Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travel Story- Part III

Dude, you totally have to start at the beginning. Didn't you read Part II? Click here to read Part I.

By now it was about 12:30 am Pacific Time (3:30 am Eastern Time). I am surprised that we noticed this.

We ended up staying at the bar until 2:00 am Pacific Time (5:00 am Eastern Time). We had many engrossing conversations with the regulars, including a large Mexican gentleman who was the VP of some company and who traveled 265 days a year. He let us know about the wonders of Priceline, and how he was able to stay at 5 star hotels in any city he traveled to for $89 a night. They should fire William Shatner and put this guy in their commercials, he was both enthusiastic and convincing.

There was also an Australian gentleman who worked for Microsoft. He was very nice indeed, and I told him that I did not blame him in any way for sending The Wiggles to our country. He told us the fascinating story of how The Wiggles used to be a cover band called the Cockroaches. Realizing they were not good enough to make a living playing music to adults, and recognizing an under-served youth market, they changed their tune and became overnight sensations. They became the richest entertainers in Australia, out-earning the likes of AC/DC and Nicole Kidman. Whatever. They are still disturbing.

When we left the bar, we were noticeably intoxicated. We were coherent enough to get to our new hotel, however, and we did our best to appear sober as we walked into the magnificent lobby and approached the registration desk. There were two people ready to assist us. Their hair was perfectly groomed. I fished out the business card of the man at the bar who reserved our rooms and handed it to the clerk as I tried to explain our situation. The clerk immediately acknowledged our reservation, and several people got to work finalizing our registration.

At this time, it is important to note that Jeff and I were also traveling with another colleague who was not on the same flight as we were leaving Columbus. His flight was also delayed, and he missed his connection in Phoenix and had to stay the night there. He is unfortunate to have missed out on the Grant Gateway Adventure. Jeff and I considered having him stay there the next night, but we decided against it. While I was getting us checked in, I mentioned that we would have another person that would need an additional room the next night. They asked me his last name. Tassniyom does not just roll off of the tongue when you’re sober, and I had a heck of a time trying to sound it out and spell it for them.

“T-A-S-I…no, wait…T-A-S-S-Y…no wait, that’s not it. Tassniyom. T-A-S-S-N-Y…no…” I was trying my hardest. It was not good enough.

“Why don’t we just reserve it in your name?” the clerk suggested helpfully.

“Good idea,” I had no choice but to agree.

If you are ever in San Francisco, I highly recommend you stay at the Palace at 2 New Montgomery Street. It is elegant, spacious rooms, excellent service, and conveniently located in the heart of downtown. The only odd thing is that the corridors of the hotel all reminded me of that hotel from The Shining, and I kept expecting to see two creepy little girls around every corner.

Somehow Jeff and I both got up on time the next morning and made it to our client’s office. Our colleague made it in mid-morning. We were able to get our system installed, and we even spent a good deal of time going above and beyond the call of duty to help them troubleshoot problems in the wiring of their telephone system. When you own the business, you take an extra amount of pride in your work, and we were all focused on doing the absolute best job we could.

At one point we had to take a cab to a Graybar store for some telephone cables. We went up and down hills in a manner that would make the roller coaster engineers at Cedar Point drool with envy. It is no small miracle that we survived.

That evening we had dinner at Ariolo’s on the Fisherman’s Warf. It was a great seafood dinner. They had seafood stuffed everything. Appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, entrees. When they brought the dessert tray around I was tempted to order a piece of seafood stuffed cheesecake, but they did not have any. They did, however, have the best tiramisu I have ever eaten.

Our flights out were at 4:00 am on Saturday. A little jetlag mixed with very little sleep is an interesting combination that has adverse physical effects on the body. I hope to experience it again.

We arrived at the Oakland Airport and got to the security checkpoint. I forgot to remove my one-quart Ziploc bag with my shaving cream, aftershave, etc. and the Heroes at the TSA had to search my bag. God bless them. They keep us all safe. Someone should make a movie about the Heroes at the TSA. The Trailer could go something like this:

In a world where shaving cream is more dangerous than a razor blade…”


In a world where a small plastic bottle of water can bring air transportation to its knees…”

Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Heroes at the TSA, we are safe. We may be thirsty, our breath might stink, and we guys may have a five-o’clock shadow, but that is the Price of Freedom. It is worth every penny, I tell you.

Jeff and I got in line for breakfast. The workers there moved very slowly, apparently to create the illusion of freshness. It was a delicious egg, ham and cheese croissant with a lukewarm bottle of fruit juice flavored sugar water. At first I was perturbed that my beverage was not chilled, but then I read the label, which said Refrigerate After Opening. They were just following instructions by not refrigerating it before I got to it.

Speaking of following instructions, when we were on the plane coming home, United Airlines played their Safety Video. This is the first thing they said:

Please remove the Safety Card from the seat pocket in front of you.

The kicker is, they never tell you to put the card back!! I checked the seat pocket in front of me. Skymall? Check. Barf bag? Check. Hemispheres, the United Airlines magazine? Check. Safety card? Safety card? Bueller?

Nothing. The card was gone. It seems as though a previous passenger had diligently followed the directions, removed the card, and did not replace it. My personal safety was in jeopardy. I would not know what to do in the event of a water landing. I could have had trouble buckling my seat belt, and I would not have had the advantage of a personal reference card. It was an outrage, which is why I feel the urge to file a class action lawsuit against United Airlines for endangering all of their passengers. They may as well have been handing out toothpaste and shaving cream, they were so reckless in their procedures. What an utter disregard for the lives and security of me and my fellow travelers. I almost needed the barf bag, I was so disgusted.

Luckily we made it back to Columbus safely. I was glad to finally be home, to recuperate until the time came for me to embark on another grand adventure. Next time, someone else will have to book the hotel room, though.

Click here to re-read the entire story from the beginning.


Anita said...

I'm glad you're home safe, sound, sober!

Rick Daley said...

Thanks! This was in 2006, so I am sober by now ;-)