Friday, July 31, 2009

Squatting in Newark

At about 7:45am EDT this morning, I boarded a plane in Amsterdam - yes, that Amsterdam - in Holland, or "The Netherlands". (There is a distinction between the two, according to people who live there. ) I had been in Holland for a week on business, with a day trip into Belgium. It's the first trip of many over the next year. I'm leading a business process transformation project for our company, and our first pilot locations will be in Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. It's a big project, with high visibility - good if we're successful, not so good if we're not. My motto for the team is simple: "we have no option to fail".

I enjoyed my stay in Holland. Our office is in Dordrecht, one of the oldest cities in Holland. It is an island - surrounded by the inland waterway. It was good to get acquainted with the local team, to see their facilities, and even to meet some customers. The next year will be challenging, but everyone I've met so far is enthusiastic and ready to get going.

That was the good part...and it extended through the trip back to the US. I had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel this morning, did a few emails, and caught a cab to the train station. The trip from Dordrecht to the Amsterdam Schipol airport took about an hour, giving me plenty of time to read the International Herald Tribune - almost the first news I'd seen all week.

The flight left Amsterdam a few minutes late, but we had smooth flying throughout the day. Once on board, I set my watch to Eastern time - 6 hours earlier - and effectively started my day over. The 8 hour flight gave me time to get a lot of work done and still have time to finish a novel on the Kindle. The flight was smooth and the food was edible - thanks, Continental!

Things started to change, though, when I got back to the states. Due to bad weather, we were put in a holding pattern over Albany, New York, waiting for the Newark airport to open up. We landed an hour late. I took my time going through Customs, knowing I had at least 3 hours before my flight back to Indianapolis. But when I checked the "Departure" boards, my flight wasn't listed. That's always a sign of bad things to come.

The bottom line: the last leg of my trip is delayed at least 2 hours, so instead of getting home at 10:30 tonight, it will be after midnight. Mary and Beans will be asleep. For now, I'm sitting on the floor in the Newark airport, tethered to a power outlet that's charging the laptop and the Kindle. I'm surrounded by fellow travelers, all trying to sort out their plans. One couple is stretched out on the floor across the aisle, asleep. Others are in various states of repose, resting on backpacks. For the moment, no one seems too stressed. Let's hope it stays that way. It could be a long night.

Ain't travel fun?