Monday, February 27, 2006

Friends In High Places

It ain't Cheers, but we are regulars in a few neighborhood places.

Friday night on the way home from the airport, it's a usual practice for Ron and I to go to dinner. It's not anywhere fancy, since it is Friday night around 7:00 p.m. and I'm pretty beat by then. But we like to stop somewhere local, have dinner and sit and chat and catch up on the week.

This week, we chose an oldie but a goodie. There is a family style restaurant that we like to go to. They have the best soups and believe it or not but they have cole slaw to rival Aunt Mary's! We aren't there every week, but when we do go, we always ask for Nancy to be our waitress. If Nancy sees us first, she'll always make sure she grabs us for one of her tables.

Nancy is an older lady with an awesome attitude. She is always very nice, always has a smile on her face and will always keep our coffee cups filled. It's a win-win situation. She gives us awesome service and we leave an awesome tip.

So, Friday, we are sitting at Nancy's table, enjoying our dinner and chit chatting. Neither of us are in much of a hurry; the place isn't that busy so we're really not holding up a table. Nancy as always asks if we want dessert, naming a few of the scrumptious things available that night. As usual, we decline. The dinners are so filling, you did something wrong if you have room for dessert. We said we'd take the bill and that would be it for us.

Nancy came back in a few minutes with our bill, and a to go container. Inside of the to go container was a huge piece of chocolate layered cake! She said that the dessert was on her and since we were full we were to take it home with us and enjoy it later. C'mon now. How can you beat service like that? I love being a regular! And, it helps to have friends with connections to chocolate cake.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sitting Duck

Yesterday was a bit of a stressful day. My boss left on Thursday, so that left me all alone on Friday to find my own way back to the airport! And, to do all the weekly reports that are due on Friday. Top that with the fact that Friday is a short day due to flying out, and there aren't enough hours in a Friday to do it all.Oh well. At least it goes by quickly.

So, Friday, I'm busting a hump to get it all out. There really was no time for lunch. I was thinking I know I pass a Wendy's on the way to the airport, I thought I'd just stop there for a burger and call it good.

There are usually two windows at most drive thrus. The first window, you pay for your food, then pull up to the second window to pick up that food. Well, in between window #1 and window #2 there was a duck walking around! A duck! A mallard even! Waddling around like he owned the place. So, I waited until the duck moved then pulled up to get my food. I pulled around and parked across from where the drive thru windows were so I could eat my lunch before trying to follow the directions to the airport.

I notice my friendly duck still waddling around the parking lot, as if looking for leftovers. Then I noticed someone at the drive thru window throwing ice at the duck. Now that pissed me off! While I'm not a great animal lover, I can't stand to see anyone being cruel to one either. So, I'm parked. To my left are a couple of empty spots, then a parked car. By now, the duck is on the other side of that parked car.

I grabbed a french fry, ripped it in half, and threw it back behind the other parked car, hoping the duck would see it. Sure enough, he came waddling out and woofed it down. Believe it or not, the duck actually looked around as if to see where this manna from heaven came from! He sees me there, window down, looking back at him. He waddles up right NEXT to my car! I swear, if I had been lower to the ground, I could have reached out and grabbed him!

Now I'm thinking of can a duck hurt me if he decided to fly into the car! So I figured I'm gonna keep my new friend happy and hopefully keep him out of my car. I'd try to throw the food away from my car so he'd back up a bit, and then when he was done and wanted more, he would waddle right back next to my window and look up at me. How can I resist that?? When all was said and done, he ate about a quarter of my burger and about half of my fries. Then he turns and just walks off! How rude! Loved me and left me.

Actually, those fries are pretty salty. So, the duck went to where the ice was thrown at him to drink up the water from the ice melting. I knew how he felt! I finished my soda, then dumped the ice next to the car for my new little friend.

I know it's a silly story, but it really made me smile. I've fed seagulls and pigeons before, but this was my first begging duck! And, he made me smile. That alone was worth part of my lunch on a hectic day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Nothing too noteworthy going on over here. We've been busting our humps trying to get done by next week. That's about it. If we only work 12 hours in a day, it's a short day! Hey, it beats extending this trip by another week or two.

So, I'll just write about a few miscellaneous things that happened this week.

