Doctor’s Orders

Often times, I find myself trying to do as much as humanly possible in any small pocket of time that I have. Let’s be honest, not often times, all the time. Not too long ago, I was headed to Dallas to share a few ideas with some of our newer Account Executives. My flight was around noon which meant if I got up around 5:00 am, I had a little time to attend to my domestic duties and still make my flight. Clearly I was going to do this. 5:00 am rolls around, and I pop out of bed. I knew I had a small to do list of things I wanted to knock out while I was home. Weeding my flower bed was one of them.  Out I go to grab some pesky weeds. As I head back in I noticed that my hand was really itchy; however, there was no indication of any kind of sting or bite. At this point I ignored it, hopped in the shower and went on my way.

Over the next hour or so I, as made my way to my flight, I noticed my hand becoming increasingly more swollen. What is normally a veiny and boney hand quickly became a hand that looked like a latex glove that some 7 year old blew up like a balloon. When I landed, I knew I had to see a doctor. I truly couldn’t bend my fingers. Being in an unknown town, I decided use Google to help me decide which Urgent Care to go to. I found what I thought was the perfect one.

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I jumped in an Uber and headed to the doctor’s office. I walked through the door with my huge hand trying to grip my suitcase and awkwardly open the door for myself (if you travel you know the exact awkward, door and suitcase situation I am talking about).  As expected the door hit me and my suitcase on the way in. I walked up to the receptionist.

Upon check-in there was a note on an index card taped onto the counter “Ring Bell for Service.”  I was all in at this point. I rang the bell.  A few minutes later an older man came to the reception desk and asked how he could help. I showed him my hand and began to tell the story. He said “let’s just check-in and you can explain that to the nurse.”  As I am in the waiting room filling out my clipboard, I hear the man ask me again what the problem was. Only this time, he yelled across the waiting room. Granted, I was the only one in there, but there has to be some sort of HIPAA violation for asking for medical ailments from across the room. Rather than shouting, I walked back to the desk and quietly explained my massive hand. He again redirected me to the nurse. At this point, I’ll admit, I wouldn’t have minded my Uber coming back, getting door slapped again and heading to a new Urgent Care. Instead I forged on.

Upon completion of my paperwork, the receptionist asked me to be seated and told me the nurse would call me back. I waited approximately 15 seconds when I hear “Mrs. Foster?” in a tone of question as if there was anyone else in this establishment. The voice was familiar. “That’s me,” I said as I walked back to the open door. I was shocked to see The Receptionist. He walked me to the scale and said “we will be in Room 4.” He weighs me and asks for my height and then escorts me to Room 4. I sit down, decently confused. He says to me” what seems to be the problem?” I glance over my shoulders wondering if someone was playing a trick on me. He just stared at me waiting for a response. After I realize that he was genuinely waiting for a response, I said, “didn’t you want me to save these details for the nurse?” He said “I am the nurse.” Rather than inquiring more, I decided to go with it. After all, I work for a company that sells HR software than handles multiple position employees very well, so who am I to judge? I just wanted a stinking steroid so I could get the full value of my apposable thumb again. I explained to the nurse what happened. He jotted down a note or two, and told me the nurse would be right with me. He took his notes and my clip board and left. I could hear the clipboard go into the file holder on the other side of the door. You all know that noise. It’s the same one you hear when the doctor is grabbing it and asking the nurse what is going on before they walk in and consult you.

I wait about 10 minutes. Let me remind you, I am the only person in this place, and since I had been back in the room, there was no bell ringing indicating a new patient walked in. I hear the clipboard pick up and in comes the doctor. Get this y’all- it’s the same guy! No lie. I giggle a bit, but he is stone cold serious. “My notes tell me you may have been bitten by something making your hand swell. My jaw is dropped, but at this point, I decide to play along. “Yes, I was telling the nurse that I was gardening this morning and then on my plane flight, it just blew up. Do you see how big it is in comparison?” I showed him my hands side by side as if it were the first time I had done so. He analyzed them and then asked me what my sign was. I clarified, “as in my zodiac sign?” This was what he wanted to know. After telling him I was a Pisces, he got very theoretical about my life and choices and relationships and on and on and on. I reigned him back in, “so about my hand.” Eventually he determined that there was a 90% chance it was a spider bite, and I would be best treated with a steroid. He left the room and told me I could proceed to check out for my prescription.

