Writer’s Workshop: Meet Me In St. Louis

Image by Elsemargriet from Pixabay

So, the prompt I’ll use this week is “Write about a time something went wrong while you were out of town.” I used to travel a lot for work, and with traveling for work comes horror stories of things that happen, some of which I’ve told here.

One year, I was sent to Burlington, Iowa the week before Christmas. If it hadn’t been winter, I might have tried driving there, but I didn’t want to take the chance of being marooned somewhere, so I flew from Chicago to Burlington Municipal Airport (two runways, no waiting) on Sunday.

The installation I was to do was one of those where it was an unfamiliar product in an unfamiliar environment, so I anticipated that I’d have some trouble, but I figured I’d be working with someone at the client site who knew what he was doing. Instead, I was working with a guy who had just started there, and he was even greener than I was. Not to worry, I said to myself, we’ll muddle through this somehow.

And we did, sort of. Worked some late nights, and I went for several day without eating (which I talk about here), but by the end of the week I had gotten the software installed. And we tried it, and, well, it didn’t work. The batch jobs worked fine, but we were having trouble with the online. I called my manager about an hour before I was to leave and asked what I should do, and he said “come on home, and we’ll figure out what to do next.” I explain the situation to the guy I’m working with, and he’s cool with that, as is his manager.

So, I leave for the airport, and of course I’m running late and the streets are icy, but I got to the airport in enough time to turn in my rental car, check in, and head to the gate (of which there was one). And I find out when I get there that the plane that was to take me to St. Louis (where I’d make a connection to a flight back to Chicago) hasn’t arrived in Burlington from wherever it was coming from (Minneapolis sounds about right). So I find a place to get coffee (there was a machine pretty close by) and go back to the gate.

I sit beside these two high school girls (there was a boarding school there), who evidently are also on my flight and were both upset that the flight to St. Louis was delayed. (Things like that apparently never happen when you’re in high school. There’s a law somewhere, I guess.) So I talk to them and assure them that we’ll get there, this happens all the time, you just have to roll with it. By the time our plane (a 10-seat Beechcraft) arrives, it’s 90 minutes late, and now I have to wonder if I’ll be able to make my connection. A quick consult with the OAG tells me that, if I miss my connection, the earliest I can leave is at 9 the next morning.

Long story short, we ended up leaving Burlington at the same time my flight to Chicago was leaving St. Louis. My two little friends had a happy reunion with their parents in St. Louis; I, meanwhile, called the Marriott St. Louis Airport and reserved a room, fetched my bag, and caught the shuttle.

I checked in and went to my room, called Mary to tell her where I was, called our emergency travel agent and booked a flight, and went off in search of alcohol. I got to the bar and was surprised there were so many people there (hotels, especially airport hotels, tend to be pretty quiet on weekends). Turns out I had walked in on the employees’ Christmas party, which I learned when I tried to pay for my drink. Several free beers later, I didn’t care about anything.

So, all’s well that ends well.

Suggestion For The Airlines #1LinerWeds

Before I say anything else, this is not directed at flight crews, gate agents, and other ground personnel. You folks are great, and I realize you have no say in how your planes are configured and that you do everything you can to make flying as comfortable as you can. It’s been a good ten years since I’ve been on an airplane, but I flew on business for over twenty years before that, and by the end of that period I was always looking for reasons to rationalize driving as opposed to flying because the experience was, to put it mildly, horrible. From comments I’ve seen in various forums, things have only become worse.


1linerwedsbadgewes

One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you each week by Linda Hill and this station. Now, this word from Pan American World Airways. Every country has an airline. The world has Pan Am.

Question of the Month: Travel Destinations? #qotm

QotMBadge

Michael has a puzzler for us today:

Of all the places in the world that you haven’t yet been to, where would you like to go next?

When I was employed, I did a lot of travel on business, and saw 31 out of the fifty United States, Canada, and locations on four continents (Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America). It’s a good thing I did all that travel when I was young and healthy, because now that I’m disabled, I can no longer drive, and Mary prefers to stay close to home. I doubt we’ll be doing any travel outside the state of Georgia, let alone out of the country.

I have no regrets. Travel is a huge pain in the ass at best, and I don’t need the hassle. There are a few places I would have liked to have seen, and others I’d have liked to have seen again, but on the whole, I’m content to stay within a five-mile radius of home.

As for places I would have liked to see:

  • Paris. I spent four hours in Charles de Gaulle Airport on my way back from Singapore, and that’s the closest I got. I’ve seen pictures people have taken, and think it is a beautiful city, and often imagined sitting in a cafe, drinking espresso and smoking Gaulioses, even though I quit smoking years ago.
  • Mongolia. Don’t ask me why, I just decided one day that I wanted to know more about it, and I liked what I saw. It looks like a beautiful place.

