Many people travel a lot with their jobs. I see it all the time, because I'm a people watcher.
I'll be in an airport waiting for my checked bag and I'll see a well dressed gentleman gliding across the gleaming linoleum baggage claim floor toward the car rental counter. He's at the Hertz counter,not Budget rental, because his company knows the hardships endured while travelling for business, and they treat him right.
Like a human being. His reservations are made.
After 5 minutes with the car rental people, he strides toward the exit, smiling, with GPS in hand, heading for the "Gold Member" isle of cars. I have to squint as the light flickers off his spit shinned shoes. They're loafers. Easier to get through security that way.
Once seated in his Lexus sedan, I'm thinking he puts on some classical music, maybe some jazz, as he cruises to his 5 star hotel where the valet greets him by name.
AND THEN THERE IS ME.
I was recently asked by my crew coordinator, to do her a favor and work 1 extra week on another boat. They were short an engineer. It seems they fired one, but didn't hire another.
So I worked my regular 3 weeks on the boat and then contacted my coordinator for my travel itinerary. She responded quickly with an email stating I would be flying from Houston TX, where I got off my regular boat, to Corpus Christi where I was meeting the other boat.
Upon arrival in Corpus, I checked my email ( because no one in my company communicates any other way ) quite sure there would be information about a car I would be renting to get to the boat, or some contact information so I could connect with someone on the boat. I'm doing this lady a favor, a big favor by working this extra week. I just know I'll be pampered during this little transition.I could be home.
Nothing, nada. My email inbox is as empty as my ebay "winning bid" inbox.
I sit in a metal chair, and watch as all the people who flew in with me, pick up their bags and head out the door. Mr. shinny shoes glides by to the Hertz counter, enjoys a friendly conversation with the smiling agent behind the counter, and heads for the exit a moment later.
I think he was skipping.
I pulled out my phone and called my crew coordinator. She didn't pick up. She never does, but I left a message, knowing my girl would be calling me any second, because I'm doing her this big favor, and she owes me.
I stare at my phone, repeatedly checking to see if I have a signal.
I have a great signal!
The fact that I could actually HEAR my heart beat, did not deter me. I've been through this before.
Another flight arrives. 100 people scoop their bags off the baggage claim merry go round and head for the door.
I open my phone and text my girl. "Hello, I'm in Corpus. I don't know where the boat is and I need to know what plans you have for me. I'm sitting in a steal chair in baggage claim."
10 minutes go by, and my phone rings. Thank God, I think to myself. Finally she got back to me.
It's not her. It's the Captain on the boat. He called to tell me the boat is circling outside the sea buoy and won't be in port until tomorrow. I thanked him for the info.
I called the travel agent our company uses and asked what reservations have been made for me? Rental car? Hotel room? After a pause this very nice travel agent says, " noooo, I don't see anything here for you."
Another flight had arrived and people were doing more scooping.
The travel agent decided she would put me in a room and deal with my company later.
Why couldn't she be my crew coordinator?
As I threw my bags in the trunk of a smelly old cab, I noticed another well dressed, briefcase carrying, smiling business traveler heading to the car rental counter.
I pushed the stained newspaper aside and slid in the back seat of the cab.
The cabbie looked back, "where to?" he barked.
"The La Quinta Inn." I replied.
After a pause he said, "Do you know where it is?"