Only my second work trip since the pandemic, and I was off to the US again – to Seattle for a Support Leeds meetup.
There was 8 of us in total, so it was a relatively small group and, is often the case when it’s this small, we made use of Airbnbs – a main “house” and a secondary one. I stayed in the secondary one.
The journey starts at a quite reasonable 10am, when I have to travel the 2.5 hours to Heathrow Airport.
I’m flying with Delta and their check-in was, shall we say, hectic. Or horrible. Either words work. A snaking queue took up around 7 joined lines and it went down by one line after half an hour – things didn’t look promising. Thankfully, they got their act together a little more and it only (“only?” Ha!) took them an hour in the end.
By the time I was through security there wasn’t much time until the gate opened and it was past 1pm by now. I grabbed a bit to eat at a Pret A Manger before the gate.
Now, here’s a story.
Whilst queueing at the gate I saw this young woman chatting with a member of staff. At the time I thought, “she seems really nice. Why aren’t I sat next to people like her on planes rather than 7 foot men who like to manspread over to my seat?”.
Anyway, I eventually get on, walk the aisle (this was a 787, so it’s pretty long as there hundreds of people and it’s a full flight), get to my seat and next to me was, yes, that same woman. Confused, I pulled the ticket out of my pocket to make sure I really had got the right seat. No, it was.
But after a couple of minutes, she got up, got her belongings and left.
After a while she returned. When we got chatting, it turned out she was 6 months pregnant so was looking for a seat with more room. The staff at the gate said it was fine for her to surf for any empty seat she could find – she’d found one but, at the last minute, the owner turned up to claim it.
Anyway, her name was Ashley, she lives in Seattle, and had been visiting London for work (she works for Amazon).
And I was right – she was nice.
The flight was over 10 hours and I managed to get through a combination of seat-back games, reading my Kindle and watching 2 films.
I’d love to say the journey through the Airport at Seattle was smooth in comparison to Heathrow, but I can’t. They, weirdly, have baggage collection before passport control and the queues for the latter were ridiculously long and badly managed. It took me about an hour to get through that.
But I was out.
My co-workers were already in Seattle and were eating dinner (it was around 7pm by this time). I grabbed a taxi and dropped my bags off at the Airbnb.
I joined everyone else at Giddy up, which was just down the road.
After we’d eaten we went to a nearby supermarket to stock up on supplies.
Somehow I managed to stay awake until around 10pm, which was 24 hours after I’d last slept.
Damn Jetlag. I was awake at 2am.
I cracked open my laptop and put the State Funeral on, next to me on the bed. I drifted in and out of sleep until around 7am when I got up.
I got up, had breakfast and showered. Around 8:30, I walked up to the main Airbnb with one of my colleagues. It’s a steep hill between the two so, although not far, it’s slow going.
There were introductions and a number of people did PechaKucha. I prepared one but haven’t presented it yet. For the rest of the day we discussed and dived into a number of subjects.
Lunch was a take-out from Chipotle – I had a steak burrito with beans, rice and cheese.
In the evening two more co-workers, who live nearby, joined us as we had a BBQ. By 9pm I was flagging badly, so decided to head back – it wasn’t just me, as the rest of my Airbnb came with me. However, we chatted for a while once back, but tiredness overcame me in the end and I headed to bed (and I can’t even remember the time – it must have been around 10pm again).
I had a good sleep, waking fully at 5am. Not great, but I’ll take 7 hours.
During the day we talked about Support plans for the coming year. In fact, we got so into it, that we over-ran and took over other things that were planned for later in the afternoon.
For dinner, we headed to Mox Boarding House, a cafe and board game shop. We ate and then played games, which you can borrow from a large selection behind the shop’s checkout. I got some of my co-workers playing Sagrada, and my Lead actually bought the game to take home too.
I was introduced to Labyrinth, which I think I’ll get (albeit not this week, as I don’t have enough space in my luggage!).
I hit my bed at around 10:30pm, which is an improvement!
So what’s not an improvement is my sleep. I was awake, initally at 2am, then 5am.
For reasons I missed, today we need to Zoom into the other Airbnb from around 8am before we finish getting ready and head up there.
Later in the morning we had a call with a member of an internal team that handles Leadership Development. It was an opportunity for us to ask relevant questions on the subject. Either side of lunch, we discussed how to improve our role expectations and job descriptions, as well as making drafts of proposed new versions.
The air quality outside was terrible and, for a few hours, was the worst in the world. However, it does make great sunsets…
We had dinner at the AirBnb, using up what we had. Later we went to Bale Breaker & Yonder Cider Taproom for drinks. A couple of other colleagues joined us there too.
Everyone then came back to our AirBnb. When they left, I headed to bed. Miraculously, it was now after 11:30pm.
Not so miraculously was the fact that I slept really badly, waking at 2am. Thankfully I dozed until 5:45am, when I got up. Bleurgh.
Anyway, today there is no work – it’s a totally social day.
There are 2 events going on – an electric bike tour and a food tour. I’m doing the former, so at 9am, myself and 4 colleagues had to be at a particular address to start this. We were shown how to operate the bikes, donned helmets and then set off around Seattle. The helmets had built-in comms so we could speak to each other and, more importantly, hear the tour guide.
We stopped at Caffe Appassionato part way around for a coffee and a pastry. Banana and Nutella is a rather nice combination is turns out!
We finished around 12pm and then walked to a place for lunch. I had cod and beef brisket tacos.
I hung out at my AirBnb for much of the afternoon before heading up to the main one. In the evening, we ordered wings and pizza for delivery.
I was in bed for around 10:30pm.
Woke at 4am but dozed until around 6am.
Today I head back but I’m not looking forward to this. The flight should be alright, albeit long, but it’s the frustration of the airport “bits” either side.
Anyway, anxiety is not helped when one of your colleagues reports an hour+ long security queue. However, I find out that I can drop my luggage off 4 hours before my flight, rather than the usual 3, so I set off early. I share a taxi with Terri but, once there, we go out separate ways as we’re at opposite ends of the terminal.
I had to wait about 10 minutes to check-in my luggage and then I was about 5 minutes going through security, including a pat-down after I failed the body scanner (not untypical). Thank God I have lounge membership!
The flight itself was uneventful, other than the fact that it left a little early and arrived even earlier. Security at Heathrow was swift but I had a minor palpitation at the luggage carousel when my suitcase didn’t turn up and everyone else had been and gone with theirs. Eventually mine just appeared.
The plane had left at 3:40pm, Seattle time, and landed at 8:30am, local time. My plan is to push through to the UK evening before sleeping, although that will mean around 36 hours since I last slept. Have I ever said I hate jet lag?