North Carolina week.
Saturday 26th January, 2019.
Very quick turnaround this week. I arrived back from Munich in the early hours of Friday morning. Attended another business event in Bradford on Friday afternoon and need to be out of the door at 6.00am on Sunday morning to head off to North Carolina.
It’s exciting, I’m lucky.
It’s hard, I’m tired.
On Saturday evening I had a rare night out with Adele. She doesn’t get much of a mention in this diary but I’ll occasionally shoe horn her in when I’m confident she won’t read it.
We’d agreed to rendezvous in the front room and utilise public transport for a trip into town.
For some reason Adele turned up wearing a Beret on her head. I pointed out that we were heading out for a simple pizza in Wakefield and not to join the resistance movement in wartime France.
As with the majority of the humorous asides I fire in her direction she didn’t laugh.
Towards the end of the meal Adele sent me into a state of shock by expressing the view that she’d enjoyed spending a little time in my company.
She added detail to this by stating that she usually scores our occasional evenings out at around the two out of ten mark. Tonight had apparently reached the heady heights of three and a half out of ten.
I felt like I was on cloud nine at this rare praise, cloud three and a half anyway.
Sunday 27th January, 2019.
Scraped myself out of bed at 5.30am, had a quick shower and was on the road by 6.00am for the three hour drive down to Heathrow Airport.
Flying American Airlines and I’m in economy which, and I know this makes me sound a bit of a prat, is a first for me on a long haul flight.
I was quite lucky, in that, my previous company had a policy whereby flights over a certain length could be taken in business class. They were good for things like that, not so good for one or twelve other things.
In the end the flight wasn’t horrendous. It was a bit cramped and hot but the food was decent.
They managed to maintain a decent chicken teriyaki and cake with chocolate and coconut flavours.
There was also a side salad but I didn’t eat it. Instead I sneered at it, until it withered, as one does when served up such nonsense.
I did realise, as I sat down, that my whatever they’re called that goes round your neck on a flight smelled heavily of Buddy dog. When I’m not using it for neck support, Buddy dog likes to wrestle with it of an evening.
Hopefully the passenger next to me didn’t notice but I fear that, unless he has no sense of smell, he will have been thinking bad thoughts in my direction until his nostrils became accustomed to the aroma of wet dog.
The only real excitement came when a call came out for a licensed medical professional to assist with someone who had become unwell.
Fortunately for the ailing passenger someone came to their aid before I could dig out the Cub Scout First Aider badge I achieved in 1981.
I watched a classic on the inflight entertainment system for a bit and then got stuck in to a couple of movies:
1. Battle of the Sexes (7.5/10)
2. Christopher Robin (7/10)
Before I knew it the eight and a half hour flight was coming to an end and we were touching down in North Carolina, USA.
First Durham, North Carolina lesson learned. There’s more than one Hilton Double Tree. Selecting the wrong one after a very long trip is not good for the spirits.
Luckily American service excellence took over and I got a free ride to the right one from the wrong one without the driver calling me a plank once.
Monday 28th January, 2019.
I’m on what’s called an ‘acclimatisation day’. This means I don’t have to do loads of work today and am free to familiarise myself with my new surroundings.
Obviously I started the day by acclimatising myself with breakfast. I acclimatised myself with some pancakes and then I acclimatised myself with a bagel.
It was a beautiful afternoon so I took a stroll around the small lake which is close to the hotel. Apparently if you go deep in the woods in North Carolina you may encounter Grizzly Bears. I didn’t go deep in the woods.
Visited a Shopping Mall in the evening. Had a little stroll around watching Americans and then had some food. It was nice but I think the Waiter misheard when I said, “I’ll have…”. He obviously thought I’d said, “My small army will have…”.
Tuesday 29th January, 2019.
What’s that all about? No.1:
USA toilets appear to flush in the opposite direction. I am finding this quite disconcerting. Super Mario is probably to blame.
What’s that all about? No.2:
Every second commercial on USA television is for some form of medication. In an average forty five second slot they spend about ten seconds extolling the benefits and the rest warning of the side effects. One of which is generally death as a result of death.
What’s that all about? No.3:
Apparently everything I do or say is ‘awesome’. This is either untrue or Americans set a very low bar when defining ones awesomeness.
This ones more about my weird ways than anything perplexing my hosts indulge in.
What am I all about? No.1:
I arranged to meet a colleague in the hotel reception at 7.45am. In order to be there on time I had to make a thirty second walk from the breakfast area. For some reason I allowed five minutes for the journey and unsurprisingly arrived four minutes and thirty seconds early. I do this kind of thing a lot, no idea why.
Wednesday 30th January, 2019.
For someone who’s generally a lazy blighter I don’t half work hard when I’m tasked with standing in front of groups of people and teaching them stuff.
Sometimes I imagine I’m watching myself from the sidelines. This character, who’s engaging all these people, inspiring them even, looks like me, sounds like me, but can’t possibly be me. I’m just not that person. Whoever he is he’s clearly an imposter and needs to be thrown in prison.
The workshop I facilitated today was about personal resilience. An interesting topic but one that lands very differently depending on the country it’s being delivered in and/or the personality traits of those you’re delivering it to.
Essentially we examine six keys to personal resilience.
1. Sense of purpose.
Understanding why we do what we do.
2. Positive mental attitude.
If we believe we can, we can.
3. Connecting with others.
Recognising and valuing our support network.
See positive mental attitude.
5. Taking back control.
Managing our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours.
6. Finding time for ourselves.
The importance of ‘me time’.
If you’re reading this and trying to fathom how I support others in achieving things I religiously fail to do for myself then don’t waste your time. I’ve told you already, he’s not really me. He’s an imposter who needs to be thrown in prison.
Another thing to mention about doing this kind of thing in a US Office is that they have an ‘awesome’ array of snacks.
Thursday 31st January, 2019.
It’s currently 3.49am in the USA and I’m wide awake. I never thought I was that patriotic but I’m obviously passionately committed to remaining on UK time, where it’s 8.49am, no matter what.
If I was a girl I think I’d probably go out with me but then I’d dump me after one date for not being ‘exactly what it says on the tin’.
The jet lag is causing me to watch more early hours television than I’d planned. One observation is that the news here is even more biased than that we’re exposed to in the UK.
You can find channels that support both sides of the USA political divide but, once they’ve nailed their red or blue colour to the mast, they really do go all out to tell their viewers what, I’m guessing, they want to hear.
I was watching one such debate programme from Texas and they were discussing the building of the wall between Mexico and the US border. It would be fair to say that the audience was 99.9% in favour. A Texan Democrat was on to provide some balance but he was nothing more than food for the lions.
Dinner and drinks with a selection of North Carolina good old boys and girls. Nice, hospitable people.
Friday 1st February, 2019.
Last day in North Carolina. I’ve enjoyed it here. My jet lag struggles have lasted the entire trip but the work’s gone well and the people have been very friendly.
I hope to come back soon.
Thanks for reading.
If you missed any of January’s instalments of My Journey from Here to There you can catch up through the links below: