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#4876 – long day in huntsville

today has been a long day.

the flight to huntsville for this business trip was leaving from DCA at 6:35 am, so my coworker and i would need to get to the airport about 2 hours in advance. work was going to pay for a shuttle to take us from the office to the airport and back, so i had to be at the office at 4 am to meet the shuttle. add in the 40-minute drive from the ol’ homestead to the office and i had to wake up at 2:45 am to take a shower and get dressed and grab a quick breakfast so i could leave around 3:20-3:30 am. i didn’t get to sleep until about 10:30 pm since i was working on some stuff for school and fixing up some photos for feisty_fitz and helping mom choose a mat for framing a photo online, so i only really got about 4 hours of sleep last night.

i thought that the shuttle to the airport would be like one of those blue supershuttle vans, but it turned out to be this little fedora-wearing black man driving a lincoln. felicia (my coworker who is also helping out in huntsville this week) later told me she tried to get one of those supershuttle vans but since it’s a shared ride they wanted us to be at the office at 1 am for arriving at the airport around 4:30 am for a 6:30 am flight — yeah, right. we didn’t have any trouble with the guy who drove us, though… he arrived right at 4 am and took us to the airport and we got there around 4:50 am. felicia was worried at first about the guy when she made the reservation, having him take the credit card info over the phone and just trust this random guy to show up to pick us up, but we didn’t have any troubles at all.

we got checked in and through security. there was a guy who had a seeing-eye dog assisting him… i think i’ve only seen a seeing-eye dog in use once before, but it got me wondering how guide dogs are trained and how they alert their handler that it’s time for walkies and stuff like that.

i grabbed a blanket on the flight and tried to get some sleep on the plane — the flight was supposed to last just under 2 hours, but i think it didn’t even last 90 minutes, and there was some turbulence midflight that woke me up and it was freezing on the plane which both made it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. once we got to huntsville we had to take a shuttle to the enterprise rent-a-car office where we grabbed some free sodas, picked up the car and then drove to the huntsville call center.

this office was only completed in early september, so it’s only been open for about a month. it’s got crazy security, like trying to get into fort knox:

  • showed the security guard at the gate my employee ID and he told me to just swipe it on the terminal to raise the gate… i told him that i didn’t think it’d work since we were from maryland and wouldn’t be coded for the security system at this call center, so then he had to take our badges and radio into the building and ask us who we were supposed to be meeting
  • once he let us in we parked the car and then walked to the building. there’s the doors to the outside, and then another set of doors into the building itself. the doors to the building itself had another ID swipe (which of course wouldn’t work) and the security guard inside just looked at us standing there showing him our badges until we heard the woman who seemed to be in charge of security tell him that our badges wouldn’t work since we’re not from this call center and we were buzzed in.
  • then we got temporary employee badges to use for the ID swipes for the doors, had to go through ANOTHER ID swipe to leave the main lobby and get into the building itself. two more swipes to get into the federal accounts department!

    5 swipes just to get to our department! i’m all for security, but that just seems a bit ridiculous. i sent an email to one of my coworkers back in maryland about it and she asked if we were on the bad side of town… i replied back with “well, i heard a train not too long ago, we must be on the wrong side of the tracks!”

    so today from about 8 am to 4 pm we sat in the office (the federal account team here is small, just a handful of people) and made ourselves available for questions and other assistance with different methods and procedures. i’d listen to my ipod, but i’m not exactly “available” with headphones in my ears. 😛 pity, since i ripped a bunch of songs to my ipod in the days leading up to this trip.

    after work (we left early since we’d been up since 4 am EST, or 3 am CST) we went to the hotel to check in. there were a few problems with the corporate card used to reserve the rooms at check in but eventually everything was sorted out. i remarked to felicia that it was weird that we didn’t have any problems with the random guy picking us up to take us to the airport, but we try to stay in a major hotel chain and have issues. our supervisor joked during one of the calls sorting things out that maybe we should just rent a second car and camp out in the cars, bahahaha. eventually we got things sorted out and went to our rooms.

    there’s a pizza hut next to the hotel, but i hooked up my airport express (yay converting free wired-internets to free wireless-internets so i don’t have to sit at the desk to use the internet) and found a subway in the shopping center just down the street. got a sub for dinner and have been watching the baseball game. tomorrow: more of the same. if it’s as hot, and if i get a chance and if i feel like it then maybe i’ll pop on the shorts that cynicalscribe got me for skating and jump in the swimming pool here since i don’t have my swimsuit.

    but yeah, today’s been a long day. it’s nice that it’s an hour behind, so i get an extra hour of sleep tonight. as soon as this baseball game is over i’m going to get ready for sleep.