Work Travel - an old story

---(from 2007)

I started a new job and wrote this:

So the first day is long (Salaried, not hourly). No big deal. Then the boss decides that some random client in some random other place needs to meet me, tomorrow. So he drops this on me (btw, i live in california).

and tomorrow you're flying to Memphis, then Atlanta and the next day Chicago and then back to the west coast...

Well like she said it's been an interesting trip. I write this from the Marriott Courtyard somewhere near Toledo, Ohio. I don't know where it is simply because I have either been eating, sleeping or walking to the local office max at 8:00 am local time to get copies of stuff for people we are meeting today.

My flight from LAX was a disaster. I was scheduled (first class mind you) to fly out on NWA (which is either Northwest Airlines or African Americans with Tenacity, Prescience of mind and Forward thinking-projected self esteem, not sure). The flight was great until we got on the plane. From there it went now where (to which downhill would have been an upgrade).

We hit the tarmac and the Airbus 320 computer broke. We sat in the plane for an hour. The computer was eventually fixed (rumor has it they did a ctrl-alt-del). However after sitting on the plane for an hour we burned enough fuel that we had to go back and get more. Note to self: make sure you have gas before you fly the big old jet liner.

We go back and get more gas. We wait. Dick head the long haired hippy wants to get off the plane because he will miss his connecting flight. As we all will. He argues and debates with the flight attendants (note: I didn't call them sexy stewardesses (because most were dudes)). Dick head burns up ten minutes of time. Dick head eventually sits down. The plane eventually gets out of the gate and rolls back to the place we were like an hour ago. The plane stops. The passengers all let out a well uniformed and coordinated sigh of anguish.

Fifteen minutes later the captain says the computer that was broken, and is now fixed is broken again (Should have got a Linux server CEJ would say). It's been two hours since we left the gate. The captain says the plane is not going anywhere today, apologies for the inconvenience and we roll back to the gate.

As Johnny Lydon would say - Anger is An Energy

We de-plane, confusion sets in. There is no one from NWA at the gate; none of the monitors are listing other flights that we can take.

Me and Tim (the guy I am traveling with) call Valerie (the proverbial super woman administrative assistant) and have her try to find us another flight to get us to Chattanooga. Minutes pass. Valerie says there are none.

Plan B

We ask Valerie to book us on Delta to Atlanta. Cause as you well know, when in doubt go to Atlanta on Delta...

We begin our walk from one side of LAX to the other. Because the NWA terminal that fly's us to Chattanooga is in the International terminal and the Delta gate that fly's us to Atlanta is in the domestic terminal. Like duh, who didn't know that...

We walk to Delta terminal, avoiding the random gunfire from the Inglewood pointed at LAX.

On our way to Delta Tim realizes his luggage is still on the cancelled NWA flight. He calls Valerie to attempt to track it down.

We get to Delta, wait for a bit in the bar (Note: Jack and Coke made a visit). Our plan is to take Delta to Atlanta, get in at Midnight local time, rent a car and drive to Chattanooga and make our meeting at 10:00 am the next day. Somewhere in there we were going to find a Marriott and sleep, but I don't think I was advised of that detail.

The Delta flight goes fine. Even though I'm in first class, I refuse (/cry) all the hundreds of free drinks they have to offer. Simply because Tim has now drunk his body weight in red wine (odd How I can Relate to that one) and I might have to drive.

We get to Atlanta. I have a jacket, Tim does not, but he has had like three bottles of red wine. Oh yea, its 20 degrees and there is a strong wind blowing.

Tim has a message from Valerie that NWA can't locate his luggage and he needs to put in a claim ticket. Tim utters something about getting a drink and running out of smokes. I translate and say "You're Screwed". Tim nods. It's cold.

We follow the sexy stews to the Marriott shuttle bus. Why you ask, well because Valerie booked us in the Marriott Airport inn for the night because she was smart enough to know either 1) Tim would be wasted or 2) See #1.

We take the shuttle (sans the sexy stews) to the Marriott Airport. It's now like 1:00 am local. I'm tired, Tim is still wasted and out of smokes. But the good news is he is soon to get more smokes.

