Last week, my manager asked me if I’d be willing to take a trip up to the main corporate office this week to provide some knowledge transfer to our engineer up there before I leave the company. I agreed because I knew it’d be a big help to them and, up until very recently, I was the only person in the company who worked on my area of our product. I’m still the only person who knows about 75% of it. I also thought it’d be nice to say goodbye to the people up here before I left too.
I decided to drive up last night rather than this morning, as it’s usually a little easier this way. The drive is about 275 miles each way from Central Jersey to the office in Massachusetts and my car is a bit overdue for an oil change and needs new brake pads and tires so I opted to rent a car rather than drive my own like I’ve done for the other trips I’ve taken up here. This is where all the fun started.
When I reserved the car, I selected 6pm as my pickup time. I figured I’d pick it up right after work, go home, feed the cats, grab my shit, and go. My day ended up a bit differently than planned thanks to a last minute decision to work from home instead of going into the office (this, itself, is a whole other story). At this time, this really simplified my day. I left the house at 5:40 and drove over to the car rental place. I got there at 6:08 to find all the lights off and the place locked up. Turns out, they close at 6. So there I was, unable to actually rent the car to drive up in. Mind you, their site gave me no issue with reserving the pickup for 6pm or even any time later and didn’t not indicate or warn me that they close at 6. Their hours were only shown when I actually went to their site specifically looking for them.
With the choice of changing everything up and waiting until the morning to head up or just dring my car, I decided to go with the latter. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this, but I just wanted to get on with things.
From here, I headed over to Chipotle to grab a quick meal before actually leaving. Being a Tuesday night, I figured I could be in and out pretty quickly. WRONG. The damn line was out the door. I was there forever and got a half hour later start than planned.
At this point, I was already not exactly in the best of moods, but, if this was all there was, I’d have gotten over it before even crossing into New York.
Once I hit the road, I was making some pretty damn good time and had apparently timed things just right to have missed all the traffic. I was starting to feel pretty good about this, but I needed to make a gas stop rather early (again, wasn’t prepared for taking my car) and knew my tires could use a little air. I pulled into a rest stop after a while and filled up. Then, I moved my car over towards where the air was, only to find a gigantic RV blocking it and the driver nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, the only way I could even leave the rest stop at this point was to drive the wrong way through the gas area to get around the RV. Once I got around, I backed up to the air from the other side. Unfortunately, things still didn’t pan out for me the way I had hoped. The air machine was broken.
With a full tank of gas, but under inflated tires, I was off again.
But of course, since none of that is really noteworthy, you know there’s more to this story.
Somehow, Connecticut always fucks me on my drive up/down from Massachusetts. There is this one highway I take that’s only two lanes in each direction, rather narrow, and without a shoulder in a lot of places. As I’m driving along, all of a sudden, I hear this weird scraping noise coming from under my car. For a second, I thought one of my tires had gone, but I’m rather familiar with that sound so I knew it wasn’t that. I assumed I ran over something and it got caught underneath the car. I took the very next exit with the intention of stopping to check it out. Now, of course, there were no gas stations, or anything at all, so I figured I’d pull off onto a side street. I pull down the first street and about 30ft down the road is a weird, creepy van with all the lights off and the door slightly open. I couldn’t tell if there was actually someone in there or not, but I freaked and hightailed it out of there. I wasn’t exactly in the middle of anywhere and these kinds of situations scare the hell out of me now.
I drove back down the highway to the next rest stop with the scraping sound coming and going. When I finally got to the rest stop and could look under the car, I saw the plastic splashguard cover thing (apparently, these things don’t have a consistent name) was hanging off. At this point, I’m like “great, I’m more than a hundred miles from home and about the same to where I’m going. Fuck.” I tried yanking it off, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried kicking it off, but that did nothing either. Finally, I tried to just stick it back up there as best I could.
I started driving again and immediately, the scraping started again and was even worse than before. And, of course, as I mentioned, there’s no shoulder in a lot of places so I had to drive for about a mile with the horrible scraping before I could even pull over onto the grass. So now, I’m there laying on the ground in front of my car in the dark on the side of the road trying to figure out what to do with this damn thing. I still couldn’t get it off and I knew laying down in front of my car to deal with it was anything but safe. Even though I was on the grass, if someone had somehow ended up hitting my car, I was dead.
And let’s also throw in the fact that I was wearing the only pair of pants I brought with me (I’m only here until tomorrow so I packed very light).
I couldn’t get the thing off no matter what I did so I started trying to come up with ideas to prop it up. Eventually, I went into my bag and grabbed my 6ft Lightning cable for my iPhone. These things aren’t cheap, but Hattie has chewed the shit out of this thing already and I had a spare cable on me anyway. I was able to use the cable to tie the plastic dealy back up so it wouldn’t constantly scrape and I could continue my drive.
After that, I was finally able to continue on in an uneventful fashion. Though, I still have to drive home with this damn thing.
Do you travel for business at all? What’s your worse business trip story?