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September 30, 2002: Two weeks

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It's been a while since I've been on a business trip, and even longer since I've been on a business trip with other people. It was a bit odd to be traveling with a group of people who weren't family members, going somewhere work-related and not just for fun. Okay, Richard is technically a family member, but in this context he's a coworker as well.

We were the first ones at the airport, and the other five trickled in over the next hour or so. There was a laughing reunion between the three of us who were all laid off from The Company to be Nicknamed Never, and then we all got into line to board our plane.

As a side note, I would like to point out once again how impressed I am by the quality of the security checks at the Sacramento airport. I was pulled out of line for a random baggage search. The red, extremely recognizable Swiss army knife that I keep in my purse (and had once again forgotten all about til we were at the gate) made it through yet another security check (and this time I even saw them open the little bag where it lives!). Not, mind you, that I could actually hurt anyone with this knife. I've had it since elementary school and the knife blade can barely cut cheese by now since I've never gotten around to getting it sharpened. But even worse than the knife blade itself is the fact that the pocket knife also includes a nail file. You know, one of those sharp little metal things that they've lately been breaking off of people's nail clippers because they're oh-so-dangerous.

We'll see if the security people at the airport in Chicago catch the knife on the way home (because can I just say that at this point it's becoming a point of pride for me). So far, the score is 3 to zip for security vs. the pocket knife. I don't know whether to find this hideously amusing, or scary.

But back to flying on business trips with coworkers. It should be pointed out about now that our clever boss handpicked a group of people, none of whom could ever be accused of being quiet, serious, or even remotely shy. Then the airline made the mistake of seating most of us near each other on the plane. Our poor seatmates probably didn't appreciate all the laughing going on between our little group, but oh well. I figure it had to be at least slightly less annoying than toddlers who kick the back of your seat, or the guy who hums tunelessly to the music in his headphones.

We made it to Chicago and picked up our rental cars, then all piled in and peered at our Map Quest directions. We asked the woman at the exit gate for directions to the first street on our map, and then left the parking lot, where we promptly got ourselves good and lost. Luckily we were all so tired that we were finding this far too amusing, especially when the driver of the other car happened to holler out to a city bus driver for directions, and the bus driver actually STOPPED his bus in the middle of the street and got out to give us directions. What amazed me even more than the fact that he just made an unscheduled stop (and blocked traffic to do it) was the fact that the people who were on the bus didn't seem to care one bit.

Somehow we found the hotel. Then after dinner (at a truly amazing seafood restaurant) somehow we also managed to find a grocery store (at least some of us, at any rate). Tired little California mollusk handler trainers-to-be staggered around an unfamiliar store and found cereal and milk and debated how many bottles of dish soap we'd need for the crowd, and cheered loudly in the freezer aisle when we found the mint-flavored Skinny Cows ice cream sandwiches. And then we went back to our hotel and crawled into bed and so here we are. In Chicago.

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