Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Wild Week in NY...

that ends with doing tequila shots with Oprah Winfrey!

As most of you know, the Traveling Hillbilly typically does not post about work related travel.   I use this to share my personal adventures.   However, this past week, I went to New York on business with clients and it turned out to be quite an adventure, an adventure worth sharing. 
Getting to New York had its own drama!   Given my first meeting was late Monday afternoon, I opted to fly on Sunday, so I’d have time to get a decent night’s sleep before the long week ahead.  I like most of you, check in online 24 hours in advance.   For the first time ever, I opted to use the mobile check in.   That proved to be a poor choice.   When the taxi didn’t arrive on schedule, I called only to discover they had the wrong address.   Rather than waiting for another taxi, I opted to just drive myself.   I get to the airport, show my boarding pass on the cell to at the base of the escalator and head up to security.  Just as I’m about to get to the front of the line, the TSA guy, tells everyone to go down the hall to the other security room. Given I’m next, I try to stay but they make me move down the hall.   Of course, the line is several people deep there and I’m now at the back of the line!  I finally get to the front of the line, a second time, hand the guy my license and cell phone, but for some reason the bar code on the mobile pass won’t scan!    After several attempts, they send me back downstairs to get a printed pass.   We are now 45 minutes out from the flight departure time, so I can’t print a boarding pass at one of the self-service kiosks.  I have to wait in the “check-in” line.  Luckily it is not too long.   I am informed by the American Airlines agent, that they have had some issues with the mobile boarding passes before (good to know).   She prints my pass and sends me back to security.  I have to wait in line a third time.
Needless to say, by the time I get to the gate it is too late to board.  Luckily there is another flight to NY in an hour so they put me on standby for the next flight.   Well it turns out that every flight from LAX to JFK is oversold. After trying to fly standby for the next three flights, I head over to another terminal and buy a ticket on Virgin America to fly out at 9:30pm.  Not the best way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon.
However, the week gets better!   We head over to meet with some folks from NBC.  Before our meeting we are given a quick tour of the Today Show set.  I of course have to take the opportunity to sit on the couch!  As we sit in our meeting about 15 minutes later, Matt Lauer walks in and joins the discussion.    Later that afternoon, we arrive in yet another office building for yet another meeting.   As we are walking to the conference room, we are told there is a tiger in the building.   Of course, we all want to see the tiger.  So we are taken down the hall, where walk into another conference room and meet the tiger and his French bulldog pal!   The tiger cub is only about 4 months old, but his paws are huge!  He looks quite cuddly and I can’t believe he doesn’t just eat the bulldog, but they seem to enjoy each other’s company.  One of my clients is brave enough to have a photo taken, the fear clearly comes across.  I opt to skip having my photo taken with the tiger.   A koala bear is one thing, a tiger quite another. 
We have several more meetings and spend every day running across NY from one meeting to the next.   On Thursday, our last night in NY, we have a nice intimate dinner (about 40 guests) with none other than Oprah Winfrey herself.    Unlike a lot of celebrities, she looks exactly like she does on TV.   She just radiates optimism.  She is a true gem.  And who knew she liked Tequila?
Where else could you, sit in a meeting with Matt Lauer, pet a tiger in an office building and do tequila shots with Oprah Winfrey?   The answer my readers, is none other than New York City!