The difference between loneliness and solitude is subtle. When travelling alone, one could succumb to a bout of loneliness or relax and enjoy the solitude. For my part, I’ve basked in the solitude. The peaceful, quiet minutes and hours have passed quite happily. I love to sit and read, people watch and occasionally jot down a few scribblings, so having some time to myself feels luxurious and self-indulgent.
Recalling dinner last night, I wonder what the other galvanizers thought of me. People often misinterpret my quietness as a lack of interest. So, difficult as it was, I tried to ask questions, remember names, and remain light-hearted and relaxed. Perhaps my efforts paid of as everyone I met at the seminar was pleasant and I’m actually looking forward to the next one.
Information gleaned from the seminar was… I don’t know… interesting. The SAP session covered information about implementing one system to cover the entire business cycle from initial customer contact to collection of invoices and included such things as scheduling and materials planning. However, it was far too expensive (upwards of $40,000) for our little company to implement. The electronic banking session re-sparked my interest and I’ll be following up with my financial institution to refresh the information I have on hand about online banking. A zinc supplier discussed different zinc purchasing methods and the challenges of shipping zinc for on-time deliveries, I’ll be making inquiries with our supplier about possibly setting up a consignment scenario. The insurance and accounting portions weren’t particularly applicable to Canadian companies, but even they have given me some items that I’d like to get clarification on from our accountant. With the insurance and accounting sessions being in the middle of the afternoon after a nice lunch of a turkey sandwich I had a hard time staying awake.
At break time I bolted for the door and went for a walk, not realizing that my movements were being watched. As I stretched my legs and took in the snippet of scenery and fresh air, I took my time. I was gone for about 10 minutes. Throughout the seminar, attendees had been taking extended breaks, some even missed entire sections of the agenda. So, I wasn’t concerned about missing the first few minutes of the next discussion. I was therefor surprised when Phil said they were waiting for me before beginning the next discussion. “Really? You’re kidding?” “No, we’re glad you’re back, have a seat.” Sheesh. Still feeling a little sleepy, I took a Diet Pepsi for its caffeine content and returned to my seat.
The session on harassment and HR was quite good. The lawyers covered topics like sexual, age, and racial harassment, immigration issues, employee discipline and termination, and they constantly reminded us to document, document, document. Following the harassment and HR session I had a really good conversation with my neighbour and we discussed several scenarios that our companies had been through and how they had been handled.
The Rocky Mountains slide under the plane as we fly over the ever-increasing number of snow-topped peaks and the threads of back-roads diminish. Flying above the clouds now, my notepad is partially bathed in warm sunlight. I long to see the familiar scenery of home. With any luck I’ll spot our house, the office and maybe even my little ones playing in Liz’s yard. My arms ache to hold them.
This morning, somewhat to my relief, my shuttle bus neglected to pick me up from the hotel. Aaaaahh. I was pleased to avoid having to endure a white-knuckled return trip to the airport. Glad to have planned my journey to the airport with a safety buffer of an addition hour, I managed to remain calm, demanded a full refund and immediately called a cab. Said taxi appeared almost immediately and a cheery, talkative young mom-of-two whisked me off to the airport. No lurching, no white knuckles, just pleasant banter.
Boarding both flights to and from Denver had minor hiccups. Heading out, I found that my seat had been re-assigned and the hiccup flying home was that United Airlines hadn’t scheduled any employees to get the passengers onto the plane. Like unthinking farm animals we all watched the plane pull up to the gate, the passengers disembark, luggage was unloaded, the new luggage loaded and then… nothing. We all stood at the gate wondering what was going to happen next. Eventually one employee showed up and announced for everyone to please come to the desk with their documents ready. Of course she was instantly swamped by a plane-load of people. Gone was the prioritizing of passengers and boarding in an orderly manner, it was a free-for-all crush.
Looking out the window I see a thick coniferous forest below, I wonder how far from home we are. At least this area looks more familiar, the comforting darkness of the evergreens blanketing the sides of the mountains. Reflecting back on my trip I’m glad I went to Denver. I learned a lot and made some great contacts in the industry. Even when things went slightly awry, my fellow travellers in the airports and on the plane stayed in good spirits.