Friday, October 19, 2007

The Glamour of Business Travel

***SIGH*** I've finally had one of THOSE trips... you know, the one with headaches that just keep coming?

So I book a quick trip to Silicon Valley to help a new subsidiary get records out to Iron Mountain. It's a Wednesday to Friday trip. Oh-dark-30 on the outbound and the last flight of the day on the return. Good fare.

Wednesday, 3AM. The alarm rings... grumble. Out the door at 3:45 and off to ORD. Pull in to the parking garage and it deposits me on the Blackhawks Level 4. BONUS! (This is the level that allows you to go from your car over the bridge into the terminal -- very fast.) Check in with UAL.COM Bag Check is uneventful. My upgrades have cleared and I have First Class seats out to SJC (via DEN). Things are looking good, except for the hour. Security is remarkably uneventful and fast compared to my last trip. Off to the Red Carpet Club for a light breakfast and some juice. I can actually relax for a bit. I head for the gate around 5:15 for my 6AM flight. We board and I settle in. We're off and they bring around some sort of breakfast item... not memorable, but at least resembled food.

Wednesday, 0730 Local Time, Denver. I hop off the plane expecting a quick trot to the next gate for SJC. I check the departure board and find a delay... looks like an hour... oh well, Red Carpet Club time! I glance at the paper and have some juice. Then off to the gate once I see the plane pull in to the gate. We're off about 90 minutes late. Looks like my lunch meeting will start late. Oh well. The plane is apparently catered oddly... they offer a roast beef sandwich accompanied by biscotti and yogurt.

Wednesday, 1100 Local Time, San Jose. I just remembered why I'm not a fan of Mineta San Jose International Airport. It has been under construction for the past decade and the new terminal is starting to take shape... maybe by 2010... But United arrives at the old terminal and you get out and walk across the tarmac. That is followed by a circuitous route to bag claim and a wait for bags. But mine is out first and I'm off to the central (temporary) rental car facility. I jump off at Avis and don't find my name on the board (because I am late). I'm assigned a long in the tooth Taurus and need to find the office. I have to drive about two miles to get there, but the 101 is a parking lot. Sigh. So, some side streets and wandering and I find the office. Do the meetings, head over to Apple to meet a colleague, then time to find the hotel. I'm at the hotel around 6PM and note that the small restaurant is empty... hmmm.... I'm hungry and tired so i decide to do room service... after 20 rings, I decide to find some fast food. Sleep comes at 2130... a 20+ hour day.

Thursday, 0630... how the heck do you turn the alarm off, where are my glasses, and where is the light switch? Free breakfast in the restaurant, then off to the office. The next 12 hours are spent labeling boxes, identifying contents and repacking oversize boxes. I am tired, sweaty, and hungry (pizza was lunch). But the team has done well and we have 628 boxes ready to go in the morning. I have a California steak dinner (that was cauliflower, not mashed potatoes...) and head back to the hotel. Sleep comes easy and the next sound that I hear is that darn alarm clock...

Friday, 0630... I still haven't figured this thing out. I suspect it will be buzzing tomorrow at 0630 as well... Off to the office... time enough to verify box counts and transmittals and make copies... 0900... here's Iron Mountain. The crew is unhappy about the stairs to the 2nd floor and someone runs off to retrieve some skate wheel conveyors from the warehouse. The work goes faster and the grumbling sort of ceases. They stop for lunch, I have a donut and Mountain Dew. I verify that my flights are on time and that my upgrades are good to go. I'm heading back at 1710, connecting in Denver and getting home after Midnight. No biggie... the soccer player doesn't have a game until 1100. Iron Mountain finishes up and I'm off to the airport. On the way to the airport, I get buzzed with a flight update... ONTIME!!! I deposit the car. Get on the bus and I have three more updates... uh oh. My "ontime" flight is now cancelled and I am rebooked at 2100 for a flight connecting at LAX. The LAX flight will leave at 2300 and get to Chicago about 0500. This is where the steam starts coming out of my ears.

Now I'm over two hours early for my now-cancelled flight. There should be options. Should. Be. Options. So let's see... how about another flight to DEN? Nope. That one will leave you stranded in DEN. How about SFO? Nope. It's Friday and everything east at the end of the day is booked solid. What about earlier to LAX? Nope. Booked solid... this is Friday you know? GRRRR. Ok, I'll do this connection. What's the connection time? About 45 minutes. Great. Upgrades? Nope.

So here I sit. First, we need to get to LAX. On. Time. We'll see about that. Good news is that it is a 55 minute flight and is scheduled to take 75 minutes, so I should have a few extra minutes, assuming we get out on time and have a gate at LAX. Bad news is that this is a CRJ, so I'll hate the plane all the way to LAX.

I have a window seat LAX-ORD, but it is right by the galley and won't recline. Great. Maybe it will be empty.

Well, I've never done the red-eye, so this should be interesting... more whenever I get home...

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