Friday, February 4, 2011

Adventures in Baltimore

   "They need training in Baltimore," my manager said. "Their Station Leader called me--a MIT Buddy, you know--she's a great leader, and we definitely need to support her," she says with that twinkle, waggle, eye thing that is all my manager.  "And she wants training in January, February and March on these topics..."
   "Uh, well, ok." i respond very professionally.  This was back in early December when i was still trying to close out the year, and hadn't hurled myself into serious thoughts about 2011, much less training on Microsoft Office at the end of January.

--> Fast forward several weeks and conversations <--

   "We can only have classes of 12 people, but we've only got 90 leaders who need training," one of the reps from the Baltimore Station tells me via phone.
   "Ah, right, 90 people, 12 per class." Now i'm no mathematician, but even i can figure out that there's no way to get 90 folks through six 4-hour classes in batches of 12.  That's definitely more than six batches of tasty vegan peanut butter cookies.
   "It'll be no problem," i report with confidence. "We'll just come out the following week as well."
   "Great!  I'll have someone meet you at your gate when you arrive."
   Click. *minor panic ensues as i try to figure out how i'm going to stretch my one part-time Microsoft Office Facilitator into two full-time Trainers.*

So it's determined that we'll send the most junior of our Facilitators out into station territory to train a class she's only trained a part of last summer.  And... she'll train 6 of those classes over the course of three days.  My conscience is pricked and just won't let me send her out into the great unknown by her lonesome.  So i decide to join her on this venture.  i've not seen the station training facilities, and i want to see what folks are dealing with when they head out to a station to deliver a class.  And, i'll support my Peep while she sharpens her training teeth.  Boo-yah!

Well, this Peep happens to be one i've been coaching since i joined Southwest.  We've got a great relationship and have fun traveling.  And of course, we have grand adventures.  So, here are a few interesting bits of advice from our Adventure in Baltimore, January 24-26, 2011:

  • When someone, even if they are elderly with kind, genuine eyes, offers you her rail ticket because she's done with it for the day, take it and offer many thanks, but buy your own rail pass.  The Rail Cop knows that you're a dumb tourist and will take much delight in questioning you on whether you are elderly or disabled (hey - i am not that old!) then give you threatening eyes.  In this case, calmly indicate that you will exit at the next stop and buy another ticket.
  • Even if someone looks hungry and says they need money to buy a cheesecake while you're waiting at the rail station for the next train, don't pull out your wallet to give him a few cents.  Pop-tart carrying young men with no teeth may still be vicious.
  • Enjoy the sites on the rail, such as graffiti and overgrown parking lots and the Orioles stadium.  But do not exit the train, until you get to your exit at the Convention Center.  Then be prepared to hike!
  • Wear many layers if you go traipsing around the Inner Harbor to Little Italy in January.  It's really, really, really cold.  Bring a really warm scarf, hat and gloves and walk quickly to the restaurant.  Fingers will freeze if you try to pop out your camera for a picture.

In front of the USS Constellation at the Inner Harbor

  • Eat a lot of the really great food in Baltimore.  It's worth the 5 pounds!  Little Italy is fab (we loved Amiccis), and Vaccaro's Pastry Shop was also fab (not vegan, but worth the cheat!).
The tempting pastry counter at Vaccaro's
  • Definitely call the cab company recommended by G&M Restaurant (another tasty restaurant) to take you first to a grocery store to load up on candy (sugar highs in class are not over-rated! in fact, it's imperative to get those just off their work shifts interested in the charting function of Excel) then to the hotel.  You won't drive over 40 (even on the freeway), you'll enjoy random lane changes, get interesting history lessons and be endeared to the residents of good 'ol Baltimore.
  • Be charming to some of the Participants so they'll help you make the last flight home before a big storm system moves in to halt traffic for the evening.

Wishing you a good trip to Baltimore when you have the opportunity!

No comments: