Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two Day Break

I need to get away more.  I just had way too much fun on a work-related getaway, and I didn't even go out of town.

I signed up for an educational seminar.  My cheap boss didn't want to pay the tuition, but my generous boss approved the expense.  

(The two of them balance each other out.  If Cheap Boss had his way we'd all be working for minimum wage in a cave.  If Generous Boss had his way we'd all be out of a job because he'd bankrupt the business via over-generosity.  I appreciate both perspectives, but when push comes to shove I'm glad that Generous Boss is the senior partner.)

I was happy enough simply to be attending.  However, the seminar was being held in a hotel out by the airport, which is a fair drive from my home.  Keep in mind that I don't drive, so I figured I'd have to sit in the back of a cab for hours over the two days as we went to and from the hotel, battling rush hour traffic.

I mentioned in passing to Generous Boss how tough it is to stay awake during a lecture after waking up 1.5 hours earlier to get there on time.  You know how it is.  They dim the lights to put up a PowerPoint presentation... there's the soothing, white-noise hum of the conference room fans...  and then your head starts to nod and your eyeballs roll back zombie-style.  Zzzzzz...

Generous Boss, true to form, immediately advised me to take a room in the hotel where the seminar was being held.  He wasn't worried about the cost.  He wanted to make sure I was rested and ready to maximize my education.  See why I will never leave this job, even though it makes me crazy?

So I booked a room.  I can't even remember the last time I used my suitcases for anything other than packing for a move.  Maybe eight years ago, when I went to Ottawa for a few weeks to teach, in my old career as an I.T. trainer.  Fun times.  Anyway, I did manage to locate my suitcase, in the cold-storage nook where all the spiders live.  I pulled out the suitcase, then waited a few minutes for all the spiders I'd disturbed to scuttle back to their dark corners.

(I keep the suitcase wrapped in plastic to prevent critters from stowing away on my trips.)

I was TOTALLY EXCITED to check into my hotel room.  King Size Bed!  Nine Fluffy Pillows to recline upon!  in front of the Flat Screen TV!  OK, so I have a bigger flat screen TV at home.  Still, it's not In My Bedroom!  

I got to my room pretty late on the night before the seminar.  Too late to get in much lounging before lights-out.  My plan for night #2 was to flop back onto the bed, on my nest of Nine Fluffy Pillows, order Ridiculously Expensive Room Service, and spend five hours or so watching TV, in Complete Control of the Remote!

I did have some trouble sleeping.  At first I struggled to organize a liveable temperature by way of an unfamiliar thermostat, and then once that was sorted I was rather distracted by the Enormous Jets going 


directly over my head at three minute intervals.  I swear, some of them weren't going to make it to the landing strip.  I wanted to yell at the pilots:

"You're coming in too low, man!  Pull up!  For the love of God, pull up!"

Eventually, sleep prevailed, and fortunately no planes crashed into my room in the wee hours of the night.

The next day, the seminar started, and it just so happened that one of the women at the round table where I was seated was a natural social organizer.  So much for my plan for night #2.  Neither of the two books I brought with me ever made it out of my suitcase during my stay, either.  The good people at my table (six of us in all) became the equivalent of my cabin at summer sleepover camp.

We went for lunch together.  We went for drinks together.  We went for dinner together.  We talked late into the night.  We ignored the [Canadian] election almost entirely.  (I voted in the advance polls.)  By the time the two days were over, I felt like I'd known them all for months at least.  One woman in particular spilled out most of her life story over all-you-can-eat ribs at Tony Romano's restaurant.  The ribs were frickin' amazing, but they didn't even come close to this woman's stories.  She was truly inspiring.

Night #2 I tumbled into my nest of fluffy pillows with earplugs firmly embedded and the thermostat set to a happy medium between chilly and stuffy.  I think I would have had a perfect sleep, had my dinner not been so salty.  I woke up every 90 minutes or so with my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and drank huge volumes of water to quench my monstrous thirst.  Finally, after draining the hotel's water tanks singlehandedly, I slept.

I even learned some good stuff at the seminar.  The facilitator was a dynamic young guy with a sense of humour and a knack for engaging his audience.  I am now slightly wiser in the ways of De-escalating Potentially Violent Situations.  

Throughout each day the hotel staff would slip quietly into the conference room to provide us with a steady stream of beverages and snacks.  There was coffee waiting by 8:45 am, muffins and tea arrived at 10:30, and at 2:30 there was cold pop or juice and big, gourmet cookies.  I don't think I have ever been so spoiled or well-fed at a seminar.  

Before 2:30 pm on the last day, the facilitator mischievously instructed us all to applaud when the afternoon snack was delivered.  A well-groomed young man slipped in discreetly, almost tip-toeing behind the facilitator so as not to interrupt.  A couple of people yelled out "Yay, cookies!" and then the room burst into a rousing and prolonged round of applause.  The hotel employee didn't quite know what to do.  He got bashful, but it was all in good fun.

In the end, I was sad that the two days were over.  I packed up my stuff, and said goodbye to my hotel room wistfully.  I even got a little emotional parting from all my cabin-buddies.

But I'm super-glad to be back at home with my sweetie, and it'll be wonderful to sleep in my own bed tonight, without airplanes flying through the room or a mouthful of salt overload.  One pillow will be quite enough for me.



logan said...

Though you are not posting every day, you haven't lost your edge. You've given revealed the flavour and colour of an experience too many of us take for granted, or simply consider mundane. And I like how your mountain-top (cabin?) experience was vibrant and enjoyable, but also resolved, like the end of a beautiful song. The return to silence provides a foil for the vibrance of the music.
Much awesome, Red, and full of the Win!

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I'm glad you had such an enjoyable experience. It's good to get away from the everyday routine and experience something different.

Sabrae said...

Sounds like you had fun :)

Karen said...

I love a hotel. I am glad you fun at your conference. Too often conferences are boring and miserable.

Dianne said...

the one thing I miss about my corporate life is the travel

I smiled at your description of the hotel experience - I once broke a thermostat and spent the night freezing because I was too mortified to call lol

glad you had a good time

one thing - do you have a lot of violent situations that need de-escalating?

Anonymous said...

In my arrow plane!

Angel... said...

sounds like you had a good time..

mex (aka Syb)..CONTACT ME via EMAIL at this address: said...

good lord.. am GLAD u shared that.. I too have been waking w/ a dry mouth.. you'd think i was smoking doobs 24/7.. but OOOOH.. it's salt! anf that's DEF the culprit. I like to drink ine

San said...

Spark, I don't get out enough either. I tend to be chained to my business. How I could lounge in a giant bed, propped up by nine fluffy pillows. How I could enjoy listening to great stories over delectable ribs. But hold the salty mouth and the jets going over.

mex (aka Syb)..CONTACT ME via EMAIL at this address: said...

i wuvvvvv the way you weave words.. IE.. "teenage nuclear force love" .. MAN.. great imagery



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