May 16, 2013
We arrived in Delaware without incident, but it was close. In Trenton there was a “if you see something say something” situation. The train pulled in to the station it was mostly empty. A few people got off, a few got on, and the station was more or less deserted. But from where I sat on the train, looking out the window and around the station, I saw a pink duffel bag sitting under a bench. A few people walked by but no one seemed to notice it and if they did, there was no one on the platform to report it too. I sat for a few minutes and wondered what, if anything to do, when the train pulled out.
Luckily (if sadly) it was most likely a little girl’s lost luggage since the Trenton Amtrak station , to this day, is still standing.
We pulled in to the train station and went outside to wait for our ride. While there, we met up with the missing fourth member of the team. She made the train at the last-minute and had to stand most of the trip. Meanwhile, we were standing some more, about half an hour more, while we waited for our ride.
This made no sense to any of us. Directly across the street from the station was a large office complex, our destination. We were waiting for a ride to pick us up and bring us across a nearly empty street. The building was so close that a half-way decent baseball player, or an exceptional Met, could have hit a pop fly to the lobby.
While we were standing there our ride arrived, and to my surprise it was the local regional superintendent for my Company. At the same time, my direct supervisor received a text that the location had changed. Nice timing. Poor planning but nice timing.
The first day of the trip was simply attending an all-associate meeting by the head of the Company In Which I Am Employed. I have sat at my desk and teleconferenced about ten of these so it was truly a waste of time to attend in person. But we had about two hours to kill before the meeting so my group and some related groups retreated to a private room in the conference center to do some team building exercises. In my days as a teacher I did dozens of those and they were not worth a two-hour train ride to another state. We tossed a beach ball around and whoever caught it answered a question like “if you had a yacht what would you name it?” (May answer- “Not The Titanic because I don’t want it to sink.”) and “If you could have the world’s largest collection of something, what would it be?” (My answer- “$100 bills.”) I was not asked “if you had any car in the world, which would you most like to drive?” (My answer- “The Batmobile.”)
Wilmington Delaware is about as big as my bedroom but has less to do. After the amazing Day One festivities ended at 3:00, my team waited for the hotel shuttle to pick us up. There was a very large, very nice, and very convenient hotel right across the street but due to circumstances beyond my control (my supervisor screwed up) we booked late and the hotel was full. We ended up staying in a hotel not just at the other end of town, but the other end of another town entirely.
We sat on a bench in the parking lot for over an hour and a half, during which I split my time between calling home and complaining and taking pictures of the minor league ballpark at the other end of the lot. (You can see my great pictures by clicking here.)
Not only had we traveled all morning and were tired, but we were also starving since our conference featured a “working lunch,” in which I had bites of a tuna wrap in between catching the beach ball. The highlight of the meeting was seeing the lone Canadian representative cut the stem off a strawberry with a fork.
After much pacing, grumbling, and complaining, the shuttle arrived and took us to our hotel. Normally, the driver explained, the trip to the hotel was only 25 minutes, but because of construction we would be taking a detour and would arrive in only 40 minutes. None of us were happy. When the driver asked where we were from, my boss literally kicked the back of my seat and said “answer him.” I had to ask him to repeat the question since I had totally zoned out as soon as I got on the shuttle, day dreaming about ditching all responsibility and going the heck home.
Meanwhile, later that night, other people from my company went out for fancy dinners, shopped in a fancy mall, or caught a movie. Not my team. We were stuck in the hotel.
Our hotel was located at the intersection of two highways and a swamp.
TO BE CONCLUDED