It’s been quiet around here this month, and for very good reason: I’ve been busy as heck.
August is always a ridiculously busy month in this house, what with two camping trips and various other activities booked throughout. That means getting things done has to be done during the week, and something had to give. Unfortunately, that was doing a bit of blogging.
One thing that set me back this month was a business trip I took on Monday and Tuesday of this week to meet up with a client. It was a nice experience, as I always enjoy traveling.
But throughout the day and night, I kept noticing lots of little things. So here’s what I learned on my trip this past Monday/Tuesday:
- Being a freelancer on a business trip is very different than most business trips. While waiting for the shuttle to take me from the airport to the rental car center, I glanced around and saw… suits. Lots of ‘em. And sport coats. Tucked-in shirts. Briefcases. I looked down at my own outfit: t-shirt, shorts, slip-on shoes (not sandals, unfortunately, see #2). We were all going to offices and business meetings, but being a copywriter means, largely, I get to dress for comfort. And since it was 85-90 degrees the whole time I was there, this ability came in handy.
- Sometimes, when it rains, it pours. Getting through security in Milwaukee was a pain. Somehow, my boarding pass said “THOMAS MEITMER” on it. Now, regardless of the fact that I’ve flown a kerbillion times at this point in my life and have proven to be no threat to anyone’s safety, I had to prove my identity thrice-over. This included pulling out my phone and showing them the confirmation emails I received that, incidentally, had no typos on them. Eventually, several forms of ID later, they let me through, but then I had to go to the Southwest Airlines desk to go through the same song-and-dance to get a new boarding pass issued. And between security and this desk, one of my sandals completely fell apart. I had to throw them in the garbage at the airport and switch to my only other pair of shoes. Fortunately, this was easy, because…
- Carrying on everything is the only way to fly. Sure, if you’re spending two and a half weeks in Europe, you probably want to check a bag. But a week or less? You bet I’m carrying everything on, boy. This was my second chance to take my sweet Everlane Weekender bag on the road, and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. No waiting to check a bag, no waiting to get the bag back (and that inevitable feeling of “DID THEY LOSE MY BAG?!?”). Just grab and go. I have a great system where I bring that bag and stow it overhead, and bring a smaller bag to tuck under the seat on the plane. The overhead bag is soft, so it can squeeze into almost any space, and the smaller bag holds everything I need for the flight, eliminating the need to get up for any non-bathroom-related reasons.
- In-flight WiFi, while slow, is magic. I’m pretty sure. Being able to take a photo of myself on my laptop and tweet it from 30,000 feet sure is cool. I mean, the ability to do work is also cool, but the tweeting thing, man. Honestly, for the $8, it made the hour and a half flight just fly by (pun). While I couldn’t do any Netflixing or anything, I was able to get some work done, do some writing and researching, and manage my email from my seat. Slick.
- The Chromebook is an awesome road warrior. This was my first business trip taking my Chromebook and it more than held its own. I’ve written at length about this already, but it’s the perfect machine for these sorts of purposes. The Gmail Offline app was particularly handy. Just having a slim, affordable machine with what is largely a perfect keyboard was such a difference-maker for me.
- I need bluetooth in my next car. I’ve wanted it for a while. My rental car was a 2013 Ford Fiesta – a nice little hatchback with Ford Sync built into it. Once I eventually figured out how to work it, I was able to pump everything through the car speakers wirelessly, including calls, Google Maps, and my music. The future is now.
- Just because a hotel room costs $250 doesn’t mean it’s all that great. I won’t go into detail here, but my client set me up in a very expensive hotel room (the best-reviewed in the city, according to TripAdvisor), and it was largely a bust. Huge, massive rooms, but little to show for it. Great concept but pretty awful execution.
- Let’s hear it for Google Hangouts! Calling my wife was slick, because I busted out my Chromebook and we had a video chat through Google Hangouts. She used her phone, so she could walk around while we talked. Hey, remember when just calling long distance was a huge, costly thing? Now we have FREE VIDEO CHATS FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.
- I will forever arrive at airports three hours too early. And not on purpose. I was given way too much time to get to the airport and drop off my car due to expected traffic. Then I sailed through traffic and got there too early. And my flight was delayed. If there’s one thing I have experience doing, it’s killing time at airports.
- Seafood in Wisconsin sucks. I mean, comparably. I was on the East Coast, so all I did was eat crab cakes and oysters for a day and a half. There is no comparison in terms of taste to the frozen-and-thawed-out stuff we get here in the Midwest. That’s the advantage to living on the coast.
- I’m a blessed guy. I was able to walk along the pier and reflect after dinner while eating a chocolate ice cream cone. And during this moment, I really feel like the good Lord is throwing a lot of great stuff at me. I mean, even a year ago, this scenario was far-fetched. But my writing efforts have taken me from the gutter to free trips across the country where I’m eating fine, expensive seafood and enjoying the sights and sounds of other American cultures. Really makes you think.
- I’m an idiot when a plane is empty. Our 140-seat plane only had 56 passengers on it. If I was smart, I would have taken the aisle or middle seat in an empty row toward the back of the plane, all but ensuring that I would have the row to myself. Instead, I took the window seat in a row somewhat towards the front. So what happens? A weird old couple takes the other two seats. I looked around: literally no other row on this plane was filled. In fact, some in the back were still completely empty. So I was the only one on this entire flight that had to be cramped up against a window trying to avoid brushing up on the copious amounts of arm hair the old guy next to me was sporting. Lesson learned.
So yeah, that’s how my week has been.