If I were to author a piece of fiction in the “Business Travel Adventures” genre, I still wouldn’t have “thickened the plot” with everything that I experienced in my last trip since the story would become “Fantastical Fantasy” genre… it would have seemed fake.
But, it happened, and I needed to document this … who knows, it may become a pilot for a new reality show called “urban survivor”!
On Monday, I was asked, last minute, to present, in person, to a client in NYC on Thursday. No problem. I’ve done this hundreds of times, even with short notice and I know my stuff. However, since this was only my second trip post Shutdown, I went through my travel list to mentally focus on everything I needed.
Laptop? check. Toothbrush? check. nice jeans/shirt? Check. Hotel/Air/Presentation content? Check. All set!
Wednesday morning, I was prepared. Then, I was asked to alter the presentation (slides and narrative), and that required additional time to prepare, but … no problem. The flight left at 3pm, and I had a client call at 1:30-2 so I drove up early to get all settled in a nice quiet corner of the airport so I could take that client call, with plenty of time spare to prepare to adjust my presentation.
I arrive at 12:40 with PLENTY of time…I drive to long-term parking …
…and my heart stopped. No. screamed. Screamed as it fell 5000 feet into a dark, echoy chamber.
…I forgot my wallet.
The ONE thing I NEVER forget! The ONE thing I tell my kids “don’t forget your wallet!” “You see kids, as long as you have your wallet you can solve most any troubling situation”.
I pulled into the “Arrival” curb just so I could think. I couldn’t think! I called my wife to talk it through. What could I do? I had no credit cards, no driver license, no cash, no vaccine card, nothing! We talked about her driving 1/2 way up and meeting me. No, I had that important client call. I couldn’t drive while presenting, and not enough time to get back.
OK. Break down the problem. Can I do this without a wallet?
OK, First, can you park? Yes, I can take a ticket to pay later. I have NO idea how to pay later, but that’s 3 days from now. Let’s worry about that in 2.5 days.
OK. Second, what about the flight. Can you get through security?
AH! YES! I still had my passport buried in my work backpack from January 2020 flight to Barcelona. I can use that to get through security.
OK. What about getting from LaGuardia to hotel?
My Phone! I have Uber active and my corporate card attached. No credit card needed to drive. In fact, I can Uber to the meeting and back to airport so I’m all good there.
OK. how about the Hotel? They require to see credit card in order to register.
Virtual Check-in! My Hilton app lets me check in, get a digital key, and never even approach the hotel counter!
Cool. Now you can fly there, transport, and get to hotel. You’re mostly there.
How will you eat?
ApplePay! I’ve got my debit and Apple card set up so I just need to find a place that accepts ApplePay, or just eat the hotel and have it bill the room.
OK! What about cash for paying for parking? Not sure yet, let’s worry about that later.
SO… I parked, got through security, boarded the plane, hailed an Uber, got to hotel, and all was well!!!
I open the in-person invite that I was finally sent for the meeting in 9 hours. “Dress code: Business Formal”.
I packed my normal “look nice in a shirt and dark jeans”, but nothing close to business formal. I don’t even own a sport coat. But this new gig involves a lot of financial services companies. What should I do?
I SHOULD BUY A SPORT COAT!
Quick, call the wife to find out who in NYC sells sport coats AND accepts Apple Pay! (why call the wife? Because I’m not thinking clearly, I needed someone on this quest to think clearly and it clearly wasn’t me!)
Wife’s Answer? Macy’s!!! …just added in July 2021. God Bless their Digital Transformation that I discussed with them back in 2015!
I changed into the shirt I planned to wear for the meeting, hiked over to Macy’s, and 45 minutes later, after debating about subtle colors, befriending a man who helped size me up, (I’m a 38R, who knew) I walked out with a decent sport coat that didn’t cost a crazy amount (but forever will be labeled as “I bought this from a boutique dealer in New York’s Fashion District!”)
OK. Now for a nice dinner so i can regain my focus! (but no drinks…gotta stay sharp, and i’m not thinking clearly already)
“No, we don’t”, is all I heard from hosts regarding “Do you take ApplePay?”. After a long search, I finally found Chipotle, who DID accept ApplePay, and I had a “to-go” meal (because I needed proof of vaccine to eat in the store) so I hiked back to the hotel.
While eating, I loaded my phone with photos my wife sent of my Vaccine card, ID, and AmEx card. This turned out to be very useful, since only NY residents have access to the ‘official’ vaccine app, but I now have a password-protected Apple Note with Vax card and photo ID next to each other. It is the easiest way to prove I can sit and eat at a restaurant in NYC. Also while I was eating, we had a last-minute internal meeting where I was asked to change content for the presentation.
Next day, I Uber’d to the site, had a meeting I’ll never forget (not in a good way…but a topic for another blog), but did end the evening with a rich conversation with the client, as well as a fantastic steak meal, (with two decaf-espresso martini’s), and a long walk from 1st to 28th back to hotel.
Last quest? Find cash so I can pay for parking after I fly home tomorrow. Surely in a 35 minute walk through NYC I can find a way to get cash? Who should I call?
My wife!! She says many ATMs take ApplePay via Debit Cards.
OK! I have a debit card in my ApplePay! I try the first 5 ATM machines…
…Nothing. Debit only works for “bank owned” debit cards. Back to the wife. “I have a Wells Fargo debit you can use, and you can manually enter into ApplePay”. I try, and it WORKS!
…except not at the Wells Fargo ATM “Sorry, our systems are temporarily down”.
How about this local drug store? “Do you give cash back?”. Response, “Only $10. How much you need?”, “About $80-100”. “Um, No.”
OK. Try more ATMs. Nothing. I try to walk up to my Hotel front desk, “I lost my wallet…can you provide a cash advance from my card on file?” “No.”
OK. …Think… Ooooo! There’s a Rite Aid! “Say, do you offer cash back with purchases?”, “yes, but only $40”. “OH!, can I buy 2 things to get to $80?”. “Sure?”
And here I present to you two tins of ALTOIDS, which cost $43.25 EACH. (forever to be known as “The ALTOIDS maneuver”
But now, I have enough cash for exiting parking!!! …I think. I mean parking costs $22 per day. I couldn’t get the “use your credit card discount” option, and if they charge full days on partial usage, could I be charged more than $80? Don’t know. Don’t care anymore. I’m going home. If I get stuck, one of my two daughters who live in the Cities can bail me out.
I get back to the hotel, pack, Uber to airport, use my passport to get through security, buy lunch with ApplePay, fly home, get in the car, pull up to “Cash Only”, and…
…”that will be $58.00 please”
“Just curious, do you take Apple Pay?”
I’m actually quite amazed at the success of this journey. But to be fully transparent, the toll it took on my “stay sharp and fully prepare for the client meeting” way-of-working was one reason the presentation was such a disaster (at least for me). The other reasons? It’s not important. I knew the constraints I was given, and I knew what it would take to prepare. What I didn’t plan on was how a simple brain blink (forgetting my wallet) could result in washing away all prep time (and adding cognitive poison to my usually sharp brain). Sure, I would have been a true “Rock Star” if I had pulled off a great client session given all this, but I wasn’t…at least this time.
Is there a lesson for me? Many. I could fill up an entire chapter. For now I’ll summarize with this:
Think. Prepare. Practice.
Depend on Others. Trust your Story.
Risk is OK. Failure will Happen.
Trust your Skills. Always Learn.