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This is the first story that I have ever written. I apologize ahead of time if there are grammatical mistakes. I only used Word. Let me know what you think.
Cast of Characters:
Bill Jones – Main Character
Jim – Bill Jones’s boss
Kim Smith – A new hire
Alex – A supplier for Bill and Kim
I hate business trips. I really do. Between the car rentals, time at the airports, and the drives to suppliers, it really gets old quickly. You’d think that spending nights in different cities and great hotels would be nice. Especially if the hotel has free booze in the President’s club, but there are only so many cheap beers that one person can drink. It’s always the same three types of beer too.
Every hotel is a little different, but really it is a bed to sleep in, a TV to watch, a desk to work at, and a bathroom that is too small to move around in. Especially the space between the toilet and the shower. Who designs this shit? Every now and again there is something better, but my company limits what you can spend on a room, so those better suites aren’t always within the allowed stipend.
Breakfast in hotels just suck. It could be a high end hotel, but if the breakfast is free, forget about getting something edible that you could actually consider breakfast. The crappy bagels, the shitty cereal, the fruit that is some odd color that it normally shouldn’t be. Don’t even get me started on the coffee if that’s what you’d call it.
Going out for lunch and dinner isn’t bad, but there are only so many times you can eat at a high scale restaurant by yourself. The waitresses are usually nice, but really don’t care to talk since they just want to do their job and get out of there. At bars, it’s the same, but the flies typically want to keep their heads down and drink their drink. It gets really lonely too eating all by yourself.
The days usually start at the airport to flying somewhere and then getting a rental car. Nothing flashy or exciting to drive, ever. My boss won’t allow it since it is outside the budget. I then have to drive to a supplier for some sort of part my company uses. You wait for a while at their reception area, the person arrives, shakes your hand, the business cards are exchanged, the person then leads you to some conference room deep in the boles of the building, and then offers you a cup of coffee. The coffee isn’t ever good.
You go over the details of whatever the meeting is about. I find that the company representative never is ready for the meeting. They’ve never read the documents before you get there. The two of you spend about 1 – 2 hours reading through them as if you were in middle school. Discussing point by point all the things that should have been read and understood prior to the meeting, but aren’t.
After spending way to long at the company, going to lunch at some chain restaurant, finishing up for the day, you hop back into your rental car and head to the cookie cutter hotel. Unload your bags, pull out your laptop, and check your work email. I check the email and set the replies to be delivered late in the night. It’s good to know the little tricks so your boss thinks that you’re working late into evening when actually you really aren’t.
Dinner, bed, repeat. Over and over again. It’s like a terrible merry go round were the operator just went for a smoke and your stuck going in a circle, listening to crappy music.
So why all this talk about travelling for work? Why do I keep doing it? For the life of me, I just don’t know. I guess I don’t think there is anything better. I am looking though, my resume is out there and every now and then I get a hit, but the jobs just don’t excite me. Most of the time the prospective company only wants someone to travel for them. Why should I change jobs just to do the same thing for them if I am already doing it now?
My life needs to change, I need to do something different.
My boss called me while I was on the road driving from the airport to a hotel. The next day I was going to see yet another supplier.
“Bill, how yah doing bud?” Jim, my boss, asked with fake excitement. He know that I am getting tired of the business trip. I’ve been on the road for over a month now.
“Not bad, not bad. You know; living the dream”. I wasn’t really in a good mood. My flight had been delayed for two hours, the airline lost my bag, and the flight attendant dropped soda on me when she tried passing it to the person in the window seat.
“Bill, I got a request from the director for you. We’ve got a few new hires that are starting next month and they need to be trained up. They aren’t all going into the field like you, but they need the experience”.
I mute the phone and groan. I had this happen to me a few months ago and it was a disaster. The new hire was so not cut out for the job and had lied on their resume. It took me all of five minutes to realize it during the first meeting with a supplier. Let’s just say that guy only lasted a week bahis firmaları more and then was let go.
“You still there?”
I unmute the phone. “Yeah, yeah, I’m still here”.
