Life on the Road : The Ultimate FML.

12 Mar

In my former work life I used to live out of a suitcase, rack up thousands of hotel points and airline miles and be able to recite the store locations and various food options at a number of major airports worldwide. When I shifted jobs almost a year and a half ago I also stopped the frantic pace of a professional traveler. Upon facing some tough times economically my employer, like many out there has consolidated employees so fewer of us now must cover larger job requirements. When we recently were awarded a job that included traveling opportunities I wasn’t opposed. Enough time had passed for my anger and stress level related to travel to just slip away. And then I went to Seattle.

First let me say getting to Seattle was not the issue. I gave myself plenty of time at the airport, I even had time to grab lunch while waiting for my flight to board. It was the minute I left the Seattle Tacoma airport that things went bananas. The next two days ultimately became one long rambling post for FML.

Upon arriving in Seattle I had to call my off airport car rental service, the man arrives fairly promptly and when I get in his white passenger van I notice all the interior door panels have been ripped off. Sketchy. When we arrive at the off airport rental car location I realized this “office” is actually a cheap plywood portioned off section of a Big O Tires. Yes, complete with stale popcorn machine and the smell of rubber. The guy hands me the keys to a clearly “well used” beige Chevy Malibu with ripped up interior and half a tank of gas and then as he is walking away he removes the logo magnet decals adhered to the sketchy van. Classy.

I then get to sit in rush hour traffic to Bellevue in the rain snow mix. Not awesome. I get to my hotel and at this point just want to eat, and maybe run. All plans of dinners with friends or shopping downtown are dead to me. I settle for picking up some mac and cheese and tuna sushi at Whole Foods. Don’t ask why. The one highlight of my night turns out to happen by the Gleukos purchase I made at WF. When trying to crank through 2 miles on the treadmill so I can go to bed without feeling like the day was a total waste I downed his magical new product and it seriously changed my run. Highly recommended.

Wednesday morning starts off fine until it’s 6:30am and I can’t find a parking spot in Bellevue for all day to save my life. Then I get a spot, get turned around leaving the parking structure and walk 4 blocks to the wrong building. Mind you there are two huge buildings for the particular company I am traveling for and only one has MAJOR signage. FML. Since it’s 6:45am at this point there is no one in the lobby and I finally track down a girl working in the coffee shop and she gives me some vague directions about going out a door, walking “I think left – just towards that major construction” (like I know where that is) and so I venture out and eventually a brisk 6 blocks later find the correct office. I get security to let me up the elevator and when headed to floor 4 the security guard tells me she doesn’t have access to 4 but I can get to 3 with her and then use the stairs to get to four. Fine. So I get to 3 and head into the stairwell, climb to 4 and the door is locked. FML. I head back down to 3 and guess what team, yeah – the door is locked. So here I am with minimal cell phone service locked in the stairwell. I get a hold of the client for this event and he comes to my rescue – what a lovely, competent person he must think I am.

The actual event morning is fine – but then comes the scramble for the afternoon session. Presenters are changing at the last minute, evals have yet to be printed (which when they finally are I have to hand write in 7 fields for 60 evals) and once the afternoon session is up and running I have to be yelled at by an attendee who actually says to me “I know this isn’t your issue and not your fault at all but there is no representative for this event from (insert company name here) to yell at so I need to voice my issues to someone and that gets to be you.” Here’s an idea sir, how about you write an email to the contact information you have for this event via your registration OR better yet, vocalize this feedback/rant in the comments section of the evaluation for this event instead of lighting into the girl working at registration. 

The Seattle event finally wraps and I have to bust out of there because I am staring down the barrel of rush hour traffic and a 25 minute trip back to the off airport rental car site and make a flight to SD. Of course I get stuck in barely moving traffic and luckily I remember to call the off site car rental place because they close at 6pm (when I called it was 5:35pm) – the guy says he will wait for me for 30 minutes only. Ugh. I make it there with about 5 minutes to spare and much to my surprise he volunteers to take me to the airport – FINALLY, something going well. 