Check-out and check-in were the same window. I waited patiently for my One Man Wonder to show back up with my script. As expected, he met me at the window with the bell. He said “I noticed you have a suitcase. How will you get to the pharmacy to get the meds?” I explained Uber. He was not comfortable with this so he demanded he drive me to the pharmacy. THIS IS A TRUE STORY.

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Well, for those of you who know me, I tend to just go with things. After a little push back, I agreed to ride with the “Docurseceptionist”. Semi-nervously, I follow him to the back of the building. We load up into his minivan. It had seen better days, and he had SpongeBob rubber floor mats. I would like to think they were for his children, but he was well into his late 50’s. I went to sit in the back. He insisted on me being in shotgun. At this point, if he was gonna kill me, my minivan placement wasn’t going to prevent that. On the 7 minute ride, he went back to the zodiac breakdown of me.(This is where I secretly snapped the photo). We pulled into CVS where I attempted to say my goodbye. The One Man Wonder said he would wait while I got my steroid and then drive me to my hotel. Hmmmmm… This is probably where I should have drawn the line.

You guessed it? I went with it. As I go to fill my drugs, I make quick friends with the pharmacists. As she checks me out, I quietly ask her if the drug she is giving me seems to align with a spider bite or one that may make a female go comatose. Refreshingly, it was the former. The One Man Wonder drove me to my hotel, wished me luck with my hand, and sent me on my way. I was fairly certain he was going to turn up in my hotel closet when I checked in, but he was just genuinely taking care of his patient. You simply can’t make this stuff up.

Until next time, it’s Flu season so, Always Clean Your Tray Tables.

A Business Traveler’s Resolution 2018

A dear, dear friend of mine gave me the great idea of creating a Top Ten list of 2018 Traveler’s Resolutions. Some of them will be specific to helping me grow, and some will be beneficial to all of us who travel on a constant basis. I have learned in my life that it’s the little things in life that go the longest way.

As I always do, I will start with a story.

As I was travelling to Dallas on Thursday, I forgot my new Bath and Body Works lotion was in my in my check on bag (such a rookie move). Ugh! As I saw my little, unnecessary suitcase get pushed off to the rubber gloves attendant checking line, I was so frustrated. I knew what it was. Couldn’t I just take it out and chuck it and move on? Nope, I had to wait and wait instead. As I stood there waiting my turn to have the rubber gloves run all over my undies, I watched as people lost perfumes, lotions, wrapped gifts and hair products that were clearly expensive. Some would shrug their shoulders, some would beg, some would be rude and some cry. It was interesting to watch, as  I sincerely love watching people. The gal just before me was kind of an eccentric chick. You could tell she didn’t travel often, but she didn’t suck at it. She took off her boots knowing that that had the steel rods in the heels, and she didn’t wait until waved into the scanner to go through knowing it was meant to be a fluid flow. Rubber Glove Guy frisked her floppy, little, hippy-looking bag only to find a little, tiny body spray. You could tell it was cheap, and it was mostly gone anyway. He held it up to her and she smiled and said “Hey man, thanks for doing your job and keeping us all just a little bit safer in our times of travel.” She went on her way.

Clearly, it’s this kind of thing that makes me take my AirPods out and attempt to engaged in a conversation. I rushed through my frisking, and did all I could to end up next to her on the train. Seeing as I normally get my way,  this happened. I put my AirPods completely away, and I told her, “Hey listen, I am in an airport about 50% of the days, and I really admire the way you handled losing your spray to security. I have seen so many rude reactions to people who are just doing their job. After all, the rules haven’t changed in about a decade, right?”

