Tag Archives: business travel

Here’s to eavesdropping

I was standing in a crowd of people today, unintentionally eavesdropping on the conversation of two people standing close by.  I admit it.

I even told them.

eavesdroppingOne of the woman said she was going to walk to the train station in Philadelphia after our meeting ended. I was headed there, too, and I knew that walking that far was out of the question…especially with luggage, which we both had.

So I told her.

We ended up sharing a cab. We also ended up on the same train — she was headed to New York City as well.

It was her first train trip, first trip to Manhattan, first trip to the cafe car.  She was joining friends here for the weekend.  I usually travel alone on business, but watching her excitement at every step of the journey made what was a routine trip home for me a lot more fun.

Glad I was listening!

Can you say spin-off?

When I travel for business, I often go from the airport to the hotel and back again, which doesn’t guarantee much of a view.

Of course, my hotels don’t often look like this —

Chateauform

This is where I’m staying today:  the Chateauform Schloss Löwenstein, located 45 minutes from the center of Frankfurt, Germany.

It’s part of a chain, if you can believe it — one of a collection of properties set in a private parkland well outside the city.  The castle has been fully renovated, somehow maintaining its period details while being outfitted with all the bells and whistles you need at a conference center.

It has its own winery and spa.  Two serve-yourself-anytime bars.  Archery.  There’s even a resident chocolate lab in the lounge named Easy.

It’s all so…Downton Abbey, don’t you think?

Quick trip

I just attended a business meeting at an airport hotel.

hilton chicagoNot near the airport. Not within two miles.  Not conveniently offering a hotel shuttle.

In the airport itself.

I never went outside. I never saw the city. Heck, I never even saw the sun except from the meeting room windows (and we drew the shades).

Then I jumped on a plane and headed home — on an earlier flight, no less, because I was at the airport and could.

Is it wrong to want to minimize the travel in my business travel?  To reduce the trip to the quickest way between points A and B and back again?  To forget the city my meeting was in because I never made it to the city?

You know, I’m okay with that.  ‘Cause I’m almost home.

Tiny memories

I finally put up my Christmas decorations today.

Just made it under the wire.

I’m not usually this tardy.  But a slew of business travel in December left me only two days to prep the apartment for the holidays.

My Christmas decor is much like my day-to-day — contemporary, with graphic patterns and solid colors.  But there are a couple of pieces from my childhood that still make the cut.

tiny sackOne is a vintage tabletop sleigh complete with Santa, elf, reindeer and — best of all  — a sack of toys with real toys inside.  They are teeny tiny things, probably saved from Cracker Jack prizes (back when they were actually cool) and party favors.

We always loved knowing that there was real loot in that tiny bag.  But we weren’t surprised…

Santa — even the tabletop variety — always comes through.

Deep in my heart

I fly to Germany tonight.

It’s for business — as is most of my travel — but every time I think about my upcoming stay in Heidelberg, it takes me back to junior year at the University of Kentucky.

I ushered every performance of The Student Prince, an operetta in four-acts that did a week of performances at the university arts center. The musical is set in Heidelberg, and after seeing that many shows in succession, it is what I associate most with the city.

When I walk into a pub this week, I fully expect to hear choruses of “Drink, Drink!” (and if I don’t, might be forced to start a round or two myself).

That operetta must be playing year round in Heidelberg — wonder if I could see it again in the motherland?  It has been a year or two since my junior year.

Time to make some new memories in Deutschland.

Soupy

Ready for a piping hot bowl of peanut butter soup?

No need to adjust your monocle, Mr. Peanut. I said soup.

My taxi driver in Fort Worth is a big fan. I had never heard of it. But he hails from Ghana, where peanut butter soup is a staple, and I grew up in Kentucky, where chicken noodle is king.

The concoction is surprising un-exotic — just a mixture of veggies, chicken broth and the all-important scoop of peanut butter.

Add some jelly, and it would be more American. And less healthy.

Which might be the same thing.

Belly up

Remember The Accidental Tourist, starring William Hurt and Geena Davis?

(It came out way back in 1988 — Davis won an Oscar.)

