I had lunch with the Nashville Knucklehead on Friday and he suggested that maybe I should share some or my sordid business travel stories.
Now I admit I am a typical biz pig who has the opportunity to travel on the company dime all over the country and stay in some of the nicest hotels and resorts you can imagine. But most people can’t imagine how quickly this can get old, and if anything major goes wrong you can quickly be on the bobslide ride to hell. When I find myself sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in my boxers because I only brought one pair of pants for an overnight trip and I don’t want to spill the Bojangles dirty rice that I’m eating out of the bag while I drink a Dickel and Sundrop out of a 4 ounce styrofoam Ramada cup and watch some old Adam Sandler movie on the Spanktravision, I think to myself, “Damn, business travel is glamourous!”
The particular event that came to mind while talking to the Knucklehead occurred last year on the Sunday of the Masters while the aforementioned Knucklehead was standing on the #16 watching Tiger manufacture his extremely Nike-friendly miracle victory. (More on that later.)
I was in Manhattan attending my industry’s annual convention at the Waldorf Astoria, the jewel of NYC hotels. Picture a 30 story mausoleum full of white guys doing multi million dollar deals with other white guys while sitting on the edge of hotel beds in tiny $500/night hotel rooms like the world’s most expensive hookers. I’ve been going to this convention for about 15 years and I’ve gone from the youngest guy in the room to just another corporate tool with a receding hairline and a pinstripe suit. I do “rebel” by being the only guy out of a thousand with any facial hair.
A group of us from my company met in the basement of the Waldorf to have a $30 breakfast and plot out our strategy for the 20+ meetings we had planned with vendors over the next 3 days. Every hour on the hour from 7:00AM-6:00PM and then a dinner at the same Irish restaurant every night every year. Hundreds of world-class places to eat, and we go to the same damned place three nights in a row! And it’s an IRISH restaurant, a people renowned for their cuisine. It’s a grueling pace for anyone in the best of form, and Manhattan preys on the weak.
Unfortunately weak was what was in my future. I’m not sure what it was in the breakfast buffet, but midway through my second meeting I began to feel a little queasy. Then a little flushed. Then a little chilled. Then a lot of nauseous. Then it was obvious that it was going to be two exits, no waiting.
I squirmed through the end of the meeting and told the rest of my group I was going to have to skip the next appointment. I quickly duck-walked to the elevator and made it back to my room without a moment to spare. Aw hell, who am I kidding? I was a moment too late.
What followed was 36 of the most gut-wracking hours of my life. Conveniently, the bathroom of my junior suite was so small that I could throw up in the tub while sitting on the toilet, so at least I could multi-task. Believing I could rally, I would spend the time between dry heaves and wet leaves on my cell phone rescheduling and canceling appointments two hours in advance. I passed in and out of consciousness dreaming tremulous dreams and invariably waking up in my own filth like a 3 year old. I took to sleeping wrapped in towels until they were all exhausted so I just curled up in the tub.
Luckily, my tiny loo had a 6 inch black and white television in it, so I was able to watch Tiger will his ball into the cup on the 16th hole through a hazy gauze of semi-consciousness from my porcelain coffin/bidet. Needless to say, when I did check out 2 days later I finally removed the Do Not Disturb and left the maids a $50.00 tip on a note that simply read “Sorry.” I figured it was the least I could do for the CSI crime scene I left behind and to pay for the washrag I wore beneath my suit pants on the flight home as swaddling clothes. My slightly J-Loish ass was definitely less potentially embarrasing than the alternative.
The convention trip is rolling around again in a few weeks, but I’m going to give it a miss this year. My buddy Knucklehead has been gracious enough to forego his spot at the Masters so that I can go for the first time. Hopefully, I won’t find myself using the sandtraps as litter boxes…