Work travel: Just getting there

For my next couple of posts, I should rename this blog "View from Outside the Cubicle" since I will be talking about what to expect when you travel away from your cubicle for work. Which is what I did last week when I traveled to Las Vegas for the 12th Annual ITSM Conference.

I'll post about the conference content itself later, but I thought I would address the issue of work travel, partly to give freshman travelers an idea of what to expect when they venture outside company walls, but, mainly, just to gripe about my own travel pet peeves.

[I will acknowledge here that I am extremely lucky to work for a company that would send me to a conference in Vegas and put me up in a luxury hotel. So don't take the following as ungratefulness. I just like to talk about the stuff that aggravates me.]

The endless walking

Let's start by talking about the commute itself. Frankly, it felt like I was walking to Vegas instead of flying. I'm not a lazy person, but you almost need the stamina of an Olympic athlete for the airport walking you have to do. From the parking garage to my flight gate, this was basically the format: walk, walk, walk escalator, Starbucks, walk, walk, automatic sidewalk, dramatic stumble at end, walk, walk, Starbucks, walk, walk.

[Note to Starbucks: I cannot bring myself to utter "grande" or "venti." Just as I can't walk into a convenience store and ask for a "Big Gulp." So if I walk into your store and say, "I'd like a big-ass coffee," just give me the largest one you have and don't make me use one of your pretentious terms before you hand it over.]

The airplane seating

I'm not a good traveler, and not merely for the more common reasons like fear of terrorists or mid-air collisions. I don't like to travel by air for two reasons: I'm not fond of being bored and physically uncomfortable. My boredom threshold is way low. I start getting antsy after about 15 minutes. The obvious solution would be to take a nap, but I find that hard to do when my knees are painfully wedged into the seat in front of me.

Fortunately, after about 45 minutes my knees became paralyzed so I barely felt it when the guy in front of me suddenly reclined his seat and sent my hip bones through my back.

I will concede that I'm 5' 10". But that doesn't seem freakishly tall to me. Did they design airplane seats using fourth graders for scale?

The flight attendants

Bless their hearts, flight attendants are, on the whole, very nice and cheerful. But don't change your mind about having a beverage after they've gone through the aisle. They do not like that.

And, really, just count your blessings if they leave you alone. On the second leg of my flight home, the flight attendant was the spitting image of Rod Flanders. He appeared to be about 12, and he was inordinately fond of the intercom. It was a 50-minute flight and he talked for about 30 of those minutes.

I would describe my state of mind after arriving home as hovering between hysteria and numbness. Once I grow my brain back, we'll talk about some concrete issues concerning work travel, like handling expense reports and your obligation for data gathering.