Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A LIttle Too Early...Pre-Trip Excitement

I’m going to England in a little over a month, provided my green card gets renewed. I have an appointment to get a temporary one on Thursday so wish me luck. Hopefully I’ll be successful. If not, I find places like the USCIS offices a very interesting place to people watch and make up stories in my head about who the people are.

I’m excited about England, I think. I’m a little nervous about leaving the pups for so long but they’ll be with my parents so I’m sure there’ll be fine. It’s just hard with dogs because unlike, say, with kids, you can’t call them on the phone. Granted, I confess, I am one of those insane pet parents who likes my parents to hold the phone to Sookie and Rory’s ear so I can say hi but that generally confuses them and forces them to try to find out why I’m trapped in the weird little box thing and why I’m not there petting them.

Still, the trip should be fine. Even though it’s paid by my office, it’s primarily a reward trip and thus will not be as much work as just having fun. My office has a nice policy that spouses and partners are also allowed to go and have their expenses paid because the theory is that they’re the ones who have to put up with our sometimes insane working hours/habits and thus they too should be rewarded. I like that theory. I think it’s kind and very generous.

For me, I don’t have a spouse nor a partner. Dogs are not permitted. Neither are mothers, sisters or friends. Thus, like a few others in the group, I will be going alone. I actually don’t mind at all. We get an allotted amount of spending money and if you bring someone, you have to share. As I’m a singleton, I get that money all to myself. Stingy…probably? Luxury? Definitely.

Most of the trip will involve lots of free time. The office will give us a list of activities that we can either choose to do or not and if we choose to do them, the company will pay. The beauty of it is we don’t have to do anything. We can simply enjoy London.

I know, I know…I’m very lucky. I know it and I’m already grateful even though the trip hasn’t happened yet. It’s simply nice to be working for a company who has a Top Performers trip. Even if I hadn’t have qualified, I’d still admire the fact that the company has been doing this for 30 years, each time somewhere new. It’s a very generous way to show your employees that they do matter and they make a difference.

I’m even luckier that not only have I qualified for my first possible trip but also that it’s to London. Usually, it’s somewhere like Key West, Las Vegas or Miami. That’s not to say those places wouldn’t be a ton of fun either but London is definitely better- I’m planning on staying a few extra days to visit my friends and family.

The interesting part of the trip for me is watching our branch administrator plan it. For me, a natural born Brit, things of a British nature are, well, second nature to me. Yet, viewing things through my coworkers’ eyes, I get an entirely different perspective. Everything is new and different. For example, normally when she plans the trip in the U.S., she finds a resort hotel or a hotel with a good concierge who will assist with setting up dining, entertainment and amenities. In England, that is not the case. The concierge will assist to some degree by making recommendations. They might even book theatre tickets. However, when it comes to planning group activities, that’s all up to my branch administrator. She’s finding it a lot more work than usual.

I admire her efforts. Setting up a trip that will end up including around 30 people is not easy, particularly an international one. She has to take care of everything from booking things all the way down to researching how our Blackberries will work, how much a second suitcase will cost to check and how to go about getting tube passes. Then there’s the issue of money. For me, I grew up using pounds and pence. She grew up with dollars and cents. Even how to say the amounts of money is new for her. She’s getting the hang of it though and the trip is coming together nicely. It’s actually quite fun- it’s like I’m Harry Potter trying to show Mr. Weasley how to deal with the muggle world.

I think it’s going to end up being a lot of fun. I think my biggest dilemma will be trying to decide if I’d rather go shopping at Harrods with a gift card from the office or using the time to do more interesting things like go to the Tower of London. I’m leaning towards the Tower just because I’ve never been there and due to my “Game of Thrones” obsession of late, it seems like the closest thing England has to that world. Being a little dark and twisty, I find the idea of seeing where they used to put heads on pikes and conduct torture to be rather intriguing. I know that’s a little sick but, well, it’s more interesting to me than seeing something like the crown jewels.

It’ll be nice to get back to England. It’s been a couple of years since I went back and I’d like to see my grandparents again. If timing had worked out better, I’d actually see my mother there too- she’s leaving for a trip to the UK tomorrow but she gets back about three weeks before I leave.

It’s definitely something to look forward to and even on not-so-great days at work, it’s a reminder that there are good days too and those good days can lead to trips to England. I can’t wait.

Happy Wednesday! (And Bon Voyage, Mummy Monkeypants- have a safe trip!)

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