Just as soon as I got back from vacation, I jumped back on a plane and headed back down south. This time I headed to Fayetteville, NC for a kickoff meeting with our proposal team. It was one of those trips where everything that could go wrong, practically did. For starters, the trip was hastily arranged during New Year's week when everyone was on vacation so I didn't get a clear idea of the agenda or exactly when the rest of the team was traveling. Someone else made my travel arrangements since I don't have a corporate credit card. I first heard that I would be leaving on Monday and coming back on Friday, so Monday is what stuck in my head. However, when I tried to check in at the airport on Monday they said I wasn't booked on that flight. Yep, my itinerary said Tuesday! After making a few phone calls, I went home. Luckily I had gone to my Columbia office so I hadn't driven from far away to get Baltimore. Plus, I was a little relieved because I just wanted to be home another night.
On Tuesday they were predicting ice and dangerous conditions. Luckily, it never got that bad here and I headed back to the airport. However, across the country flights were diverted or cancelled. (Anyone traveling to Philly that night was out of luck). We boarded the plane on time only to sit on the runway for about 40 minutes. Ugh. We sat there so long that the lady next to me who had fallen fast asleep woke up confused and disoriented, "Where are we? Did we land or did we ever leave?" She looked bummed when I said we hadn't even left yet!
We arrived in Charlotte and I rushed to catch my next flight but then we sat on that runway for at least an hour. Ugh again and the flight turned out to be about 35 minutes so we sat on the runway longer than the flight itself. I was annoyed and it was 10pm when we arrived. Since we were at a military installation, there were a lot of military personnel on my plane. I love GIs. I think they're awesome fighting for our country and all that, but they hogged up all the room on the plane! Yep, half the plane's luggage got bumped for their equipment (who knows what was in those big, locked heavy-duty plastic footlocker thingies?).
I decided to wait around since the next plane was supposedly 30 minutes behind ours and a) I didn't know how far the hotel was or b) what time they would drop off the luggage. I had an early meeting the next day and my jeans and sneakers wouldn't cut it for a meeting with the General. I was prepared to find a mall if necessary, but I didn't want to spend money or time buying new clothes. The next plane was delayed and didn't arrive until after 11pm. By this time, I was groggy and annoyed at the whole travel experience. The plane landed and all the luggage came out, but not mine. As I stood there deciding whether to give up and go or just cry from frustration, the guy who took down my missing bag report asked what my suitcase looked like, then went in the back and grabbed it for me. I should have been a lot nicer to him. I did say "thanks" but it didn't come out like I really meant it.
I arrived at my hotel just after midnight and managed to get to bed around 1am. I didn't sleep very well and I was getting up at 7am to meet some of my team for the first time downstairs in the hotel for breakfast. I woke up at 6am and could not get back to sleep. I worried about having bleary, bloodshot eyes, but I didn't look too horrible. I made it through the whole day with two cups of coffee and a lot of coke.
The team was great and I really like our partner company - they are really nice retired Army guys and we all got along well. I have a much better understanding now of how the Army maintains and repairs certain types of equipment and I'm proud of work that my company does to support the soldier in the field.