Hurt portrayed travel writer Macon Leary, whose books were geared toward people who want to travel with “the minimum fuss and as little impact as possible on their lives.”

I realize I have become somewhat of an ‘accidental’  business traveler.

Once I hit the airport, I am focused on one goal:  getting to my destination as quickly as possible (with supporting goals of checking email, charging my phone and getting snacks for the plane). Though surrounded by literally hundreds of people, I’m in my own little world.

Even yesterday, with two hours until departure, I charged with single minded determination toward my gate at LAX.  But a chance glimpse of the UK-Florida basketball game in progress on a TV in an airport ‘On the Border’ pulled me up short.  So I decided to stop and watch.

Now, I usually always ask for a table in a restaurant.  Tables give me room for my entree and my phone or magazine or book.  It’s just more comfortable…and more private.

But yesterday, there wasn’t a table in sight, so I took a seat at the bar… and was quickly reminded of all the reasons why bars are great in the first place.

The bartender was a character — quick with a refill and a clever word.  The guy next to me was also a college basketball fan…and a proud grandfather.  When I started cheering on the Cats, a couple at the other end of the bar joined in.

Soon a UCLA alum and union organizer — who knew that job still existed?  — sat down and joined in the conversation.  When the Cats defeated the Gators, the whole bar joined me in clapping.

I was sad to have to leave.

But now back in New York, I can enjoy thinking about the people I met ‘by accident’ on my way home from work.

Bacon benies

Ask any business traveler — the success of any off-site conference, meeting or training session hinges upon one essential element:

BACON

It’s that simple.

Any time you gather together individuals for two or more days away from home — away from their families, their routines, their creature comforts — you must provide bacon at breakfast to insure their stamina and good health.

(I mean mental health, of course.)

Even if these businessmen and women don’t regularly eat bacon at home, offering them bacon each morning during your meeting will automatically adjust their attitude towards the positive, making them more tolerant for whatever amazing agenda your company has planned.

I know of what I speak.  It’s Saturday.  I’m working all day at a meeting in Los Angeles.  My head won’t hit the pillow until the wee hours of the morning.

How will I motor through?

Bacon.  It’s what’s for breakfast.

Cold blooded

Once again, I’ve managed to visit Miami without making it to the beach.

Yep.  My shuttle is driving me back to the airport, and I never stepped foot outside the hotel.

Wait…I did take a couple of photos off of my balcony this morning — does that count?

This is not the first time this has happened.  Work takes me to a warm, sunny clime…and I don’t even make it outside to enjoy it.

I’m an embarrassment to business travel.

I could blame my schedule, I suppose.  Or my skin, which is very fair and shouldn’t be exposed to the sun much anyhoo.

But the truth is…beaches just don’t appeal to me up close and personal.  They are beautiful to look at in photos, and lovely to dream about from afar.  But once I’m at the beach, I really don’t want to spend that much time on it.  Looking at it out the window will suffice.

So off I go, back to the cold wintery streets of Manhattan.

I can hardly wait!

Hair show

I have been on the road for the past five days, which means I’ve heard the following phrase a lot:

“Do people tell you that you look like…Kathy Griffin?”

Why, yes…yes, they do.  Pretty much every day.  But especially when I am in airports or train stations or anywhere that people — gay men in particular — think Kathy might be out and about.

I think it’s the hair more than anything.  I’m sure if we stood side-by-side, they’d notice I’m a good half-foot taller, eat more and curse less.

I really don’t mind.   Even though Kathy’s show on Bravo is called “Life on the D-List,” let’s face it — the lady is an A-List celeb now.  She’s won two Emmys and has been nominated for two more this year.

If you watch the “D-List,” which used to simply chronicle her attempts to promote her tour — you’ve probably noticed it’s morphed into something decidedly more high concept this year.  Yes, she’s still a shameless self-promoter, but now she’s using her celebrity to draw attention to causes she believes in, like the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and ovarian cancer awareness.

Her methods are uniquely Team Griffin, which means she is often cleaning up messes she made along the way.  That’s what makes the show so hilarious.

That…and her toilet of a mouth.