I'm sitting in a nasty, smoky room in Western Pennsylvania. In two hours, I'll be doing a presentation for a group of doctors. Then I'm headed back to the family again. I missed them exceptionally on this trip for some reason. I've never appreciated them or my family at Ridgeview more than I do right now.
I had a couple of interesting things happen on the way up. It was crazy getting out of Nashville yesterday because the national Panera Bread Convention had just wrapped up. It was the first time I've ever been on a flight where literally EVERY single seat was sold and occupied. The guy to the right of me on my first flight was really nice. He was flying to Chicago for this weekend's marathon. That should have prepared me for what greeted me at Midway airport in Chicago. Forty thousand plus runners coming in yesterday and I think they all arrived within a two hour window at Midway.
From Chicago (where we were delayed by about 30 minutes for a plane malfunction) we skipped over to Pittsburgh. The man to my left was pretty quiet most of the trip until I finally got him to talk near the end. Some cool stories. Another Christ follower, I learned, who seemed to have a genuine interest in other people once you got him to open up. He even walked me through the airport to the car rental place to make sure I knew where I was going. The guy on my right should have been charged extra because he was trying to occupy his seat and half of mine. But we managed survive.
So, I get to this hotel that's supposed to be this really nice conference center. They place me in this room (after scaring me to death and telling me they had no record of a conference being held here this weekend). It's a smoking room. They had no non-smoking left. I called two other hotels in the area. All booked up. Something to do with several class reunions, weddings and a ton of construction workers working on road projects nearby. Anyway, because smoke messes my eyes and nose up something fierce, I spent an extra long time at Applebee's. Because I was alone, I sat at the bar and watched the playoffs. The bar, interestingly enough, was smoke-free (explain that to me). I got more than my fill of people-watching in (one of my favorite hobbies). I listened to them tell their stories and regale each other with their special talents (drunk people talk really loud--louder with each drink). The bartenders were obviously friends with some guy at the end and they were comparing notes on who was drunk when and who had done the stupidest thing (there's something to write home to mom about). Another older couple was obviously regulars. She whined and complained about health care most of the night. Said she couldn't understand how a President could win the Nobel Peace Prize after only eleven days in office (he was sworn in on January 20th and the deadline for nominations was on February 1st. Come on people. Tell me this thing wasn't rigged from the beginning. I even said "amen" out loud as I listened to her go on and on about how the Peace Prize would never be the same again).
Anyway, enough recalling. Just thought I'd share about my glamorous life on the road this weekend. Took a sleep aid so I could get through the night with the smoke. Went to bed at 10 and up by 6. Can't wait to be home with my family tonight. There's no place like it...