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A Consultants life. Tales from the road at 35,000ft.

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Old Nov 17, 04, 10:41 pm
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A Consultants life. Tales from the road at 35,000ft. (Updated 6/16!)

Profanity free for now anyways. I thought it might be fun to give my fellow FT’ers a view into the life of a road warrior. And for those of you who share the same lifestyle, you will surely relate and get a chuckle at times. My adventures have been shared in great detail with many of you in FT Chat. And during slow times, or when my travels are uneventful, I will re-tell some of the highlights of my time on the road like the now infamous Kalamazoo ‘Lindsay’ incident. This is sure to be an epic thread as it will follow my travel experiences and document some of my time on the road. From the outside some may find it horrifying, some may not, but I assure you that at times you will laugh hysterically and at other times feel the pangs of sadness.

To give you, the readers, some background I’ll share a little about me so that the framework for many of my misadventures are better understood. I am a mid-twenties single guy who works for an unnamed large consulting firm. I am on the road 5-6 days a week, every week. I ‘live’ in Austin Tx. and am currently staffed in Pasadena Ca. Any given Sunday you can catch me on AA flights 1360 and 2475, as I am today while writing this. Any given Friday I’ll be on flight 1696. The trip is usually uneventful, as it is every week. Sure on occasion I have to sprint through DFW to make my flight, after all, it is the size of Manhattan. I learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to run than catch the TrAAin for a multitude of reasons. I digress. My life consists of planes, trains, rented automobiles, rented rooms and, single serving food served in disposable plastic containers. I have a ‘home’ I rarely see, even then it is just a glorified closet that I use to re-supply my suitcase and keep the local drycleaner in business. I will be hard pressed to put 5,000 miles on my car in a year, and 2 hours of stick time in my boat (my greatest passion in life).


11/17/04 - What a fitting first entry I have to share this week. Of course Sunday November 14 provided to be a day of non-stop airline and travel entertainment. This happens on occasion as when so many things are left out of your control failures and disconnects are bound to happen. I don’t even let them bother me anymore since they are TRULY out of my control, but I have NO tolerance for stupid people and have NO objection to voicing my opinion at times. That being said; Today was a day like many others, full of idiotic travel. I begin my day just outside of Houston Tx where I had been visiting my family. I quickly gathered my belongings shoved them in my briefcase kissed my family good by and hit the road. I drove to Houston as being able to drive my car was an unusual treat that I enjoy very much (hey, it’s a big V-8 American sports car, who wouldn’t?). So it was 2.5 hours of open roads, loud music, and some generally blissful ‘me’ time. All the while I am watching the clock remembering that I have a 5:00 flight. I feel embarrassed to admit, but my life is more dictated by airline schedules than it is by my own influence at times. I got to my home in Austin at 3:30, whew, just enough time to unpack from the week before, shove some new things into the suitcase, turn around and head out the door to the airplane awaiting me. Well,.. . This took a little longer than I thought it would and I find myself in a bit of a hurry to get to the airport on time. I KNOW I need to check in at 4:10 at AUS to make my 5:00 flight without relying on someone else to make sure that happens. I park the car at 4:08. It’s a mad dash to the kiosk to check in!! The escalator is broke so I have to carry my bags up the stairs and across the airport arriving at the kiosk at 4:15pm. @#$*&!! Thinking that I may be in for some trouble at this point, I swipe my AA card through the machine, enter LAX as my destination, and it finds my record. What a min, it’s letting me check in, SWEET!, I made it!! Well, yes, I had indeed made it, in great time I might add, for my 7:00pm flight. Thinking to myself that I am such an idiot, I could have spent at LEAST an hour and a half at home this weekend! Oh well, I’m here, I’m not leaving.

So I have lunch/dinner at the Schlotzsky’s at AUS, and settle into a seat near gate 14 where I can plug in my laptop for some juice to write this with. The wait was something I was used to as this is not the first time I have done this. The time passes without event. I take my seat on the Mad Dog at A-7. I prefer a window for this short hop from AUS to DFW, especially if it is on the port side of the aircraft. There is nothing I love more than a sunset at 21,000 feet. Also, The fleeting skyline of my beloved city is always enjoyable. Not to mention I have seen more of Lake Travis from the air this year than I did in either one of my boats.

We all board without event and the door shuts, and the plane pushed back. *sniff* goodbye Austin. Just then the engines spool up and we roll forward to the gate again. The Captain makes the announcement that warning lights were going off in the cockpit. Fine by me, fix it if you must. Turns out it was just a gauge. We take off at 7:50 for DFW. Hmm, mechanical delay, 8:45 departure from DFW, I’m not going to make it unless I run. I’ll worry about it in Dallas, right now, I am going to enjoy my flight. Unfortunately, a rather portly woman has spackled me to the window. While this was unpleasant in and of itself, but god good, do NOT take chips and queso with guacamole on the plane with you people! Thank god it is a short flight and I’m young or I’d have required re-assembly when we landed. The actual flight was rather uneventful. But we did have a nice wait on the tarmac in DFW to further complicate my connection. ‘Eh so I catch the next one I think to myself.

