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Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend to Remember?

This past weekend the Husband and I traveled to New Orleans for a rewards trip paid for by The Borg (also known as the Husband's employer). Although I'm not typically one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I'm not sure if rewards trip accurately describes our experience. To quote another Borg employee, who we barely met, "this trip was decidedly un-Borg like."

You see, usually the Borg makes a big and splashy statement. Usually they Do Things Right and Treat Employees Quite Well. For example, last year when the Husband was at death's door, his boss and even his boss' boss both called me at the hospital to ask if I had family in town, and did I need someone from the company to stay with me until family could arrive? At that time, the Husband had just returned from new hire training, and had been employed by the company for less than two months. I know: pretty darn decent, right? I thought so, too. Especially for a company with tens of thousands of employees.

You may be asking, if it's that decent of a company, why refer to them as The Borg? I'm no Star Trek fan, but even I know that The Borg are depicted as a superhuman race, with one collective mind, that tends to assimilate others who get in their way. Yes. Well. Ahem.

Back to the very un-Borg like weekend.

It began VERY EARLY on Friday morning. Have I mentioned before that I am so not a morning person? We caught one of the first flights of the day, just before six o'clock. This, of course, means that we woke up before four -- an auspicious start time for one with my sparkling and chipper AM personality. We flew through Atlanta, then on to New Orleans. Our first flight experienced some delays (typical) and of course we only received two measly cookies per person on each flight (again, typical), so we never did eat breakfast or lunch. By the time we landed in NOLA, my tummy growled like a semi-truck rolling along a rumble strip. The event organizers waited for us at baggage claim, and promptly led us to our assigned buses.

They sent us and several other couples to the wrong bus, which we discovered after visiting four other hotels during a ninety minute period. At the last fourth stop, the bus driver learned a small group of us wouldn't be getting off at that location. He disappeared for awhile, leaving us on a LOCKED bus, while we frantically banged on the windows, watching as they carted our luggage inside of the wrong hotel. We sorted out that problem, only to travel another twenty minutes or so to our actual hotel. By then it was about 1:30 in the afternoon (2:30 our time) and I still didn't have any food. Needless to say, we ate at the hotel restaurant.

That night we attended the event's Welcome Party, only the speaker for the evening couldn't orate, since he sat in the Atlanta airport due to poor weather conditions. The three replacement speakers ... well, what can I say except bless their hearts. (Just so you know, that is Southern-speak for "I'm insulting you, but vaguely and in the most polite way possible.")

The buffet line seemed quite limited. After our earlier meal trauma, I'm sure you understand why this caught my attention, if only a tad bit. The Husband also wishes to inform all that they ran out of every brand of beer except for Miller Lite. Not a national tragedy, of course, especially when it's Free Beer, but still. They also ran out of desserts, which many will agree IS a national tragedy.

The next morning went fairly smoothly, although our tour did begin twenty minutes late. The Husband and I truly enjoyed walking through the French Quarter. Our guide, a vibrant, sweet and eccentric woman in her sixties, definitely described the neighborhood in a way few others could. (Just so you know, eccentric is Southern-speak for slightly crazy.) She spoke of the pillars of the community in one breath, and the most famous local exotic dancer with her next breath. Only in New Awlins. Truly.

That night, we headed for the Big Event: a concert performed by Sheryl Crow at The House of Blues. (I'm now pausing for dramatic effect.)

The Borg told us to dress in business casual clothing, described in further detail as -- and I quote -- "casual dresses or skirts with coordinating tops in dressier fabrics such as crepe, linen and silk." I wore a simple black dress and black strappy sandals. Yes, I know, I'm nothing if not original in my wardrobe choices. Little did I know that I would attend a crowded Frat Party instead of the large, coffee-house style concert I expected. Note to self: strappy sandals and a Mosh Pit do not a pleasant experience make.

More than half of the attendees did not have a chair in which to sit, either during dinner or the concert afterwards. The Borg expected us all to stand for the hours-long music extravaganza. They couldn't have expected us to dance, since there existed no room in which to wiggle, much less execute any steps, intricate or otherwise. Lest you think I exaggerate, Behold the Mosh Pit, where every person pictured is standing:

(Just so you know, I held the camera high above my head to snap this photograph. Usually I only saw Sheryl Crow through the camera viewer.)

At least three people stepped HARD on my toes while trying to jockey past me for a better position. One gentleman inched past the Husband and two women who couldn't reach 64 inches on a heel day. This man stood well over six feet and seemed startled when the Husband told him he needed to move so that the ladies (who occupied the space first) standing beside my Husband, and now behind this man, could actually see the stage lights, if not Sheryl Crow. Another gentleman tried to push past me, not seeming to care that I STOOD NEXT TO A WOODEN POLE. Umm, exactly how could I move to the side when faced with such an immovable structure? I finally lost my cool, looked at him with an "are you a complete idiot?" expression on my face, and reverted to college-speak, "Dude, it's a POLE." After all, I did stand amidst a Mosh Pit, so a little regression is to be expected. Needless to say, we left the concert early.

That night/ Sunday morning, we experienced the absolute icing on the cake. At promptly 4:40 AM, our hotel's fire alarm sounded. All of the guests began evacuating the building. As we slept in a room one-floor-below-the-top-floor, we began the long trek down eighteen flights of stairs. Fortunately, at the eighth floor, we received word that the fire alarm was actually a false alarm. We headed back to bed, along with many other hotel guests whom we now knew MUCH better than we had even twelve hours prior. We finally drifted off to sleep again, only to awaken thirty minutes later to yet another loud speaker announcement from the hotel staff, thanking us for our earlier cooperation and informing us they fixed the problem. Well, thank goodness for that.

We arrived home yesterday evening. For such a short trip, I don't believe I should feel so absolutely drained. All I can think is that I need a vacation from my vacation.


Gerbil said...

Ye cats and little fishes. I hope you at least got a beignet to soothe yourself??

And, I am laughing myself half to death about The Borg.

Janet said...

Wow. That was sssssooooome trip. As the Borg say...."resistance is futile". (my Grandma is a Startrek fan. Yes, she really is.)

And running out of desserts? WHAT? That truly is a national tragedy.

Special K said...

There just really are no words...

discombobulated said...

Ok, I know it is rude to laugh at the misfortunes of others, but when I got to "Dude it's a POLE", I was on the ground rolling.

Aunt LoLo said...

Oh, that is just TOO funny! I'm so glad you found some things to amuse yourself, as well. Here's a little Chinese-culture tidbit you might not have heard yet: vacations are about where you can stand to take pictures and WHAT YOU ATE. If you ask my hubby the best part of a trip, he'll tell you about the awesome meal. His parents are coming into town tomorrow. All we've talked about is the $500 abalone they're bringing with them. (I'll believe it when I see it.) I know I'm becoming one of them, because if you ask me about my trip to China two years ago...I'm still drooling over the roast leg of lamb I ate in Xian!