With my new job – well, not really new anymore – I don’t travel as much as I used to. In my previous position, I traveled four or five times a year to places like Orlando, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Now the extent of my journeys are to New Jersey or Connecticut.
Wednesday I went up to CT for training, and lemme tell ya, at first it was the trip that the universe did not want me to take. First off, the rain. If you’re in the tri-state area, you know what I mean. Rain by monsoon proportions, to the point that a bunch of NJ Transit trains were canceled, and many were late.
Including mine. You know when the board at Penn Station says “5 mins late,” it could actually mean up to an hour. Plus the station was super hot and crowded, and you know how I get about crowds and heat. I was actually hoping my train would be canceled altogether so that I could just go home.
The good news: the train was only about 15 minutes late, and I got a window seat. The bad? It was fuh-REE-zing and I was sitting right near these jabbery law students who just took the bar. The good news? They shut up right quick.
There were lots of cabs waiting at the station, unlike the time I went to NJ for work and it was totally deserted till I flagged a policeman down (by mistake) thinking he was a cab. Got to the hotel, the Mystic Marriott, lickety split, and I relished walking into the luxiuriously A/C’d lobby and up to check-in, brandishing my corporate card, only to be told:
“We’re so sorry, but we’ve had some flooding and we’ll have to walk you to another hotel.”
You’re kidding me. All these people hanging out in the restaurant have rooms, but there’s not a single one for me? Plus I was tired and hungry, and now would have to walk in the muggy misty weather with my luggage to another hotel.
“Well no, we’ll get you a taxi.”
Okay, that’s different.
“And the room is on us. Free of charge.”
Sweet! Not that I really cared since my company was picking up the bill.
As I was waiting for the taxi, I called MB to bitch and moan. Then as I was standing there, who walks in but Howie Mandel. Random and weird! He was rocking the shaved head, earrings, and soul patch, and dressed in what looked like motorcycle attire although he had arrived in a minivan with assistant in tow. I interrupted MB to say, too loudly, “Howie Mandel just walked in!” I don’t know if Howie heard me. He just sort of looked around like he was thinking of buying the place. Then I pointed at him and shouted, “NO DEAL!” And all my family members shook their heads.
He was probably performing at Foxwoods or something.
I ended up running into someone else from my company in the same situation, so we shared the cab to the other hotel. This guy was not a happy camper. I told him about my Howie Mandel sighting, and in response he said, “I am pissed off about this hotel situation.” But what bout Howie?
I personally didn’t care. Just as long as I had a decent hotel room I could kick back in and order room service.
The room was pretty nice. It’s a brand new Hilton and my room still had that new carpet smell. The bedding and bathroom were spotless. But then I started to notice little things, like that the bathroom door wouldn’t stay open. Then when I tried to call room service, there was no answer. So I called the front desk and they couldn’t hear me.
Luckily the other phone worked, but room service was closed! At 10 PM! What the fuck’s the point of room service if you can’t have it till at least 11?
“Dominoe’s delivers,” the guy said, and I hurled a little in my mouth.
I went downstairs and asked if there was anything within walking distance, and was told there was a diner right up the street. It wasn’t far but it’s always weird to walk someplace that’s not made for walking, especially at night and foggy, misty weather. From the road I could see the restaurant was dark, though there was a giant OPEN sign in the doorway. I got closer and saw yes it was indeed closed. A diner closed by 10:30. We’re not on the Lower East Side anymore, Toto.
I schlepped back and mentioned to the guy, not unkindly, “It was closed,” and resigned myself to a frozen dinner (at least the hotel had those). I went to pay and the guy said, “It’s on the house. I made you walk all the way out there and it was closed.”
At least they did that much.
I haven’t had a frozen dinner in I don’t know how many years, and I rememberd why. It was pretty gross. The meatloaf *might* have been meat at some point, and the potatoes smelled and tasted like potatoes, but it felt like I was eating air. Plus it was so freaking hot, I totally burned the roof of my mouth, but then it got lukewarm really fast.
The good news? I was able to catch a Ghost Hunters International (shut up) that I hadn’t seen, the hotel was extremely quiet, and the bed was nice and firm. I slept like a baby for those five hours.
The next morning I was up early to take another cab out to my company site. The guy was one of those chatty, joking types, which I wasn’t in the mood for at 7:30 in the morning on little sleep and not enough coffee. He said, “You’re from New York, aren’t you?” When I affirmed as such, he said, “I knew it! It’s written there right across your forehead.” Then he said it again a few minutes later.
He mentioned apropos of nothing about having been in the army for 30 years. I said, “Oh my boyfriend was in the army for four years – ”
“Boyfriend?” the cabby said. “You’ve been cheating on me?”
Heheh. Okay creepy old guy.
He turned normal though when I just started babbling about all my travel and hotel troubles. Not that I’d ever want to hang out with him again.
The training was fine, neither exciting nor painful. The site in CT is much nicer than in New York – the view for one. They have these floor to ceiling windows, and the building is right on the water so I kept getting distracted looking out at the boats and dipping seagulls.
The trip back home was much less eventful. The weather yesterday was sunny and fairly dry, and the train much less freezing. And I had no annoying seatmate.
Next up: the ‘rents’ this weekend, and Boston and San Francisco next month. Hopefully the universe will be on my side.