We check in. Tim mutters something about 8:00 am and Bob. I assume this means I have to be in the lobby at 8:00 am and someone named Bob is picking us up. This of course means two things. I have to get up at 4:30 am my time to be up and ready and in the lobby at 8:00 am local time. Secondly it means Tim will legally still be drunk. I look forward to this.

I don't sleep well because my time sense is all jacked up and I dread being up at 4:30 am my time.


The alarm goes off and I get my automated wake up call.

I am really tired and know that at least a hot shower will wake me up.

Funny how life is, I often say.

I get into the shower, turn on the water thingy and find out, there is NO F*CKING HOT WATER. Seriously, none, as in there isn't any. There is cold water, but very, very low pressure. There will be no shower today. Thoughts of changing careers to mass murder at a hotel flash through my mind. Had it not been for the stock options, I would have changed at that moment.

Later I find out that the hotel had a convention and my entire wing was booked. Hence every moron in the building was attempting to use the shower pretty much all at the same time.

I ended up using a washcloth and the sink like a homeless person to clean off. Think of washing a small dog or something, then you get the picture.

I leave my room, do the red eye stumble to the lobby only to realize I haven't eaten in nine hours and know I won't be able to eat for another eight if I'm lucky.

Starbucks in the lobby has some microwave surprise, so I go that route.

More later, I have to go back to office max to pick stuff up

The second to last chapter

The Waitress

Well I finally made it home to Orange County, CA last night. We were the last flight of the night. As you may not know the Orange County (aka John Wayne) airport rolls up the sidewalks and closes at 11:00 pm at night. So if your plane isn't on final approach five minutes before you land, you will be going to LAX and taking the middle eastern shuttle back to Orange County.

Let us back track, shall we.

I finally got to sleep the night before around 9:00pm local time. We went to eat at "The Brewhouse" based on the recommendation of the Marriott shuttle bus driver and part time maid. A nice woman that knew every local restaurant and shop in the greater Toledo area, and made it a point to impart this knowledge to Tim and myself when she picked us up at the airport. She talked non stop for 30 minutes about life, living in Toledo and how her prescription for "stop smoking now" costs $117. But it was worth it since she spent $300 per month on smokes. Sound logic if you ask me.

I digress…

She convinces us that the best place (and closest) to the hotel is the brewhouse. So we go. Nice place, they sell beer and have a bar, so Tim was happy. They had food, so I was happy.

We go in and sit down, its 40 degrees outside and warm inside. Life is good I think.

We get a table in the bar, not sure why, but perhaps Tim's reputation proceeds him. I don't care, I just want to eat.

The table is close to this older couple that is eating ribs in some tribal frenzy. There is rib sauce every where and the lady continues to elbow me in the back as she takes full swings at the full rack of ribs on the plate. Her husband makes strange gutteral sounds as he gnaws on the bone while eating his ribs. They scare me. However, they eventually leave and my back stops getting her elbow shoved in it, so things are looking up.

The bar is all wooden. There are the odd pieces of sports lore on the walls and a few video games in a corner. A few college basketball games are on the tvs over the bar and a three year old world series of poker is playing near our table. The place has that "local bar" feel to it. You know its a local bar, because when you get the menu the stains from various food products served can be carbon dated back to the turn of the 19th century. I actually kind of like the place. It has character.

Tim and I go over the events for the next day and wait around for our server.

A few minutes later this totally hot 21 year old waitress comes up and advises us she will be serving us tonight. How do I know she was 21, well, duh I asked. Her name was Charlotte and she was a sophomore at University of Toledo. She also had a very nice solid B rack brown hair held up with a pen behind her head, five feet five or so, curves in the best places, green eyes and a smile that would melt the strongest of men. She had a hint of Asian buried somewhere in there, some strange kind of Scandinavian thing going on and the rest was solid Heartland US of A. She also screamed of "Life of the Party".

Did I mention that the cold air does wonders for the scenery when it blows in the front door, into the bar and all over Charlotte. Well it does.

