce Graceful Travelogues

Day Minus 1
10:30 AM: Wife’s cell phone missing; she borrows my regular one to go to bridal shower.

10:45 AM:  Wife calls home using mother’s cell phone to inform my previously partially damaged phone now inert.

11:00 AM:  Crazy digging up of all contacts that were on my regular phone from old e-mails to add them to work smart phone. Message everyone I’m meeting the next day with smartphone number.

11:30AM -2:30 PM: No clues found on long search of house and car as to wife’s phone.  Panic set in about leaving wife phoneless the following day.  Foolishly refusing daughter’s help to check car a third time would haunt me later.

3:00 PM:  Verizon store suggested best course of action was phone insurance for mail order replacement. Luckily wife’s phone in door pocket of car I didn't know  I had…but daughter did.

Day 1

12:15 AM: Finally finished packing up items needed for travel and meeting.  Printed boarding pass for flight out and set check in to automatic for remainder of trip.

12:30 AM:  Fell asleep.

3:15 AM: Woke up with plenty of time to get ready.  Planned to print boarding pass for return flight, then wash up and dress extremely quietly to allow wife to sleep.

3:45 AM:  Wife woke up after hearing my continuous swearing at printer which refused to function correctly.  She identified paper jam that would require disassembling entire printer, and possibly one of our cars to fix.  I hoped smartphone signal would hold out in airport to show e-boarding pass and let me come home. 

3:57 AM: Much rushing like a madman to get washed and dressed.

4:00 AM:  Ran out door got into limo. Limo driver said he liked me already because I was “on time.”

If he only knew. 

4: 30 AM: Discussed near impossibility of finding my street with driver, and the fact that the explanation of why I had no luggage to go to Los Angeles was crazy.

5:00 AM: Passing through security much easier with experience.  Packed belt in computer bag at home. Then put it on after passing through radiographic eye of needle.

5:10 AM:  Sat in airport reading.
Note: This entire story could be summarized by those four words, except that “airplane” often would be substituted for “airport.”

6:45 AM: Got on plane with assigned group. Sat by window. Very tall guy in suit with far too much cologne sat in the middle seat next to me.  Joy.

7:00 AM: Took off early, which only happens for places I don’t want to go.

Stardate Unknown:
(All time displaying electronic devices were turned off and we were crossing time zones.)

Sat on airplane reading, occasionally slept on my hand.

Big cologne guy and similarly dressed big cologne guy in middle seat directly in front of him wandered off and didn't return.  Logical part of brain decided they found more legroom elsewhere. Emotional, panicky part of brain decided they were in the men’s room planning to take over plane and fly somewhere I wanted to go even less.  Panicky part calmed down when it realized there really wasn't anywhere I wanted to fly less than a meeting with angry customers and sales reps. 

Passed over lush forests, fertile farm lands, majestic mountains and vast picturesque deserts…before beginning descent into sprawling brown city filled with brown buildings, brown streets, and brown air.

Tall cologne guys came back, said they found more legroom elsewhere. (Duh)

9:45 AM:  Left plane thirty minutes ahead of schedule allowing plenty of time to walk from terminal seven to terminal one, (which impressed the hell out of everyone we met in L.A., as does any walking) and learned that boss’s plane was thirty minutes late.

Sat in airport reading.

11:15 AM:  Met boss under “Southwest” sign.

11:30 AM: Finally figured out  “Southwest” signs are on two floors.

11:31 AM: Met boss under the same “Southwest” sign.

11:40 AM: Picked up by sales rep and manager, taken to airport restaurant, grilled for “secret” details from home office. Enjoyed looking at vintage plane models outside until they calmed down, accepted we hadn't been lying to them for our entire careers, and were there to help.  

1:00 PM:  Too early to attend meeting, too much traffic to drive somewhere interesting, too ugly to sight-see in area we were in.

1:20 PM: Driving tour ended at Starbucks after only seeing the Hollywood sign through smog.  Talked more about the account but mostly about pet pictures.  No one cared about daughter’s fish.  Showed photos of seventeen year cicadas that invaded Up the Lake instead. 

Any chance to gross out sales people is a wagon I’m jumping on.

2:45 PM: Drove to doctor’s office, not hospital.  Of course. Why would we want to accidentally meet more than one person who uses our product after flying three thousand freakin’ miles?

3:00 PM: Met doctor, who was actually happy to see us.  Received all sorts of information and suggestions about product, including some information never told to sales folk.

Despite samples getting silicone all over his fancy looking conference table, he remained friendly, good natured and talkative throughout our visit.

4:15 PM: Left doctor’s office.  Dropped many subtle hints as to proximity of  hospital to current location and large amount of time before flight.

4:16 PM: Sales manager had earlier flight, sales rep drove directly to airport.

4:30 PM:  Flight status checks of “Where is plane coming from?” en route to airport showed impossible for flight to be as listed “on time.” Plane seemed to be lost somewhere in mid-west thunderstorms.

4:50 PM:  Sales rep dropped us off , said, “Have a safe trip.” Desperately tried to get company travel agent to put us on earlier flight.  Agent found perfect one, except for the fact that it took off while we were still in our meeting.