“So, I know that you aren’t heading back to the home office any time soon…”
Here it comes. I hold my breath waiting for my boss to say that the new hire was going to meet me in some shitty little city; that I was going to need to hold his hand and wipe his ass for him.
“I booked the flight for her and she is going to meet you in Buffalo.”
Buffalo, in February? Hold on, wait a minute, did he say her?
Continuing, “Her name is Kim. Right out of college with a business degree too”.
Where was this going? Everyone out of college today has some business degree or other piece of paper. A guy I knew once said that a degree now is only good for a hand shake and maybe a cup of coffee.
“Ok…” I added to the conversation.
“I want you to take her to meetings, explain the process, go over the paperwork, etc.” My boss droned on.
“Anything in particular that you want me to train her on?” dreading where this was going.
“No, no, just the stock stuff. Make her feel welcome to the company and make sure that she gets on the right foot on her first assignment.”
“Can you send me her resume so I can review it before I meet Kim was it?”
“I’ll send it over tomorrow morning” promised my boss. “You know it isn’t going to be much, she’s young and only has work a few entry level jobs elsewhere.”
“Sounds good. So where and when do I pick her up?”
“Kim is flying into Buffalo on Monday. You’ll need to fly out this Friday or on the weekend so you can make it in time to pick her up at the airport. Here flight arrives around 1:30 pm or so”.
“How will I know who she is?”
“Oh just wait at baggage claim. She has you’re badge photo so she’ll know who you are”.
“Ok. Anything else I should know about?” not really caring.
“Nope! That’s it. Have fun bud”. My boss hung up.
I jabbed my thumb at the end call icon. I didn’t trust someone hanging up on the other end to actually disconnect calls. Technology was great… when it worked.
The business day was already over and I was back in the hotel room. I tossed my work phone onto my office backpack and fall backwards into the easy chair sitting next to the bed. With a stab of my thumb I unmute the TV. Some talking heads on a cooking show were being overly excited for cilantro or something.
Her… Her… Did my boss say her name was Kim? Out of college no less… hmm
With a shake of my head I put the new hire out of my mind. No point in thinking that far into the future. Tomorrow was Friday. There was no way that I was jumping on a plane to Buffalo, NY in winter, in February, when it snows, when I don’t need to. Sunday should be fine. I’ll fly out then and get set for Monday. It’s not like I was in any rush since the next meeting I had was on Tuesday somewhere between Buffalo and Rochester.
Most people think Tennessee is nice in February. It can be in the sixty’s, but typically it is colder. Unfortunately it was the time of year were it actually was snowing. Not a lot mind you, but enough so that people who aren’t experienced with driving in it, tend to act like complete idiots.
Since it was the middle of winter, the days grew shorter and I missed seeing the sun for more than an hour a day. Unfortunately, I had been here for a little over a month working directly with a supplier. They couldn’t make the part to the specifications and they didn’t seem to know how to correct the issue. The work day got long quickly and I dreaded going back to the hotel at night. At least during the day you could be a little more social.
Nothing was good on TV. There wasn’t any reason to keep watching so it must be time to head out to dinner. The small city I’m in is called Johnson City. Yeah… if you’re a fan of country music, which I’m not, it’s that Johnson City. You know the one from Wagon Wheel…
Passing the reception desk, I get a nod of acknowledgement from the clerk on duty. Firing up the rental, I pull out of the driveway heading for a local bar I found on a previous trip here. The place wasn’t large, but the kitchen made a really good steak. The bartenders typically would make conversation between pulling beers. It was the best that could be done on a cold night.
Walking through the double doors of Pat’s, it’s like stepping into an 80’s biker bar that just forgot about the bikers and replaced them with hipsters drinking fruity alcoholic drinks. I still haven’t figured that one out, but there it is.
It had been a long day before my boss had called. I had placed a pick-up order and was expecting to pick it up when I walked in. Unfortunately, the to-go-box wasn’t ready so I pulled up a stool at the empty bar.