I wrote in recent post how another branch manager was in the area auditing. He drove here to meet with us last week and the three of us hooked up for a nice dinner. This week, we thought it would be the neighborly thing for us to drive to them! So, Tuesday night, we left a little early (6:00 p.m.) and headed to Wisconsin to see the guys. We met up with the other branch manager and his auditor. I hate to admit it, but I really had a good time. Like I said, it's nice to commiserate with other people in the same boat; working long hours, and away from home, fighting similar politics in the company etc. Plus, it's nice to see new faces across the dinner table for a change! I've been eating two meals a day, five days a week with my boss. We both need something new to look at! We hit a Mexican restaurant that we all like (we all worked on that audit they are on a couple of years ago). We stayed until they shut the TV off and turned on the lights! That's a good hint that we've worn out our welcome.

Last night, we were looking for something new. When you eat out two meals a day, trust me, it gets really difficult to try to decide what you want to eat each meal. Last night we both decided we wanted to try someplace we'd never been before. Boy did we find a great place! I think it was called The Flatiron Grill.

They show you to your table, where in the middle of your place setting is a little wooden paddle with your table number on it. You are handed a pencil and asked to write your name on the paddle. After a few instructions from our waitress, I grabbed a recipe card sitting on the table and headed to the line.

You start by grabbing your bowl. It had a name, but I'll be darned if I remember what it was. After you grab a bowl, you start with white rice, brown rice, or Chinese noodles. After you've filled your bowl with as much of the aforementioned as you want, you move to the next station, veggies. A plethora of items are now before you. To name a few, onions, mushrooms, bean sprouts, pea pods, white and green asparagus, and probably 15 or 20 more items. From the veggies you move to sauces. There have to be at least 20 bowls of sauces. They suggest a full bowl of food needs at least four to five ladles of sauce. The recipe card gave ideas of some mixtures of one ladle of this, two of that, one of this, etc. I thought I'd start with something tried and true. From the sauce, you move on to the protein. You grab a small bowl for your raw meat. There is chicken, pork, beef and mussels sitting there. From there you move to the end with spices and sticks.

Spices were dried and powdered assortments, too many to mention. Probably everything but salt and pepper! A lot of curry concoctions for sure. The colored sticks each signify something as well. Food allergies (like me) you add a white stick. Then, they will grill your food in a wok instead of on the main flat iron grill they do everything else on. Another color means that you want your meal turned into a soup, another into a wrap. Still others mean that you want shrimp, scallops or mahi mahi added to the top. It was awesome!

After all items are in your bowls and you are satisfied with your spices, sauces and sticks, you put your protein bowl on top of your other bowl, add your wooden paddle and hand it to the chef. When it's done, someone will bring it to you at your table.

I ended up having two bowls of stuff, the second of which I did without benefit of a recipe card! I just winged it. I'm telling you, if I could have fit another bowl into me, I would have! It was really good. And, dining was a fun experience to boot. I could so see having a large party there. When the waitress asked how us "rookies" were doing, I told her I didn't know I could cook so well! Now, if only I could get over my naivete and actually work the chop sticks so I don't have to be the idiot that asks for a fork, I'd be ok!

The only bad thing I can add here to my stories is that lately we've been working so late, we aren't getting back to the hotel in time to enjoy a nice, warm, delicious, gooey cookie that are available in the lobby! mmmm No warm, soft peanut butter. No awesome white chocolate macadamia nut. Oh my goodness, no chocolate chunk! AARGH the inhumanity!

Luckily, my boss once again headed back to Cleveland early. So, I'm on my own tonight. Just to ensure I get a cookie, I may have to head to the hotel as soon as I get out of here and order a pizza to be delivered! I know, not too imaginative. But, I could sure use an early night. And a night of eating pizza in my jammies is sounding pretty exciting to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Wake Up!

For those of you following the saga, I did not win the Mega Millions last night. So, I am back to the grind.

Last night I had two dates for Valentine's day. Unfortunately, neither one of them were my honey. Another branch manager was in the Chicago area doing an audit, so we decided since we're less than an hour apart, we'd hook up for dinner. He was nice enough to accept the driving, so he met us here.

That was a nice diversion from the norm, and nice to be able to look at a new face across the dinner table. We all exchanged war stories about being on the job, some high points and some low points. It was good to hear that other people have some of the same stories in other cities. Makes me feel not as lonely.

