So, I am back from a week in Toronto. I would have updated my blog yesterday but I was so exhausted, the most I could do was move from my bed to my couch and back again. I even needed to carry my pillow with me to help me hold up my head. Essentially, I had most of my life force sucked right out of me by the end of the week.
Monday morning started off promising. I arrived at the airport on time and there was no line up to check in my baggage. I even made it through security without any real trouble. They were showing movies I had never seen before so I had something to watch and I managed to finish 4 complete crossword puzzles. Ok, so they were People magazine puzzles, but still , two of them were hard. I had to guess what a Jersey Shore was as well as what a Black Eyed Pea last appeared in. We landed in Toronto on time to a warm, sunny welcome. Perhaps it was a little muggy but after 8 months of rain, wind and cold, I left the airport with a smile.
I checked into my room and immediately opened my laptop in an attempt to get some work done before I would try to go to bed early and adjust to the three hour time change. I started having computer issues right away. I had to log off about 8 times before I could get even 4 items completed. It was time to take a break and have some dinner. I wandered downstairs to the Pub for dinner. As I sat by myself in the corner - with another crossword puzzle (I was determined to figure out what an Efron was), the waitress came by to tell me of the wonderful special they had tonight - Lobster Macaroni & Cheese! MMMMMMMM, yummy. I ordered the special and got back to my crossword. When it arrived, I dove right in and boy it was good. However, after about 4 bites I think I actually heard my artery's hardend and my cholesterol rise. In fact, my chest constricted and I think my aorta closed in protest for a second. I ended up digging around in the bowl for the lobster bits. On the upside, it did help make me sleepy.
Tuesday morning, I awoke bright eyed and ready to go. My cholesterol returned to normal and all blood vessels were functioning. I made my way down to the conference breakfast and opening speakers. I stayed for the first 2 hours before heading back to my room to try to get some work down. I still had to do my normal job as well as cover for prairie region while I was out of town. This is where my week started to go sideways.
I should mention that two weeks prior my computer crashed. It took the IT department that whole time to fix but they sent it back to me all good to go the Friday before I left for the centre of the universe on Monday. We tested it and everything. AND THEN.... they did some upgrades over the weekend to "make things better." I tried for three hours to make the system work so I could do my job before taking a break for lunch. I was covered in sweat and stress as I made my way downstairs. I entered the elevator and lo and behold, I was trapped. I was stuck in the elevator for 20 minutes before they let me out. Of couse as soon as I realized I was trapped, I had to pee. I didn't have to go before I got in the elevator. I saw this as an omen.
After lunch and one seminar session, I headed back to my room to try to get some work done. My computer would not co-operate and I spent the next 6 hours on the phone with the IT department threatening to blow the stupid laptop up. Finally, someone came to my room to help make it work. It worked while he was in the room but when he left, I was back to the beginning - 3 minutes in and then it would kick me out again. Another call to IT and the offer of giving them 10 mintes to be outside my hotel room window to catch the stupid machine when I throw it out or they can finally fix the damn thing. I still had so much work to do and little time left. I was to be at an Advisor function for 7pm and be on a bowling team and here was already 7:10. I finally gave up on work and ran for the door (and the stairs) to head to the event site. I arrived in time for a few appetizers and a cold Corona (well, if truth be told - 3) before putitng on the bowling shoes for a game of ten pin. I actually had a great time.
At 10:30, I was on my way back to the hotel to try yet again to get my job done. As we walked back to the Royal York hotel on Front street, we walked in front of the CBC building when holy crap! I almost stepped on it - another dead bird had landed 5 feet in front of me. I am definiately seeing a pattern here. That makes three in less than 2 weeks if anyone is counting. Back in my room I tried to get back to work. I was given three minutes in before the system crashed and I was booted out again. It took me until almost 2 in the morning to get trades reviewed and applications approved. I fell into bed to the 4 hours sleep before the alarm was to go off and the fun could start all over again.
