Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, the glamour of business travel...

I'll be the first to admit it. When I hear about friends and colleagues who jet off to big cities on business trips, there's a part of me that thinks:"Gee. How fun. How glamorous..." You fly in, check in at what will most likely be a very comfortable hotel, accomplish some business goals, have a nice dinner, mix and mingle with people you may have only known through cyberspace or phone calls...sounds good right?

Sure it does.

Let me share the 'glamorous' story of my recent business trip to Chicago.

My plane departed at 7 am, so I arose at the horrific hour of 4 am to be sure I got there on time. Delays in getting a shuttle from the parking area to the terminal ate up a bit of the extra time I had built in, but no worries. Until I checked in at security, that is.

The 7 o'clock hour heralds the first morning flights to most major cities along the east coast from Detroit, so security was an absolute madhouse. After an hour in line, and a mad dash to the gate, I boarded the plane. Just barely.

Arrival in Chicago was uneventful, and actually quite fun, as the city skyline came into view. I had met up with a colleague from Ohio and we made our way to the Midwest headquarters of our company. We checked in at the security desk of the office building, and that's when problem number one came up. I lost my drivers license.

I had it when I went through security, and I slid it into my tote bag after that, so all I can figure is it came out when I was reading a book on the plane and I didn't even realize it.

Frantic calls to the airport, to the TSA, offered up only voicemail recordings. I finally connected to a human being who told me the documents I'd need to get home the following day. He also warned me to be prepared for a "slightly longer security check" on departure. Fine, I thought, as long as I get home.

Issue settled for now, I met up with my colleagues for - yes - a very glamorous dinner at the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. Outstanding views!! Wonderful atmosphere and food! After that, I literally sank into bed and was out before my head hit the pillow.

The next day we concluded our business activities and headed to the airport with plenty of time to spare (and get me through security without a photo ID...!) It only took an extra 15 or 20 minutes, and I had plenty of time, but the TSA team was thorough. They opened and searched my overnight carry-on. They emptied and searched my tote and purse, and even took apart my phone. They were nice, but very businesslike. And, since I had nothing to hide and was very eager to simply be aboard my plane, that was fine by me. I didn't even object to the full pat-down in the plexiglass security/holding pen...
However - I shouldn't have been in such a hurry.
I boarded the plane, pulled out my book to read (after making sure nothing fell out! LOL!) and the crew buttoned up the aircraft and we pulled away from the gate.
And stopped.
The captain came on, informing we were under a full ground stop at O'Hare due to severe, late afternoon storm systems moving through the Midwest. We'd be stopped for, at minimum, an hour and a half, but perhaps as long as two and a half hours. A sense of claustrophobia set in almost instantly. They kept the air running, but it wasn't very cool, and we were asked to close our window shades to further aid in keeping the cabin cool. Mid-July in the Midwest is typically humid and sunny - and late afternoon storm systems like this happen frequently - but I couldn't get over the idea of feeling trapped, and hemmed in.
I worked hard to distract myself with e-mails from my BlackBerry, reading, chatting with my seatmate, I even tried to write, though, to be honest, though I had a scene idea in mind, I just couldn't focus to that degree.
Thankfully after an hour and a half on the tarmac, we were cleared to take off. Just less than an hour later I was back home - drained and exhausted and eager for nothing but comfy clothes and fresh, cool air!! Added bonus? I had a trip to the Secretary of State in my future!
It sounds horrible - and, yeah, parts of it were, but it was also beneficial to me, fun, and just a small taste of that glamour I always thought about when hearing about business travel. Now, however, I understand more clearly when those who travel frequently on business tend to warn: "It's okay - but it's not as alluring as you'd think."
Be blessed everyone - and see you next time!

21 comments:

  1. glad everything worked out all right in the end and that you made it home safely!

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  2. What a nightmare! A lost DL isn't fun when you're traveling.

    I too lost my current drivers license this week, coming back from Colorado. I had to get up close and personal with a TSA agent who was very nice. Bags picked through, but thankfully didn't have to move to CO as they let me return to MI.

    P.S. found my DL! Cheryl

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  3. LOL When my 15 yr old boarded the plane, I didn't know I had to take out her netbook. So they took it out scanned it and then put all of her stuff back. Twice, I was like what is the problem? Ma'am there are a pair of sizzors in there. I said Nique... what did you bring. She said mama I couldn't leave without my sewing portfolio and stencils, and a pair of sewing sheers. I was like omg. My fiance said you didn't check her portfolio. I didn't know she had sizzors in there. For ten dollars they said they'd mail them to me or I could surrender them. I surrendered them and she boarded her plane.

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  4. Don't you just love the predicaments we get into with our children? It gets even better the older they get. Prepare yourself, Hales.

