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Travel Troubles

I’ve had some bad travel experiences. Yesterday was one of them. I traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas on business. My employer insisted I take a company car, and they gave me a nice one.

I was delayed in leaving my office, and I needed to make a stop before I left town. I didn’t hit the open road until about two hours after my intended departure time. Even so, I figured I’d still make it before dinner time.

I noticed gas prices were lower in Arkansas, so I decided to fill the tank. I pulled into a gas station, but the company card didn’t work. So, I went to the next gas station. It still didn’t work. I went to a third station, which was a chain I know my coworkers use. The pump told me to see the cashier. This was more progress than the other two, so I went in and talked to the lady at the counter. She had me run my card three times. It asked for my driver ID and the mileage each time, but the card was still declined.

Time was wasting, so I hit the road once again with a little over half a tank of gas. I called the office and asked my boss if I was doing something wrong. He told me he didn’t think so, but he’d make some calls and see if he could determine the problem. He called back a few minutes later and told me the gas card didn’t work in Arkansas.

Little Rock is right at 300 miles from work, and I knew the fuel I had wasn’t going to get me there and back. I spotted a Walmart close to the highway in Clarksville and took the exit. I still had over a hundred miles to go, so I did what I needed to do. I used my debit card to fill the tank.

Back on the road, the car kept flashing a picture of a coffee cup at me and telling me I should consider taking a break. I was way behind schedule at this point and just wanted to get to my hotel. I had lost enough time. I certainly wasn’t going to let the car talk me into stopping for coffee.

One of the reasons I like to drive my own car on trips is that it has navigation. The company car does not. I used Google Maps on my cell phone to find my way. I was in heavy traffic when my phone told me I needed to be in the second lane. There were four lanes. I count from left to right, so I got in the second lane from the left. That was wrong.

The road veered left and that’s when I saw the sign stating I was headed toward Memphis. I got over to the far right lane as soon as possible and took an exit to turn around. My phone had me loop around twice before it guided back to where I was supposed to be.

I found my hotel and searched for parking. There was none. As I turned to circle the block again, I remembered something about valet parking on my travel papers. I pulled up to the first young man at the door and asked if the hotel had parking. As I suspected, it was all valet.

I’d never used valet parking before, and it concerned me. First, I was handing over the keys to a company vehicle. Second, I knew I couldn’t carry all of my luggage up to my room in one trip. I was already exhausted and emotional. All I wanted was to check in and crawl into bed. I asked if the hotel had a cart I could use. The parking attendant called for a bellhop.

A very nice young man brought the luggage cart and loaded my two suitcases onto it. The poor guy thought that was everything. He was surprised when I handed him my laptop bag, backpack, tote bag, ice chest, and half a dozen Walmart bags. I travel heavy.

Inside, I approached the registration desk and was given the worst news of the day. There was a mix-up with the company credit card, and the hotel demanded mine. This is an expensive place. I handed the lady my credit card and asked if they could refrain from charging it until I had a chance to talk to our accounting department. The lady told me there would just be a hold on the account until I checked out, so I had time to get the mess straightened out.

The bellhop escorted me to my room and put my belongings in the floor. I’ve never used a bellhop before, but I knew I was supposed to tip him. I had no idea how much, so I pulled a $5.00 bill out of my wallet and handed it to him. He seemed happy with it.

I texted my boss and told him all about what had occurred. He called me a few minutes later. He was supportive and assured me we’d get all of this worked out. He told me to save my receipts and he’d make some calls the next morning.

I went ahead and emailed my main person in the accounting department. I consider her to be my friend, and I had faith she would get everything fixed for me. She’s so good that everything was rectified before it was time for the opening remarks this morning.

There are over 350 people at this conference. I walked into the ballroom where everyone was gathered this morning and saw one person I knew. Unfortunately, I lost him in the crowd. After a while, I gave up on finding him again. So, I walked up to a table full of strangers and asked if I could join them. I introduced myself and started a conversation about travel stories. Everyone at the table had a good story to tell.

Today was a much better day. The conference was good. The people were friendly. The conference organizers arranged a special after-hours tour of the Clinton Presidential Library, which is right down the street from my hotel. This was my first Presidential Library, but I hope to visit each one. No matter which side of the political line you prefer, seeing those modern day artifacts was amazing.

The best part of the day was meeting my cousin for lunch. She works in Little Rock, and I don’t see her very often. We had a great lunch, a fabulous visit, and my time with her made the whole trip worth-while.

I was upset last night. It seemed like the universe had something against me. This morning I knew it was simply giving me material for Ozarks Maven.

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