I never learn. Twice now I’ve had to come to a workshop in Germany immediately after having spent a weekend in Paris. At least last time it was Munich and an easy and familiar trip; I’m in the middle of nowhere right now. Which means this is the second time I’ve agreed to speak at a workshop in Germany in the middle of nowhere (the other time there was no recent Paris trip, though). And random middle of nowhere Germany adventures present me with the rare opportunity to drive in Europe, which is truly a silver lining for me. This one was actually worse than the last one, in that I had to drive about 250 km (see, I really meant REMOTE Germany) instead of 120 km. But it was better because I had miss bossy pants to tell me where to go, so the driving stress was relatively low. (Relatively but not totally, more on that in a minute.) That’s right, for the first time ever I rented a talking GPS unit along with the car, and left myself completely at its mercy to find my hotel.
This only really occurred to me about half way through the trip–the fact that I was being perhaps a bit too trusting. The roads seemed awfully narrow and windy and everything was so very dark around me. Now that I look at the map I can see what must have happened: miss bossy pants took me on the most direct route, which happened to be through the middle of a “Naturpark” instead of staying on the main roads and going way out of my way but on big, well-lit and well-traveled 4+ lane roads, the way Google maps would have had me do. Which is all well and good except that somewhere in the middle of said “Naturpark” it started pouring. So it was winding and dark and hilly and narrow and pissing down. And my rental car was a Citroen, which I had never driven before. And oh yes right in the middle of all of this miss bossy pants started complaining that her batteries were low. I actually had to pull over into a trucker rest stop parking area to sort that one out. Finding (a) the cable, (b) the port to plug the cable in on the GPS unit, and (c) the whatever-you-now-call-the-thing-that-used-to-be-the-cigarette-lighter in the car proved to be too much to do while driving. And of course prior to those three one had to locate the car’s dome light switch. Exciting times. I had a flashback to my Aussie adventure of just over a year ago, when we were out on dirt tracks in the bush in a Hyundai with no extra water and I was sure we were going to end up in some Blair Witch Project-like hopeless situation and be found dead years later. It occurred to me today in said “Naturpark” that perhaps I should not have been doing this drive solo especially at night. But then again, it’s all just part of life’s adventure. And miss bossy pants did do a great job, got me right up to the door of my hotel in 3 hours total, even if I have issues with her route selection given the conditions.
And why was I doing this in the dark, one might reasonably ask. And the answer is that I have a headcold and managed to sleep through my alarm this morning, thus missing my 8 am flight. I was awoken by the car service who normally take me to the airport. But this was 6:30 am, and I was supposed to be picked up at 6. I’ll never know why they waited 30 minutes to ring, as if they had rung earlier I might have made the flight. As it was, even with 10 minutes only to jump into some clothes and grab my previously-packed (thank goodness!) bag, when I got down to the car the driver gave me a less than 10% chance of making it and I gave him some money for his troubles and went back upstairs to try and decide what to do. As tempted as I was to listen to the little shoulder devil and just bag the trip entirely (and not tell anyone, such that I would have three whole days to myself to get work done with no meetings!), the little angel sitting on the other shoulder reminded me that doing things like this was actually my JOB and I should probably get my act together and figure out another way to Germany. A quick browse on travelocity.com showed that there was a direct BA flight from Heathrow at 1:40, which left me about an hour to get organized to leave for the much longer trip (8 am would have been from a much closer airport). Fortunately I was able to use my BA silver status to buy the flight with mostly miles instead of cash, so it was not a huge financial hit and of course I can sail through priority check-in and security for that reason too. So I left London about 6 hours later than planned, which led to me driving through the “Naturpark” in the dark. Not exactly ideal. But fortunately for my return trip on Friday afternoon that should not be necessary. I doubt even I could miss a flight at 7 pm.
Which brings me to my next realization. I wonder if the stress dreams about missing flights will stop now that it’s actually happened? For years I’ve had anxiety dreams tied to running through airports and being stressed out about timing. Once at Gatwick my name was paged on the overhead system to “please report to the gate immediately” but that had been the closest thing to actually missing a flight as I had ever experienced. So maybe the fact that I did miss a flight — and yet the world still went on and things were more or less okay but I recovered — will allow me to stop having those dreams? I used to dream about car crashes quite often, but almost ten years ago I lost loved ones in a crash and I’ve never had the dream since. I guess that’s the thing about anxiety, once something happens you know what to do and how to react and you realize that you can move on. We’ll see about this one. It would be great to stop having airport dreams. I spend enough time in airports awake! But none of this alters the fact that I have been having a harder and harder time waking up in the morning lately, and I need to put some sort of solution in place. The cell phone alarm clocks are proving too easy to ignore. And one of these days there will be more serious consequences to my not having awoken in the morning when I was supposed to. For now, to bed to nurse my head cold, a talk to give tomorrow and a return trip adventure for Friday. Then a blissfully quiet weekend to do as I please, which let’s just guess is going to involve sleeping in…