The hippie chick went on to tell me a story, albeit short, it was quite inspiring. Immediately when I heard it, I thought to myself, this is awesome. There are only a few people in the world who care enough about other people to do something like this for someone else. I have a handful of friends who fit this category, but not many. I know in 2018, I want to be one of them.

She said, “I didn’t used to be that nice, but you will never believe what happened to me. I was traveling to see my sister in Austin last month because we were working an exhibit. We are both artists, and we were working on a project together. It had been forever since I had traveled, so I absentmindedly, packed my art supply in my large carry on. There was approximately $400 worth of NEW paint in there all of which were over 3oz. in volume. As soon as I saw my bag go in for checking, I knew what I had done, but  I couldn’t miss my flight to go check it because of the exhibit. My heart sunk, my stomach turned over and my eyes filled with the biggest of tears. The man found the paints and asked what I wanted to do. You could tell he felt terrible. I explained that all I could do was leave them. I know for some business travelers, $400 isn’t much, but for me it’s almost a month’s rent, and big hit in my budget.” I stood quietly listening and honestly, I was fighting back tear for myself as she told the story. All I wanted was to have a stack of Amazon cards to dump into her hemp bag.

She went on, “I returned to Atlanta early Monday morning, and saw a TSA gate attendant with a brown grocery bag waiting at the top of the escalator with my name on one of the white boards. As soon as I saw it, I knew. He handed me the bag and smiled. Not only did the agent save my paint, but he went the extra step to find out my return time and wait on me to return them to me. Ever since then, I simply find the best in each situation and realize that they are just doing their jobs. Anyway, this my stop.” Jaw dropped, I said “I am Meredith. Merry Christmas. You just made my day.” She said “Bye Meredith. I am Iris. Merry Christmas to you too.”

Meredith (and hopefully Other Traveler’s) 2018 Travel Resolutions

  1. Carry a stack of $5 Starbucks Gift Cards to give to service men and women and exceptionally caring flight attendants.
  2. Give up an aisle seat for a middle when I can tell it would make the flight extremely more comfortable for them.
  3. Find an opportunity to take a First Class selfie with everyone in it and post on the blog.
  4. Compliment three fellow travelers on every trip, but make them authentic. I know if I take off my AidPods and look and listen, there are plenty of compliments to give.
  5. Sing a song with a fellow traveler in a plane, a train, an Uber or a hotel.
  6. When I see someone crying from leaving someone they love at the airport, remember for a minute, that the airport isn’t always a place of business, but for some, it’s goodbye to their friend, spouse or parent. Perhaps it’s a trip to say goodbye to a lost loved one. Perhaps it’s for a joyous occasion to see a new baby or a wedding, but maybe from someone who can’t conceive or who has been looking for “the one” for years. Take time to look around and be willing to hand over a tissue, be more patient in security or just simply make eye contact and say hello to them. In a nut shell, just slow down for a second.
  7. Snap a photo with a pilot with the cockpit in the background.
  8. Don’t eat more than one pack of Biscoff cookies per week.
  9. Pack my backpack with a small toy or fidget for the crying baby or toddler and give it to them when they can’t be consoled by a parent’s love. When the parent’s look at me and apologizes, simply say “Don’t worry. I get it. You’re doing a great job at the hardest job on Earth.”
  10. Always leave an individually wrapped Lysol wipe in the seat behind me for the next person so that they may “Always Clean Their Tray Table”.

Cheers to great trips, fun people, time with girlfriends on the weekend, new stories, and clean tray tables in 2018! Thanks for following!

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It’s Not You, It’s Me.

One day I realized that my blog posts might actually be more about me and my personality (um how do I say this nicely) ”quirks.”  So a friend offered to pen an autobiography.  We’ll call her Debbie because she nailed it like Dallas. I can’t believe how well she knows me or maybe I am just that obviously weird.

I follow my own (kinda crooked) arrow.

I started this blog because I notice things like how Holden was observant to the world around him.  I find humor and wonder in the goings on of every day.  I love people and their nuisances.  However, I’m also self-aware enough to know that my “observations” could also be a by-product of my OCD. I think I’m a bit OCD but not the kind where people say they have OCD instead of just calling themselves what others call them; anal.  Is asking for an airline blanket to be able to put your backpack and shoeless feet on anal or OCD?  Sure, some people make their hotel bed (only on an upper level floor – not a bed in a ground level room with exterior doors and definitely not in a room with adjoining doors) before the cleaning crew visits but do they also clean the shower, wipe down the toilet, recreate the first tissue box tissue pretty poof and then check all that three times before leaving the room?

So here are a couple of details about little ‘ole me.  Yep, I’m kinda little.  Sometimes I need help hefting my suitcase into the overhead bin.  I’m strong but, well, not tall.  And I’m not quite that ‘ole yet.

I was raised in the south, close knit family and all which accompanies that.  I think nowadays it’s called dysfunctional.  My people owned a meat and three in Bodunk, North Carolina.  My waistline didn’t like it but the primary recipe ingredient growing up was Crisco, we are talking white gravy-white biscuit-deep fat fried southern.   I grew up with what I like to call three brothers but technically only one pain in the neck of a brother and two similar cousins, so I was a bit of a tomboy.  “Hey watch this! Ouch!” was my motto growing up. I still got that attitude. By the way when you lose at anything in my family you will get heckled by goat sounds coming from the mouths of all of them so I’m now a tad bit competitive.

I used to be kinda big, um lb number started with a “2” at some point, but I’m not anymore.  That experience has shaped me (smaller dresses means more of them, neatly, in my suitcase next to my travel steamer) and gave me insight into the adage, “everybody’s going through something.” So I like to think it also helped me to develop, at least my old weight’s worth, in empathy awareness.

I’ve been lucky to have a bunch of life experiences from surfing on the coast while getting a couple of college degrees to being a ski bum in CO.  That has helped me become a gal who likes steak tartare and Russian River Valley chards (I do like the wines) as much as chicken wings.  But I don’t eat chicken wings so much anymore because we have some chickens in our backyard at our house, you know the kinda house with the fence in the front yard?  I love my chickens but I also love that we are five minutes from a metropolitan area where I can play tennis in a competitive league and whoop some stay at home mom ass.  My friends give me a bit of grief every occasionally.  I buy cute tennis outfits and then get on the court and grunt when I serve.  But, in my defense, it takes a lot of might for a short gal to get the ball over that net.  Some of that grief from my friends also comes from belting out Patsy Cline tunes when I get a little tipsy. “Tipsy” is what us Southern gals call drunk.

My favorite TV show is Jeopardy.  I kinda got a thing for Alex Trebeck, c’mon who doesn’t like an ageless, witty, sometime mustachioed Canadian? I love being able to answer all those questions in the comfort of my own home where people don’t think I’m showing off by being a smarty pants, I just like the game of it all.

While I used to be all about hemmed jean shorts, some kind of athletic sandal with unnecessary amounts of Velcro and shaved bangs (thank Heavens I was funny otherwise I would have had zero friends) I’m now as comfortable in an Ann Taylor Loft suit in a boardroom as I am getting spider bites planting peonies in my yard.  One day, I’ll write about the time my finger swelled up so big from a spider bite I had to visit an urgent care directly after getting off the plane and the 67 year old urgent care doctor insisted on giving me a ride in his Subaru to my hotel all the while explaining to me the virtues of dream catchers and zodiac signs.

My work takes me all over the country where I give presentations to a bunch of guys in suits in boardrooms but I also have audiences of people with their “feet on the street.”  My favorite parts of my job are working with my team and helping to try to craft creative, audience specific, presentations and messaging.

I travel so much I’m referred to as “Norm” in the Sky Club, Baggage Claim Carousel B Restaurant, every Marriott lobby bar,…….you get the point.  My life experiences and my desire to escape a little bit, I don’t have the attention span to read novels, compels to me write this blog.

And remember, ALWAYS CLEAN YOUR TRAY TABLES.

Backpack on a blanket- come on!

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First Classless

I think the Travel Blog Gods were among me when I decided to write this blog. Since I started Dirty Tray Tables last week, I have not had one single flight, Sky Club visit or Uber that was not interesting. Last Thursday, I was traveling from my hotel to my meeting with a coworker. The Uber driver got out to load our suitcases into his trunk. When we looked down we noticed, he was only wearing one shoe, and he acted like that was not odd at all. He loaded our bags, opened our doors and we were on our way. What I don’t understand is why he would wear one shoe? I say go all or nothing- wear both or embrace your inner hippie and wear none.  ShUber for the win!

As the day continued, it got even better. After my meeting, I headed on to the next town. If I am not in first class, I am typically the last to board the flight. I see no reason for me to race onto the plane when I can knock out 30 minutes of work or another Sky Club Chardonnay during boarding time. This day; however, I was first class, so I loaded up with the rest of the Fancy Pants. I was assigned to seat 4B which meant there were twelve other Fancy Fliers in front of me and two others to the side of me. As I was boarding, I noticed a situation boiling.

Main Character #1- There was a man in 4C, let’s call him “Charleston”. He was wearing nicely pressed khakis, those cute loafers with the little knobs on the heel with no socks, a belt with some sort of embroidered palm tree or fish on it, right leg crossed so that foot just barely crosses into the aisle, brown hair that was professionally longer and sporting a strong pastel dress shirt. I would imagine on the weekends he frequents low country boils and a variety of trendy brunch spots on King Street.

Main Character #2- There was a man boarding First Class right in front of me, seat unknown. Let’s call him “Dude”. Dude was wearing scraggly jeans, the kind with the extra big pockets and the hammer holders. The bottoms of them were frayed in the back due to them being too long. He was wearing black shoes with black laces, not sneakers but not dress shoes either; I don’t have a term for those types of shoes. His T-shirt was black with concert dates on the back, and you could tell it had been washed a couple hundred times. He sported a ball cap and was still wearing his sunglasses, the kind that have thick arms and wrap tightly to the face. His hair was short, but he was due for one of those mid haircut neck clean ups.

Charleston was settled in and fiddling on his iPad. I was in line behind Dude. Dude had a normal sized roller-board suitcase with a whole bunch of unnecessary straps flapping around and 3 of the bag tags you fill out when you check in your bag. Charleston was minding his own business when Dude started aggressively trying to jam his suitcase in the overhead bin. Mind you, this was First Class; there were plenty of open spaces for bags. He continues making a touch of a scene banging and huffing and making noise. Charleston removes his expensive sound-reducing headphones and politely said, “Hey man, need any help?” Dude came completely unglued! He started banging his bag and Charleston’s bag around. He said aggressively to Charleston “Maybe if your bag was TSA regulation size we wouldn’t be dealing with this situation (insert a line of bad words here). Charleston then stands up and starts to rearrange, and right before my eyes Dude shoves Charleston out of the way and continues to berate him about his bag size. Charleston remained calmer than I would have- classy southern upbringings I guess.

This is where I come into the story. Seeing as I ALWAYS check my bag, I tapped Dude on the shoulder. “Dude, I just have a backpack. Why don’t you put your bag in the WIDE OPEN bin above my seat?” Dude complied. Charleston was back in his seat, fancy headphones on, leg back crossed. Dude was settled down a bit with bag stored. Dude finally pulls out his phone to find his seat. He taps on Charleston’s shoulder and says “that’s my seat” pointing to the seat right next to him. What are the chances??? The awkwardness was too much for me to handle on a 2.5 hour flight, so I looked at the Dude and said (in my “I used to be a teacher” voice) “why don’t you take my seat, and I will sit in between the two of you. After all, I don’t mind a middle seat since I don’t have very broad shoulders”. Charleston was very thankful, and I spend the next 2.5 hours sitting in between Hatfield and McCoy.  As my dad always says “There is simply no substitute for class, first class in this case.”