Thursday, June 07, 2007

Traveling with the Tyrant - Work Edition

If nothing else, when traveling with the Tyrant there will always be stories to tell afterward.

I went to Florida again this week for work. Where I work, we OBSESS about our seating assignments on the plane. It's always a competition to one-up each other with a better seat. I have ZERO status, so my flights are always booked after my bosses' flights and seats. So I never win this game. Most of the time, I still get my aisle seat. But as was the case this time, I got assigned to a middle seat for both flights.

As is common, we get our seat assignments, then we immediately glue ourselves to to watch for new seats to open up. Fortunately, one of my supervisors who I travel with was looking out for me. We've had a crazy couple of weeks getting ready for this trip, and needless to say, I've been a little stressed at the office. She was trying to do me a solid and help me get a better seat.

She was keeping an eye on my seat availability while I was also keeping an eye on it (and even when I wasn't). But then when the travel agent sent us both an email that my supe had gotten upgraded to First Class, but she hadn't been able to move my seat to my supervisor's previous aisle seat, things started to unravel.

My Supervisor then came to tell me she had tried to give me an upgrade to First Class with her, but First was full. We talked through the value of "it's the thought that counts" and I told her she could make it up to me by baking me a cake (she's a world-class baker and she makes AMAZING cakes).... and then I kept watching online to try and change my seat. But wouldn't let me do anything.

At one point I clicked on an aisle seat and told me that my seat was confirmed and to check in at the gate so they could get me a seat assigment.

That confused me. I didn't trust that my seat was moved. Why not just show me the new seat online?

Then ten minutes before we have to head to the airport, we discovered an error in our meeting packets that I had already prepared.... TWICE (they were not my errors, but I'm the one who gets to fix them....). So we literally ran around the office trying to find the powerpoint, fix the slides, print the correct pages, and run out the door.

After we got to the airport, there we sat, at the gate, unbinding and then rebinding meeting packets. Again.

I then went to the attendant at the gate to check on my seat change, like told me to do. But she just looked at me, then looked at my boarding pass (middle seat, Exit row), and said, "Nope. That's your seat."

What?? Say it ain't so.

Fortunately, my supe and I are laughing. We are wound up, stressed out, redoing meeting packets, and I have a terrible seat on the plane. Snark is at an all-time high. It's like one hilarious bad turn after another. We decided I just hadn't flirted with the attendant enough. Yes, she was a woman.... a bit manly, but a woman, nonetheless.

The one thing my supe could do for me was let me board with her, since she does have status. She gets to board before the groups. As we lined up to board the plane, the gate attendant called my name!! Yay! We were both very excited. This could ONLY mean good things.

I went to get my new seat assignment.... and it was WORSE. She stuck me FURTHER BACK in the plane, by a window.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I actually got DOWNgraded, from Coach, to WORSE Coach.

The attendant said, "Hey, at least I got you out of that middle seat." Like I should be grateful to her. But the aisle seat was an EXIT row, albeit in the middle of the row, and I didn't ask to be moved in the event that a window opened up. I just wanted to move to an aisle, if it came available. Now I'm crammed in the corner at the back of the plane.

I went back to wait with my supe. She went in front of me and handed her boarding pass to the SAME attendant to get on the plane and said, "She's traveling with me."

The attendant said, "Yup." It was the most annoyed "yup" I've ever heard.

I left my supe in First Class and crawled back to my window seat. I ended up sitting next to a couple who were very open (and loud) with their communication. The woman part of the couple was very interested in everything I was doing.

I was sitting quietly, in the corner, doing my Sudoku puzzle, when I suddenly notice the woman sitting next to me is watching what I'm doing over my shoulder. Then she turns to her man-friend and says, "Hey look. She's doing one of those sudaaakkkaa.... sudooooookaaakaaa... how do you say it.... sodakkkkkuuuu..... I don't know. But I've done one once. Look at her, she's doing one...."

She said this loudly, and apparently thought that the armrest between us was a sound-proof barrier that would keep me from hearing her every word.

On the flight home tonight, I got stuck in the middle seat again. But I just didn't have the energy to try and change it. And I didn't want to risk being downgraded again. At least I still had the Exit row....

Other highlights include not being able to log in to our company server the whole trip, which means I will have approximately 9,000 emails when I get to the office tomorrow. Fortunately my supervisor also serves as my personal Blackberry when we travel. She screens my emails for me obn HER Blackberry, tells me what I need to know, tells people at the office that I am not available at the moment, and I dictate other responses to her for her to send on my behalf. I'm thinking I should take her more places with me. It's kinda nice to have a human Blackberry...

We ate dinner last night and lunch today at the same restaurant, because our clients like that place. A lot.

And when we landed today, we got the message that we can't wear jeans for Jeans Friday tomorrow. This made us very sad.


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