Tags: business travel, Don't Mess With Texas, Keep Austin Weird, Texas Chili, Travel
A couple weeks ago I traveled to Austin, Texas with two of my colleagues to visit a client. Before our plane took off, my bloggier half gave me some sage advice: don’t mess with Texas! I’m not sure if she was afraid I might unwittingly incite another Civil War (with taffeta uniforms) or if she just likes the motto, but this time I tried extra hard to heed her advice and respect the Lone Star State.
As you may have guessed, I had disastrous results. The single night I was in town included one of the city’s worst ice storms in recent memory. The half inch of snow was frightening enough for the locals, and the half inch of ice underneath proved to be the bean that broke the Texas chili.
The city officially closed, flights were cancelled and delayed, and everyone warned us about stepping outside the hotel. But we had no choice: we were there for a client meeting and weren’t leaving without a strategic plan of attack! So my colleagues and I traveled down the ice-slicked roads in our Chevy Impala (hot, right?), passing spun out Land Rovers, dented Suburbans, and gigantic, powerful cars of every kind stuck on the roadside. And while some New Englanders might mock the stranded drivers of this weird (in the most complimentary sense of the word) city, I, too, have grappled with a paralyzing fear of snow/ice driving and understand their plight.
Without a plow, salting or sanding truck in sight, it was quite a slippery predicament. Luckily my bossman was a zamboni driver in a former life (I’m not kidding!) so we were in good hands and, thanks to some narrow misses, escaped unharmed (though very delayed).
But the fact remains: someone messed with Texas, and all fingers point to me.
Did I offend the state with my mere presence?
Is the Lone Star out to get me?
Or have I unknowingly made unforgivable blunders?
We may never know. But I’m going to do my best to avoid further incident and stick close to our country’s northern border for a while.
Tags: Atlanta, bottled water, business travel, Chivalry, CVS, heat stroke, Hotlanta, Travel
“Ralph’s Ice Cold Water! Only $1!”… I still can’t believe I bellowed that out on the streets of Hotlanta as Schmargaret and I walked alongside a grocery cart belonging to a friendly, employment-challenged Georgian named Ralph.
Let me explain…
One of the many tasks we were assigned on this business trip was making gift and refreshment bags for our guests. Schmarge and I dutifully braved downtown Atlanta in search of a convenience store, and, being particularly well-trained frugal Bostonians, we didn’t give a second thought to hoofin’ it around the city to accomplish our mission. Bostonians walk everywhere, and Schmarge and I don’t like wasting client moolah… but oy! It was so hot, even the statues questioned our decision!
After we’d been trekking around long enough to sufficiently melt our brains, we stumbled upon a CVS a little off the beaten path where we filled two baskets with chips and candy, gift bags, sodas and bottles of water. Waiting in the checkout line, a gentleman wearing a “sleeveless tank top of the Hanes variety” (thank RWC for that awesome phrasing!) suggested that, instead of purchasing separate bottles of water, we purchase a 28-pack, thus getting more water for less money. A stroke of brilliance!
Or so we thought…
There was absolutely no way we would be able to carry 28 bottles of water in 98 degree heat (not to mention pea soup-level humidity) the two miles back to our hotel. Thank heavens we were in the ever-polite South! The gentleman rockin’ the Hanes attire overheard our predicament and offered to help. He introduced himself as Ralph and said he would put our water in his car and take us to a taxi. Well, that’s what I thought he said. What he actually said was he would put our water in his “cart” and take us to a taxi.
Helpful Ralph wheeled his shopping cart to the store entrance, gallantly placed our water on the bottom shelf, and wheeled our packages around the city for a good 20 minutes. No regular corner was good enough for his friends from Boston – Ralph had a special taxi area in mind, and we would walk for as long as it took to get there. That’s when the sales pitch came into play: the basket of Ralph’s cart was filled with a cooler and bottles of water – so Schmarge and I rose to the occasion and used our taxi-seeking trek to help sell some of Ralph’s water.
As we passed a Häagen-Dazs, a security guard noticed our odd parade and allowed us gals to wait in the shade of the ice cream emporium while his dispatcher called a taxi for us. We thanked Ralph for his services and Schmarge gave him a tip for his assistance. Before he left, he posed for a picture, and as he walked away, requested that we make him famous. So here’s Ralph, in all his glory, after helping two clueless and heat-stroked Bostonians find a security guard who called us a cab…
Chivalry lives, ladies!
Tags: Atlanta, business travel, heat, Hotlanta, tips for surviving hot weather, Travel
I dislike hot weather. I intensely dislike hot weather. I really really really intensely dislike hot weather. And yet, I find myself writing this blog post in mid-June from a city people affectionately refer to as “Hotlanta.” And those people who call it Hotlanta? They aren’t lying. It is soooooo hot and humid here. Yesterday just walking from the cab to the hotel felt like I was swimming in boiling pea soup.
I used to wonder why people here walked so slowly. I thought that perhaps it was just a problem of perception. You see, I walk quickly, even for a New Englander, so perhaps they walk at more normal speeds here and I just thought it was painfully slow compared to my high-speed hustle. Nope. They definitely walk slowly, but now I know why: it is too darn hot and humid to move any faster!
