How to Travel for Business When You Are Bad at Traveling for Business

Two Weeks Before:​

One Week Before:​

  • Pick out the four outfits you will wear for the trip.
  • Order two pairs of new shoes that go with all of the outfits (you will be in a state of panic the Wednesday before you leave, because you will think they didn’t get delivered, even though UPS says they have. Don’t worry, the wind picked them up and blew them halfway down the backyard.)​

Friday Before You Leave:​

  • Take the day off of work so you can prepare.
  • Spend all morning doing laundry.​
  • Practice-roll all of your outfits into your Packing Cubes.
  • Set out all of your toiletries (travel size, of course), to see what you have. Pack them in separate Ziplock baggies grouped by body part to make sure they don’t spill.​
  • Consider that maybe, just maybe, you’re over-thinking this whole packing-for-a-four-day-trip thing.​
  • ​Have lunch with your brother.
  • Have early fish fry dinner at Charlie’s alma mater, DocuSign mortgage paperwork together.​
  • Head home and smash all of your overloaded Packing Cubes into your carry on (by God, you are going to fly with just a carry on).
  • Go to bed early, because your flight takes off at 7:30 the next morning.

Saturday of the Trip

  • ​Wake up to use the bathroom at 2:00 in the morning. Toss and turn until 3:00 (when the alarm goes off).
  • ​Shower, put makeup on, and dress in record time.
  • Leave for the airport at 4:45, even though you thought you’d wait until 5:30.​
  • Get to the airport in record time, breeze through security (they left the express TSA checkpoints open).​
  • Wait at your gate for your co-workers for an hour and a half. You’re the only one in your gate area for an hour and a half.​
  • Take a Xanax for the flight and fall asleep on the plane for the first time you’ve ever traveled. Wake up with cotton mouth and a bloody nose from the dry air.​
  • Have lunch with colleagues you only see once a year.​
  • Check into your room and realize that due to a clerical error, you have it to yourself for the night.​

  • Sit through conferences.​
  • Change clothes and enjoy cocktail hour. Catch up with everyone else you only see once a year.​
  • Nerd out with one of the Tech Support team and close down the cocktail reception.​
  • Pass the heck out because you got up at 2:00 in the morning.​

Sunday of the Trip

  • Eat like a horse on the best breakfast food you’ve had in years (muesli, ftw!).
  • Sit through conferences.​
  • Eat like a horse at lunch; this seriously has to be the best food at a conference you’ve ever had.​
  • Sit through more conferences.​
  • Shuffle rooms around so you end up with the roommate you were supposed to have ​on Night 1.
  • Go to the Trade Show, eat like a horse, drink free drinks. Be bummed that the tshotchkes aren’t nearly as awesome as they were in years past.​
  • Head up to the hotel bar and have quiet drinks with your favorite DP, whom you made plans with two weeks ago.​
  • Get through 50% of those drinks before other people crash the party.​
  • Talk to a wholesaler who lives in Cleveland about how awesome Cleveland is, exchange business cards.​
  • Wobble back to your room, drink a liter of water, wash your face, and pass out.​

Monday of the Trip

  • Eat like a horse at breakfast again. There’s no muesli this time, so settle on some fruit and oatmeal loaded​ with honey to make it palatable.
  • Sit through conferences.​
  • Meet up with a good friend that lives in Pittsburgh for lunch, gab about all the stuff you’ve been meaning to catch up on.​
  • Eat like a horse at lunch. Realize that you’re probably going to be flying home with extra weight, and we’re not talking about the luggage here, either.​
  • Learn that the bank you’re buying your foreclosed house on doesn’t accept DocuSign. Find this out via frantic texts/calls from Charlie.​
  • Try not to lose your shit while waiting for the fax to come from Ashland to Boston at a glacial pace. Think you could drive to Ashland and back in the time it takes 19 pages of a fax to arrive.
  • Sign all hojillion lines on the document, fax it to your realtor’s Strongsville office.​
  • Catch up with an old friend, try to plan to meet up for dinner.​
  • Sit through more conferences.​
  • Get a text from your realtor that you missed a line on the documents. Have him fax the single page to you. Tell him you’ll sign it after dinner.​
  • Learn that dinner plans are going to fall through with your friend. Work other plans.​

