Thursday, May 24, 2007

At the Conference: Getting There

After returning home from work, I dashed around the house, doing some last minute things, and I packed. Having NO SLEEP, I drove to Mom's place so she could take me to the airport. The airport was fairly dead, so I breezed through check-in and settled in the waiting area at the gate. Sleepy, I thought a cup of coffee at the kiosk inside the gate would be a fine idea. It wasn't Starbucks. I don't know what brand it was (Always Save, perhaps?), but it was the worst coffee ever. I tried to drink it, but after choking down a forth of the cup, I tossed it. $3 cup of coffee and it wasn't even gourmet...what a load of crap.

And so begins the week of the overpriced.

I boarded the plane, and actually discovered that the girl who sat next to me was going to be my roommate for the week. She seemed nice and sweet, and we chatted a little before I dug out the ipod and watched a couple episodes of Heroes. Meanwhile, the main flight attendant (the one who got to make all the announcements) had to have been the dumbest flight attendant on the planet.

"So...uhhh...we're leaving Kansas City now, and the weather is great for flying. The temperatures are in the 80's in Atlanta, and,'ll see when we...ummm...get there."

It was like this the whole way to Atlanta.

"We have landed in Atlanta, and we're going to pull up to the gate. Uhhhh...then you will get off the plane and...ummm...someone will be able to help you, unless you want to stay on the plane to go to your next destination. So, you will just remain in your seat...or stand if you want to. (pause) Oh. The captain just said everyone has to get off the plane. So...uhhh...everyone will have to get off the plane. Oh, but you have to wait until the plane stops."

Her words, I shit you not.

The captain apparently misses our gate because he slams on the breaks, causing everyone to pitch forward in their seats. He slowly navigates back to the gate, where we get off, grateful that the stupid people who were obviously running our flight, did not crash the plane.

By this time, most everyone in my hospital's group has found each other, and we collect our luggage and decide how to get to the hotel. Four people decide to take a shuttle, which costs $16 per person, one way. The rest of us are cheap bastards, and we decide to take the subway (or MARTA if you prefer) for $2.25 a person. Sure, the hospital is going to reimburse us for our expenses, but that doesn't mean we want to shell out the money in the first place.

So, we go the MARTA station and a lady who works there immediately detects tourists in the midst and gives us an inservice on how to buy a ticket from the little automated kiosk. Then, she stands by a map of Atlanta and where the MARTA goes, and gives us instructions on how to get to our hotel. This includes getting off at such and such station, and walking only a couple blocks to our hotel.

In the grand scheme of subway rides, this was not eventful. Just people on a subway, trying to get from point A to point B. It was a clean train, and everyone just kind of kept to themselves. No shootings or hate crimes occurred.

We reach our destination, go on about six different escalators and reach the surface of downtown Atlanta. A couple blocks walk? My ass!! We walked FOREVER, all the while lugging heavy suitcases. Meanwhile, I'm wearing flip-flops, sleep and food deprived, and starting to get cranky.

We finally reach the hotel, and I am borderline hostile. Great! Our room isn't ready, so we just sit in the lobby and wait. I glare at the hotel workers meanwhile.

When the room is finally ready, I use the last of my strength to haul my luggage to our room. I fall into bed, happy that my night is done. But wait!! It would appear that I have to go to dinner with the KC Chapter of AACN at Hard Rock Cafe. Can we please call a cab? My pleas are vetoed as everyone starts hoofing it back where we started from. I stomp behind them, grumpy. This conference is not the all expenses paid fun that was promised to me.

We finally make it to the Hard Rock, and are seated with forty-some other nurses, all from the KC area. We wait for about thirty minutes (standing up) before being seated, our drinks are already waiting...tastes like Pepsi, but they say it's Coke. I'm so tired and parched, I don't care. It's cold and wet. That's all I care about.

We get six choices for dinner: a hamburger, a cheeseburger, a bacon cheeseburger, a veggie burger, a pulled pork sandwich, or a Caesar salad. Wow. Everyone orders. The food arrives, and it sucks. I douse my burger with ketchup and mustard because it's so dry. Meanwhile, we have blaring radios competing with a hard rock band playing next door. I spot someone I recognize. He works in our surgical ICU, and I went to nursing school with his wife. He recognizes me and approaches.

Me: Hey!! How are you?
Him: Great! How are you?
Me: Tired! I haven't been to sleep since yesterday!!
Him: That sucks.
Me: Hey! How's Deanna?? I really need to call her or something.
Him: Divorced. She's been my ex for about a year now.
Me: Oh...

Feeling like a complete and total ass, I just sit there and choke down the rest of my burger. Maybe if my mouth is full of food, I'll have less a chance of sticking my foot in it.

After dinner, I poke around in the gift shop, hoping to find a pin to add to the rest of the pins on my boonie hat. Their pins are roughly the size of dinner plates and cost as much as a down payment on a house. Dejected, I gimp back to the hotel. With the very last energy I have, I put on my pajamas, brush my teeth and crawl into bed.

You know it's a good, deep coma when you drool on yourself.
And so ends Day One.

1 comment:

Spyder said...

"Me: Hey! How's Deanna?? I really need to call her or something.
Him: Divorced. She's been my ex for about a year now."

Shit! I hate it when I do something like that.