4:51 PM: Stashed belt in computer bag again in preparation for screening.

Also stashed dress shirt and tie, revealing Evil Dead Two commemorative t-shirt, to thumb nose at whole day. Boss inquired why I didn't wear it to meeting.

5:00 PM: Passed through security containing technology and decor that made us forget we were in major American city, as it looked more like bus depot in Earwax, Idaho.

5:15 PM: Boss and I had dinner, discussed day, and tried to figure out how to kill almost five hours until flight’s rapidly jeopardized departure time.  Took bedtime cholesterol pill, figured it was bedtime somewhere.

Sitting in airport reading, sprang to mind.

6:00 PM:  Wandering a bit to find a quiet spot and drafting trip report took far less time than we hoped it would.

6:15PM-11:30 PM:  Boss believes in walking around airport to keep distracted, check out stores and exercise, removing most chances of, “sat in airport reading.” 

Aside:  This is the reason I only almost finished Public Enemies on this trip, instead of completing it and my emergency backup book.  It is also why I ended up having dark chocolate covered walnuts for breakfast on the plane.
11:45 PM: Finally got on plane, following several gate changes, in case we started to figure out where we needed to be. Boss upgraded to economy plus seat in front for more legroom.  After boarding pass printer fiasco the morning before, refused to risk anything printing one at kiosk.  Hiked back to aisle seat in last row.

Day 2:
Stardate Unknown (in reverse this time)

Sat on airplane reading.

Teen-aged guy across aisle realized
A) Delay meant he had no ride.
B) His I-phone was dying.
C) Plane was older and had no chargers.

Teen-aged guy across aisle asked me to get attention of “blonde in the middle seat.”
Informed him she was in coma.
He explained plight and asked to  could charge off my laptop. 

Didn't bother charging in airport either. His phone sucked computer dry in about a minute and a half.  Luckily, corporate protection policy prevented I-tunes from properly communicating with anything. No danger of syncing with his phone.

Sat on airplane reading.

Teen-aged guy across aisle asked what I knew about public transportation from airport to Manhattan. Knowing “there probably is some,” not much help.

Sat on airplane reading.

Hit turbulence from Midwest thunderstorms plane was lost in previously.  Teen-aged guy across aisle started to quietly freak out on only second flight ever.  Attendant and I tried to calm him down. She explained it rocks her to sleep. I explained flying through it with no problem in morning.  In the middle of telling me my trip was crazy, he looked behind him and went into full blown hysterical panic.

Teen-aged guy across aisle’s eyes expanded to cover his whole face as he looked back and began yelling at attendant, “Oh God, something’s wrong, what aren't you telling us?”

He interrupted her statement that everything was fine with, “Then why are you crying?!”

She gripped seats for dear life, as she unbuckled, and crouched over bringing a glass of water and assurances that she wasn't crying.  He finally calmed down and joined rest of plane in coma like state.

Sat on airplane reading, occasionally sleeping on hand.

Beverage service.

Sat on airplane reading and eating dark chocolate covered walnuts with diet soda.

Bored sitting on airplane reading. Got up to stretch and use nearby rest room in attendant’s staging area.

Commented on attendant’s excellent handling of neurotic teen aged guy across aisle. She commented on my trip being crazy, and explained looking like she was crying because it was stupid late and all our eyes looked like that.

Ended up in conversation with attendant for a while (since rest of plane in coma like state).Other attendant and guy who needed coffee also joined in for sections.

Conversation topics::
-Doctors (and pilots) thinking they’re gods (And why that can be a good thing.)
-Superhero movies
- Zoos
- Frog phobias.

Most amazingly, I did not initiate ANY of these topics.
Apparently, I’m a carrier.

Every friend and relative attendant mentioned was currently or formerly members of military Special Forces.  Perhaps my Evil Dead t-shirt sparked some stewardess self-defense system.  I am apparently goofy enough to register as harmless since she drove conversation for duration.

More passengers joined land of living, requiring coffee service to start.

Sat on airplane reading.

7: forty something AM:  Landed. Teen-aged guy across aisle apologized, and thanked everyone. 

Bid farewell to insomnia conversation brigade and staggered off gantry to meet boss and head to rides.

Guy who brought me yesterday took her home, after giving my driver crash course in finding my house.

8 ish AM.  Sat zombie like in back of the Lincoln (Station Wagon) Town Car. Driver spun tales of days as airborne officer in Vietnam, and New Jersey police man.  Experience earned him rights to very strong views on war, guns, and similar topics, which he expounded on. 
Entertaining and informative, if somewhat blurry, ride home through rush hour traffic.

9 or so AM:  Stumbled into house, kissed wife, collapsed into own personal coma like state.

12 Noon: Woke up in time to meet daughter at bus stop for last day of school, which I have done every year…making  the crazy worth it.


Antonia said...

I loved this one!! Hysterical recounting of your return plane flight. Laughing out loud about the special forces relatives. But I do especially love the end!

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx. Getting people to laugh out loud at a distance is the main goal of this blog. The end is the main goal of my life.
Thanx again.