Dave's Excellent Adventure, Part I

So, here I sit in Houston Hobby airport, in the middle of a surreal segment of my life. I've just finished a surprisingly good (for airport food) meal of fajitas from Pappasito's airport location and listening to a surprisingly good flamenco band playing in the food court. Not a bad bit of travel downtime in the big scheme of things.

Let's go back to last week. On Monday 3/28, I went to work as usual. It's the last week of the quarter and therefore Potential Hell Week. Which means that, every deal closing has the potential for an all-hands-on-deck exercise to ensure the sales rep gets whatever he needs to close it. Whatever he asks for, he gets. Urgently. But that's fine, I know the score.

Unfortunately, just after lunch I started feeling bad. A little dizzy, a little nauseous, slight sore throat. It wasn't the food. I was coming down with something, and it was coming on fast.

By that evening, I had a full-on headache. The little bit of nausea turned into a lot of nausea, and my sinuses were screaming. The flu perhaps? So the rest of the week, I was home sick in bed. Last week of the quarter; absolutely the worse timing.

But there were no fire drills to help reps close deals. That's fortunate from the standpoint of my flu. But the reason there were no fire drills, is because deals were not closing. And that's not good from the standpoint of continued gainful employment. Frankly I don't know what, if any, fallout there will be on that, but that's not really where this story is going anyway. Another day on that one.

My week in bed, I spent binge-watching Dexter on-demand. Made it through most of season 5, including the big season 4 finale where Rita dies. A great show and I'm enjoying it immensely, although being sick in bed and watching a series about a serial killer is not a recipe for a bright, optimistic outlook. But dammit, I like the show and I press on.

Anyway, another thing I'm doing during my illness is desperately hoping I get a leg up on the illness by Friday (4/1), as I have a small vacation planned for the family. I've been looking forward to it for six months. It's going to be opening day of trout season and this will be year two of what will hopefully be a family tradition of renting a cabin in western NC, getting up at the crack of dawn on opening day, and trying to catch river trout.

Unfortunately, by Thursday I'm really no better and I decide I'm not going to go. However, the cabin's already been paid for so I encourage my wife and the kids to go on without me and they do. While they're fishing, I continue watching Dexter and convalescing. I think the loss of Rita has eroded a bit of soulfulness from the show, and for this subject matter you need that heart lest the show become fall into just being a murder of the week. I'm curious to see if and how they'll restore that balance. But I digress.

On Thursday night, I start to wonder if all the pollen in the air is part or all of my problem. There's a layer of green/yellow dust on everything outside where all the trees have blown their spores in the air. Allergies or not, that shit can't be doing me any good. So on Friday, I go out to the drug store to stock up on allergy meds and get some distilled water for the neti pot.

Now that actually did some good! I don't know if my illness was ready to turn the corner anyway or if flushing pollen out of my sinuses with the neti pot actually made a difference, but Friday I seem to get a leg up on it and start recovering over the weekend.

Damn good thing too. Because I know have a business trip coming up the next week. By the time my wife and kids get back from fishing on Sunday (caught only one fish between 'em!), I'm feeling a lot better and confident about my business trip.

On Tuesday (4/5) I leave for Wichita Kansas. I'm scheduled to talk to some customers about our product roadmap plans. On the next evening, I'm scheduled to fly to Houston to do the same with other customers.

The flight to Wichita occurs without any sinus issues, so that's a huge relief. My business meeting goes well. During the meeting my wife leaves me a voice mail but I don't have time to check it. I get to the airport to catch the flight to Houston and have some spare time, so I listen to the message. My wife sounds distraut and wants me to call. So I do.

My father-in-law has died.

I won't spend a lot of time talking about him – once again that's a post for another day. But let me just say he was a good man and I will miss him.

My wife of course was broken up. We'd been expecting it for quite some time with his Alzheimers, but no amount of knowing it's coming can really prepare you to lose a parent. It's a shit sandwich no matter how you prepare it. My wife was hurting, but I was literally a thousand miles away. And my mind's reeling because I'm processing the news, while simultaneously trying to figure out what I should do in terms of my travel. I don't think I was properly attending to my wife's emotional needs on our call because of this. So about 10 minutes after we talk, I call her back to talk some more, this time letting my heart do the talking instead of my head.

After some minutes pondering it, I decide that my odds of getting back to Raleigh that night are very low. My best bet is to go ahead and travel to Houston and try to get back to Raleigh from there. My original itinerary had me flying from Houston to Raleigh on Friday (4/8), but I think that I can do my Thursday meetings in Houston, then catch a flight back that evening, arriving home a day early. I make the calls and get it arranged. By the way, at this point, I'd like to give a shout-out to Kathy at Southwest Airlines for getting me on the flight with no change fees or airfare differences. She probably pulled some strings to make that happen.

So I arrive in Houston, call my wife and do some more feeble consoling over the phone. The funeral service is scheduled for Saturday, with a Friday viewing at the funeral home. While I'm doing my business meetings, my wife will fly out to Alabama where her dad lived. Then I will fly back to Raleigh that night, and drive out to Alabama on Friday. I will miss the viewing, but at least I'll be able to attend the funeral service. The kids will be staying with neighbors since they're not old enough to really process all of this. Heck, I'm not old enough to process all of this.

To recap, here's my itinerary:
  • Tuesday – Fly from Raleigh to Wichita
  • Wednesday – Fly from Wichita to Houston
  • Thursday – Fly from Houston to Raleigh
  • Friday – Drive from Raleigh to Tallassee Alabama for the funeral service
  • Sunday – Drive back to Raleigh
Yikes. It's a crazy schedule, and occurring while I'm still a bit woozy coming off the flu. But it is what it is.

My meetings in Houston on Thursday go well. And that brings us to this moment. I'm in the airport food court waiting for my flight to Raleigh. I've finished a good meal and I'm listening to flamenco which I've always liked. So it's a nice little respite in the middle of an insane schedule – the eye of the hurricane.  At about midnight tonight, I'll land in Raleigh, drive home and, try to get as much sleep as possible before the 10 hour drive to Alabama on Friday.