  • Lose track of how many drinks you had with dinner. Have conversations with everyone in your department. Talk way too much about the damn mortgage paper debacle.
  • Have one of the lawyers in your department walk you back to the hotel. Vaguely remember the conversation you had with him.​
  • Aggressively hug the friend with whom your original dinner plans fell through. Vaguely remember that interaction.​
  • Get to the front desk and collect your fax. Run into another colleague in your department at the front desk. (He will corroborate the story your text message string tells you that you did, in fact, sign the mortgage paperwork and fax it back to Strongsville. Have no real recollection of this happening).​
  • Allow colleague to walk you back to your hotel room. Vaguely remember that conversation.​
  • Change into your jammies and feel ill. Vomiting provides little relief. Remember to take your medication and pass out.​

Tuesday Morning, Heading Home

  • ​Wake up and wish for death as compared to your hangover.
  • Get ready in record time, remember makeup, forego hair; opt for French braid instead.​
  • Have only a cup of muesli for ​breakfast. Cling to your water like grim death.
  • Worry that the storm blowing through will delay your flight,
  • Take prescription-strength Advil.​
  • Sit through final round of conferences. Consider death again.​
  • Check out of your hotel and take a cab to the airport. Pass through security in good time and try to find your gate.​ The flight takes off at 1:30pm.
  • Buy souvenirs: shotglass for you, chocolate lobsters for Binkles; and magnet for the MomZ and the DadZ.​
  • Realize your gate is next to a Panda Express. Consider death again.​
  • Pass out upright in a chair with your headphones in. Surely, they won’t take off without you, right?
  • Wake up 30 minutes before boarding. Wander to the Wendy’s near the gate and get a large French fry. Weep with joy because a) you’re able to hold it down and b) it feels like the best damn batch of fries you’ve ever had.
  • Board without incident, take another Rx-strength Advil and a Xanax for the flight home.
  • Pass out on a plane for the second time in your life.
  • Disembark from the plane at 3:30; send all requisite text messages to those most concerned about your safety.
  • Enjoy the sunshine, appreciate that the winter storm totally missed Cleveland.
  • Drop everything at the door when you get home. Shower and change into your jammies. Have some soup for dinner.
  • Pass out watching Supernatural​ at 8:30pm.

Keep Calm, Carry On

I did not watch a lot of Conan, before or while he was on The Tonight Show, but I think his ousting really stank.  It shows that even celebrity players get the messy end of the shit stick occasionally.

I think that the theme “sometimes, you get screwed, hard – and through no fault of your own” gives me some comfort – at least it seems pretty universal, as opposed to just happening to me, or in my line of work.

What made me a huge fan of Conan O’Brien was part of his exit speech as he left.  I have definitely internalized these words and his sentiment.

Without further ado:

“All I ask of you, especially young people . . . is one thing. Please don’t be cynical,” O’Brien said. “I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen.”

Visualize a Psychoanalysis

We are getting visual voicemail at work, and I think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I hate picking up the phone, and generally will let my VMs languish in my inbox forever.  I just don’t like not being able to mitigate my response to what’s coming, I don’t like being caught unaware.

I also find it a lot faster to have everything in print, I don’t have to waste time dialing into my voice mail, or spend time in an unproductive phone call when I could be doing other things.

Those who pooh-poohed the idea of getting visual voicemail stated it was a generation-gap issue: that previous generations didn’t have the advent of this technology and learned to deal with the “surprises” that come from an unexpected phone call.  I was effectively rendering myself incapable of dealing with person-to-person relationships and undermining my ability to conflict-resolve.

I think that part of the argument disregards the fact that there have been people in society for millennia that do not care to interact a lot with others (classical “introversion”), and that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert.  I am an introvert: I am really good at “turning on” in social situations, but I am very content just to be alone with myself.

But the argument still struck me: has my preference for a “buffer zone” created a personal fault of not being able to learn how to deal with unexpected situations?  I know that I am not as quick-thinking as I would like to be, and I’ve definitely manufactured a technology-structure that facilitates my ability to avoid that discomfort.

Bigger still, I know that I want to be better and more smooth at fielding questions and issues that I was not prepared for.  Do I eschew this new technology, and instead embrace regular VM and pick up every call on the first two rings?  Is immersion-therapy what’s going to fix me?

I think I’m going to do some research on the subject and see what the best balance would be between visual voicemail and actual person-to-person contact.

NaBloPoMo’09: In Which I Have Given up on WordPress for B’Berry

I’d been feeling pretty beat up lately as far as working on MK was concerned.  Intended or not, I put it on the backburner. That is, until I had been chastened by a customer I had forgotten to touch base with months ago.  There’s no incentive quite like being embarrassed.

Even though I worked to make up for the embarrassment, the point is that I worked.  And, I felt pretty good about the work I got done. Sometimes, getting the work done is more important than the sentiment.