Life Lessons in Business Travel #3271
Someday I will never leave home for work again. Someday. Until then, I travel. I am a consultant. Organizations in my own town hire consultants from out-of-town. Organizations in other towns hire me. After all, the definition of an expert is someone who travels from afar to be paid more than you to tell you what already know. “I are one.”
And here I am on the road again. I started this trip at 5:00 am today, when I woke up to water pouring from the sky. I knew I was out of gas, but I opted to search for a dry location to fuel-up. I hydro-planed in the dark for 45 minutes until I pulled into a last-chance station.
Of course it was raining twice as hard there. Buckets and barrels and swimming pools full of rain. Windshield-wipers-not-cutting-it rain.
And I had to pee (and needed more coffee).
So I put gas in the car and made a drenched dash in and out of the Travel American in Baytown, with a crusty old guy yelling at me, “Ya better run, darlin’, or you’re gonna get wet.”
I pointed my car east again, and the Malibu swam a few more miles upstream. I’ll leave out the details of my multiple near-death experiences with 18-wheelers who couldn’t be bothered to slow down in inclement weather, but I do hope they could see my “traveler’s salute” in the dark and rain, down at Malibu-eye-level.
I had almost made it to the client-site two more hours away before the frantic call came in.
“Pamela, tell us you are not on your way here.”
After two+ hours of high stress driving, nothing that followed a statement like this could make me happy.
“We gave you the wrong day. We need you here tomorrow and the next day.”
Count to 10, Pamela. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Nope, still pissed.
Do it again. One, two, three…
“I’m 15 minutes away. I booked a nonrefundable hotel room per your instructions. Any chance of changing the schedule on your end?”
“None. Can you stick around an extra day?”
I thought about. My first thought: Go to hell. My second: Tu problema no soy mi problema. But I answered as any good consultant would.
“No problem. I’ll shuffle my appointments.”
Decision time: drive back home through this rain and make the trip again tomorrow? Or camp out in an office-away-from-home otherwise known as the “nonrefundable hotel room”? I just couldn’t face the thought of burning through another four hours of driving.
Oh boy, now I had to tell my husband why he would be spending another night home alone with our three (moody and over-scheduled) teenagers. Proving once again why he shall forever be called St. Eric and why I may not ever write about his Ironman underwear online again, Eric said, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
I won’t. I should, but I won’t.
I’ll worry about me. I’ll sit in my hotel and dream about the day when solo business travel will be a memory. And everything goes right, for a change.
I’m not sure I learned anything new today, but I’ll certainly get gas the night before I leave town next time.