Thursday, May 23, 2013

You can go home again

Dearest Readers,

As the title implies, I am back off the road and snug in my palatial, imitation apartment.  The past few weeks have been quite the cluster fuck of travel, training, waking in a hotel looking for a phone book to find out what city I was in and general ineptitude of those in the travel industry.

To begin, I have already written about SLC and California trips in some detail, so that will save us some time. Upon my return from the sunny state which Lex Luthor tried to have removed from the continent by setting off charges on the San Andreas fault, I had a couple of days in the office to prepare for the subsequent two weeks.

I was to leave on a Monday for Columbus, OH.  I had a really early flight (read red eye) and determined that setting up a cab to pick me up was the best option since I would be gone the whole week.  Well, on the morning in question, the cab didn't show, so I called and he said he was in route.  Long story short I got to drive like a bat out of hell in order to get to the airport, find a parking space, and make my flight.  This was decidedly not good times, dear readers.  In short, I was pissed.  Here's where I had to park my fly hooptie for a week:

Training in Columbus was great as usual.  I really like the town and the people.  Suffice to say, I made my flight but it was a harbinger of things to come.  Once I finished my extraordinary training in Columbus, I drove to Cleveland.  This was such a whirlwind trip that the only photos I have (spoiler alert) are while driving in the car.  Here is a random strip of highway on my drive from Columbus to the town of the Tribe:

Once I got to Cleveland, I had a great dinner with the manager and a top sales guy.  Sorry, no photo, but know that the meal was great.  Just would have been a bit awkward to photo the plate at this particular business meeting.  Actually, they probably would have found it amusing and I was just being hyper vigilant in protecting my privacy.  The following day, I trained in Cleveland and then hauled ass to the airport to hop a puddle jumper to Detroit.  The next morning I walked into an office whose dynamic could best be described as "wheels off".  Don't get me wrong here, because the people in the office are some of the best, and yet there are some issues of leadership that made things...uncomfortable?

So I had a training in the morning and a second group in the afternoon.  This is now 4 presentations in 3 cities over 3 days.  My voice was shot by the end.  I had the red eye home the next morning (Friday) but was almost 30 miles from the airport.  So I left the hotel at about 4 AM in order to return the rental hooptie and make my flight.  Here is what Detroit looks like from the highway at around 4:15 in the morning:

Sorry for the bad photo quality, but cut a brotha' a break.  It was 4:15 AM and it's scary, right? While at the airport I got to see a flight to Miami get cancelled and see about 175 people totally lose their shit first thing in the morning.  So that was fun.  I made it home Friday mid-day and immediately went to sleep.  Unfortunately, I had to leave early Sunday morning (though not red eye) for The City of Broad Shoulders.  I was there to implement a training and then spend two days observing a training platform that may or may not be worth the time of day.

That is neither here nor there.  The best part was trying to get home.  Chicago had torrential rainstorms on Wednesday afternoon, but that morning I started getting text messages about layoffs happening at work.  I am trying to do my due diligence at work and at the same time getting texts asking "are you ok?" "did they let you go?".  Now I'm freaking out as I have no idea what's going on.  Finally, I get a text from one of the people letting me know that people have been laid off and it all made sense.

What didn't make sense was the weather and everything about trying to get home.  Our EVP called a meeting and expected those out of the office to call in.  I am in an unfamiliar part of Chicago, layoffs have just happened, I'm not really sure I still have a job (I do), there is major construction, and there is a down pour happening that has visibility down to 1/10 of a mile at best and I am trying to hear what our company leader is telling us.  Gee, sorry no photo from the car here.

It took what should have been a 20 minute drive an hour and 25 minutes.  Fortunately, I booked a later flight in just such an event so that I wasn't rushed.  Once I got to O'hare, bedlam.  See below:

This is only a reflection of the volume of humanity, and not a reflection of the behavioral actions of said humanity, which was awful.  There were substantial flight delays, dearest readers.  And during substantial flight delays, a blog author might have to use the restroom, which this one did.

The airport there has an unusual set up.  As a kid of the 70's and 80's I was always curious about the invention of the toilet seat cover.  The tissue paper that is shaped like a toilet seat so that you don't have to sit in another person's ass sweat.  So O'hare (along with a couple of other airports) has implemented this automated, revolving, plastic toilet seat cover.  It is so Jetsons, it's not even funny.  Check it out:

I've meant to write about this before, but have always forgotten.  This thing is better than the Small Pox vaccine.  I'm pretty sure that it's the same piece of plastic that just goes around and around, but whatever. It's brilliant!

My scheduled flight boarded 2 hours late, which is fine as long as it's safe.  Then we flew north to avoid storms (remember that this is Chicago to Texas) so the normal hour and 40 minute flight too 2.5 hours.  But I did get on that effing plane.  Here's proof:

Once we landed, we were so late that there were no open gates for our plane so we sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for something to open up.  Long story short, my flight that was supposed to arrive at 6:45 got me to the terminal home at almost 10:30. 

All this said, I have had a trying but wonderful time seeing the country in fast forward and look forward to the next adventure and adding to the hotel door.  What? I've never shown you the hotel door? These are almost all the key cards to every hotel I've stayed in on the road for work.  It's now double layered.  What you see has an equal number of cards underneath.  For your enjoyment:

Now I am at home and relaxing for a couple of days and the holiday weekend.  Here's hoping that if you are on the road that you can go home again, dearest readers.

As always,
Your Humblest of Servants,

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