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The “Joys” of Laboratory Informatics Travel

July 20, 2011
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No matter how many times I’m asked, I’m always taken aback when I’m asking if I like to travel. Few if any of us who travel for business enjoy it. We do it because it’s part of our job, even though we do what we can to minimize it.

Extremes in Site Attractiveness
It recently occurred to me that I’ve hit some travel extremes just in the last few years. Just in the last few years, I had a customer with the most beautiful and modern building and site I’ve ever been to. It was on a lake. Most of you are now thinking of a grungy chemical plant on a polluted lake but that’s not the case. This was on a scenic lake with sailboats and such. On nice days, we’d eat on the cafeteria patio by the lake. On nice days, I’d sit at the café at my hotel, sipping the local wine and just enjoying the view. For those of you who know how I’m almost always “doing something” I know that’s hard to imagine but I swear it’s true. The downside was that the modern building I worked in had facial recognition technology and I guess it didn’t like me because it kept insisting it didn’t know me and refusing to let me in. Sigh…

Recently, I ran into the opposite extreme. I worked with a customer in the worst section of town. They did take a moment to assure me that, since they hired a security detail to walk the grounds, that they now find fewer dead bodies in their parking lots. Indeed, I did not see a single dead body in the short time I visited their site (what a relief!!!). The upside was that the lunch shack next to their building had really great seasoned fries.

Other Extremes
Another travel extreme I ran into, a few months ago, was the United Airlines problem where their computers were down for five hours on a Friday night, causing travel havoc. When they finally got us out the door, manually (I don’t mean we flapped our arms, I mean that they checked our tickets off a list with pen/pencil instead of scanning us into the system), I still didn’t make it home because, close to home, we had to make an emergency landing due to smoke coming through the cabin of the plane. We were grounded until the next day, after all, and there were few seats open on the busy travel day after the five-hour shutdown, so it took awhile to get seats for everyone.

Now, in my last few days inChicago, we’re having and extreme heat situation. They’re reminding us how many people died the last time this happened. I’m lucky to be in air conditioning, but walking back-and-forth to the car, I can fell the wall of haze and I have to feel sympathy for those working in the heat for the day. It’s so hot that some cities are asking people with garbage days to put their garbage out the night before so the garbage can be picked up as much as possible before the sun comes up.

Finally
My point is this: those of you want people to travel should realize we’re not “lucky” to be able to travel. A lot can happen and, 99.9% of the time, it’s full of hassles. My own way of dealing with it is to find whatever silver lining I can. I look for things that are interesting, funny or, at the least, less awful than the rest of the situation. For example, I find it humorous to pass the prison, each day, with it’s invitation to “Visit Us (For Ten to Twenty…).” And, for those of you who know me well and who know how much I love bakery, when I tell you that I’m spending each morning trying a different Mexican bakery that this is yet another way that I infuse my day with some small amount of joy.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 21, 2011 9:50 am

    Uncanny that this came today. As you know, I travel some. I have gotten where I like to leave a little room between flight changes, etc. It allows for handling the unexpected.

    Last night I was watching “Happily Divorced”. The character Fran realized she did not like being alone. I realized why people have been surprised at my traveling by myself so much. I like it! Apparently a lot of people do not like being alone.

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