Well for me it was a “working vacation.” you see I’ve never really been able to afford to just strike out on my own trail of adventure, but through work related projects I’ve been able to visit a number of wonderful places.
At the time I was working for Harcourt Brace College Publishers doing desktop, and network support for the in-house kids, and over-the-phone support for our nation-wide sales force. My manager “volunteered” me to attend the national sales force meeting to provide hands-on support for the sales force laptops. I figured “what the heck, 3 days at the Silverado Resort in Napa California on the company’s dime. Why not?”
The trip started out innocently enough. There was a number of us leaving from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and we all made it to DFW International Airport just fine, with plenty of check-in time to spare (this being a time period well before 911, and all the new check-in procedures). There was probably about fifteen of us from Harcourt that had already checked-in our bags, collected our E-passes, and had already boarded and got comfy for the flight. After what seemed like a very long period of time, just sitting in the plane, still at it’s terminal, the pilot finally speaks up over the PA and explains that “regular maintenance found some small issues, and the techs are correcting the issues. We’ll be on our way shortly.” So we waited some more. After another undetermined amount of time, the pilot once again calls us to attention and explains “the repairs are not going well, and we have to move the passengers to another plane,” great, just great. I’m a pretty easy going guy, and of course I’d rather be on a plane that totally “checks out” against the airline’s safe list, so I was thankful and understanding that we were being moved to a different plane. Still though, I wondered about the logistics of it all, moving people, luggage, and what not to a different plane. Regardless, we disembarked and went to find our way to the next plane.
We had to stop-in at the desk at our current terminal and get new E-passes for the next plane, which turned out to be at the opposite far-end of the Air Port. The flight was leaving in like 20-30 minutes, so now we had a small stampede of people racing through the airport to the next terminal. It was sort of comical, like a scene out of the movie “Air Plane,” participating in, and watching all the other people make the mad dash to the next far away terminal. We all made though, and were once again waiting, all buckled up and comfy, when the pilot announced that “everything is alright, thanks for your patients, but the airport is seeing some very high traffic today, and our flight is fifth in line to depart, but we’ll be on our way soon.” So we ended up spending another 30 or so minutes waiting on the tarmac before actually getting into the air. Still though, we were finally on our way, Yay!
The flight itself really wasn’t all that bad. It went straight-through with no mishaps, the landing was smooth, and we disembarked to find out that our luggage was not on our plane, but it would arrive soon. Okay, hmmm. So we ended up waiting at the airport for another hour for our luggage to arrive. With luggage in-hand we set out to find our coach bus and finally start winding our way through downtown then out to the resort, but first we had to make a little (off the radar) stop to a liqueur store for some provisions. The coach ride was nice enough, albeit it was dark by the time we finally left the airport and started heading out of town, so we couldn’t see any of the lovely scenic vistas we were passing in the night.
So, after spending 12 HOURS traveling from Dallas/Fort Worth to Napa California (which should have only taken 4-6 hours), we had finally arrived at our end destination. We were all glad to finally be at the resort. You’d think that was enough, wouldn’t you? Well there is one more little bit to this sorted story.
Me and Mike (our Data Administrator guy) decided to find our rooms, unload our stuff, and get something to eat. An easy enough task to accomplish in such plush surroundings. After freshing up a little, me and Mike headed over to the main house and found a restaurant inside. Since we were already tired, and figuring that we were confined to the campus for the next several days, we’d go ahead and dine here.
We made light conversation and did a little “bitching” about the “long trip out,” while we ordered, and eventually ate. Let’s see, Mike had the “surf and turf” while I had a steak. We each also had a dinner salad and a soda pop. Neither one of us had any alcohol, and to be quite honest, I don’t remember if we had desert. What I do remember though, was my feeling and the look on Mike’s face, when he saw my shocked, ashen-faced look upon my viewing our dinner bill. It hadn’t occurred to either one of us that we were now in California, or that we were dining at a fine 5-star restaurant. Between the two of us, with this simple fair we ordered, we’d racked up a $100 bill, cripes! Well, there wasn’t much ado about it, the damage was done. But let me tell you our manager didn’t let us live it down for the entire trip, chuckle. Yes, one to many reminders that we “ate our entire expense allowance” in our first meal at the event, and it was “milk and crackers” for the rest of our stay.