We just sat talking until the restaurant finally gave us the hint that they'd like to close. It was after 10:30 p.m. local time by the time we got back to the hotel. Now I'm keyed up and had a hard time winding down. I called and talked to Ron for awhile, and thought I should try to get to bed. My eyes were wide open though. I tried a hot shower, then curled up in the chair and read the newspaper from that morning. Before I knew it, it was midnight and I was still up. Hate it when that happens.

I probably fell asleep somewhere around 12:30 a.m. I could have been ok going to my 6:00 a.m. wake up call. (We leave before 7:00 a.m.) However, the fire alarm started blaring at 5:00 a.m.! Let me tell you, that is one of the rudest sounds I have ever heard! I never jumped out of bed so fast like I did this morning. I know what they teach you in school. The fire alarm goes off, you calmly exit the building. However, they never practice this when you're naked and half asleep. I stood there wondering if I was about to die in a fire.

What do you do? Grab the covers off of the bed to wrap around me and run? Put on yesterday's clothes? Put on clean clothes? Do I grab my laptop? My wallet? My glasses? WHAT?!? I stood there and a minute later, the alarm stopped. No announcement that we should run or go back to bed. My room happened to be over the front door of the hotel, and from our first check in, I know that's where the fire trucks park when called. So, I looked out the window to see if there was any activity out there. Nothing. I decided to try to go back to bed. Unfortunately, my heart still felt like it wanted to jump out of my chest. I just said the heck with it and got up and put the coffee on.

It's gonna be a long day. I need a nap!

Monday, February 13, 2006

I Have Luggage!

It's been a really long day. My luggage finally arrived just after 7:30 p.m. We had just returned from dinner and I was checking at the front desk for my bag. After being told there were no deliveries, I waited for my boss to get in the building from parking the car. As I was waiting, the messenger arrive with my bag!!

As far as I can tell, all of my underwear, pantyhose, clothes, CDs, and most dear to my heart right COAT, were present and accounted for! The regional jets I take from here to there have such limited storage space, it sounded like such a good idea to me to pack my coat, thus freeing up some room and saving me from lugging my coat around. I may need to rethink that.

We went to a great place for dinner called Joy Yee's Noodles. This has quickly become one of our favorite places here. The menu includes pictures of every dish. Anyway, after dinner I got my fortune cookie.

The cookie states: your luck has completely changed today

Listen, after the luck I'm having, I need to take this fortune cookie seriously. After dinner, we headed to a local grocery store so that I could buy my Diet Pepsi for the hotel room. As long as I was there, I saw a lottery machine. I took my change from my DP and walked over to the lottery person. I asked for $3.00 on the Mega Million, my boss snickering behind me. I told him though. I said when one of my tickets wins on Tuesday, I am outta here first thing Wednesday. He said good luck. I don't think he meant it.

From buying the lottery tickets to my bag being delivered while I was waiting downstairs. It's starting to look up.

Right now, I have taken a couple of aspirin for the pounding headache I developed today. I'm going to take a long hot shower and go to bed. Keep your collective fingers crossed on the lottery drawing tomorrow. I'll remember all of you when I'm rich and famous!

I love my job. Especially the traveling part.

The Saga Continues

I had a bad week last week.

Here's to Monday of the new week. Let's review.

I am in Chicago. My luggage is in Manchester New Hampshire. My coat is in my luggage.

Three statements that basically mean I'm screwed. And cold.

The word from Continental is that they found my bag in Manchester, and they are putting it on a United flight that is due at O'Hare at 1:30 p.m. They promised to take my bag to my hotel for me.

That's what they say anyway. The way my last week has gone, I'm not getting my hopes up.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

I Lied

I love my job! I'm good at my job! I keep thinking if I say that often enough or to enough people, I will start believing it. Maybe it will even come true. For now though, it's a big fat lie and it's been that way for well over a year now.

Let me tell you about my last week on the job. Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

I was on this audit by myself this week. That means I had to fly to Chicago, pick up the rental car, and find my way around, alone. All week. Backing up just a little, I am also responsible for making my own airline reservations and my own hotel reservations. We have a person at corporate to take care of those kinds of things, but my boss wants us to put these charges on our own credit cards, because it comes out cheaper, thus keeping our branch's expenses down. Yeah. Ok. Works for me.

Anyway, I'm not going in to how many times I was lost this week. Lost, turned around, misplaced, I don't care what you call it. I was rarely where I was supposed to be, or where I thought I was.

