I started writing this on the plane on the way back from Kansas, but my laptop battery ran out of juice (very appropriate for this trip), so I decided that I'd finish it up later and publish at the first opportunity. Well, here it is. This is a true story. I hope you all have better luck in your travels.
My company decided that it is time for another influx of new blood into the organization. Turnover is high, the geezers aren’t getting any younger, and the number of recent college students we’ve hired is painfully low. Sounds like a perfect time to go out to a number of schools and seek out talent. So we “volunteered” a team of people, got organized, and went out into the masses. Yes, I got “volunteered”. Can’t say that I didn’t have reservations at first, but as the date of my first visit drew closer, I got more and more excited.
First stop – Emporia State in Kansas. We are scheduled for an information session and ten interviews the following day. The weather is nice and mild – thirty degrees and snowing. I pack my bags and get to the airport. Meeting me there is Peter – a guy from another group for whom this is also the first campus visit. We are destined for Kansas City where we’ll be meeting Meredith and Howard who had just completed their visit to the South Dakota School of Mines campus. And so the adventure begins.
As I am checking in my bag at the e-ticket counter, there is some confusion with my boarding pass that I have already conveniently printed from the machine and handed to the agent. She seems to think I have more than one. I assure her that the other piece of paper in my hand is just a receipt and she slaps the luggage sticker in my ticket jacket, attaches a destination label to my garment bag, and sets it on the conveyor. As I walk to terminal E, I glance at my ticket jacket and read the luggage label. Spelled out in bold letters is a beautiful African name that no doubt sounds great on the savannah breeze.
Too bad I’m not African.
I go back to the counter and ask the woman what she did with my luggage. She remembers me, says “that’s why I hate when people check-in in front of you” and finds the right label on her counter. Apparently it’s been sitting there all along. She affixes the appropriate sticker to my ticket jacket and tells me she will change it on the bag as well. It’s all I can do not to yell “if the last name didn’t match, why in the world did you put that sticker here in the first place, you twit!” Instead, I take the ticket jacket and walk off hoping to see it again in Kansas City.
Going through security is fairly painless. Boots off, laptop out of the case, cell phone, PDA, and money clip on the belt, I walk through the metal detector and the warm feeling of having been accepted for who I am by all of Universe washed over me. Almost there.
The plane ride itself is pretty uneventful. Once we are on the ground in Kansas City, the adventures begin. First, Peter leaves his cell phone on the plane and has to rush back to get it. Then we walk outside to catch a bus to another terminal where we are scheduled to meet the rest of our crew. It’s snowing, so we grab the jackets out of the bag and stand around waiting for the “red bus”. Thankfully, one shows up fairly quickly, so we hop on and cruise to terminal A. Find a spot at the gate, sit down and reach for the laptop. Peter’s isn’t there. It appears that he left it at the bus stop outside our terminal. So off he goes to catch a security guy and ask for help. Within thirty minutes he is back. With the laptop. So far so good. But wait. There’s more. Meredith calls and tells me that their plane slid off the runway and is stuck in the snow. The buses are on the way to pick up the passengers and luggage. They should be along any minute now.
Approximately forty five minutes later, she and Howard walk into the terminal. Now all we have to do is grab the luggage and a rental car and head to Emporia. Sounds great. Now, where’s Meredith’s luggage? Your guess is as good as mine. We wait another hour, then say “screw it”, get the car and go - Meredith with only the clothes on her back.
We get to Emporia and find the Days Inn where we have reservations. The place is a dump on par with Mi Casa in San Antonio (don’t ask). With an hour to spare before our information session, we decide to change hotels.
The White Rose Inn right by the school is a beginning of the century Victorian house with four rooms, four bathrooms, a living room, dining room and kitchen. We get to stay in our own little house!!! And for the same price as the infamous Days Inn. Finally, we catch a break! We check in.
On my way in from the car, hands full and Howard behind me, I slip and fall in the foyer. Apparently wearing biker boots in the snow is a bad idea. I laugh it off and run up the stairs in my socks – we have no time to spare. Six o’clock rolls around pretty fast and we head to the school. After thirty minutes of wondering around in the cold, parking the soccer bus and cursing at the Career Services lady, we finally get there.
Six students. SIX students is the reason we are here. We run though the presentation, answer questions and get out of there in hopes of finding dinner. Driving across town, we come across BRUFF’S Grill and Bar – a cozy little dive with an overbearing smell of varnish. Dinner there is out of the question since we are getting high just talking to the waitress. Where to go? Montana Mike’s is one of the places the waitress recommends, and we are off. Dinner is average but at least none of us have a turpentine-induced headache, and Wal Mart is right next door, so after getting some comfort food in us, we head over there to pick up some clothes for Meredith, some cold medicine for the guys, and some chap-stick and throat lozenges for me.
We get back to the B&B, scurry off to our rooms and hit the hay. Big day tomorrow.