Week Five: Initiation
Hello friends! So far in my adventures, I’ve written four installments of this blog, each taking place in either DC or Minneapolis. Kinda repetitive, right? Well not this week –I had my first official trip someplace else! I ventured to…Oklahoma City!
Well, not really. That’s what I thought OKC would be like, but I saw no cowboys. There is a Cowboy Hall of Fame (it’s got a new name now, but Cowboy Hall of Fame just sounds cool, so that’s what I’m calling it) in Oklahoma City, and my clients were even nice enough to give me a free ticket! Sadly, I couldn’t go as the museum is open from 10am-5pm. That’s the thing about being a consultant (or probably any job where you travel for work, unless your job is to sight-see or eat delicious food) — you don’t really have the time to do anything fun in the city you visit. So…if anyone reading this is going to OKC before the end of the year and you’ll be able to do some midday sightseeing, drop me a note and I’ll send you a ticket to the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Then you can go and tell me how cool it is!
Okay, back to this week. In Week Three, I was granted Honorary Minnesotan status by my friend and colleague, Mark Egge. This week, I believe I’ve officially earned my consultant street cred. In this business, crazy things happen, and you have to be able to go with the flow and/or have a Plan B. Here are the ways in which I was tested this week (Did I pass??? Read to the end to find out!):
- Disclaimer: this one has nothing to do with consulting, so it’s more an example of how I failed to exercise general common sense. My trip started with a weekend layover in Chicago to celebrate the wedding of two of my favorite people, Brett and Laura. Their ceremony was at Navy Pier and it was beautiful. We celebrated with champagne and tiny desserts, which was perfectly appropriate for a ceremony that ended at 11am. I am a dessert fan, and tiny desserts mean that you can have infinitely more dessert, so I loaded up! After the champagne toast, my friend Mark and I went out to grab lunch before the celebration reconvened later that evening. I ordered some fish sliders and fries, and felt ill a couple bites in. By 4pm, I felt so ill that I ended up skipping out on the evening party altogether. Life lesson from my stomach to my brain: never eat the sweetest thing ever and immediately follow it by the saltiest thing ever. It won’t end well.
- Fast forward to OKC. Upon arriving at my hotel on Sunday night, I opened up my laptop to get some work done before my client engagement the following day. My laptop screen was cracked, resulting in the rest of the display being a big, scrambled mess. Have you ever even tried to pick up your dry cleaning on a Sunday night? Don’t bother; the dry cleaners isn’t open. No one is open on Sunday night. I called the number I was instructed to call only in the event of the Blue Screen of Death (I figured this qualified figuratively even though it wasn’t technically a blue screen), and got a call back not too long after. The tech I spoke to was very nice and helpful, but acknowledged that he couldn’t do anything for me that night. They would overnight me a replacement the following day, meaning I’d receive it at the client site the second day of my engagement. Looks like I’d be working on my iPad until then. Interesting background on this story: apparently, the version of laptop I have is notorious for having problems, and nearly all of my colleagues have had one break on them, so now I’ve joined the club. As a former computer services person, it causes me great shame to say that I destroyed a machine within a month of getting it, but in my new world, I just went from consultant to Consultant. Graduation! Life lesson learned: swaddle my delicate new machine in bubble wrap in all future travels.
- I woke up on Monday morning and mapped out directions to the client site. If you read my post from last week, you know that DC traffic is awful. When I work in the office, it takes me about 90 minutes (one way) to get to work. So client engagements are like a commuter vacation for me. Sure, I have to fly to get there, but once I’m there, I’m usually at a hotel within a mile of the client site. I was about a mile from one of our OKC clients, but not the one I was going to visit. My client was a full 30 miles away! Looks like I’ll get to see what Oklahoma City traffic is like too! Life lesson learned: be sure to specify which client I’m going to see when making travel arrangements, and review my travel information before embarking on the trip.
So…did I rise above my trials? In spite of these challenges and mishaps, I had a wonderful two day engagement with the client, and I enjoyed what I did get to see of Oklahoma City (which was extended thanks to my 30 mile commute). On Monday night, I went to a part of town called Bricktown for dinner and had a great BBQ pulled chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun (it’s covered in cheese and sauteed mushrooms):
What a wonderful introduction to Oklahoma City. Next time, I hope I can visit the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
For anyone who is keeping track, I’ve now survived near-certain creepiness in a deserted parking garage and I’ve successfully navigated a week of travel/consulting mishaps. Stay tuned for more…