The beer taps were lined across the back wall, but I ignored them. Too much beer and only minimum exercise was making me gain weight even though it wasn’t yet showing. I could just kaçak iddaa feel it, you know? I removed my cellphone from my coat pocket and thumbed through some of my work emails. Better to get them out of the way instead of having to deal with them later.
The food came. I paid for it and went back to the hotel. Past the clerk who again nodded at me, hit the elevator button, unlocked my room, ate dinner, and passed out sometime after midnight with the TV on. Another long and boring day over with it. Nowhere to go Saturday so more TV and the internet planned for tomorrow.
Sunday morning finally rolled around. My flight was out of a little dinky airport with only four gates, but I was connecting into Charlotte so I could grab lunch there. Check in was a pain. Since the airlines had gone to automatic tellers, if the ID method didn’t scan correctly, or your credit card didn’t get read correctly, you were forced to start the entire process over again either at another kiosk or at the desk with actual people at it. There were some days that I pretended that the computer system wasn’t working so that I could have a few moments of real human interaction.
Check in at the kiosk actually worked today. Damn.
Security wasn’t that bad so the wait wasn’t long. For some reason the TSA had decided that there needed to be an express security line at this airport. What a waste.
Both go into a bin.
Wallet, cellphone, keys jammed into my work bag.
Onto the conveyer belt they go.
Through the body scanner. All clean.
Reverse the process.
Onto finding the gate 50 feet from security.
Waiting… waiting… waiting…
The flight is called.
Plane boarding and the flight.
Collecting bags at baggage claim.
Walking to the rental car area.
Selecting a car from the diamond members stall.
Check to see if there is a snow brush.
Drive to the hotel.
I dump my stuff onto the extra queen size bed in my room and jump into the shower. Flying all day made me feel greasy. I don’t know how it can be since you just sit and sit and sit when traveling by plane. It’s not like you are actually doing much.
I shut the shower off, wrap a towel around myself, and pull my work laptop out. My email program starts up and I figure it was finally time to learn something about the new hire that I was supposed to start training tomorrow. My boss had sent me a copy of Kim’s resume. Let’s see what it says. Probably a lot of cheerleading, president of such and such club, head of some sorority… My boss always tended to lean toward those kinds of recent college grads. Hell! I had been one of those when I finished school. Why would she be any different than all of the others at the company?
Finding the email, I open up her resume:
Kim Smith (Oh wow that is an original name)
Graduated with a degree in Business (yeah, already knew that)
GPA: 3.2 / 4 (Not bad, but not great either)
2015 – 2016: Jim’s Fish Shack – Waitress (typical freshman / sophomore year job)
2016 – 2018: Computer lab assistant (I wonder what that was)
2018 – 2019: Transfoam Manufacturing – Receptionist (so some exposure to dealing with people in business)
Drama Club, Adventuring Club, hiking, camping, dancing, painting
The resume did have more detail, but it wasn’t really anything special. She barely filled out a single page and there was a lot of white space on it. I’m not sure what my boss was thinking with regards to hiring this young lady, but there wasn’t a whole lot to go on from her CV.
I wonder if she has a social media profile…
Grabbing my laptop I fired up my browser and tried to connect to the internet. While the Wi-Fi said it was connected, I couldn’t get to the net. I tried my email and also wasn’t able to see anything. I guess the hotel internet was down. Oh well. I’ll just have to wait till tomorrow.
Ring… Bring… Ring…
“Ugg!” where is that damn phone! I groggily search the room with my half open eyes. Through the haze I can make out the little red light blinking in time with the telephone.
Ring… Bring… Ring…
“Hello” I answer.
“HELLO! THIS IS YOUR TEN FORTY FIVE WAKE UP CALL! THANK YOU FOR STAYING AT…”
The receiver gets slammed back on the cradle.
Why is it that you know you setup a wake-up call with the front desk, you know that it is going to call you, you know it’s an automated system, and you still say “Hello”?