The Mad Dog pulls into the gate with 16 min before the door closes. I am at C25 and I need to get to A12. So I start heading that way, maybe I’ll make it, maybe I wont. I get there and the door is closed and the plane has already pushed back. Oh well, I should at least get a bump voucher for this. So I go to the gate attendant who is the most worthless uninformed idiot I have ever delt with at AA. He proceeds to put me stand by for the next one in 1.5 hrs which is oversold. Then Mr. T. Phillips (the ever so helpful gate attendant) instructs me that AA (and I quote) “The flight was oversold, we do not give vouchers in this situation”. So I ask him again, and get the same response as I did not want to jump to conclusions. My jaw it the floor, I instructed him that he should notify his manager about the new policy that he has enacted for his employer. Oh well, I’m not too concerned as they would only expire in my drawer along with the stacks of other like it. (I realize this may be a strange concept for FT’ers, but I don’t care much for miles, vouchers, points or what not. Status is important to me, but not much else, I’m never that motivated to travel much. I take vacation to go home!) . So I think, no big deal, I’m EXP, I’ll get on this flight. Well, they only accept one volunteer for the flight to give up his seat. Unfortunately I did not get that seat. Then it hits me, I’m strAAnded! Thank you AA!

FanFreakingtastic! Just then, I notice, oh no,. It couldn’t be,. My good friend Mr T. Phillips comes to work the gate and hand out hotel vouchers!! Oh wonderful I think to myself. So, they start calling people for their hotel vouchers and seat assignments for tomorrow’s flight. Now, by this point I have talked to all the others who did not make it on and they were all stand by from the flight I missed earlier. Not surprising, as it tends to happen like that. I have also found out that not a single one of them had any status what so ever. So I breathe a sign of relief thinking I will get a seat before the rest of them since I have good status and provide a very generous stream of revenue for AA. So I wait for my name to be called, LAST. No big deal, right. So he proceeds to tell me that AA will cover ½ the cost of the hotel, OF THEIR CHOOSING! Ok, now I have been calm and polite the whole time, while I will not abandon that philosophy at this juncture, I am no longer going to stand idle. AA, Your going to have to kiss me before you F me! So I say that this is completely unacceptable and it is the policy of AA that on a Mechanical delay they are responsible for the cost of my room. So he look up my flight (which he now obviously had not before I got there) and says ‘OK’ and not another word. I was expecting further discourse, but I should have known better from Mr. T. Phillips by now. He prints up a bunch of things and lays them out in front of me and starts going over it. He put me standby for the 7:00 am flight, booked me on the 8:20am flight and have me a hotel voucher at AA’s expense. So I look at it, look at him, look at it, look at him and say “dAAys Inn?! You bump me from PAID F class for reasons solely responsible for by AA, do not issue me a bump voucher on the premise of some policy you made up on the spot, put me on stand by then book me into COACH?! You sir, are not making me a happy pax. Can I speak to a Complaint Resolutions Officer (knowing full well that I was not going to find one at 10:00pm on a Sunday night)?” So He radio’s to someone who calls him, who radio’s someone else, who makes a call to some office, who radio’s a CSM to call Mr T. Phillips. He tells me there are no officers available tonight and that I should call “800-433-7300” and ask for one. (yeah, go look up that number and laugh like I did). So I thank Mr T. Phillips for his patience and walk off to baggage in the vein hope I may be able to get my bag.

And of course my bag made the flight that I did’nt. I thought that was against FAA regs, but I don’t know, nor do I care at this juncture. I call *wood and book a room at the closest Starwood; The Sheraton Grand at DFW for $158 for tonight. Great, I’ll take it because I am NOT staying at the dAAys Inn! So I wait 45 min for the shuttle and I am off!

I check in at Mid-night and have to be out by 5:00 to make my 7:00 am flight. Not too much to say about the Sheraton Grand as I was only there for 5 hours and unconscious for the majority of it. It was OK, but I cant imagine it was worth $158/night. I then make the smartest move of the whole night, I call the AA XPlat desk and get CONFIRMED on the 7:00 which had open seats I might add! (thank you Mr. T. Phillips)

The next morning I get up and shove my laptop into my briefcase which is now my only piece of luggage and off I go. I stand in the terminal waiting to board when I see one of the PAX that got bumped with me last night. So I go talk to her and ask if she is going to make it on or not (thinking she had been issued a standby ticket like *I* was). Turns out Mr. T. Phillips BOOKED her on it!! So I board the plane red in the face mad now! I am EXP, I thought that meant something. Apparently not. So I take my seat at 18B and pass out for the remainder of the flight. I get to L.A. looking utterly wrecked and having to go to work now.

