24 Hours (in Chicago)


Originally Posted March 9, 2005

There is a new system at work for booking travel. It is frustrating.

This week I was in Chicago. Because of my need to be in the office to complete things for spring it was to be a quick trip. Monday morning I flew in. By eleven in the morning I was set up, the exhibit opened at noon. That afternoon I had a late work lunch going over business with a local rep. That evening the two of us spent another two and a half hours at the booth for the reception. It was pretty typical stuff for a conference.

Monday was also my older brothers birthday. My father and his wife had come to Chicago for a few days and to take him to dinner. Recently my brother broke his knee during an ice skating incident with a six year old nick named Jakezilla. I told the three of them over drinks at a jazz club on the north side of a friend whom I will call "Jay" for story telling purposes. Jay, who just had surgery, couldn't get his girlfriend to pick him up from the hospital was too doped up to call one of us. Jay who had been wearing the same cloths for several days still had bandages, blood stains, and the brown patches of iodine several days later. We love Jay. There was no problem hanging out with the funk, we all knew what it was like. But finding out that his girlfriend was legally blind and was the one trying to clean him up really explained a lot about the smell, stains, cloths, and why he couldn't get her to pick him up. My brother, on the other hand, decided to recover in a tropical paradise only to return on Sunday. Big difference living in the Big City.

After drinks I went back to my brother's apartment where my sister and her life long friend (my childhood fiancé) were spending their spring break. She had called me several times that day from the IKEA outlet north of the city deciding on a new desk (a Frogen-lugen I think.) After Ikea they shopped at the mall in the shady suburb of Shomberg rather then the Gold Coast because "it was warmer in side… and they had all the stores we don't have in Michigan."

Tuesday was supposed to be quick and clean. Two hours at the booth, throw out the few extras, and run to the airport. With any luck I could be on the 4:20 back in time for Gillmore Girls, worst case I stay on the 6:00 and home to sleep in my own bed.

When I got to Midway, I was surprised to find that for the first time ever, I made a travel blunder. I was 24 hours early. That's right, I had checked out of my room and went the airport a day before I had planned. Above that, all of the flights to Detroit were sold out for the day. When I asked her to check again, hesitantly, she said we have a flight to Minneapolis, then from there to Detroit. As an optimist, I just saw the opportunity to get more frequent flyer miles.

While I cursed the new booking system - I got home to find it was all my own fault. It gave me time to think… but not to write or work as I was stuck in the back with no room to open the laptop on flights that are so short there is only a ten minute time frame to use electronic devices.

Travel allows time for deep reflection on the past, for better or worse. Often I think about the stupid things I have done. The topic this weeks story would have been from contemplations on Monday mornings flight to Chicago. Stories about what a bad Blockbuster Video Store manager I was, how I was that annoying kid who hung out at the Second City bothering Jeff Garlin and Mitch Rouse about my stupid ideas and stories. While I was a fool, it was only the foolishness of youth and inexperience. On the two flights home it gave me time to think about how fortunate a man I am to have the people in my life that I do - people who would pick me up from the hospital. I have some great friends. I love my siblings very much. I am grateful for this. What if I had stayed in Marquette? What if I stayed in Chicago? What if I had gone to State instead of Eastern? Where would I be if I didn't go to Student Government that one dayto get a job at the reception desk? I'll tell you where… in an unhappy place with out the people who are important to me. What could one flight missed do? Give you time to appreciate what you haven't missed. I guess the travel system isn't so bad.