I’m back from my beating last weekend — just in time to take another.
I’ve got to fly half-way across the country for a three-day marathon of all-day workshops for a company I really do not like, dealing with people who are either nervous about their future… or are sizing me up to see if they can take my job.
I’m not being paranoid. I’m being practical. My behemoth company was acquired by another behemoth, and there are rolling layoffs. Supposedly, they need to “shed” 1/3 of the workforce to pay down the tens of billions of dollars of debt they took on, when they executed this purportedly brilliant idea.
Huh. Okay. Much as I don’t care for being compared to a husky’s winter coat that needs to be thinned in the springtime, reductions in force are a fact of life. They have been, for the past 15+ years, since people from overseas appeared who supposedly could do my job just as well as I — and cheaper, too! Woo hoo! How could management go wrong?
Ugh. Don’t get me started.
Anyway, back to my original reason for bemoaning my fate…
I have to fly out tonight, and I’ll arrive at my destination around midnight my time, 1:00 a.m. their time. Then I have to catch ride to the hotel with my coworkers… check in… try to get some sleep… and head out to my first workshop at 8:00 a.m. on Monday. Oh, look at the clock – that’s in 24 hours, almost exactly (give or take 4 minutes). Fun! </sarcasm – in case you hadn’t guessed>
Anyway, that’s just the deal on this trip, this time. And then it’s three days of all-day workshops sorting through details of merging two behemoth websites… hanging out with friends and strangers and colleagues alike… grabbing some lunch (fortunately, their cafeteria is very well-appointed – the one bright spot)… and finishing up the day with dinner out with “the team”, as they drag my weary ass around to loud, teeming venues with deafening music, too much activity, and no way to have a decent conversation with anyone in a normal tone of voice… followed by a few hours of sleep and waking up way too early. Last time I traveled there (last January), I kept waking up at 4:30, which is two hours before I usually wake up.
Oh, God, help me.
What to do? I’m trapped into this no-exit situation, because I don’t want to go looking for another job right now — I’ve got illness in my extended family, and I’ll need to travel intermittently. Plus, I have a really good boss who “gets it” about work-life balance/integration stuff, and I have a ton of leeway in terms of time and flexibility. No way, could I get that at a new job, right off the bat. And if I want to play, I have to pay. I have to be a team player, get with the program, etc. I have to travel. Hopefully not every single month, but on a semi-regular basis, for the duration of this year… or until they lay me off, which ever comes first.
Yeah, what to do?
Well, here’s my plan:
- Pack smarter. Last time, I brought too many clothes (I didn’t know what the dress style was, so I overpacked — 2x as many as needed). Now I know what the “dress code” is, so I don’t have to pack for every conceivable eventuality. I don’t even need to take a coat with me, this time. It’s going to be warm, and I can save the space. I can get away with fewer shoes, too. I even bought myself a new carry-on with wheels that’s 1/2 the size of my regular one and has wheels that don’t squeak as I roll them along. My old carry-on has been beaten up so badly, it’s in rough shape — not the impression I want to make while I’m traveling on business. Plus, it’s small enough that I’m hoping I won’t get flagged to check it, if the flight fills up. Packing more efficiently simplifies things, also, because it means I have to make fewer decisions in the course of my mornings — when I have less energy to sort things out. I also don’t have to iron as much, which is a plus – I won’t have much time on Monday morning to do ironing. Unless, of course, I wake up at 4:30, like I did last time.
- Eat right. Use up my full per-diem amount on decent food. Quit trying to save the company money, and just get that massive steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and spring greens. I’ve been much too conservative in my food spending on past trips. No more. This trip, I eat right. And I let the company pay for it. Since they’re forcing me to do this, it only seems right and fair. I’m big into fairness, this time.
- Get my morning exercise, dammit! Last trip, I didn’t take my swimsuit and I didn’t use the fitness center, which was a huge mistake. The hotel had a nice one, which I didn’t realize till I got there — total miscalculation, because not only did I have extra hours to work out and swim, but they also had a really nice pool and gym – which I could have discovered, had I simply checked out the website and made a call ahead of time. But did I? Noooooo… I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, to do that. I decided that I was going to suffer, and that’s exactly what I did. Total waste of time. And when I came to the end of my sojourn there, I truly felt as bad as I’d expected to. And it took me weeks to get back to baseline. Again a total waste of time.
- Take time for myself. Last time, I pretty much went along with what everyone else was doing (except for one night, when they all stayed up late drinking). My room was really awesome (I got an upgrade, because I’m a member in their rewards program, and I’ve stayed with the chain a bunch of times on other business trips. My room was comfortable and spacious, with a desk and a sitting area — similar to what’s shown above, but actually nicer. I could have spent a lot of quality time there — even with that terrible view of the roof of the parking garage across the way. I did spend some time in my room — but not so much at the end of the day, when I really needed it. This trip, I can always beg off from social stuff, because my Dad is sick, and I need to call home to make sure he’s okay. They’re still waiting for biopsy results, so I need to stay in touch. Even when we do get the results back, there’s still a lot to discuss, so I need to call my parents and siblings. That’s a great reason to beg off evening activities — especially since my colleagues love to drink and “hang out” in loud, raucous venues. Ugh. No thanks.
- Make better use of my time, this time. Last time, I intended to work on my book(s) during the flight and while at the hotel. I intended to blog, to think, to really take time to center in and focus on stuff I normally can’t, when I’m at home, taking care of stuff. That didn’t happen, last trip, and it was a total missed opportunity. I was too overwhelmed, too tired, too disoriented, to even think properly. I was processing all new information. But this time, I know how the trip goes, so I can relax some more.
And I’m more determined than ever to make this work far, far better than I did, last time. I really resent the lost time, last trip — and I’m putting that resentment to good use. Staying focused, keeping my priorities in mind, packing smarter, taking advantage of the opportunities that come — and also using whatever wiles I can muster to get myself out of those godawfukl situations. (Note: this is not a typo — “awfukl” is my new variant on “awful” that works much better for me — it was originally a typo, but it actually makes more sense — ha ha).
So, my next beating is right around the corner… and I’m ready to beat back.
We’ll see how it goes. But with less than 12 hours till my flight leaves, I’m feeling pretty optimistic. So, that’s something.