Brian and Susan

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My Trip to Canada September 30, 2008

Filed under: Work — Brian @ 2:07 pm
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Since my company has offices all around the world, our IT department regularly sends people to travel to those offices and perform security audits to make sure they aren’t doing anything stupid.  Normally there is a specific team of people that handles all these trips, but this year they began taking an analyst along for the ride, part of their initiative to try and make all of us ‘think globally.’

Back in March, I found out that I was chosen to go on one of these trips.  I was to go to Brazil and Chile in May.  I was very excited about it at the time.  But then weeks passed with no word on an actual date, which turned into months until I gave up on it ever actually happening.  At the end of August, I finally got an e-mail out of nowhere saying a date was set for the trip, which turned out to be just over a month from that day.  One month may seem like enough time to plan, but if you’ve ever taken an international business trip to a place like Brazil, you know that you can’t just flash your passport off the plane and start running around the place.  You need a work visa, and that process is horribly tedious.  A letter from the consulate in that country must be written for you requesting your visit.  It must state your purpose in the most vague way possible; anything too specific, especially if it involves technology, will probably be rejected.  Cramming that process into a month is pretty difficult, especially if doing it for the first time, which I would be doing along with the guy going with me who has done all the other audits.

Of course, none of that really mattered to me, because I had already booked a trip that week in October to visit my good friend, Aaron and crash Blizzcon.  It just had to be that week, out of all the others that I had nothing going on.  I e-mailed back asking if there was any possible way to move the trip around a week or two, but there were already other trips planned around it, so it wasn’t possible.  Instead, I was asked if I wanted to go to Toronto, Canada instead.  I replied that I would love to, and the Canada trip was set for September 24.  Toronto would definitely be more low key and shorter than Brazil/Chile, but it also meant that I wouldn’t have to be driven around in an armored car or get any shots.  I booked my flight and reserved my room.

Last Wednesday morning I left to go to work.  I had everything packed and ready with me.  It’s such a strange feeling knowing the next day you’ll be waking up somewhere you’ve never been before.  Susan dropped me off at Matt’s (carpool buddy), who drove us to the office.  I finished up a couple things and e-mailed my team letting them know I would be out the rest of the week along with a list of tasks I wasn’t able to get to that would probably need to be taken care of while I was gone.  Matt then took me to the airport.

As we pulled up to the departing flights drop-off, my phone rang.  It was Phil, my travel companion, and he had a bit of a problem.  He was still going to Brazil in two weeks.  After working for several weeks on the work visa process, he had finally reached the point where he could send off all his paperwork, so the day before the Canada trip, he sent it all off to Brazil.  Interestingly enough, one of the items he mailed was his US passport.

For those new to geography, Canada is not the same as the United States.  It is its own separate country, and you need a passport to go there.  Phil told me to wait in the airport lobby without checking in while he called corporate travel.  I wandered around the lobby for a few minutes and found the Air Canada check-in desk and took a seat nearby.  About 10 minutes later, Phil called again.  The trip would have to be rescheduled because there was no way he was leaving the country without a passport.

I called Matt to come pick me back up.  Back at work the rest of the day, I had several conversations about the shortest Canada trip ever.  I got to see the Nashville airport. I explored the lobby and saw where people go to claim their bags.  I even caught a glimpse of where security checks you before you go on to the gates where the actual planes that fly to Canada are (or so I’ve heard).  Next time, maybe I’ll get to see for myself.

It was very strange working and going home like normal when I was still in the mindset that I would be gone for the next few days.  I called to cancel the flight and hotel room.  Some of the cost will be credited towards the rescheduled trip, but I’m sure my company is eating some nice cancellation charges.  We’re supposed to try this trip again at the end of October.  After all this, I think I’ll believe it when I see it.