He’s dead Jim

It was a very busy week. Tuesday morning had started early with my cat standing on my chest at 5:30 AM. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, rolled out of bed and started work earlier. Between conference calls and answering questions I barely had time to pack for the trip.

4:45 PM I am off my last call and out the door to Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). Through security I grab a bite to eat and head to the gate. They announce there is not Wireless Internet on the flight, line us up in the “new gate procedure” so no one will bum rush the door, and get on board.

It’s 10:55 PM when I get to the Car Rental in San Francisco (SFO) to find a huge group of people standing around. There are 2 agents and 1 person in line in front of me.

“Hello sir, I just want to warn you we don’t have any cars tonight.”

“Oh.” I hand him my credit card and license.

“Mr. Peters you have an account with us, and you’re with COMPANY NAME.” He leans over the counter and whispers, “We do have a car, for you. COMPANY NAME has a special relationship with us and takes good care of their people.”

The Mazda 2 (yes, they make a two) is small. As I step in the front door my foot goes out the passenger window, small. Heading south down the 101 I turn east and head across the bay feeling every gust of wind and bump in the road. There are many.

12:10 AM local time I check into the Holiday Inn. Does COMPANY NAME really take care of it’s people? Yeah, I am just being a snob. Sleep comes easy. Yes, I don’t accept connections on LinkedIn.

I wake up late with just enough time to have breakfast and get to the building where the meeting is taking place. I speak well. I answer many questions.

After lunch and the next speaker I say my good-byes and wish people well. On the way to SFO I find a gas station to top it off, drop off the car, go to the gate.  Next to the gate is a restaurant where I grab a bite, and wait, watching the gate. It is now 20 minutes behind schedule.

Two hours later I am with the good people of Salt Lake City (SLC) and wait. I have three hours to wait. So there is a pub, I order a Provo Girl Pilsner and watch the end of the hockey game. I lanky woman with the looks of being a frequent flier drops her bag next to me and asks, “Can I buddy up?” I am happy to have the company, but she only wants me for my electrical outlet at the bar. She pugs in and boots up to show me that she is a direct competitor working on a project that is in the same realm of what I do. But I play dumb and let her explain to me what she does, what she is working on and why. People love to talk to me for some reason.

It’s 5:35 AM on Thursday. I am back at DTW changing from my khaki pants and blue shirt to my gray suit, white shirt, and shave in the men’s room.

10:45 AM I am stuck on the Triborough bridge and feel a bit car sick from the fumes.

11:15 AM I am looking over the meeting room I am speaking in. It is named after the founder, has two screens, and red leather chairs like a private movie theater. The room is not made for large audiences, rather senior audiences, those people at the top of the mega corporations of New York City to learn about software, the .05%.

After the first two speakers we break for lunch and I go through my presentation one more time. After I wow the room I am inundated with questions and business cards asking me to follow up.

Hailing a cab at this time of day can be tough. I remember a bit of advice, if you flap your arms like a bird while hailing a cab they know what kind of fare you are. I get a taxi in an instant who only says, “which airport” and “get in.”

I am tired. The air-conditioning in the new terminal in not operating. I watch an old gross guy driving one of those inside carts stop and try to pick up a girl not more than 20 with the line, “You want a ride?” Ugh. I cringe at the desperation of my gender and wonder how we still exist as the human race. Has that ever worked for him? Hmm, maybe something I should try.

I am very tired when they call my group to board and am the first in my row to sit down. My head hits the window and I fall asleep.

Somewhere over up-state New York I awake to a blonde stewardess shaking me awake and the man sitting next to me saying, “We think he might be dead.” I open my eyes, look around, and start to go back to sleep. “I guess he’s not”.

It’s nice to think that my fellow travelers are looking out for me enough to ask the cute flight attendant to check my pulse. However, if you see someone who hasn’t moved since boarding, they may just have had a busy day.

Paul PetersComment