Thursday, Feb 16, 8pm. 30,000 feet over Colorado.
I was in Denver for just about 24 hours from Wednesday evening through Thursday evening this week. I tacked on this visit as a side trip to working with a customer in Austin
earlier in the week. Out in Denver I have two customers I've been working with for a while already. So far all of our work has been via webex and phone; I figured better late than never to deepen our relationships with a face-to-face visit.Wednesday night
I drove to the town of Thornton, a suburb north of Denver, and checked in to a rundown Hampton Inn near the interstate. I had considered staying downtown and seeking out some nightlife but I decided in favor of a) cheaper lodging and b) staying less than a mile from my first appointment Thursday so I wouldn't have to spend much time driving. I ate dinner at a fast food restaurant and holed up in my hotel room for the rest of the evening.Thursday morning
I woke up disgustingly early. I was hoping to sleep all the way 'til 7:00 as I'd gotten to bed later than I wanted each of the last several nights, but no; my body wanted me up at 5:30. Grr. I compensated for it a bit by mixing a bit of personal web surfing plus a few hours of remote work done from my room before heading out for my first appointment.Thursday midday
I met Customer #1, a telecom hardware maker with offices nearby. The team manager gave me a tour, and then he, two engineers, and I went out for lunch together. It was a very cordial meeting. The bunch of us have been working together for a few months now, and the project is almost done. We've all developed a lot of respect for each other. Meeting face to face like this could have been even better if we'd done it at the start of the project rather than near the end, but like I said above, better late than never.Thursday afternoon
I visited a second customer, this one at Denver Tech Center. If you look at a map you'll see that it's on the diametrically opposite side of town from my morning meeting. Fortunately traffic wasn't bad at midday so it was only a 35 minute drive. Customer #2 I've been working with for a while, too, though not quite as long as Customer #1. My counterpart there asked me to help troubleshoot a data conversion step that consistently errored out. Doing hands-on technical work during this visit wasn't exactly what I intended, but I knew it was a possibility he'd ask. I rolled up my sleeves and sat down next to him at his computer. The problem turned out to be tougher than I anticipated. We spent over 2 hours on it together without reaching a solution. Meanwhile I tried not to yawn near the end as I was flagging from having been up since 5:30am. We agreed on next steps to continue working the problem, and I left for the airport.Thursday evening
was planes, trains automobiles at DEN airport. I returned my rental car, that surprising upgrade to a Cadillac XTS
. It was a nice car but really too complicated with so many gee-whiz features hidden behind a multifunction buttons that can't be figured out at night without a book and a flashlight. But still, it was a nice car, and I was in good spirits until I entered the airport terminal... where I saw the security line snaking back and forth through 10 rows, filling nearly the whole of the lower level. I timed it at 40 minutes to clear. Compare that to three minutes at SJC on Monday
thanks to their looser screening program. Even with my rookie mistake with a water bottle
at AUS on Wednesday it took less than 15 minutes. DEN was a mess. A mess. A mess! I seem to have heard that repeated on the radio earlier in the day....
Standing in the security line for 40 minutes was not fun, but at least it did not hurt my schedule. That's because, again, I planned my schedule to allow for problems exactly like this to occur. I still had enough time to wolf down some fast food dinner after security and make it to my gate just in time for boarding. Speaking of boarding, I'd forgotten again
with this Southwest Airlines flight to check in promptly at the T-24 mark. This time my boarding number was even worse than last night's: B60. But still I managed to score one-half of the "love seat" in the exit row. Cha-ching!