The flight to SD was uneventful but if you think the above activities were stressful hold on because SD was befitting of Murphy’s Law. I had another car rental from an off-site service but after getting through a web of automated responses on calling their office it was noted they run their shuttle every 10 minutes from their location to the airport. Perfect I think, so I head to the rental car shuttle area. 30 minutes go by. NOTHING. I call again and this time just press zero about a dozen times and finally get a live person, I tell them where I am and that I have a reservation – the dude says “Oh, okay well we will head out to get you shortly.” WHAT?!?! Aren’t you supposed to be running a continuous SHUTTLE sir! 

I get on board with a couple and their young daughter – reminiscent of my parents and I when we would vacation as a family and then we head to another rental car pick up area and watch out, because here come the Russians. I am not trying to be rude but seriously, the Russians INVADED that small bus. Literally, one couple, an infant in a stroller and 7 kids. So all those people, plus bags, plus 3 car seats and of course for every piece of luggage or car seat loaded the dude hit me either on the knee or on the shoulder or just stepped on my feet. Some say, “Why didn’t you move?” well here’s the deal team – I had no where to go. I was trapped in the front corner so I was forced to just cringe and say “Ow” every time the man hit me…without any acknowledgement or apologies. Splendid. 

Once we arrive at the car rental place I practically sprint off the bus to get my damn car and get the F out of there. At this point I was assigned a white PT Cruiser. Like a middle aged woman in the midst of a class-less nervous break down/mid life crisis I was cruising the SD in my sweet PT Cruiser. 

I head straight for my hotel and upon my arrival in La Jolla I find the Inn. Oh wait, why is it so dark in the lobby I wonder…well here’s why – because it’s CLOSED. I have NEVER, EVER known a hotel to CLOSE it’s lobby. There is always someone working the front desk, granted sometimes you have to ring a bell or call a courtesy phone but CLOSED…as in shut, locked doors, lights out, note on the door – CLOSED. FML. I call the hotel number thinking maybe it links to a 24 hour service. Nope. I call the web vendor through which my hotel was booked. They put me on hold for 25 minutes and then disconnect me. At this point it is almost 1am, I have been up since 5:30am and I need to be up again in 4.5 hours for a 12 hour event and my hotel option is closed in a city I have never been to. Shit. 

At this point I start driving and find a chain of hotels I will never make fun of again – Best Western. The sweet, sweet, BW has vacancies and while the seashell fabrics and use of indoor wicker furniture would usually invoke snickers and laughter and mocking it will never do so again in the case of BW locations. I check in, sleep for a few hours, get up and bust out of there a mere handful of hours after I check in. 

The SD event runs smoothly and I even get out of there in time to go for a sweet ocean front run. It smelled SUPER fishy and there were all sorts of seals having their babies or something in one of the coves but it was exercise, outdoors, and pretty warm…it was glorious. I return to the site of the closed hotel and after a number of phone calls between them and I, the website hotel vendor and I and the website hotel vendor and them they refuse to credit the night I did not stay there and therefore I am pretty damn vocal about my displeasure in staying there.

When I check in the Inn asked me whether I need parking, when I say yes they give me a card and a map to access an underground parking structure at the grocery store a mere 6 blocks away. Right. So I of course opt for street parking directly on the side of their building for free, and easy access. Idiots. My room was like a bad Italian hostel. Even thinking of it now makes me feel icky. PLUS, they charged me a $8 “energy surcharge” – here’s an idea, just add $8 to the room rate, this whole seperate charge is STUPID. 

The bonuses to my SD trip were the fantastic 40% off deal I got on a light green V neck sweater at Banana Republic, a meal of Chick-Fil-A nuggets and the crazy shaped and iced cookies at a nearby bakery. I know that’s not something super unique or cool but I was working against some pretty bad odds that anything in this trip would be positive so go with it. 

The next morning I nearly miss my flight because they decided to leave early and I mis read the boarding time on my ticket. In some sort of airline miracle I made it on my flight, we arrived on time AND my checked bag also arrived with me. 

I heart work traveling.


One Response to “Life on the Road : The Ultimate FML.”

  1. Berchie March 25, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    you gave me a good chuckle my friend…thanks!

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