Last week I had to travel for work. They’re sending us, two at a time, to a sprawling city-sized building about five hours from here, for “management training.” I knew there would be approximately 35 people in the class, from all over the country. And, needless to say, I was mildly stressed about it for weeks in advance.
I’ve done this kind of thing many times – both traveled for work, and attended corporate training sessions. I’m not a complete bumpkin. But I don’t like going into situations unknown. Some of that “training” is seemingly designed to make a spectacle of everyone in attendance. I had visions of us playing Twister, or some shit, ending with me blowing the complete ass out of my pants or farting on the neck of an HR representative from St. Louis or whatever. I’m very good at creating scenarios in my mind in which I unwittingly do something horrible and unforgivable, that I’ll replay for the rest of my life.
But, as usual, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d imagined. So, I felt relieved and thankful at the end. I wonder how freaks who go into these kinds of things full of enthusiasm and optimism (freaks!) feel at the end? I bet guys like me come out ahead in that equation, right?
In any case, I’m going to bullet point this bastard, and give you my thoughts on a few key aspects of the trip. Then I’m going to return to my real job, and try to transition from a fuzzy world of theory to one of cold, hard reality. Let’s do it, shall we?
- I kinda sorta knew the guy I was traveling with, but not well. We work on the same shift, but in different departments. I liked him, but was a little concerned about us being trapped in a car together for five hours each way. What if the chemistry was off? It could be excruciating. But, as it turns out, the chemistry was right on the money. We laughed our asses off the whole time. Or talked about music. Or both. He was a great guy to travel with. I hope he felt the same about me. Hopefully he didn’t return home and launch into a ten-minute diatribe about “Jeff Kay, the biggest shitbag east of the Mississippi.” Have you ever been forced into travel with someone you didn’t like? I haven’t, not really. I’ve traveled with a few bosses, which is a little awkward. But, I don’t think I’ve ever been trapped on a work trip with a person I couldn’t stand. What about you?
- We had $75 each per day allotted for food. However, breakfast and lunch was provided at the meetings, as well as a kick-ass afternoon snack that sometimes included chocolate-covered strawberries. So, it was basically $75 for one meal. And we vowed to spend it all! I felt like it would be no problem, whatsoever. But we never made it. I never even came close, despite eating so much food I felt like I might need a wheelchair to get back to the rental car. If we’d had more knowledge of the local restaurants, we probably could’ve done more damage. I think we were in more family-friendly places. Booze would’ve helped too. Oh well. It was fun immediately going to the most expensive items on the menus, and going wild with it. I could get used to that kind of thing.
- I came downstairs at 6 am on Tuesday morning, and got a cup of coffee in the hotel lobby. The metrosexual behind the counter told me it was $7.99. I answered, “Are you serious?!” And he gave me a “do you fucking want it or not?” shrug. “Charge it to my room,” I told him, and shuffled back toward the elevator. Those places are just gouging corporations, coming and going. It’s disgraceful. I had one cup every day. And two on Thursday.
- I immediately jumped to many conclusions when I met the people in the class, and was right about most of them. However, a few folks surprised me. One guy seemed super-confident and full of swagger, and I involuntarily launched a squint of disapproval. But, he turned out to be one of the coolest guys there. In fact, most of the people were OK. All were smart and capable, that’s for sure. There was some phoniness, of course, which irritates me to no end. But it could’ve been much worse.
- I was on edge most of the time, during the classes themselves. There was always a possibility that I’d be forced into giving some snap opinion, or have to go in front of the class and engage in a corporate improvisation game. I hate that kind of shit, more than just about anything. One guy started calling on people at random (“What do you think about that, Nick?”). I immediately flipped over my name tag, so he couldn’t see it, and noticed a few other people doing it, as well. On the final day the woman said, “I’m going to put a few of you on the spot now,” and the Indian guy across from me muttered, in a thick accent, “Oh God, please no.” There’s a good chance we have wildly different backgrounds, and ended up in EXACTLY the same place. For four days, anyway.
- On the morning before we had to check out of the hotel, I clogged the toilet somehow. I don’t think I deposited anything especially remarkable that day, but the water went all the way to the rim and was swirling, threatening to go over. I looked around for a plunger, and didn’t see one. So, I just closed the lid and put that place in my rearview mirror. They probably had to take that room offline for a few days. As is my nature, I’m convinced it will lead to an uncomfortable conversation with my boss, human resources, and loss prevention today. I’m insane, right? …Right?
- During the class they tried to play Jason Headley’s work of genius, “It’s Not About the Nail,” but ran into technical difficulties. I’m not sure how they were going to tie it into the training, but it was queued up and ready to go. I wanted to shout, “I know him! He’s a friend of the Surf Report!!” But I refrained, which is undoubtedly a good thing. I’ll have to let Jason know about it, though. Crazy stuff.
And I’m going to call it a day, my friends. If you have any “traveling for work” stories to share, please do so. Also, if you’ve got anything to say about corporate training classes, we’d like to hear that, as well. I learned some stuff last week that will almost certainly be in the back of my mind as I interview people, and counsel employees. There was some value in it, I think. What are your opinions on that kind of thing? Use the comments section.
Have yourselves a great day! I’ll be back on Thursday. I’m vowing to get back to a predictable schedule now.
See you then!