I get my rental car (Pontiac Grand Prix I think) and take my place in traffic that can only be likened to waiting for Christmas in June. Now I KNOW, I cant go to work like this so I go to my hotel, Westin Pasadena and beg them to let me check in early so I can change and go to work. Of course they let me, I have stayed here for over 100 nights now and the desk staff knows me and is more than willing to accommodate.

Off to work I am, rolling into the office at 10:30 after having spent 18 hours trying to get here.

Welcome to the ‘real’ surreal life.

Last edited by 1993gt40; Jun 16, 05 at 12:09 am
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Old Nov 18, 04, 1:32 am
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Excellent read!!!! Keep em coming
(btw thought about flying into BUR - a little closer than LAX to Pasadena)
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Old Nov 18, 04, 3:01 am
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That's all fine and dandy, but the question is, why wasn't Lindsay with you??? I'm sure she would have enjoyed the comforts of the Sheraton Grand.
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Old Nov 18, 04, 10:13 pm
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Originally Posted by alect
Excellent read!!!! Keep em coming
(btw thought about flying into BUR - a little closer than LAX to Pasadena)

Yes it's closer, but I dont always get the times I want. I'll be posting more of my travels, count on something VERY crazy after thanksgiving. And I'm not even flying!
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Old Nov 18, 04, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by cedric
That's all fine and dandy, but the question is, why wasn't Lindsay with you??? I'm sure she would have enjoyed the comforts of the Sheraton Grand.

Hehehehe, well, I would have LOVED to have Lindsay with me, but alas,.. I have not heard from her, something tells me I wont either. I'll get that story up here sometime soon,.
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Old Nov 18, 04, 10:44 pm
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Another Consultant Here!!

Great stuff!! I too am a road warrior with over 200K in flight miles and over 100 nights under my belt this year. I am going to have to direct friends and family to this thread when I try explaining that it is not all luxury and fantasy life while on the road day in and day out!

Last edited by prncess674; Nov 19, 04 at 9:51 am Reason: grammar
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Old Nov 18, 04, 10:58 pm
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Originally Posted by prncess674
Great stuff!! I too a road warrior with over 200K in flight miles and over 100 nights under my belt this year. I am going to have to direct friends and family to this thread when I try explaining that it is not all luxury and fantasy life while on the road day in and day out!
Thats the response I was looking for! I will keep this updated so feel free to send visitors.
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Old Nov 18, 04, 11:03 pm
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Another "warrior" here...OVER 200K/230 nights annually. 8 years now and still going strong!
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Old Nov 19, 04, 3:00 am
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Well, I'll be curious to keep an eye on this as well. I'm also a mid twenties guy, and could have gone down the consulting path but decided not to in large part because I didn't want to be away from home six days a week. I've always wondered about the life, so I hope you'll include lots of experiences, not just those from your time in the air!
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Old Nov 22, 04, 12:51 pm
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Originally Posted by dordal
Well, I'll be curious to keep an eye on this as well. I'm also a mid twenties guy, and could have gone down the consulting path but decided not to in large part because I didn't want to be away from home six days a week. I've always wondered about the life, so I hope you'll include lots of experiences, not just those from your time in the air!
I plan to include everything from work at the client site, of course the crazy travel, and mostly the lifestyle. Look forward to a new entry in the next 24 hours. And some great entries in the next week as I am sure I will have some crazy stories from my planned road trip (with cameo appearances from other FTer's!)
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Old Nov 22, 04, 1:24 pm
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Thumbs up GREAT story

GREAT story, and a good introduction to what I may be facing in a month or two (potential project that will ahve me commuting DCA-DTW weekly for 6 months).

Will be looking forward to any further stories.
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Old Nov 22, 04, 10:32 pm
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Thanks for this glimpse into life on the roads, runways and hotel hallways of America. It certainly has its literal and figurative ups and downs and all those miles notwithstanding, you hit the nail on the head with your comment about vacations being about staying home for once.

By the way, I never saw any mention of airline lounges. They sure can make those airport layovers alot nicer. If you don't have a current membership, you might consider Priority Pass featuring U.S. affiliations with CO, DL, NW, UA, US and HP. Unlimited visits regardless of whether you're flying the specific lounge's airline or not will cost about $400.00 for one year, though there's an introductory special for $319.00.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 6:15 am
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What a great read! I too am on the road a lot. And, I really enjoy when I can do a "weekend getaway" to my home in San Francisco.
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Old Nov 23, 04, 10:54 pm
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Sorry for the delay in the posting, the project has been a bit hectic lately and I have been indulging in ‘mindless fun’. I digress;

Here I will mark somewhat of a departure from the typical ‘trip report’ and comment on the life and times of a Consultant. Sure, there are airports involved along with many nights in hotels, but rather the atmosphere of excessive travel is what dominates my mood this evening.