Places I would have liked to see again include:

  • Cincinnati. It’s where Dad was born, and my grandmother loved living there. I visited a number of times when I was working, and got a chance to find my way around. And Reds fans are great; I’d try to see a balllgame whenever I went, because it was a great atmosphere. I loved sitting in the red seats behind home plate, way up high where I could see everything. 
  • The strip of beach between Santa Monica and Ventura in southern California. I walked it one afternoon, all the way down and all the way back. It’s a long way, but worth every step, and the sight of the sun falling into the Pacific Ocean (not really, but it sure looks that way) is not to be missed.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I had to  travel, even on business, and have no regrets that I won’t be traveling any tome in the foreseeable future.

I’m sure I’ll have a chance to visit all of your blogs, though, and I’ll be interested to see what y’all have to say…

The Week That Was, Dog Days Edition

The Week That Was

Time for another review of the last week here on The Sound of One Hand Typing. Think I’ll try a different format. The bullet list is a little too status-meeting-ish.

Monday, stuck for something to write about, I participated in the Ten-Question Tag Debbie the Dog Lady talked about on her blog. She was amazed that I’ve done so much travel, and didn’t seem to mind that most of it was done for business. Really, business travel is best described by Wilfred Bramble, who played Paul’s grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night: it’s a room and a car, a car and a room, a room and a room… In my introduction to the post, I happened to refer to the challenge as a “blog thingy,” which JoAnne liked… hey, I couldn’t think of what else to call it (a blog hop, maybe?), so it was a thingy. Uncle Jack agreed that there’s no reason for creamed corn in polite society, and wanted to know the origin of “Bunz.” You can read my reply in the comments.

Two for Tuesday this week featured Donovan, the British folksinger who inspired many of the British Invasion bands, and also Al Kooper, who did a couple of his songs. Halfmoon Mollie commented that she was surprised he was one of the acts in a JazzFest she attended (Donovan’s music, while generally folk-oriented, included elements of rock, psychedelic music, and yes, jazz). She also mentioned that she told someone at the gym that it was his birthday, and the person said, “Who’s Donovan?” That happens to a lot of us who lived through the 1960’s when we talk to the “younger generation.” One of the reasons I’m doing this whole series of British Invasion artists is for the benefit of those who might not have heard the bands in a long time, or at all.

Wednesday was the 15th of the month, meaning it was time for Battle of the Bands. Following a suggestion from Uncle Jack, I pitted Frank Sinatra against Eydie Gorme, the song being Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One-Note Samba.” Bossa nova is maybe the coolest music on the planet, and Frank’s album with Jobim no doubt introduced a lot of people to the music. Still, Eydie has opened a pretty wide lead over Ol’ Blue Eyes. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, so you still have a couple of days to vote.

The Thursday Ten was ten questions I’ve started asking myself at the end of each day, because I’m getting to the stage where, if I don’t write stuff down, I don’t remember it happened. Many of you have reached that stage, as well, at leat from the comments. Tammy Adams, who writes the blog Laughing at Everyday Life (a blog everyone should read) said “I always say if you are going to commit a crime do it in front of me as I can’t remember what just happened or what I just saw.” Ain’t it the truth. Most of us can probably recall some stupid song from fifty years ago, but have no idea what we had for dinner the night before. That might be by design…

Friday, I gave everyone a status of this past Wednesday’s trip to the dentist to have a tooth ground down in preparation for a crown. This is the first time a new dentist has had to crawl around in my mouth in almost 28 years, and it was just a little disconcerting. She did a fine job, and I like the new dentist, but still, it was a little disconcerting. Several of you said you had a similar experience; Nadine Feldman said that she didn’t like her dentist at first because he was very slow and methodical, but then he also fixed some poorly-done existing dental work. No one likes that. I had a root canal done when I was in high school, and ten years later my new dentist said that he hadn’t done that at all, he had just done a partial pulpotomy. Meaning I had to go through it all again. JoAnne said that, with all of our crowns, people should treat us like royalty. As I said last week, everyone should now start calling me “Your Immenseness.”

Yesterday, the prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday was “Fly/flies/flied/flew/flu/flue” or something like that. I shared several stories from my business travel days, including the story of getting on an airplane, falling asleep, and waking up to find myself in a hotel room. Good thing the flight crew was staying at the same hotel I had reservations at, and was able to get me there. I must have been awake enough to have checked in to the hotel, gotten to my room, gotten undressed and into bed, but for the life of me I don’t remember any of it. This freaked out a few of you: Deborah Drucker said it sounded like an episode of The Twilight Zone. I think it’s just one of those stories we save for times like this. I’ll bet that’s why many of us got into blogging, too.

Have you managed to visit the Pinterest board for this blog? I’ve had it running for a week now. Take a look and tell me what you think of it. I’m not a visual person, as a rule, and Pinterest is a visual medium, so any advice you might have would be most appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!