Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The working life: More travel hassle
Have I mentioned that I hate business travel? I especially hate it when it involves 16-hour flights and long lines just to get to that flight. And a patdown. A full-body patdown where they don't even offer you a cigarette at the end. Honestly. We do not know each other that well!
The lines. The lines were awful. Three security gates, all in lines that are not designed to optimize the experience for the customer but function to make life easy for the airport/airline employee.
An airport that is designed to encourage shopping and consumption and not rest. As in, lots of places to shop (nothing like hearing "Little Drummer Boy" playing in the bookstore at the same airport that offers prayer rooms and arrows showing where Mecca is) but almost nowhere to sit.
The flight home was long, but at least this time, I had an aisle seat with nobody next to me. I wasn't hungry for the airline supper at 11:45 p.m., mostly because I had a nice meal of roast lamb and hummus at a fast-food place before I left for the airport, but then I woke up in the middle of the night, hungry. Fortunately, I had my mango with me. The mango I had bought at the produce souk that afternoon in a last-minute sightseeing dash with a co-worker. When I bought the mango, he said, "That's a lot of money for a mango!"
I disagreed at first, thinking that I had seen mangos at Carrefour for 27 dirhams a kilo, which comes to about (about) $5 a pound, but then I realized that my mango weighed nowhere near a pound and that I had paid the gringo tax. The mango guy saw me coming. Actually, he saw my co-worker coming, the one who was anxiously looking at his watch and saying, "I have to check out of the hotel in 30 minutes!" I had already checked out, so I didn't care, but I also did not want to take the metro back to the hotel alone when I could share a taxi with my co-worker instead. The glamour of public transportation wears off very quickly.
I woke up and ate my mango in the dark, licked off my sticky fingers, and went back to sleep.
We arrived in Atlanta at 5 a.m. I was looking forward to getting breakfast on my expense account. I was especially looking forward to the fancy $7 coffee at Starbucks that I read about. Some fancy bean harvested only during a full moon by red-headed virgins who can speak Chinese, French, and Swahili.
But I thought I should be responsible and show good fiduciary sense first, so I checked the Delta lounge, where SH got me a membership, which may be wasted because I don't drink and the main benefit of lounge membership is free booze, to see what they had to eat and drink.
Watery coffee and stale grocery-store bagels. No Nutella! They had hidden the Nutella, even though booze was available.
Really, Delta? That's the best you can do?
I felt morally justified in seeking the $7 coffee and some dark chocolate covered pretzels.
I found the Starbucks and its long line with the order taker asking those of us in line what we wanted. I couldn't even see the menu from where I was standing, so I couldn't tell if the $7 coffee was there.
It wasn't until I got to the front of the line that I saw that there was no mysterious expensive coffee. I had to settle for a skinny peppermint mocha, which was a big mistake. It's foul. But I didn't have time to go back and explain the foulness of the coffee because my plane was leaving and so I was stuck coffee less and hungry on the flight home, increasing my bitterness over business travel.