Sunday, September 05, 2010

Slipping the surly bonds of earth....

For the first time in a while, I had to fly on business. Most of the time, I don't travel for work, or at least no travel beyond driving distance. After one particular leg of this flight, I was swearing the same thing: "If I can't drive there, I won't be there."

Chicago beckoned, so onto the big bird I went. Every song about flying or traveling was going through my head -- by the time we landed in Chicago, I was humming Arlo Guthrie's "Coming into Los Angeles" (wasn't about to sing the words, heck no!). G-vegas to the ATL was a piece of cake: 30 minute flight. ATL to O'Hare ... it was all good until the final descent/landing. I mean, at one point in the flight, I was thinking, "You know, I ought to ask the attendants about their careers. I mean, if something ever happened, it would be really cool to do this." By the time I was leaving the plane, I felt like saying, "You're a braver soul than I, Gunga Din!"

I don't know what happened: the descent angle, the time of day, the stress and trying to find my travel party (coming in from various airports)... but I got sick. UGH!!!!! I made it into the terminal, called the lead in our party and got on the bus to the rental car facility where we were to meet. Turns out, I landed at Terminal 2, they were at Terminal 3 and ended up on the bus at the same time. We got going but between O'Hare and our hotel, she had to pull over for me.

How embarrassing. Here I am, a grown woman, with a nice job, terrific friends and family, and a good life (on the whole), and I'm frickin' crippled by motion sickness and migraines (yeah, I think one of those might have been beginning to build as well). I know it's not anything I can control, necessarily, but I mean really. So I missed dinner that night while nursing my aching head, neck, shoulders, and stomach.

However, I must say that I got to nurse myself in grand style!!! Highly recommended: Hilton Garden Inn's beds. Yes, you can buy them online, too. However, no way am I going to spend that much on myself right now. But lush and lux they are: oh my! I think I sank into the bed and barely moved. Divine, just plain divine.

The next morning, we took a tour of a sister company, and one of their specialty labs that does work across the company. It was truly amazing to see everything they do and how it's put to use in the real world. After the tour, it was on to the Corporate offices, and into 2 days of meetings (well, one afternoon, one morning, and then a short meeting for our team). But on the drive up, I couldn't help but chuckle. I saw a turnoff for Harvey, IL -- and I wanted to go soooo badly, just to see the shell of the Dixie Square Mall. One day, my plan is to get back to Chicago and make a tour of all the locations from The Blues Brothers. But I digress.

For dinner that night, we went to The Glen Town Center -- it's a shopping/living/dining area (apartments/condos over the stores or restaurants). It's kind of like downtown Greenville combined with Shoppes at Greenridge. Pretty neat idea, I must admit. Dinner was at The Yardhouse -- I had a salad and the spicy tuna roll, which was not sushi-like at all. To be fair, the waitress did tell me that it wasn't a typical sushi roll. However, may I suggest that they call it a tuna cake instead? Because that's pretty much what it was. Tasty, to be certain: tuna over the spicy sauce over an edamame layer. I could only eat about half; it was good, but the salad filled me up, as well as our non-cocktail hour offerings.

After our team meeting on Tuesday, my local counterpart and I had to head back to the airport. Our Group HR Director called a ride for us from a company with whom they have an agreement. The limo driver showed earlier than we expected (or told them to arrive) and at the loading dock ... oops! But he got us to the airport in plenty of time.

One small complaint to the fine people of O'Hare International: for all the air traffic you encounter, you might want to talk to the TSA about a grant for more security stations! The security lines were way longer than necessary, and when I finally got to my gate, they were boarding already! I wasn't late-late, but surely later than I like to be. It would have been nice to have time to grab dinner from somewhere, even if it was "Sammies 2 Go" or something. Thank goodness I had a few minutes to spare at Hartsfield. By the way, a huge tip-of-the-cap to the pilots for the ORD-ATL leg on a fabulous job for both takeoff and landing (hardly even noticed them!).

So what's next on the agenda? Putting all these timetables from the meetings into action this week!! :)

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