And I think I may have also discovered the key to their politeness… Getting angry takes energy, and when I’m mad, I feel warm. I get hot under the collar, steaming mad, hot-tempered, hot and bothered, have meltdowns, etc. Frankly, there is absolutely no need to make oneself any warmer here, so it just makes sense to stay calm, cool (relatively speaking) and collected. Southerners are pretty clever, it seems.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted. The heat must be slowly melting my brain. I’m writing this blog to ask for your advice. Today I will be outside for long stretches (oy vey!) and, since I’m on “official client business,” I can’t succumb to heat stroke. Any tips for staying cool, dear reader(s)?
Tags: Air travel, Boot, Glass Cell, Pledge Commercial, Travel, TSA
Last week I flew to visit a client out of state, which means that I got to experience the joy of the TSA twice (there and back) in less than 48 hours. And both times they put me on display (sob) in a square glass cell!
Have you ever seen that Pledge commercial where a housewife is stuck in a room surrounded by glass walls that’s full of dusty furniture, and she cleans the whole place easily (with Pledge, of course) to get out in time to pick up her kids? Well, the glass cells I recently experienced were both far dirtier and more awkward (with less comfortable seating) than the supposedly filthy one in that commercial!
In terms of awkwardness, the cell is in the middle of the security area where every traveling clown could point and laugh at me, the real animal in the cage. And no one threw popcorn into the cage like at a zoo! Seriously, little kids stared, tugged on their mothers’ clothes and asked what the “bad lady” was doing in the “time out box.”
And don’t even get me started on the cleanliness issue… (shudder)
Why, you may ask, was I singled out as a threat and made to wait in a glass cell in the middle of airport security while the delightful TSA staff determined my individual threat level? After all, I sure look like a hardened criminal…
Apparently my boot is a security hazard!! That’s right – along with an aching ankle, I could store all sorts of mayhem and mischief-makers in it! And so, since I couldn’t remove my boot and put it through the X-ray machine with my carry-on and my right shoe, I got “special treatment” as a suspected terrorist (okay, okay, I’m exaggerating – but it is funny to picture myself on a most wanted list).
Leaving Boston that special attention meant waiting to be “swabbed” in the glass cell while my boss watched over my luggage, jacket and right shoe. They swabbed my boot and my hands, ran a metal detector around the boot, and then had me stand on a mat in the cell while I waited. Returning to Boston that special attention meant being removed from the line and first placed in the body scanner (at least buy me dinner first!), and then being quarantined in the cell (a.k.a. on display) while my boot and hands were swabbed a second time.
Frankly, I haven’t felt this mysterious in ages, and, other than the considerable delays and unwanted spotlight, it makes me feel like kind of a big deal! Plus I was offered wheelchair assistance (which I didn’t take, of course), allowed to cut in line for the restroom (definitely said yes to that offer, and had the chance to board the plane first (if I wanted to…but I didn’t. Why would I voluntarily sit on a cruddy puddle jumper for longer than I had to? They’re just lucky I didn’t toss my cookies in flight!).
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty darn sick of this accessory, but determined to keep discovering silver linings – especially amusing ones!
Tags: Air travel, Dunkin' Donuts, Snuggie, Travel
I’m heading to Buffalo and Rochester this weekend to see The Other Sister and my parents and brother. Because I’m too cheap to take a cab to the train station, I had Mike drop me off at the train at 7 a.m. as usual, which meant that even though I met Sarah at North Station for an early-morning gabfest, I still got to the airport almost three hours before my flight is scheduled to depart. That fact alone is worth noting because, although I have flown countless times in the past few years (and out of the US Airways terminal in particular) and am thus quite familiar with TSA regulations, I am always that person who has to be escorted to the head of the screening line because her plane is about to take off.
Hoodles, I’m not used to having time to kill. I had a leisurely Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast pre-security (turkey sausage flatbread and small lite vanilla latte – delish!), slowly made my way through security, took the prerequisite potty break and meandered to my gate. And I still have over an hour.
So here I am, one of just a handful of people waiting for the plane, and I am definitely the annoying girl typing on her BlackBerry, jamming to tunes and texting on her phone. And I’m living the dream here with my feet on my carry-on and a great view of the hustle and bustle of Logan Airport. Watching the planes taxi and baggage handlers chuck bags on the trucks, I’m reminded of how my father used to take me to watch the planes land and take off when I was really little. This was way back when you could meet arrivals right at the gate. I loved to watch the planes and imagine where they were going and where they’d been.
Things have changed a lot since then. And by the way, I realize how old that makes me sound. I also remember when you could smoke in malls and get a meal (for free) on any flight. But that’s a story for another day. Even with full body scans, U.S. Marshalls and liquid restrictions (not to mention the delays, smaller cabins, astronomical prices and fee-based snacks), I still love to fly. I love the unlimited possibilities of hopping on a plane and just going somewhere, anywhere. I love the feeling of soaring above the clouds. And I love the whole no phones or BlackBerries rule. The horizon is one of the last bastions of solitude for me.
