Thursday, June 23, 2011

Catching up

 No matter where you go.......there you are.
Just got home from 3 days on the road for business (the paying job). I had to go visit 3 vendors (machine shops that make parts for us), which actually was supposed to be 2 vendors, but we made an executive decision and added the third while we were on the road because it made good sense at the time.
 Usually I like to do these trips myself, but this time I was accompanied by a gal from our purchasing Department, as she had business issues to discuss with the two vendors we headed out to see. I have to admit I really wasn't super happy to have a traveling partner. Not that there is the slightest thing wrong with this gal. We work together and get along great at work as far as I know. She is a huge help to me in getting my job done.
 However, we all have funny habits and needs and when you are traveling and spending your entire day together, those little habits can quickly become annoying. It takes a certain amount of consideration to keep from annoying your traveling partner. It you travel together long enough, by the end of the trip, most folks are ready to kill each other.
 Many people I have traveled with have habits that drive me nuts. Not packing properly and having multiple bags for a short trip (the accepted practice is an overnight bag and a briefcase or small backpack), not having your luggage properly prepared for air travel (not having the liquids ready to display), forgetting basic items which require a side trip to some store or other, or being late to get going in the morning requiring everyone else to wait and begin the day behind schedule, are all things which drive me nuts. I have endured much worse from some traveling partners.
 I have never traveled with Sally, so I was concerned that I might have some habits, or do some things to make her uncomfortable, and of course, that she might also.
 My fears were eased in the first 20 minutes of the drive, and got even less as the first day wore on. As we were driving I commented that I might need to make a quick stop to have a smoke, as I didn't allow myself one before we left. She just said "Oh, you can smoke while we drive, my husband does that and I don't mind at all as long as your window is cracked open". I smiled and thought "Life just got easier".
 The first days drive, about 4 hours went by easily and we checked into the hotel. She was ready, as promised when our vendor picked us up for dinner. We all had a lovely evening eating and chatting and were in our rooms by 9:30 to check emails from the office and answer the important ones. (Then I read blogs for a couple of hours.) The next morning I met her in the lobby for breakfast, she was 15 minutes early, I was really pleased. Over breakfast, I let her know that after we finished up with this vendor and were on our way to the next one I would like to make a quick stop at the State Fire Academy so that I could meet a blogger friend and pick some stuff up at the bookstore. It was exactly on our route, there was no detour required. She was fine with that.
 We completed our business at vendor #1 and headed North. I called The Lonely EMT and she was just leaving to meet us at the Academy. Our 20 minute visit went almost an hour and Sally sat out in the car working on emails and entering purchase orders. She said she really needed to get it done and couldn't do it while we were driving. She was very gracious and I let her know I appreciated it.
 We finished up that day squeezing in the new vendor prospect and arriving at the last vendor too late to meet with them, but we did join one of their reps for dinner. We finished up our business the next day and got on the road home by 1:00 pm. It was a 5 hour drive through heavy driving rain. I was wiped out when I finally walked in the door. I would have loved to have a beer or two and go to bed, but my loving wife just said "dinner's on the table, eat, then change, we have to be 'there' by 7:30". I did as I was told and we went down to the local micro-brewery to hear my son-in-law play for a while. It was worth it, he debuted a Vocal piece he has been working on for a while (Vincent 52). He has never sung in public before, so this was really neat, he broke another personal barrier. It was great and I'm so glad I didn't miss it.
 However, I still had to get into work early today and work on the pile that developed while I was gone and I also had a job interview scheduled at 9:45am which I only learned about last night at 7PM. (I applied for my boss's job when he moved on.) They've flown in a guy to interview the 4 of us that applied and although I think they have already decided none of the 'internal candidates' will get the job and it will go to somebody from the 'outside', I still needed to give it a shot. After 38 years in this business, I think it's time for me to make an impact. The interview went fine and there was only one question asked that I had a much better answer for an hour after the interview ended. Over the years of my experience, this was one of the best interviewers I have met. But, again, I think my chances are between slim and none because of the politics and preconceived notions.
 But, I digress. The trip went fine and I look forward to making another trip with Sally. She was truly a working partner and that hasn't happened to me in a long time. I made a point of telling her Boss just that. It turns out that she has had similar experiences to mine and enjoyed the actual amount of work we accomplished. Turns out that neither of us enjoy the wine and dine crap, the dinners, or the drinking. We are not looking to 'make friends' or 'bond' with our vendors, we just want to build a solid working relationship and that usually happens in the conference room, not the barroom. It also turns out that both Sally and I have a lot of experience in 'carrying' our traveling partners that are poorly prepared for a road trip.
 Next post I'll tell you about my visit with the Lonely EMT and her lovely daughter.
Be Safe, Be Sharp,

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