Charlotte explains this is her first week and she is still kind of nervous.

There are two version of the story. One is true the other, well, isn't so true. I'll let you decide. I know which one I like better.

Tim has to make a few calls and leaves the table for a while. Evidently I'm not privy to the entire super secret goings on. By the way, I don't care that much anyway.

Charlotte smiles and takes my beer order. A moment later she brings me a Tsing Tao (that's Chinese for beer, Mate). She butchers the pronunciation of the beer and I smile and let her know how it is pronounced. We make small talk about work, college, living in Toledo and stuff to do in this part of town. I must have said something funny because she laughs a few times. She comments that I am a really nice person and she doesn't know too many people since she transferred from the junior college in her town to the U of T. She rents a small apartment near college and works part time to help pay bills.

I don't think much of it as I am having trouble concentrating on multiple syllable words when she is standing so close. The front door opens and that same cold breeze blows in. She notices the effect it has on her and becomes embarrassed as it is now visible to me and she is standing so close. I smile and let her know that I have no issue with this and she seems to like the attention anyway.

Tim comes back and the food is eventually delivered. Its ok quality but it does the trick. Tim says he has to get back to the hotel and will wait outside having a smoke and waiting for the shuttle bus. In short, I am paying the bill. No big deal, so I wait for the bill to be delivered from ever so hot Charlotte.

She brings over the bill and says she is getting off work in and hour and asks if I know any place around here to get a beer. I explain that I don't really know where here is and I am from California.

Her face lights up and she says "Really". I say yea. I explain I am out here on business and have to leave tomorrow. Her previously lit off face, with that perfect skin and seductive smile recedes a bit.

I explain that I am staying at the Marriott just on the other side of the street and if she wants to get a beer, I would be more then happy to go with her. The smile comes back and she says she would call me. She say she has a car, so its all good.

Wow, did the room get hot all of a sudden.

I pay the bill, go outside and Tim is in the shuttle bus. We make the nine minute drive back to the hotel. Tim says he has stuff to do and that we will meet in the lobby tomorrow around 10:00 am local.

I think, damn"… I have lots of time to go out and have fun.

I go to my room and get my stuff ready for tomorrow.

Then it hits me. I never gave Charlotte my last name. She won't be able to tell the hotel people which room to call. Oh, the Humanity. I am such and Idiot. I see the tight green shirt that was soon to be coming off in my hotel room blow away down the freeway, never to be seen again no matter how hard i reach out for it, it is gone. That smile, that hair, those legs, those jeans and how they fit every 21 year old curve of that body.

I die a little inside at the loss.

I go back to cleaning up and preparing for tomorrow. A shell of the former me, empty, hollow, less will to live...

There is a knock on the door. I don't think twice, I go over and answer it. Not knowing what to expect I open the door.

It's room service with my order. I explain I didn't order anything and the guy with the cart says, whoops wrong room. The door closes. For a moment, only for a brief moment, hope it could have been someone else at the door.

A minute later the phone rings. I am assuming I am going to get a call from the lobby room service people apologizing for bothering me. I mentally prepare my "don't worry about it response".

I pick up the phone and don't hear anything. Ok, that's odd. I repeat the universal phone phrase "Hello". I hear this voice on the other end "Is this {insert my name here}". I respond yea, who is this. The voice says "Charlotte". My heart skips a beat, my mind flashes to the boobage attached to that voice, among other things. I ask how did you get my number. She responds, well you did pay with a credit card that had your name, and you did get picked up in the Marriott Airport shuttle bus, so I just called and asked for your room.

Wow, not only is she hot, but smart.

Before I can ask why she called she says, come on out, I'm in the lobby. I brought some beer and got off work, let's go some people at work just told me this great place to go. She asks "Are you still interested ?"


or the other version...

The waitress was hot. Her name was Charlotte. She went to college at the U of T. She smiled at us she was very friendly. We ate food. There was a cold wind that did wonders. We paid the bill. We left. I went to sleep early and was awaken at 8:00 am to go to office max to get stuff printed.