So as I prepare to embark on a weekend filled with hockey, family, old friends and good food (and PLEASE stop reminding me I’m on a diet! Everything in moderation is my mantra these days), I encourage you all to take some time this weekend to do something you truly love, be it off-key singing along with 80s Madonna, taking a walk on the beach, reading a trashy gossip rag or bedazzling your Snuggie.
Tags: Security, Terrorist, Travel
I’m lucky to be alive. But I can’t say the same thing for my brother’s camera. You see, last Friday Andrew, my brother XX* and I were touring the monuments in DC. Along the way, XX was taking artsy photos of the granite behemoths, silly photos of Andrew and me, fowl photos (topic, not foul as in judgment of quality) of sea gulls and ducks, photos of airplanes, the mega-rich’s helicopters- he was pretty much snapping pictures of everything. And then it happened…
Marine One flew directly over our heads! XX aimed his camera skyward, quickly focused it, clicked the button-that-makes-the-camera-take-a-picture (I can’t for the life of me remember what that’s called but shutter comes to mind) and… got an error message that completely messed with the camera. Kaput. Gonezo. Done for. That actually happened!
We can only assume the president’s peeps now have super-accurate, super-specialized lasers that, when aimed at a camera, immediately destroy it. Apparently taking photos of Marine One isn’t cool without permission, because we got lasered. Or, more accurately, XX’s camera got lasered. Tricksy technologists.
*I am keeping his identity confidential so “the man” can’t figure out who he is and “take him downtown.”
Tags: Christmas, Fart Euphemisms, Travel
The hubs and I are travelling back home for Christmas with the dog and the little nug in tow. This means a six-hour car trip. Or longer, depending and the fuel efficiency of my body in relation to the fuel efficiency of the car.
I took advantage of a refueling stop to change our unfortunately wide-awake baby’s diaper. While drying my hands with a nine-month-old on my hip and a diaper bag and my coat awkwardly under one arm, a woman using the hand dryer next to me started gushing over my son. I forgot that Mike’s Christmas gift from my lovely co-blogger (a Flarp Machine that makes real fart sounds in eight different styles) was in my pocket. As I graciously thanked her for the compliments I shifted all of my parcels and accidentally hit one of the buttons on the Flarp Machine. And not one of the quick oops-I-just-let-out-a-little-toot-I-hope-no-one-notices sounds, but a long, loud rippler.
And, having the maturity of a 12-year-old boy, I giggled and blamed it on the baby.
Tags: San Diego, Signage, Travel
Uneven floor? Tap dance. Long line? Moonwalk. Overbooked flight? Tango. Upset about a checked bag fee? Jazz hands!
Be sure you stretch before hittin’ up SD International!
Tags: Elf on the Shelf, San Diego, Travel
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2009 PRSA Conference in sunny San Diego. I learned some great new strategies and tactics, but I’m not here to give you a lesson in advanced public relations. You see, in addition to vocational updates, I was also on the look-out for things to share with my fab co-blogger and you, dear reader(s).
Last week April discussed the shelf-loving elf in my hotel gift shop. Today I would like to give you some practical advice from the same hotel…
While we stuffy New Englanders alert each other to dire situations with blasé sirens and colored lights, San Diegans do it their own special way. As the sign below indicates, if you see a party going on in SD, it may be some sort of emergency situation, and you could have to alert the authorities.
Strobe lights and whoops are not to be taken lightly!
Tags: Christmas, Elf on the Shelf, Travel
I normally wouldn’t post about Christmas this early. It’s time to prepare for Turkey Day. Christmas is a distant event. And yet, the stores have been playing Christmas carols and hawking pink trees and Santa cookie plates for weeks. It’s way too early. I’m still eating Halloween candy. But regardless of when you think the Christmas season has begun, I think you all will agree that it will never be time for this:
This is what our fearless blogger Sarah spied in the hotel gift shop in San Diego, where she is attending a conference. She sent me that pic in the hopes that I could enlighten her on the Elf on the Shelf (EOTS) tradition and explain why it had been kept secret from her. Is it a sacred Christian ritual kept hidden from the heathens practicing other “religions?” Should she be offended that no one saw fit to let her in on the mysteries of EOTS? Or should she be proud of her super-sleuthing abilities and alert her people?
Never fear, I explained that not only have I never heard of EOTS, it is not something I would welcome into my home. Furthermore, whoever assured her EOTS is a time-honored tradition is either a sneaky-sneaky prankster or a filthy liar. Or an EOTS-worshipping cult member.
Santa is diligently making his list and checking it twice. Why send some creepy elf (who apparently travels with his own shelf) to spy on me? And why does that elf bring his own shelf anyway? Are my shelves not good enough for him? Is his precious elf-butt accustomed to only the finest shelving materials? Frankly, I’m not down with uppity elves. They make toys, for Xenu’s sake. And I’m not trying to start any rumors here, but I have it on good authority that elves also make shoes. And some live in trees and make cookies. Just saying.
If you want to invite some shady elf into your home, that’s your business. I don’t judge. But personally, I think this whole EOTS “tradition” is a ruse.
Dear reader(s), I’m looking to you. Have you heard of this? Or – gasp! – do you particpate in EOTS?