Thursday, March 7, 2013

The deepening rut

Friends, thanks for stopping by.  I haven't been here myself lately, owing to the extremely frequent nature of my recent business travel.  Went more or less back-to-back over the last two weeks, having traveled Thursday and Friday of last week, then Monday through Wednesday of this week.  Ugh.

I've only had a couple of weeks since the holidays (and I mean THE holidays of Christmas and New Year's) where I've spent the entire week at home.  And on those weeks I had at least one long day trip.

With that I can honestly say I'm sick of

Airports
Airplanes
Airplane passengers
Hotels
Rental cars

I've been through periods like this before, and, as before, it's somewhat because I'm trying to fill a couple of positions that report to me in job.  It'll get better, but probably not before it gets worse.  And me along with it.

So here are a few things I've used to amuse myself during all of these comings and goings.

This week I was in the Atlanta airport (officially the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, if it matters), which is the world's busiest airport.  Flew through there Monday and again last night.  Monday afternoon during a delay for my connecting flight I observed a young woman enjoying a small bag of Cheetos near me in the gate area.  She was happily crunching, occasionally taking a drink from a soda cup and talking on her phone.  She dropped one of the Cheetos, and to my utter astonishment, REACHED DOWN TO THE FLOOR, PICKED UP THE DROPPED CHEETO AND ATE IT.  OK, I know when you have small children around you often are more liberal with the so-called "five second rule" and such, but, come on.  This is most certainly one of the filthiest pieces of carpet you'll ever see, and not because the folks in the Atlanta airport don't try to keep it clean.  It's because there are just so many people walking on this carpet ALL THE TIME.

If I liked Cheetos I might never eat them again.

Ever have a choice of what line to enter, only to see that you mistakenly picked the one that's moving more slowly?  I had this choice yesterday in airport security in Charlotte.  There was a young couple with a small child and carrying foreign passports directly ahead of me in the screening line.  I immediately thought I should wait to see which of the two available lines for the next part of the screening process they would choose, and pick the next one.  I did so, and then found that I was standing still for about ten minutes (not a problem, since I was early for my flight) and watching this couple sail right through security.  The problem in my line?  One of the TSA folks apparently didn't understand how to ask his associates for help, and that caused a personal screening backup.

Kind of the same thing at the Delta counter.  I made the decision some months ago to check my bag rather than dragging it onto and off of planes, and, so far, it's worked well.  And it hasn't been lost or delayed, so I'll likely continue it.  So my habit of checking in online has evolved into doing the same, but also "checking" my bag online, too.  Then I arrive at the airport, go to the Delta "baggage drop" line, which is generally short, show my ID and boarding pass, get my claim check, and I'm off to the races.

But not in Charlotte.

No, friends, these nice folks told me that I needed to go to a self-serve kiosk--you know, that machine where you CHECK IN--and scan my boarding pass.  The helpful agent told me that this would then trigger their equipment to produce the tags and such that are placed on checked luggage.  This would work well in theory, but when there are three-deep lines for the ten kiosks they have available, not so much.  So I wasted about fifteen minutes there.

I could go on, but you get the picture.  Business travel is a pain.  Ice cold "heated" pools.  Bad food.  Noisy room heater/air conditioner units.  People in the corridors who have no idea they're walking past countless bedrooms occupied by people trying to sleep.  Countless violations of personal space on overcrowded aircraft.

But I'm home now.  For now.



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