January 09, 2006

The Eyes Have It

Morning Workout

Random Comments: I’ve got to start work really early today and then fly to Seattle. I’m forced to take a rest day. It’s going to be a tough week of exercise.

I went to Seattle today for a client meeting. In fact, I’m on the plane right now and it’s bouncing up and down like a yo-yo. The plane, that is. Not Seattle. There’s no bouncing in Seattle. I look out the window of the plane. It’s dark outside, I can’t see anything. Don’t know if we’re in the clouds or deep in outer space. Though with all of the bouncing, we may very well be going from clouds to space to clouds to space and back and forth again and again, over and over. It’s a lot of bouncing. I glance around the cabin and everybody seems calm and collected amidst this cosmic bounding. They’re just reading their books, typing on their laptops or munching on their nibblies (which smell curiously like burnt bagels with stale lox spread. I’m not sure if it’s the bouncing or that smell that is making me nauseous.) How can they be so calm with all this yoyoing? I look out the window of the airplane again to see if there is any light. Nothing. Nothing at all except the reflection of my face. I look into my eyes. I look calm. I don’t feel calm, but I look it. It’s a front. A façade. I guess that explains it. Maybe everybody is putting on a front, like me. Come to think of it, that guy over there has had his laptop open for 10 minutes and hasn’t typed a single word. And the flaming fellow in front of me hasn’t turned but one page on his book since we took off. As for this smelly little fat lady next to me, well, she is shoveling those burnt lox bagel smelling snacks into her face so quickly she’d give the rolly-polly boy from Willy Wonka a run for his money in a food face shoveling contest.

But the truth is that I didn’t mean to start typing about this plane ride. I really wanted to talk about my week of travel. And, more importantly, my trip to Seattle. So that’s what I’m going to talk about now.

There’s been a bit of drama over the past couple of weeks surrounding this Seattle client. Specifically, we were supposed to win a piece of business and we didn’t. We came very close to winning – extremely close. But, as we all know, extremely close only counts in horseshoes and nuclear war (and something else, but I always forget the third one). So I flew up to Seattle on short notice to do my very best job of convincing them to give us the business anyway. Tough sell, trying to get a company to change their minds after making an announcement that they’ve selected a winning agency. I have to admit, though, I came up with a compelling offer. I don’t think it worked, but it sure was compelling. Offer aside, it’s really the travel to Seattle that I want to discuss.

The road to Seattle started at 5:15 this morning. I woke up to start working while Catherine went out to run and swim. This is one of those weeks heavy travel weeks for me - my training is really going to suffer. And the suffering started at 5:15. I got up and got ready to get on the phone with our east coast office so I could put together the aforementioned compelling deal before I went to the airport for my 10:30 flight. I went back and forth with the east coast team for a few hours. By the time I had most of it together, I looked at my watch and saw it was just short of 9am. With 90 minutes before my plane leaves, I decide to hightail it to Kinko’s in order to print out the deck for the client. Giving myself 10-15 minutes at Kinko’s would give me more than enough time to get to the airport for my plane. Of course, I always seem to forget how annoying Kinko’s really is. I mean, they really go out of their way to be a pain in the ass there. It’s quite impressive.

I walk into Kinko’s at 9am and begin to set up my computer. After 15 minutes, though, it doesn’t work. Surprise. I call the clueless Kinko’s customer service fool, and after he plays around with my computer for 2 minutes, he tells me to restart. Of course, whatever he did kinda screwed up my computer. It took a full 5 minutes to restart the damn thing. I finally get it up and running and send the files to the printer. I sit and wait, staring at the clock the entire time. It’s getting late – my plane is leaving soon and I’m still 30 minutes from the airport. I’m sweating. I wait a bit longer. What the hell is going on here? Suddenly I get a message on my computer… there’s been an error, the files won’t print. Damn! I look at my watch, its 9:35. Uh-oh. I’m in trouble.

I’ll find a Kinko’s in Seattle. I pack up my computer and rush to the airport. At LAX they don’t let you get a boarding pass if your flight is leaving in less than 30 minutes. That means I have 25 minutes to get to the terminal before they won’t let me past security. Twenty-five minutes on what is a thirty minute drive. Not good planning. Forty minutes later, I show up to the American Airlines terminal and try to check in. Of course, with my plane leaving in less than fifteen minutes, the automated computer won’t spit out a boarding pass. I rush to customer service and complain. My plane leaves in ten minutes, I say in frustration. I need a boarding pass. She looks at me with a pathetic, you-have-no-chance-in-hell type of stare. Where are you going, she asks. Seattle, I say as hurriedly as possible. Umm…we don’t fly to Seattle, she responds. Huh? I say in disbelief. What? We don’t fly to Seattle, she repeats herself a bit louder, as if I didn’t speak English and her volume may help me understand. Could you be on Horizon or Alaska? She asks in a way that mimics a rolling of the eyes. Shit shit shit shit.

I’m not flying American Airlines today. I’m flying American Airlines to St. Louis. That’s on Wednesday. Today is Monday. Today I’m flying Alaska Airlines. Shit shit shit shit. I look at my watch. It’s 10:15. My Alaska Airlines plane leaves in 15 minutes from Terminal 3. I’m standing in Terminal 4. Shit shit shit shit. I turn around and run outside without saying another word.

It’s a bit less than a half of a mile from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3. I sprinted as fast as I possibly could. I need to make this flight. I need to get to Seattle. I probably covered the distance in 4 minutes, in work shoes, wearing a suit and carrying a computer case. I was frustrated but not frustrated enough to pat myself on the back and thank myself for being a triathlete – fit enough to chase a plane without keeling over. I arrive at Terminal 3 and look at my watch: 10:20. My flight leaves in 10 minutes. I try to get an automated boarding pass but, of course, the computer won’t let me in. I rush to customer service and jump in front of the line. Please put me on the next flight, I demand. The ticket agent looks at me with the same eye roll I saw in Terminal 4. I wonder if they called over in advance. Regardless, the agent managed to get me on the 11:45 flight. I grabbed the boarding pass out of her hands and high-tailed it up the stairs and into security. I must do everything in my power to make it on the 10:30 flight, I tell myself. I’m now confirmed on the 11:45, but if I rush, I can get my seat back on the 10:30. I muscle my way to the front of the security line, my body in a full sweat, my face red in heat and frustration. I need to get to Seattle for this meeting. I must get there. I make it through security and sprint to the gate for the 10:30 flight. Of course, my gate is the last one in the terminal. My feet are hurting from the shoes, my shoulder is hurting from the computer bag, and my lungs are hurting from this unexpected workout. But I run. Ironman must be harder then this, I think. So I run faster. I see the gate in front of me. I turn the corner. And stop. There is nobody standing at the gate. There is nobody in line to get on the plane. Shit shit shit shit.

I look at my watch. 10:25. This can’t be happening. Where is the plane? What is going on?!?! I go to the gate next to mine. I need to get on that flight, I mutter out between breathes. Can you get me on that flight to Seattle?

Again, I get the eye roll attitude. What the hell is it with all the eye rolls today? Somebody will be back shortly to help you, he responds. Why don’t you just go back and wait at the gate.


I walk back to the gate and stand there.
As I’m standing, I look at the sign.
Expected Departure: 10:50.
The flight has been delayed.

I step back to take a seat.
And roll my eyes.