Let's go now to this past Friday. Before I left the hotel in the morning, I packed up my hotel room and checked out. Everything I have is now in the back of my rental car, which is scheduled to be turned in by 2:00 p.m. The first thing I do when I get on site on Friday is check my e-mail. In my in box should be an e-mail from Continental Airlines, stating that I could check in for my flight at anytime over the internet. Guess what. There was no e-mail from Continental.

So, I figured this was an oversight on their part. After all, my flight is in about eight hours, and I can check in anytime within 24 hours. It's all good. I went to and put in my confirmation number, and clicked the button that says "check in". An error message popped up. What did it say, you ask? It said that this is not a valid instruction since my flight is more than 24 hours away. Um, excuse me? It's about 8:00 a.m. and my flight is at 3:55 p.m. That is WELL inside of the 24 hour rule. What's up with that?

I dug through my bag for my receipt from when I purchased my ticket two weeks prior. I tried to have Ron scan my receipt to add to this blog, but for some reason, when I upload it, it's so small it's not legible. Yeah, another one of my awesome qualities. I'm also a dumbass. But I digress. If I could upload a legible receipt, it would show:

Leaving Cleveland to O'Hare - Mon 06FEB06
Returning O'Hare to Cleveland - Fri 10MAR06

Anyone see a problem with that? Now I don't know my February from my March. So here I am, all alone, no hotel room, and 337.59 miles away from home. This was way more than I could take.

I found an empty office and called Continental. I kept pressing buttons, following the the automated attendant's directions to reach a "specialist in domestic travel reservations". Luckily, I reached Sharon in Florida. I explained to her that I am a dumbass, I told her what I did, and I begged her to help me find my way home, and not make me wait a month. Then I did what I do best. I started to cry. My new best friend, Sharon, not only told me she would get me home, but she promised to get me home that same day. Somehow, on the same flight I take every week, on the same flight that is full every single week, she found me a seat. To top it all off, she only charged me an additional $14.50 to change my ticket. No extra fee for flying out the same day. No customary $100.00 change fee. $14.50 and I came home on the same flight I should have, if I wasn't such an idiot.

Now, barring winning the lottery or having a cement truck run me over, I have to go back on Monday and do it all over again.

I love my job! I'm really good at it! And you know what? Traveling is my absolute favorite part!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

That's Just Wrong, Page 3

I was driving to lunch today, when I saw the largest dog I've ever seen in my life.

Given my fear of dogs, most of you would think that's what I had in mind for my "That's Just Wrong" book. Fooled you!

This dog was so large, the owner almost had to reach up to grab the dog's collar. He had to weigh 200 pounds, if he weighed an ounce. The dog almost reminded me of a Saint Bernard, and perhaps had some of that in it, but I don't think he was a pure bred. The wrong part is that this dog was wearing a doggie sweater.

If a dog is large enough to sever your leg with one bite, I don't think he needs a doggie sweater. That just has to mess with his sense of "macho".

Where would one go to buy such a big sweater for a dog? Perhaps a size large from Old Navy?

That's Just Wrong.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Ain't it nifty...
Cathie is FIFTY!!!!!

Ok, during a birthday call today to my sissy, it has been decided that she indeed did NOT turn 50. Instead, she is a young chickie of a mere thirty-twenty. I like that. That means I myself am only thirty-thirteen!

Happy birthday, sissy. No matter what the age, you are still the best!

Monday, February 06, 2006


Not that I'm a seasoned traveler just yet, but even I know when they change your departure gate at the airport to D-28, you're screwed.

Not only is it 89-1/2 miles from where you walked into the airport, it's the only gate that does not use a jetway. It's such a flash back in time to when the airplanes still had propellers. Ugh.

This morning, I checked into the airport around 5:30 a.m. That is rude enough. However, the boarding pass I printed off last night had a departure gate of D-8. The agent told me the good news. We'd been changed to D-28. Oh the horrors. Picture this if you can...

Four airplanes on the tarmac at the same time. When it's time to go, it is time to go for all four planes. No boarding by rows, by height or by hair color. Nothing. Here's what you get:

"Attention passengers. We are now boarding the following flights: Chicago O'Hare, keep to the right, Baltimore, keep to the left, New York, to the middle, also in the middle, XYZ city (the one destination I forgot). C'mon people, let's move."

