Hoping my true m***af****s know...
This be the realest sh*t I ever wrote
--Makaveli, "Against All Odds"
Part I -- Part II -- Part III -- Part IV -- Part V -- Part VI
Monday, March 22
9:00 AM - It's been awhile since the last installment of this "7-Day Travel Diary" -- and it's been even longer since these trips actually happened -- so, I'll forgive you if you've forgotten that back in Part XXXIX (after we'd just touched down in Phoenix) my boss was frantically attempting to reach me on my cell phone. His voice mails included the standard "I'm your superior" intimidation-disguised-as-adjectives such as "critical", "imperative" and "urgent". I'm back in the office, so he and I can finally have the conversation I avoided for 48-72 hours.
Boss: "One of your customers was repeatedly trying to reach you while you were out last week."
Me: "I checked my phone. That customer called me FIVE times over a 30-minute period from 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM. As far as anyone knows, I could've been on my lunch hour. And, she was calling because SHE owed ME information. Her freaked-out response doesn't deserve this much attention."
Boss: "Just remember -- if you're going to be gone, make sure you have a delegate to work your desk, an out-of-office greeting on your phone and an auto-response set up on your email."
Me: "I did ALL of that! Why are you putting so much credence on a crazy woman's irrational ranting? She was trying to give me information and she could've left it on my voice mail."
9:30 AM - My boss and I went around and around on this for more than 15 minutes. I got back to my desk -- certain I wasn't in the wrong here -- and opened my email to find that in the time it took me to walk the 80 paces from my boss' office back to mine, he'd clicked "send" on an email that began:
"If you're going to be gone, make sure you have a delegate to work your desk, an out-of-office greeting on your phone and an auto-response set up on your email..."
And, he was courteous enough to send it to his entire staff.
Tuesday, March 23
12:00 PM - Back at the airport, flying to Las Vegas for a conference with my biggest customer. Layoff notices were issued earlier in the day and I was genuinely concerned. Unfortunately, one of my favorite people in the office was let go, while the only "change" in my employment status came in the form of a spot-on Vince McMahon impersonation left on the voice mail of my cell phone from one of my co-workers.
12:30 PM - I've always been torn on the black guy who shines shoes at the airport. Yes, he offers a much-needed service to pretentious, image-conscious business travelers such as me. On the other hand, I feel more than a little uncomfortable supporting one of the last surviving 1930s Negro archetypes. It's the same reason why I can't listen to any rapper who came out after 2004.
1:30 PM - Mother Nature makes up for an otherwise uneventful flight by creating a violently aggressive crosswind that invisibly bludgeons the sides of the airplane upon our descent. Most of y'all know that I'm already a lousy flyer -- the curse of growing up in the 1980s when every fourth or fifth flight seemed to get hijacked, crashed or was disintegrated by a vengeful Decepticon. It's a small miracle that I managed to keep my panic attack to myself. Someday soon, I will be forcibly sedated (NSFW!) on a flight.
2:30 PM - This is a map of the MGM Grand resort, where I'll be spending the next 24 hours. I needed to know the location of several large conference rooms and a few smaller company-specific business suites. Two dozen men and women are working the front desk so, of course, I end up with the one who greets me in unintelligible, heavily-accented English. The LAST thing I'd ever want to do is offend some of my readers by attempting to transcribe our exchange. Instead, I'll offend all of you by offering up this reasonable facsimile.
2:45 PM - There's a four-pack of wine coolers right outside my room. I'm not a 16-year-old high school sophomore named "Meagan" (or, for that matter, Mrs. Bootleg) so I leave the booze behind. Two bottles would be gone by the time I left my room a few hours later and the other two disappeared by the time I'd returned. Amoral activity in Sin City? Welcome to Obama's America.
5:30 PM - I have a LOT of work to fit into this evening and tomorrow morning, but my primary objective is to find some face time with the new contracts leadership group of the largest contract I manage. We'd played phone tag in the days leading up to the conference, but still hadn't synced up our schedules. So, imagine my
"We need to talk. I just came out of a meeting with [the new contracts leadership group]."
For those scoring at home, this is the same executive who -- a week earlier -- had directed me to meet with this customer. Now, I'm getting kneecapped off my own contract.
6:30 PM - Still fuming, I lose my bearings long enough to stumble straight into the path of an Air Force Major who absolutely reams me (we work on the same program) as the two of us are pressed against a wall on the heavily-crowded concourse. He raises his voice above the din and, like any good military man, is loud enough for everyone to hear him, but scary enough for no one to dare look at him. We're off to a rip-roaring, rollicking start!
7:30 PM - Not to be outdone, I get verbally ambushed by a co-worker who cravenly waits until I'm out of my office and without any of his issue-specific files before he jumps all over me. Emboldened by his transparent attempt to look like a bad-ass at my expense, I get right into it with him. As far as business trips go, this one is slotting in right behind my excursion to Seattle in 1998. I spent a few hours in a bar, eating oysters, drinking scotch and smoking cigars. I spent the rest of that night doubled-over in full-spew, pelted by heavy rain in an alley behind the bar. For the rest of that business trip, I was alternating between various shades of green.
10:00 PM - Back to my room. In Las Vegas. BAC = 0.00, gambling losses = 0.00. And, I have to prepare for tomorrow's meetings. Your 11 1/2 year reign is over, 1998 Seattle. We have a new winner.
Wednesday, March 24
8:00 AM - The $13 room service breakfast burrito at the MGM Grand was, without hyperbole, the best thing about this trip. (Distant second = not getting fired.) It was as long as your arm and overstuffed with all the important parts of a pig (sausage, bacon and ham), hash browns, onions, green & red peppers, scrambled eggs, jalapeños and bucket-sized sides of guacamole, sour cream and fresh salsa. I obliterated every edible thing on that tray. (Grade: 500 (out of 5))
9:00 AM - I still haven't crossed paths with the contracts leadership group that I'm supposed to meet. Now, they're out-and-out ignoring my voice mails, so I break out Batman's deductive skill set. Based on previous discussions, I know I'm looking for three people: an older, more experienced hand and two younger contract administrators. Dozens of attendees are standing around sipping their morning coffee and lazily checking email on their laptops before the meetings commence.
9:30 AM - My hunch inexplicably pays off when I come across three people -- sitting together -- whose names on their Starbucks cups matches the names of my desired targets. I introduce myself and for the next hour -- by the relaxed standards of an informal, impromptu meeting -- blow their minds with my level of preparation and program knowledge. I haven't had this much job satisfaction since I could pour a perfect six-inch soft-serve cone when I managed that frozen yogurt shop in Long Beach, y'all.
7:00 PM - I'm back in San Diego when I realize I never picked up a gift for Mrs. Bootleg or the boy. Truth be told, I've driven 30 minutes north from the airport and I'm less than two miles from home when I realize this. Those of you who know my wife can follow-up if you wish, but I stopped at a drugstore and got Mrs. Bootleg this and got Jalen this. I am not making this up.
Then again, if you've made it this far, you already knew that.