During the course of a career spent in consultancy, it’s not uncommon to find out of hours activities spent in the purgatory between true out of hours activities and work. On trains, in hotels, in airports, or generally in transit: Business travel.
It’s Sunday morning, 4.30 am. A taxi collects me from home and deposits me at Leeds Bradford airport. I’m tired. So in the belief that a good breakfast will sort me out I buy one, along with a coffee and a smoothie. I eat the food and then pick up the smoothie to give it a good shake, but in my half asleep state I had forgotten that I had already taken the lid off, so the smoothie goes all over me – mostly on my jeans, and all over my laptop bag.
As I rush into the world’s smallest airport toilet in an attempt to remove the strawberry and banana gloop from my bag and clothes with the only thing available – water and toilet paper – my flight is called. Having little option, I board the flight looking a little bit bedraggled and feeling quite sticky. Oh well, next stop London and then Cairo where I’ll be reunited with my luggage and non-sticky clothing.
Of course that feeling you get when you’re the last person left at a baggage carousel, and you realise the airline has lost your luggage is an undeniable low point. But if you’ve spent 10 hours covered in rapidly decaying fruit, I can guarantee it’s worse.
So thanks to emergency supplies and a quick hand wash of my fruity jeans (thankfully wet clothes dry quickly in Cairo!) I arrived at my client’s Egyptian HQ on Monday morning looking clean but casual, sporting a pair of fine Egyptian cotton socks and a crisp polo shirt I got in a shop at the Hilton Hotel.
In between workshops I spent the next three days on the phone to the airline, being assured that my bag was likely to arrive on the next flight and would be delivered to my hotel immediately. My clients on the other hand advised me that there is zero chance of this happening, and if I ever want to see my luggage again, I should head over to the airport to find my bag before flying home.
So early the next morning (even though my flight home was much later in the day) I walked over to the hotel desk to ask for a taxi. I tripped over something. It was…. my case… lying there! Admittedly it looked like it had been dragged through the streets of Cairo – but it was mine! Delighted, I donned my first set of clean clothes in almost five days and celebrated by strolling around the excellent Egyptian museum. You see, business travel can be fun – and you can’t beat Egyptian cotton socks either!
Ed is a Business Analyst based in the BJSS Leeds Project Centre.