The TV is still on from last night and I flip it to the weather channel. I knew Buffalo could get cold, but I wasn’t expecting it to be – 2 F today. Damn I was going to freeze my ass off. When you travel as much for work as I do, there are only so many things that you can take kaçak bahis with you. Big bulky items like ski jackets aren’t one of them. Layers… many layers… is how you get around the issue. The only problem with that is there are times when you really can’t shed the layers and you end up being the complete opposite of being cold. There have been days in which sweat was rolling down my sides and there wasn’t anything I could do about it because a supplier was sitting across from me.
There is snow outside the window once I pull the curtain back. At least the sun is out. Damn, the car is covered in snow and all that I have is that little useless snow brush that the rental company gives you. I had about an hour till I needed to leave for the airport. The good thing is we were going to stay in this hotel so I didn’t need to pack anything up or go through the entire check out process. Small victories.
My overcoat was warm and the extra layers helped, but I wish I had boots on to keep my feet warmer. Sneakers just doesn’t cut it when the snow is over your ankles. There was no way I was wearing my dress shoes in this weather just to pick-up someone at the airport and drive them back to the hotel.
Someone had cleaned their car off already in the space next to mine so I had a little bit of space to stand. Unfortunately however, all the snow that came off their car was now in the space right by my car’s driver side door. I try and pull the door open, but it is frozen shut. Rapping on the door panel finally frees it with a quiet pop. The door swung open unexpectedly and it pushed all of the snow in front of it onto my feet. Cold slush filtered into my shoes quickly reducing my feet into a wet, cold, and a numb mess.
At least it happened right away and all at once. Cleaning a car in the winter sucks, but it only gets worse when you clean a lot of snow off a car and right into your shoes.
With the car windows finally clean enough, I jump in the car and turn it over. Setting the defroster to high, I have to wait as the engine warms up. It takes a while for the front and rear windows to clear, but after about 15 minutes, the car is warmed up and ready to go. Popping the automatic transmission into low, I pull forward and out of the snow filled hotel parking lot.
The roads were really bad and getting decent coffee was a priority. I did have to watch the time so I could be at the airport in time. While it normally would take about 20 minutes to drive from the hotel to airport, I could see that it would take longer. My cellphone informed me that there was a coffee shop with a drive through window a few minutes down the road.
Coffee in the cup holder, the rest of the drive to the airport was slow. Traffic wasn’t really moving and the pavement was slick. There were car accidents all over the place. It look like some of the cars were abandoned overnight. Glad I wasn’t stuck in a ditch like some of those people. The coffee was actually really good for once.
When I pulled into the short term parking lot at the airport it was just about 12:45 pm. The walk to baggage claim took longer than I imaged. When I had arrived the other day, I hadn’t seen that some of the walkways were closed. Picking up my pace, I almost bit it on a patch of ice. Better to be a little late to meet the new girl than to be an early mess of cuts and bruises.
My boss’s email said that Kim was on flight AA 1015. The big board in bag claim said that the flight had already arrived and that the passenger’s bags were going to carousel 4. Not too far down the building I located where I was to meet my new charge. I had no idea as to who I was looking for or even where to look specifically for her for that matter.
It was packed! Parents trying to grab bags off the carousel while holding onto their kids, college kids heading to school for the new semester, old people traveling with their families sitting on benches, the easily identifiable honey moon couple heading to Niagara Falls, security guards shuffling about, the business travelers, were all over the place. Carousel 4 was at least three deep with people waiting for bags, skis, or whatever.
I’ve been in this type of chaos many times before, but this was way different. This time I was trying to find a needle in a haystack when I didn’t know what the needle looked like or even where the haystack was specifically. My head scanned the crowd looking for possible candidates. I quickly skipped on the men and boys since Kim was obviously not one of them. Anyone that was traveling with someone else was next to go. Anyone one that was under the age of 18 was next.
So now there was about 30 plus women that it could be. About ten were too old to have graduated college within a year. Twenty left.
One of them is caring a backpack and 2 roll around bags. That one isn’t her. My boss had said that Kim was going to travel with me for only a week which meant that there was no need for that much luggage. Other women eliminated themselves as potential matches one after another.
Three left near the carousel… It has to be one of them.
I was focused on the three women and didn’t notice that someone was approaching me from the direction of the door leading to the street and garage.
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