Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Miss Carolyn Goes to Washington

Last week, I got to visit Washington DC courtesy of work. Well, technically it was the suburb of DC that houses the Dulles airport and my team only made it into the actual city for about four hours. And it was probably the most stressful work trip I've ever taken. Let's start at the beginning.

I flew out of Tucson on Monday. Since the Tucson airport is fairly small, I had a layover in Dallas. The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport had been good to me in the past; this was the trip that was to change my mind. The full list of things that went wrong were:

  • The plane to DC arrived 45 minutes late from Ohio
  • It had a flat tire which took another 45 minutes to repair
  • Once the plane was airborne, the pilot announced the altimeter was broken and we would need to return to Dallas since there was weather in Virginia. And because we could not land with a full tank of fuel, we would have to remain in the air until we used it up. 
  • When we were back on the ground, they announced they had another plane, so we all got off and moved to that gate. At this point, it was almost midnight. Also, at this point, the flight attendants hours had rolled over and they couldn't legally work anymore. They announced they were bringing in a new crew, but they never told us if they were in the airport or just somewhere in Dallas. 
  • Once the crew got there, anyone who had an electronic boarding pass had to have a paper one printed because they were literally tearing tickets as they boarded us. And we were told to rush because the pilots hours rolled at 12:30. It was the closest I've come to seeing a full-blown mob scene. 
  • We only had two more delays after that: there was no crew to push us back from the gate and there was no crew to fill out and file the paperwork necessary for us to take off. 
After all of that, my head finally hit the pillow of my hotel bed at 4:52AM. It was the longest night I've had in a long time, especially since I had to be ready to work at 9AM.

The work itself was its own brand of stressful. I'd done trips like this before, but usually I would work with three or four people. This time? Twenty. There were twenty people. It was like herding cats, but herding cats is actually fairly easy if you know what you're doing. This was herding sexist, old men who think they know best about a product they've never seen before.

It was a long day and things did not go well. We had to call it around 4PM to wait for unbroken parts to ship overnight. That's always a good sign. The rest of the day was a late lunch, willing myself to stay awake until the sun set, and a dinner of the leftover chips from lunch and some Reese's pieces.

Fortunately, only three guys showed up on the second day and we were able to get things to run the way they are supposed to.

Since I was out of my zombie state and we finished with a couple of hours to spare, my team headed into the city. It happened to be the day that the metro system was 100% closed so everyone was driving and traffic was insane. It only took 90 minutes to drive a distance Google said would take 30. The only things that were still open were the monuments so we saw as many as possible.

We started on the Lincoln Monument end of the mall...

...and then headed toward the opposite end, towards the Washington Monument.

We stopped and paid our respects at the Korean War Memorial along the way.

I imagine the springtime flowers in DC rival almost everywhere else. These are magnolias?

A beautiful sunset.

The running joke of the evening became why the Washington Monument had this creepy red blinking eyes. I still don't know why, my guess was it's a warning to aircraft. In our exhausted states, though, it was a hilarious inside joke.

We found a place for dinner near the White House. After a big dinner at finally the correct time to eat food, we spent some time starring at the White House, trying to figure out why Washington's creepy eyes kept following us.

We took a detour back to the car that was a bit dodgy, but we did get to admire the Jefferson Monument off in the distance.

And with that, we headed back to Tucson the next morning. Fortunately, there were absolutely no issues with my flights on the way back. Another stop in Dallas with another small pizza.

I've got another scheduled in the upcoming weeks, but this one burnt me out pretty badly. I may or may not have already started to come up with excuses to get out of it. If it ends up happening, I'm sure I'll find a way to have a good time, but it's still a lot to wrap my head around right now.

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