It was to be the easiest of business trips in a long, long time. Famous last words, indeed!

 

In contrast to the Planes, Trains and Automobiles adventures I am so often on and actually rather enjoy, the trip to the annual World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas in early February was going to be a breeze. A nice little five-hour direct flight on an early Monday was going to get me on site by late morning local time. No connections, no car rentals, no problems.

Well, that five-hour direct flight evolved into a two-day ordeal … and that’s not including ground travel time getting to the originating airport in snowy Buffalo, N.Y. In total, the air trip itself turned out to be 37 hours, destination to destination. Three airlines and three cities later, I arrived in Las Vegas, tired yet nonetheless appreciative.

Why appreciative? Well, it could have been a lot worse. Removing the names to protect the innocent (well, sorta innocent), Airline A at first offered a replacement flight leaving more than 48 hours later. Airline B, at an exorbitant price, would get me there very late the first day. Airline C could do likewise, but much cheaper, so back went Airline B’s boarding passes. The issue with Airline C, though, was that its travel path was going to follow the storm east, not head directly to the clear skies west. So, one short travel day first became one long day, and then became most of two days, but again even that could have been much worse given that flights were being canceled by the minute.

The lesson learned is that one can’t give up on best laid plans gone awry. It would have been easy to turn around the moment the original five-hour direct flight was wiped out, or to have taken any of the airlines’ initial options and simply waited and waited, but by regularly checking in with airline staff and keeping a positive and honestly thankful disposition, I managed to work myself to the Vegas show as quickly as possible … at least I want to think I did. For those two days, I heard a lot of folks shouting at airline staff. Believe me, it didn’t get them anywhere, except perhaps off to another corner in an airport terminal to curl up in.

You undoubtedly have days in which things don’t go as planned, most definitely with consequences much larger and more serious than my little travel day. You hang in there, you make adjustments, and you simply do the best you can. And, remember, as challenging as it may be for you, others around you are facing at least the same struggles, if not worse.

The World of Concrete? It was a good show, as always. I’ve been to about a dozen editions over the years, and the event never fails to deliver exciting new products from great companies serving the world’s construction and related markets. This year, we went out there with a specific focus on companies serving the technology side of the business (see Page 22). It was, once again, time very well spent.

As for the trip home, it was a smooth four-and-a-half hours. Airline A came through after all.


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