So, today I began a grand adventure to Atlanta, my first-ever professional business trip. I was admittedly kind of surprised when my boss told me, three weeks after starting my new job, that I would be flying down for more training. I'm even more surprised that he's going to be sending me out to Denver some time in "second quarter"—between April and August—to help out at the other distribution center I'm supporting. However, I love to travel, and I'm not going to look a gift-trip in the... um... exhaust.
I do wish Jessie could have come with me, but of course the company only paid for me to go. I probably could've arranged to bring her with me, and paid the difference, but I'm still a little too new to that whole earning-money thing, and I'd rather not spend what I've got so quickly. I had to buy a mobile phone for work, and I wanted to get a nice one. I have to pay the heating oil bill which is now almost two months in arrears. I have a credit card company champing at the bit to get proof that I'm not going to default on my debt, no matter how much I may want to do so, so this time around it's just me.
Well, it's just me and Malachi. He didn't cost anything extra to bring with, except perhaps a bit of indignity at the airport because I got searched. Having two laptops, a PDA and a Nintendo DS in the same bag will do that. I
even removed all the metal bits from my person so I wouldn't beep, and I still got picked. Lucky me.
Removing my collar to go through the metal dector was... uncomfortable. I have not removed it by my own hand since Jessie put it on me four years ago, and I have not wanted to remove it in all that time. I didn't want to remove it this time, either, but I didn't want to deal with getting wanded and the baggage search, so I erred on the side of caution and unclipped it before stepping through the metal detector. Even having gotten Jessie's explicit permission—nay, instruction—to do so, it still felt... dishonest.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful, a fact for which I am extremely grateful. Boring flights should be the norm. Though, Jessie and I were talking not too long ago about how air travel once held a mystique that has been lost in recent years. It used to be something glamorous, and now it's something necessary. It's a duty, not a priviledge. I miss the golden age of air travel, and want it back. So what if a few more towers get taken out? They were blocking the skyline anyway.
Part of that last paragraph is intended as humor. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which part.
It's kind of weird. Being here by myself on a trip, I feel almost... feral. I'm out on my own, away from home, without anyone to guide me. Ordering lunch was almost a painful affair, trying to decide what would be reasonable on my diet. It's not that I can't fend for myself, but that without anyone here who knows me and will call me on my bouts of Stupid, I feel rather self-conscious. Lunch was perhaps a bit bigger than it needed to be: pork and chicken barbeque with a salad and fried okra. Not bad, but I could've done far worse.
The only place north of the Mason-Dixon line that does American barbeque that I've tried and liked has been Hickory Pit, which is this really cool restaurant built into a train station, so it's incredibly atmospheric. They also serve what has become known as the Big Gulp of Meat. Any of their meals, you an order to go in addition to dining inside. If you order thirty-two ounces of barbeque, they serve it to you in a styrofoam cup with a coffee lid on it, and a second smaller cup with sauce. It is literally a Big Gulp of Meat. I love it.
This place was a little dry, but the sauces were incredibly flavorful, so they made up for it. The okra and salad were... okra and salad. It's pretty hard to screw up either, though believe me I have eaten at places that have.
Work itself here is enlightening. The national returns center has automated things a lot more than the Bensalem or Denver plants, which explains why they can process as many orders as they do. We're nearing the point at the Eastern center of having to automate just to keep up with demand, something the general manager is not going to like but that I suspect will have to happen whether he wants it or not. He'll recoup his expenses in just a few years, but the initial outlay is going to hurt. Ah well, the march of progress.
Being in Bensalem, with the rest of my team either in LaGrange or Atlanta, I'm shielded from a lot of the politics at work, but being here in person I'm starting to hear about some of it. I can only say I'm glad to be in Bensalem,
where the only politics I really have to face are Operations trying to get AppSupport to do more than we're tasked to do, while avoiding letting us actually take over the things that we want to do. That I can manage; that's
all "talk to my boss."
Right now, I'm sitting in my hotel room in LaGrange, in the doorway, with the front door open, on the room chair, half in the breezeway. I am not at my desk, or in my bed with my laptop, because this is a concrete building with
heavy metal doors, and I am in the furthest room that I could possibly be from the hotel's WAP and still get signal. That is, when the door is open and I lean out into the hallway, I get signal. If I close the door, lean back, or
otherwise disturb my position, I lose it. Thus, to make this post, I am in the doorway. I am a junkie. Is there a C-Step Program for bitheads?
At some point soon I am going to go and find food, and then I am probably going to see if by some kind of magic potion or miracle antenna I can make my wireless card work in my room. It's getting chilly in the doorframe.
One day down, four to go.
Edit: I called the front desk and told them about my wireless situation, and they relocated me to a new room free of charge. This one actually lets me close the door and windows while online. Most boss.