    Glad your trip was salvaged, Mariannne. I used to travel for business but not too frequently. The trips were never as impressive to ME as they were to my friends/co-workers.

    Cheryl, how did you find your DL? That would never happen in my life!

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  5. Oh, my. One of my worst fears (besides the flying itself) is losing the ID. WOW!

    Glad you made it home safely, though!
    Thanks for the fun story.

    Heather Bennett
    Executive Editor
    Decadent Publishing
    www .decadentpublishing. com

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  6. Only thing worse is flying with three small children, making five in the group and seats come in pairs. Get the boarding cards to fine the person on tehir own is... the little one and no they won't let someone change seats.

    So we waited til they werent' looking and changed seats.

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  7. I've never been on a plane. Yes, one of my worst fears is flying. lol.
    I am glad you're home safe and sound.
    XX
    Neecy

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  8. I was VERY glad to reach Detroit, let me tell ya'! :-) Still, like I said, parts of it were fun - my perspective has just....grown...shall we say?

    Hello to new visitors to the blog! Hope you enjoyed your time here!

    Cheryl - I'm so jealous you found your license!!

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  9. Neecy & Heather - I hear you loud and clear! I used to LOVE to fly, and I absolutely love to travel - but for some reason I'm getting claustophobic on planes any more. I'm fine once we're in the air, and moving, but when I first board, or when we come to a stop, I feel the heart pound and the panic set in.

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  10. Talleybama, I laughed at your post! Yeah, I was *that* gal...sighing wistfully when people I know were jetting away. It has its fun parts, sure, but it's stressful as well! :-)

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  11. Cindy and Clare, thanks for the visit! :-) I was soooooo glad when that plane took off...and when I passed security!

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  12. Hales, what a story!!! Glad it turned out okay!!

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  13. Reminds me of my trips. I once fell backward (with a 80 lb. suitcase) on an escalator onto a Japanese business man. :-)

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  14. Marianne.

    Ahh...Chicago is the town I grew up in, and what a beautiful view of the city from the Hancock building. It brings back memories of my 8th grade trip (won't say how long ago THAT was), when I learned just how terrified of heights I really am! Thanks for the story.

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  15. I travel via plane about 5 or 6 times a year and it always feels like a crap shoot. Delayed flights, cancelled flights, stuffed flights, ticket mishaps and my ultimate favorite...planes leaving early. It happened to me.

    "We reserve the right to leave 10 minutes earlier than scheduled, it's on your ticket."

    What? I'd even called and stayed on the line with someone from the airline who put a note on my ticket for the counter to see. I made it through security and had 15 minutes to get to the gate. Took me about four minutes to arrive so there was 11 minutes until the deptarture time. They hadn't retracted the gate yet. Literally, they just shut the door when they told me I was too late. I was staring the pilot in the face through the glass, the gate was still corked to the plane door. How could I be too late!? I told the counter ladies the woman on the phone said I would be fine and they looked up my passenger information and said "Oh yes, there is a note here."

    Nothing to be done at that point, I guess, since they didn't let me on regardless of the fact it took another five minutes for the gate to retract.

    I don't know if there really was nothing the women could do, or if they just decided to do nothing. But I feel, airlines all over, could avoid a lot of angry passengers if they would explain procedure to us. If those women had said "this is why we can't get you on this plane" in lieu of a cranky "we reserve the right to leave early" snapped comment, I'd probably be less angry.

    Ah well.

    I'm glad you had a great time Marianne, but sorry that it was marred by airplane issues.

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  16. I am the one with the "glamorous" trips that Marianne is talking about. I have been to Japan 7 times and Europe 6 times and trust me Jet Lag is not glam. Once when I was on a train in Tokyoafter a 14 hour plane ride and misplaced my train ticket. When I looked under my seat, I found it..along with my Passport. So God was looking out for me.

    My trip to Japan last fall included trying to drive to airport and EVERY road between Royal Oak and the airport was under construction. I heard my name being paged while I was in Security, so I grabbed my shoes, running barefoot to the gate. It was only when I got on the plane that I realized my watch was still back at security.

    I do not have a fear of flying. I have a fear of NOT flying

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  17. LOL! Steve, that's exactly how I felt boarding the plane in Detroit - I'm not afraid of flying, I'm afraid of NOT flying! And I don't care, with regard to Europe and Japan, I still say: Dang! I wanna go!!" :-)

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  18. Oh, Gin! My heart breaks! What a nightmare!!

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  19. Joanne - falling backwards! YIKES!! Hope you (and the gentleman behind you!) were okay despite the spill!!!

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  20. Mary, thanks for stopping by! I love Chicago. It's such a vibrant, fun city. :-) I was gawking at the views from the Hancock building big-time!

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    ReplyDelete