Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hello again!

If I have any readers left, hi there! I took a break from blogging, for no reason other than I've been busy and uninspired. I've been on a couple of trips, one to the Cleveland, OH area and one to Kansas and Missouri. Aw yeah, Wichita, baby! Not. How bleak. Although, I did get to tool around in a Lincoln Town Car. That was sweet. Rentals are so cheap there, I reserved a "premium" vehicle, but they didn't have any when I arrived, so they bumped me up to "luxury." Boy, it was a boat! Smooth ride though.

I flew Northwest, on "regional jets," which is their way of saying "tiny planes." That's fine by me, except we were only allowed one carry-on. Usually that means one piece of luggage and one personal item, such as a purse. But no. They meant one thing, period. They were seriously walking up to people waiting at the terminal, forcing people to check stuff, even small bags. There was no way I was checking my computer or my purse, so I jammed my purse inside my computer bag as best as possible and snuck through. There was plenty of room in the cabin, so I don't know what the big deal was. And the flight attendants were so mean compared to Southwest's. They made you pull up your shirt to prove you were buckled in, for crying out loud. And even though I've heard all the Southwest jokes a dozen times, I much prefer them to Northwest's dire seriousness.

I had two out-of-the-ordinary passes through security. At the airport in Wichita, they put me on an American Airlines flight to St. Louis, because the Northwest flight was delayed and I would have missed my connection. So I got to fly nonstop, which was nice. However, since the last-minute switch made it look like I had just bought my ticket that day, I was flagged for "special" security screening, which meant I got the full pat down and my luggage was rubbed with explosives-detecting patches. They searched my purse, rooting around in it for god knows what. My tiny tube of lotion was right on top, but they didn't say anything. Go figure. Then, in St. Louis, trying to get home, they x-rayed my shoes three times, and had to do a hand inspection with those patches again, because apparently one of the shoes has a metal rod and the other doesn't. Kay.

I didn't have much time in Wichita to explore. And perhaps my bleak view of that city, as well as Hutchinson, where my training was, has something to do with that. I can't imagine many small cities are amazing from the vantage point of the airport or a hotel room. From what I've read, Hutchinson actually has a pretty good space museum, and Wichita has Exploration Place and the Museum of World Treasures. So maybe next time.

What I was most excited about was seeing the arch in St. Louis. I never quite made it to the arch itself, although I certainly did see it from a lot of angles. Here's the view from the traffic jam I was stuck in for 20 minutes:

(I made the mistake of trying to go someplace downtown when the Cardinals were playing the Cubs that night, and the entire city was trying to get to the stadium.)

And here's what it looks like if you've crossed over into Illinois and turned around to come back into Missouri:

And here's what it looks like from the very nearby ghetto:

And here it is from a freeway overpass:

Apparently two days in a row shortly before my trip, they had power outages at the arch, causing hundreds of people to be stuck at the top, and even inside the elevators. So I wasn't keen on going to the top anyway. But I would have liked a photo of me in front of it. Good news is, I'm going back to St. Louis next week, so I'll have another chance. Hopefully there will not be another baseball game causing gridlock downtown!

While I've been galavanting about the country, back at the office there have been many announcements. First, we're moving on August 24. It will add about 10 minutes to my commute, which I'm not thrilled about, considering my first criterion when I bought my house was to be close to work. Ironically, now the office will be closer to my old apartment in Apex! This new location is apparently in a top of the line building, which is lovely and all, but the owner has decided no more business casual dressing because we have to project an image now. To whom?? Our customers never come to see us, so what does it matter how we dress? A couple of good things, though: we'll have a break room now, so we won't have to eat lunch at our desks, and I think the bathrooms will be nicer. Currently they are so disgusting! All of the toilet paper holders have been broken, so the TP rolls just sit around. And half the time people miss the trash can when they're drying their hands with paper towels. So hopefully this fancy-schmancy building will have a little nicer loo.

Part of the reason we're moving is we're going to be hiring 15 new employees in the coming months. That may not sound like a lot, except that there's only about 15 of us right now, so that's doubling the staff! I'm really wary that things are going to change a lot, not only with all the new people and positions, but even just the physical layout of the office. We're all going to be in cubes now, instead of basically one giant room, which I think will greatly change the social dynamic. It will be harder to joke around and stuff. Plus, the owner is going to be sitting back near us, so we'll have to keep quiet more anyway. I wonder what the face of the company will look like in a year. Exciting and scary at the same time!

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