Last we spoke I had barely made it into work after a rather unpleasant debacle at DFW. The work week was long, hard and unproductive. Consulting at times can be difficult work (I know, try to contain your laughter). It seems that the stigma of consulting often puts managers and employees at odds. The memory of the all too many lay off’s in recent years past has had an adverse affect on my ability to deliver work. If you think about it, consulting is one of two things; telling other people how to run their companies, or actually running them for your clients. I am currently doing a mix of both but mostly, running them. More specifically I am undertaking a large migration project at a multi-national mortgage lender. So my day to day work consists of part PMO (project Management Office) part roll up the sleeves technical work. This requires much interfacing with the day to day operations of the client.

Remember that I make mention of recent lay off’s and my ability to deliver work. This is where it plays into my daily activities. Everyone I work with view me as a perceived threat. It is the view of everyone I interact with that I am either there to outsource their job, or to replace them. NEITHER of which is true, but my firm has been known to do those things in the past. Needless to say, I am not a popular man nor a well liked one among those not in upper management. Breaking the ice and blending into the environment is always the priority of a consultant. You don’t want to stand out in any way. So you have an e-mail account from your client, a phone extension, and for all intents and purposes you become an employee of your client. I do not dare bring anything with my employers name into work, none of my business cards, my official work e-mail is always hidden on my desk top, all in an effort to blend in.

THIS is where it begins to affect one’s self. No one I work with (other than the others from my firm and a few select clients) has any idea what my life is like. They have no idea where I live 1,500 miles away from where I work, no idea that I live in a hotel, they have absolutely no way to relate to my way of life. Which I have found to be an ever increasing theme of my life. No one I know, nor anyone I have ever known, can even wager a guess as to what my day to day life is like. I have successfully alienated myself from my friends and family by choosing of a career and being a ‘road warrior’. Sure, it has it’s perks, don’t get me wrong, but those debts are dearly paid. I’ve scarcely watched the years go round. When I started I had someone very dear to me whom I very much intended to marry. Such is no longer the case. But such is the influence of power and money.

I know some of you are taken aback by that; Power? Well, yes hear me out. I’m 26, only an industry like consulting would ever put me in a position to direct an entire division of a multi-national mortgage lender at this age. This is something that may take others their whole career to achieve. On a usual project I will answer to 2 people, the CIO or an Executive director, and the Client Partner. So I talk to my friends from college and others my age and they have no idea what goes on in my life, nor do they have any hope of relating to what exactly it is I do. Often times their confusion is diluted by the absurdity of my lifestyle. The concept of ‘living in Austin, working in L.A.’ is so abstract to anyone I know it is absurd. Everyone has pleasant memories of staying in hotel rooms on family vacation or, flying to some exotic place. It is often difficult to separate flying from exotic places and hotel rooms from vacation in the minds of those I encounter.

Anyways, (yet again) I digress;

Work was long and hard and fruitless this last week. I flew home for the weekend. It was nice to be home for the 39 hours I was there. I got to watch my house flood in time for me to hop a flight back to work. (Austin flooded just a bit this week incase anyone was wondering) I sat coach, no clue what my seat number was since it was all too much like the 60 flights before it . Nothing special, I spent some time in LAX, hopped a flight, blah blah blah, read someone else’s trip report if you want to know what color the tile is.

Getting home was good, I spent some time with my friends who don’t know who I am. I have noticed a trend with those who I choose to spend time with; either they are much older than myself or they are still in college. I’m still trying to figure out why this is. But such is the case.

I flew back to work Monday morning. Rather uneventful again. Flew in First, had another AA southwest omelet. Nothing unusual to report except the crazy weather here in SoCal. As I was flying in and looking out the window, I could not help but notice the unusual amount of SNOW! ...?! Uhm, ok, California is a strange place I don’t understand but hey, I guess they have snow too. Well, not only that but it’s COLD here! I Packed for SoCal, not AZO! So I am freezing my nuts off this week, but it’s supposed to warm up. I hope it does soon because business casual is not necessarily warm.

I know that this post was not of the caliber of the first, but all I have to say is just wait. I have what is sure to be a great entry to come soon. I am strAAnded on the west coast for Thanksgiving and am planning the absolute craziest road trip I could possibly think of to kill 5 days (I will also explain why I an strAAnded here). I’ll give a teaser and say that it involves a Jaguar, some other FT’ers, wine country, and what is sure to be a self-destructive-reconstructive 5 days.
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Old Nov 24, 04, 1:58 am
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Great Post. Made excellent reading. Looking forward to your next one
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