Yesterday at noon, I was racing to finish the task I was working on at an out-of-town job site. I had a flight that would leave at 2:40, and a party back in NYC that I wanted to attend.
After some finagling, I had it. I had achieved a milestone in the task I had before me, but still had more to do. I told my colleague at the site that it was a wrap for me for the day, and that I should be able to finish the task in my office, but I might return next week.
A muffled boom of thunder sounded overhead.
Two minutes later, my phone rang: a recorded announcement that my flight had been cancelled.
The machine gave me the option to connect to an airline agent. The agent helpfully informed me that there would be no other flights that day, and that the next available non-stop would be at about the same time the next day. I rebooked.
I had stayed at a local hotel up the road from the job site. I called them up and reserved a room for another night. It was quick and painless.
The rental car was another matter. I rummaged around my e-mails and found the telephone number for the airport office. I was forwarded into the rental company’s monster voice-recognition computer, and what would have been a thirty-second conversation with a person: ‘My rental number is “xxx” … I need the car for one more day, at the same time…. Got it? Thanks!’ turned into five minutes of automated hell.
I’ve learned to roll with the punches when things go wrong on a business trip: sometimes I believe that God is looking out for me. If I had finished my task at noon, as I had planned, I would have gotten the call while I was en route to the airport. I would have been really angry, would have booked into a hotel near the airport, and probably have ended up accomplishing nothing. As it was, I invited my colleague to lunch, went back to my task afterward, and got most of it done. There’s still some clean-up and tweakage, but the heavy lifting is done.
* * *
We finished late, and I headed to a Wal-Mart after dinner to find something to wear the next day. (OK, I could rinse out my socks and underwear and use them again, but it had been a long day.) I got:
- Wrangler shirt from Bangladesh;
- Fruit of the Loom colored T-shirt from El Salvador;
- Russell briefs from Vietnam (didn’t they used to be the enemy?);
- Dickies work socks from Pakistan (I had to look around on the package to find this).
But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.