You hand your boarding pass to one of the harried agents. They take your pass and send the passengers for all four planes through the same door. Through that door, you walk down two flights of steps, carrying all of your crap. Then outside into the elements. Hopefully there are at least a couple of the grounds crew out there, pointing your way to one of four airplanes sitting out on the tarmac. With trepidation, you walk up the right stairs, and keeping your fingers crossed, into the correct airplane. This is way too taxing so freakin' early in the morning!

Ok, I'm heading to the correct plane. In front of me heading up the steps is a nice, clean cut younger guy. Once up the steps, he takes off his jacket and I see he's the captain! Nice! I like to get a good look at the person that has my life in his hands. I wanna know if he's hung over, didn't have enough sleep or is bright eyed and bushy tailed. He was one of the more bushy tailed kinda guys. Since he's there, and I'm there, I ask him how he's feeling while I try to sniff him to see if I smell alcohol. He informs me that he's feeling "fantastic"! This is a good start. Then he adds that his 12 cups of coffee are finally kicking in.

The smart ass streak in me had to respond. I told him that I hope he didn't think he was going to pull the plane over once we were airborne so that he could go pee! Happily, he assured me that he could definitely hold it until we got to Chicago. aaah. I felt much better about the whole thing!

So, he has a bit of a smart ass streak in him too. Gotta like that in a pilot. But, I'll give the guy his props. This had to be the best landing I've ever been a part of. Well, it's true that any landing you walk away from is a good landing. However, this one landed so softly, I didn't even realize the wheels touched down. On my way out, I had to poke my head into the cockpit to congratulate him on a great landing, AND on his bladder control. That was one strange look on the co-pilot's face! Hey, let the pilot explain that one to him.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Brain Fart

When I first started thinking of having to travel for this audit we are doing, I had visions of being able to blog daily and keep y'all updated on all of my adventures! Yeah! How's that working out for me? As you can tell, not as well as I hoped.

I forgot about the long days when you're on the road. We're on site from 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. By the time we finish dinner, it's usually 9:00 or so by the time we hit the hotel. By then I'm pooped. It's time for a shower and hit the uncomfortable bed.

I do have a few stories about the past week. My biggest stories seem to be food related. That seems to be all I write about anymore! Keep in mind, the highlight of our morning is discussing where we're going to lunch. As soon as we're on our way back to work after lunch, we're talking about where to go for dinner. Yes, you can tell what's important to us.

I have tried to be out of the box on this trip. I could never take a page out of Michael's book and eat fish head soup, but I have tried a myriad of new and exciting things. I ate Indian and Nepalese food for the first time, and even Japanese and Korean food. We do a lot of walking since parking is at a minimum. In our walks, we see a restaurant that looks good or smells good walking by, we're willing to give it a shot. So far, we have had no regrets in any areas other than price! Not a bad record.

It's been a nerve wracking week though. I am on this audit with my boss. He takes care of the driving duties, and my job is to print out mapquest directions of anywhere in particular we want to go and I navigate.

My boss had a meeting here in town on Friday, so he was flying out early on Thursday. I'd finish up the week and fly out as usual on Friday. And, he has more commitments next week, so he's staying at the local office all week, and I'll be ALONE in Chicago all next week as well.

To get me ready for this huge undertaking, I did the driving all week to make sure I could find my way around. Ugh. I'm ok with to and from the airport. I have troubles in town, like in finding all the areas that house the restaurants we like to go to. And, from there, finding the hotel again. I can go from the hotel to work and back again, no problem. It's any side trips I have issues with.

All week long, the boss showed me how to get to some of our favorite areas. I even had to parallel park the car into a parking spot, of which was successful two out of three times. The third time I said the heck with it and went down a few more blocks to a parking lot. Some days it's easier to walk than to fight into a spot. I thought all was going to be well in my world while on my own. Yesterday was my first solo day, and of course, I got lost on my way to lunch. Dang, it's going to be a long week next week.

So here we are. I am home safe and sound and trying to block out the fact that I go back again on Monday morning! I think I'm ok getting in and out of the airport. But once I'm on site, it will be another story.

You know, they can implant a microchips in your pet's neck. So, if your pet is lost, they scan the chip through the neck and get your info in order to return the pet safe and sound. Do you think I can get one of those implanted in my neck? Maybe when I'm lost, I can go to a some scan station and have them scan me and tell me which way to go to get home. It's either that or I need me a nice pair of size 10 ruby slippers.