I was standing in the middle of a pre-dawn parking lot in Florida dressed in a crumpled tee-shirt and pajama bottoms waiting for the booming horn and pulsing strobe light to signal it was safe to return inside the building while hoping beyond hope that my boss wouldn’t see me. Actually I preferred no one see me. This is not how I planned to start my day.
Some of my Asian based colleagues were visiting the US and several of us were asked to accompany them on customer visits. I am not a huge fan of business travel, preferring to sleep in my own bed, or at least travel with my family, but you do what you have to. Perhaps I should have protested a little more.
My travels began yesterday. The first plane was late arriving at its gate. It must have experienced some technical issues earlier on the day. I was immediately hit with a dry heat the moment I entered the cabin. We were told that one of the auxiliaries was out and that air conditioning couldn’t kick back in until we began taxing for take off.
It was a full flight and I was stuck in a middle seat only a row or two from the lavatory. Perhaps it was my proximity to the facilities or perhaps one of the other passengers experienced a bad dinner, but periodically the smell of old fart wafted through the air like some twisted automatic air freshener. We only cruised for thirty minutes, but I felt every one of those minutes.
The next flight wasn’t nearly as notable. There was a brief turbulence that made you feel like you were riding a bull at a rodeo and a rumor of yet another mechanical issue, but overall nothing to compare with the first. Soon I had joined with my traveling colleagues, collected the rental car, and was on my way to our final destination. Along the way, we discussed our itinerary for the following day. We had another round of travel immediately following Thursday’s visits which would take us into the wee hours of Friday morning, however our first meeting of the day Thursday wasn’t until mid-morning.
It was a good thing we discussed the plan while we were still in the car. Although it was close to midnight on a Wednesday night the lobby was anything but empty. Speakers blared as a handful of guests sang karaoke a few feet from the registration desk. It turns out that the hotel hosts karaoke one Wednesday night each month and we were just lucky enough to arrive on the big day. I quickly grabbed my key card and made my way to my room as fast as I could drag my roller bag with me.
As I settled into my room for the night I looked at the clock and was excited to realize I didn’t need to schedule a wake up call. It was a glorious feeling. My youngest has recently figured out how to open doors. I am grateful that he lets me pee alone (most of the time). Sleeping in then is rarely an option, and I was going to make the most of it.
That is, I was, until the fire alarm triggered this morning sending me in all my bleary eyed bedtime splendor out to the hotel’s parking lot. As I darted back inside, after given the all clear, I realized I had a story. You gotta laugh sometimes otherwise you might cry.
This is not the piece I planned to publish today, but just because an opportunity is unexpected it doesn’t mean I won’t seize it. I had scheduled a short piece announcing that I had finished re-writing my second novel from end to end and that it just needed a bit more polishing. It was a piece about celebrating small victories. And I am celebrating that milestone. Or at least I will be. Later. Much, much later. Right now, I will settle for just celebrating another cup of coffee.
Isn’t travel grand? At least I get to keep my miles.