Friday, May 04, 2012

Anatomy of a There-and-Back-on-the-Same-Day Business Trip Itinerary

On Tuesday, I had a late afternoon presentation in Abington, north of Philadelphia.  Since Amy was not going to be able to get out of work on time, I made arrangements last week with her father to pick up the kids and take them to Aaron's baseball practice.  This entailed having the following things ready at our house for him to grab before we headed to their school: car seats, dinner, baseball bag, and driving directions.

Then I found out I had to give a presentation earlier that day in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I decided to fly in that morning rather than the night before, so it made for a long day but at least I got to sleep in my own bed.  (I'm up early anyway, so leaving the house at 5 is not as painful.)

To make things even funner, Monday afternoon I got a call from Aaron's school, saying he had thrown up.  Of course.  Amy was able to leave work early to get him, while I scrambled to find babysitters to stay home with Aaron during the day, and to tell Aaron's baseball coach that he wouldn't be making practice after all.

Thankfully, Amy was able to commit to extricating herself from work and staying home, which greatly simplified things.  We called the battery of babysitters to tell them they weren't needed, and called Amy's dad to say there was no need for a pick-up and ride to baseball practice.  She even scheduled a plumber for a toilet leak, seeing as that she would be stuck at home anyway.

Family and house matters squared away, I returned my attention to my travel itinerary. On paper, it was supposed to go like this: Walk to El station, El to 30th Street, Regional Rail to Philadelphia International, US Airways to Raleigh Durham International, bus to downtown Raleigh, walk five minutes to presentation location, give presentation, bus back to Raleigh Durham International, US Airways to Philadelphia International.

Here's where it got crazy.  Since the airport is in the southern tip of Philadelphia, and Abington is north of Philadelphia, I scoped out a number of alternatives depending on when I touched down.  My best bet was to Regional Rail it to Elkins Park and then cab it five minutes from there.  But since the Regional Rail only runs every 30 minutes, and I was going to be cutting it close to begin with, my alternative was to cab it from the Airport to either 30th Street or Fern Rock Transportation, where I would grab a PhillyCarShare rental and drive the rest of the way.

You probably know where this is going.  First, that my flight was late getting into Raleigh, so the bus was out as an option.  I cringed as I hailed a cab, realizing I was paying $46 for almost the exact same origin and destination as the $2 bus.

Second, our meeting went long, which was more than fine from a business standpoint, but knocked out taking the bus back to the airport.  Thankfully, a colleague of mine offered me a ride to the airport, so that was pretty easy.

Third, our flight was delayed out of Raleigh, because the plane was coming from Philadelphia and it was still stuck there.  (I guess I could've waited for the next bus after all.)  So much for scoping out all of the ways to get to Abington from Philadelphia International.  The Abington presentation would have to go on without me.

I got into Philadelphia an hour late, and took the Regional Rail and a bus home, picking up Jada on the way home.  When we got home, we got the report that the plumber had fixed everything and Aaron was feeling better.  After an itinerary like I had, that was music to my ears.  It's always good to be home.

PS Since this was probably my shortest business trip ever, it's not surprising it was also the lightest I've ever packed.  In a thin portfolio, I had jammed papers related to my Raleigh presentation and my Abington presentation, plus some notes on my Penn class that I was going to work on while on the plane.  I also stuck in a pack of gum, two granola bars, a stack of business cards, and two issues of Time.  It was liberating to not have a bag, let alone a suitcase. 

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