As mentioned previously, I headed out Wednesday night for Virginia for business. The flight out was easy. Through pure luck, I ended up sitting next to Dorothy on the plane, who evily tempted me with an Us gossip rag, rather than my more uptight Fortune magazine. I caved in quickly and we discussed how much money celebrities pay to be stay in shape (the lowest figure was $35K a year). We landed, met up with C. and V., our other travel buds, and headed to the rental car lot. At Dulles, all the rental car lots are off-site, which means a long, tedious ride on the shuttle. I managed to somehow get TWO upgrades instead of ONE and was prompted accused of "batting my eyelashes" at the rental car dude. I'll never tell...although it did come in handy to have the full-size car when we got the foot of snow. And it made some awesome donuts in the hotel parking lot! But I'm getting ahead of myself now.
We had a co-worker with us, V., that we agreed to drop at his sister's house in Centreville - not too far away. I figured we could small talk for a few minutes, then head out to the interesting bar I had found in close proximity to the airport for some (late) dinner and some well-deserved adult bevs. I didn't count on a 30 minute conversation, then another 20 minutes of everyone getting on shoes and coats to join us. We didn't mind them joining us, but at this point, stomach-time was 9:00PM and we were starving. We finally made it to the Irish bar where the "LIVE MUSIC" was a bad mix of Pearl Jam and Talking Heads, all so loud that we had to wait between sets to get any sort of visiting in. The bar food was good and the Guiness was on tap, so all was not lost.
Then the first of many navigational adventures began. As we headed out from the bar, V.'s brother-in-law said "follow us until you get to 66 Hwy, then you can take that to your hotel". Good plan! Unfortunately, we never found 66, even with three sets (albeit very TIRED sets) of eyes looking. When we again reached Centreville, we turned around and tried to improvise. Having assured my traveling companions that I was very comfortable driving and navigating, I felt my pride take a hit. Virginia is a bitch to navigate in! Seems like they assume that no one drives at night and all the street signs are in tiny print, with no warning signs like "Goofy Street Ahead 1 Mile". They might have been there, but it was too dark to see them. It had also been, oh, at least fifteen years since I'd been to that part of Virginia. Anyway, after about 45 minutes, we managed to find the Fair Oaks Mall (something I DID remember) and called the hotel and a very nice lady talked us in. I swore I heard some giggling on her end, though.
Here's where things get goofy - when I got to my hotel room, I scoped it out (very nice!), then started unpacking and took a pee. The toilet didn't flush! Uh-oh. I pulled open the tank...no water! Not a drop. Having had some experience with fussy toilets, I decided to fill up the tank with water from the ice bucket. Then I flushed again. You guessed it...nothing. So no more peeing until morning. I then noticed that the room was a bit chilly, so I punched the button to turn up the heat. Then again. And again. You guessed it...nothing. No heat. It was chilly, but not too bad. I wasn't changing rooms at 2AM, nor did I want to give up my room on the top floor (wonderful view!). I put on sweats and long undershirt and jumped into bed. It was like camping at 14 stories.
The next morning I saw my two traveling companions off to the office (they had meetings) and decided to get the lay of the land. I grabbed a map from the hotel and drove in a big square and got my bearings. Or so I thought. I ended up getting lost several more times over the weekend. Drat! I've driven in Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and found tiny off-the-beaten-path wineries in Napa Valley, but Virginia just had my number. I managed to find the largest wine store I have ever seen and went in and browsed for a while before deciding on a wine. Then I got back, changed into my business costume, and went to the office.
I went in and got the office tour. As I popped in to say "hi" to our new CEO, he said, "well, there's our employee of the month". He's a funny jokester, so I laughed heartily and said, "yeah, right..that's me!" and blew it off. Come to find out that instead of walking through wine stores, I should been checking my email. Doh! I WAS the employee of the month. I told him later and he had a good laugh, but I'm sure he thought I was nuts at the time. Anyway, no boring blogging about business, but I will say that the next year for our little company should be very, very interesting. We just got some venture capital funding, new leadership, and we are putting on the gas for growth. I hope I can keep up!
That night we all met at a pool hall (seems wrong to call it that, it was a very nice, large place with excellent food) and did some "team building" (aka drinking, eating, playing pool, being obnoxious). It was fun. I showed one of my co-workers wives how to play pool and she promptly kicked our asses. "Those that can't do, teach" came into play here. My friend Cagey (who happens to be our company President's wife) showed up and we got to visit a bit, but she had to "meet and greet" and do the social thing. This time, we had WRITTEN DIRECTIONS that we used to get to the place, that when reversed, took us somewhere else. Fucking Virginia.