Sunday: hotel in Spokane and not much further
We get up at 5 a.m. to catch our flight, only, due to daylight saving’s time, it’s sort of 4 a.m. No mishaps there, though; we manage to get off in time. We leave Spokane at 6:10 and get to Chicago around noon local time (airlines, by the way, don’t serve food unless they’re traveling overseas, I think). We had planned on continuing to Montreal, but our flights have been cancelled and the earliest we can get anything in to Montreal is Tuesday night. The conference starts Tuesday morning, and we’re sort of putting it on, so that isn’t quite good enough. We wait in line at the customer service desk, watching it grow to epic portions behind us; watching passengers freak out at the service people in front of us. Apparently, this winter storm put a lot of flights and even airports out of commission. As we stand in line, we call the airline, talk to other passengers and our guy in Montreal. Ottawa and Burlington are also no-gos; we get a flight in to Toronto for the next morning after hearing there’s a train from there that arrives three blocks from our hotel in Montreal. We get up to the desk and ask where we might be able to find our luggage. We get 50 percent off a hotel stay in Chicago, and track down the office where our baggage has been locked– but nobody’s there. Kevin and Bonnie go look for someone to unlock the door, and Donna and I wait, sitting on a rail because there’s nowhere else to sit. Donna in the meantime gets on the phone to reserve train tickets, and discovers they’re already all booked for the next day. Hertz is also out of one-way cars. Apparently other people have already cleverly routed themselves through Toronto. Finally we get a ride: one of the conference speakers lives in Toronto, and is willing to rent a round-trip van (since we’re paying for it) to fit us all. Bonnie brings back someone to get our luggage out, and we go to eat and then take the shuttle to our hotel. By now it’s almost 5 p.m. We have to be up at 3:30 local time anyway (1:30 our time; 12:30 old time) to catch our morning flight, so we figure it’s about time for bed anyway. Chicago theoretically has some cool stuff to see but today is not the day I’ll be seeing it. I kind of just want to take my shoes off and put my feet up and have some tea. Herbal. The hotel has an armchair, and some chamomile teabags.
I’m beginning to see why people don’t like traveling on business. Mishaps are ok if you aren’t on a schedule; you can always just explore the mishap, sleep in, and have a good story to tell. When, however, you know you have to get somewhere to keep 100+ conference attendees happy, it’s a little different. The 100+ conference attendees aren’t going to be satisfied with a quaint little story about how the weather prevented them from getting their money’s worth.
Monday: taxi in Chicago, rental across Ontario and Quebec
Wow, 3:30 comes early when it’s not 3:30 in your head. Predictably (although we did not have the fortune of predicting it), our flight is delayed. In Toronto, things finally go a little better; customs is the easiest I’ve ever seen, and Richard kindly picks us up from the airport. We proceed to drive across a now-sunny stretch littered with abandoned shoulder-bound vehicles; carcasses killed by the storm. I’m in the back seat with Richard’s son, a 15-year-old intent on playing Final Fantasy IV. We get in to Montreal at 5, I take a 10-minute walk outside and then we assemble conference stuff until late.
Tuesday: training day (I’ve now been on the job a week-plus)
As I’m looking in the mirror getting ready, I realize that I should have plucked my eyebrows. I’m supposed to be meeting people from the UN and the Canadian government today.
I don’t actually meet those people, but I do meet others. I go to sessions in my newly-purchased (too funky, I worry, as I scrutinize my feet) brown oxford-style lace-up heels, take notes on localization and translation memory technology and text source quality and shake hands with a lot of people. I attend a speaker’s cocktail reception after, and another reception after that, and try to schmooze without imposing on anybody (schmoozing in two languages is cooler than schmoozing in one). I get business cards and ask specific people about potential articles they could write for us, and converse with young marketers and programmers from London and Quebec and Barcelona about the importance of spending quality time with your children (though none of us have kids). I come away with a high, or headache, from being so important. I go up to my room on the 33rd floor and look out at the city. This is pretty much all I’ve seen of it, and I’m tired (my calves are killing me from being in heels all day) yet I conclude that though traveling can be a pain, even just for business it’s worth it.
Two days of conferencing to go, then it’s home to my husband, who misses me.