When I awoke on Wednesday, although groggy and perhaps a little hung over, I was determined to have a great day and not let my IT issues get to me. I headed down to breakfast and a seminar session with a lighter heart. I must learn when it comes to tech, it knows when you are in a good mood and feeling optomistic. If you appear this way in front of your machine, you are in for a world of hurt.
Back in my room, my laptop determined it would not even give me the three minutes anymore. Nothing worked at all. I packed the whole kit and kaboodle up and headed to our head office IT department 2 blocks away. Suffice to say, I was there most of the afternoon until finally at 7:15pm my system worked - well sort of. I was late for the Gala dinner and rushed back to my room to throw on my dress and get to the ballroom. I made it in time for dinner to be served. It was lovely. After two days of stress and anxiety I was pleased to just relax with a glass of wine, some good food and lovely people. After dessert and during the keynote speaker, I felt a wave come over me. I was about to be sick. Nice. Right in front of my bosses while I was wearing heals and a dress. Just perfect. I rushed out of the ballroom and made it to the ladies room in time to lose my dinner. I made it to my room in time to lose my dessert. I climbed into bed almost in tears wishing I were home.
Thursday morning I felt a bit better and made my way downstairs to breakfast and the closing speakers. Afterwards, I was back in my room with my laptop trying yet again to do my job. I was reminded of the definition of insanity "repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome". I was slowly going insane. Back to head office and the IT department. I offered them cash to never "upgrade" me again. I even threatened that there was a very good chance that Air Canada would lose the laptop on my flight home. By the end of the day, I had officially spent more time with IT than I did at the seminar. I ended up leaving the computer with them overnight and made my way back to my room. I had hopes of a swim in the pool followed by a massage. The pool was closed and the massager went home with the flu. Nice. I had a bath and beat myself about the head with my pillow.
Friday morning I headed back to the office to IT to pick up my crap. They finally figured out what the problem was and my system worked. However, I now needed to head to airport so I still could not do my job. I felt pretty good when I went back to the hotel to check out - I was going home and my laptop finally worked. Yehaa! I grabbed my bags and headed downstairs. Imagine my surprise at what happened next.
I had 90 minutes to get the airport. I had already checked in electronically so was not in too big of a rush. I presented myself to the desk clerk for checkout and to pay the $5.03 in room charges. When he presented me with charges of $549.99 I almost tripped over my suitcase as I staggered backwards. What on earth was he talking about? To make this short and sweet, it seems that someone had been running around charging food and other items to my room. When I insisted this was not me, he had me wait while he retrieved the actual signed chits and compared them to my signature. This took some time. My 90 minute window was dwindling away. In short, the signature was not even close. Someone must have overheard my name and room number and thought it would be kind of funny to stick me with the bills. I was getting very antsy as I tried to prove my innosence. I was about to miss my flight. I think my voice went up several notches and I was about to go all Rambo over the clerk's face. As they finally realized that this was in fact not me, they were a little contrite and apologetic. What was I going to do about my flight? In short, the hotel called Air Canada and booked me on the next flight - at no charge to me.
I raced to the airport where I ran through like an Olympian, checked my bag and made it to security. In my haste, I dropped my purse all over the floor. As I was bent down to pick everything up, I was tapped on the shoulder - "Can you come with us? You have been chosen for a full scan and search. You can chose to go into the privacy of the room to your right if you like." Are they kidding me? Just once I want to travel without issues and crap happening.
To top things off, the plane was full and the only seat available was a window seat - not my favorite. I prefer the aisle. I had to go pee in about hour 3 of the 5 hour flight. The fella on the aisle seat was fast asleep. We tried, including the stewardess, to wake him with no success. Suffice to say that by the time we landed, I was jogging through the airport to get to the ladies room.
All in all, a pretty crappy week. The people I met were wonderful. It was great to finally put some faces to the voices I had only ever spoken to before.
Well, this week will be a busy one as I try to catch up on everything I was supposed to do last week. Can't say I am looking forward to it. I need a vacation that involves sun, sand and a Swede named Sven who is the posser of magic massage hands and no technologie at all - including phones.
I will keep you posted.