Business Trips Gone Terribly Awry

One of the most exciting aspects to the co-op experience is the opportunity to go on business trips to exotic locations throughout the working world. Sadly, the corporation that currently employs me makes it a point not to deal with companies in any quasi-interesting places. Naturally, they have no problem sending me on various pilgrimages to these havens of boredom.

One of my first work related trips also turned out to be one of the most awkward trips I've ever been on. I'd been asked to join a meeting that was to take place at a factory in New York. Southwestern New York state, that is, in a town that might as well have been called Horse Foot, West Virginia.

The first pleasure of this trip was sharing a five hour car ride with a man almost three times my age who I had only conversed with one time prior to this trip. As you might imagine, jump starting our relationship by spending five hours together was not on my original agenda.

Early on in the ride, he asks me, completely serious, how my 401k was looking. Somehow, I got immediately into bullshit mode and without even thinking I say to him straight-faced, "Looking strong. Strong to kickass."

Was he serious? He was lucky that I had overheard a conversation the day before and even knew what a 401k was. Apparently it involves investment and retirement plans, which are clinching indicators that the fun in your life is over. Besides, I'm only 21 years old! My retirement plan consists of nothing more than a baseball card collection and some old G.I. JOE action figures.

When put to the test, you'd be surprised how quickly one can exhaust every topic of conversation known to man. After discussing the last thing I could think of (if he happened to catch the latest episode of Gilmore Girls), I then asked how much longer we had to go in the ride. "About 4 1/2 hours," he says in a voice complete void of emotion. Shoot me now.

While undergoing this tortuous experience, I thought to myself, "Well, self, it can't get much more awkward than this, now can it?" Words such as these deserve to be followed by an ominous crash of thunder. A subsequent beating of yours truly would also have been in order as punishment my tempting the gods of fate as I later learned yes; it can get quite more awkward. Later that evening, we found ourselves dining with two guys from other companies attending the meeting. One guy married his now ex-best friend's wife two months ago. The other guy's wife had left him the previous week. Ouch is right.

Our final destination proved to be little better as Deer Screw, Indiana is such a small town that the local radio station doesn't even use last names:

"In the news today, Rupert got busted for driving drunk again. But Darryl let him off since he was only riding Tommy's three wheeler on the interstate. AT least he was goin' with traffic this time. Boy, I'll bet he's got Mabel madder'n a pig in a chicken coop! And a Happy Birthday goes out to Fred, who turns 68 years young today."

Yet the chaos in my life continued as my latest work related travel saw me heading to New York City, all by my lonesome self. I was a little intimidated, but felt that I was up to the challenge. Once I received my instructions, I soon became extremely intimidated of the trip I came to know as Mission Frickin' Impossible. No lie; here are my only instructions, word for word:

"Take the train from Philly to New York." (So far, so good) "When you arrive in New York, head to the regional rail platform. The list of trains on the giant display won't say they are going where you are headed, but one of them is. Stare at that display until your train pops up, though it won't say which track it is on. Follow the mass, chaotic rush onto your train. When you arrive at the next station, go outside and take a left. Look for the ugly building. Once you're inside, you'll know what to do from there."

Speechless. Utterly speechless. You're probably wondering how I possibly navigated such bizarre and cryptic instructions to reach my final destination. Let's just say that it required the assistance of no less than seven railroad employees, passersby and prostitutes. Guess who was the friendliest. I still don't know what she meant when she offered to see my Long Island for twenty bucks. I was going to Manhattan. Plus I live in Pennsylvania!

My inevitable tardiness also had a negative effect on my work. I missed out on the introductions of the meeting (along with the first two hours of it), making my assigned task of recording who said what and for which company increasingly difficult as the twenty three representatives of various companies before me were not marked by easily identifiable uniforms, matching color schemes or name tags of any kind.

Yet neither of these adventures compare with my first trip, which landed me in St. Louis, Missouri. They took my appendix out. They freakin' cut me. That's all you need to know. Trust me, even without the appendix part it was worse than the other trips, just so you know what I think of St. Louis. The "Show Me State?" You can "Show Me" the hell out of this freak infested, organ thieving province asap, sweetheart.

After my brief stint with the corporate world, I've decided to look into being a professional hermit. It's clear to be me by now that I'm not intended to leave the house. I thought one thing that would prevent my experiences from being entirely in vain would be my attempts to include emotional stress on my expense reports. However, my company felt that it is impossible to put a price on my happiness and personal well-being. So they refuse to do so.

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