Friday 6am ~ Three hours of sleep. Up at crack of dawn. Off to the airport. Whoever made these travel arrangements was an unkind soul.
Friday 3pm ~ Area 1 has the smallest, quaintest most efficient international airport we have ever seen.
Friday 4pm ~ It is odd, and strangely pleasant, to not see snow on the ground or our breath as we breath.
Friday 5pm ~ The owner of the B&B we are staying at is the most effeminate, flaming married man either of us has ever met. It is actually a little disconcerting. I seriously thought I was past that.
Friday 6pm ~ Social time and dinner party with our hosts. Dinner is bland. Company is… interesting. People don’t talk to us as much as we expected. They certainly like talking to each other. One person has a cold. He sniffles and snorts more than I have ever done. He also speaks with his mouth full of food. Often. It is unpleasant. We leave feeling odd. (Actually we remember feeling this way after the last one three years ago, too. Wonder if they always go this way.)
Friday 8pm ~ Nice bed in our B&B but the place is very cold. No insulation I guess. We ask the innkeeper to change our breakfast time because the committee has changed the schedule for Saturday. Never occurred to them to ask the innkeeper where they were putting us up about what time he serves breakfast. Innkeeper is accommodating. Which is good. I would have been grumpy otherwise.
Saturday 9am – Breakfast is all right. You can, if you want to cut corners, and like mushy french toast, use egg nog instead of eggs with milk beaten in. Who knew. C and C still do not understand why people consider grapefruit to be edible.
Saturday C1- The first impression upon walking into your prospective new place of employment should not be “Ewww… what is that smell.” It should also not be followed by the coughing, hacking, wheezing that indicates the presence of mold spores. Not a good sign.
The interview goes well, I think. I’m feeling it. They are smiling and reacting well.
I meet the staff. New concept. Never did that before. The staff look stressed out. Their questions are very direct. At one point, my answer pleases the office admin so much, she drops her pen. If they get a vote, I’m in.
I tour the building and grounds. Perhaps I’m spoiled, but the place looks a little dinky and dingy. They really need to expand. They need a new building. Badly. Oh, and they’ve scheduled my interview and tour the same time a dozen folks are there rehearsing for the next day’s service. I do my best to be invisible. (I’m better at it when I’m not wearing my professional clothes.)
Off to lunch. A really nice seafood place on the beach. They didn’t invite C along. (They said, “we were afraid we would like her more than you.” Funny. Of course, I know it is true. I get that a lot. Still, C is out on her own finding lunch while I’m being wined and dined. I feel guilty about it.) They have the best hush puppies I’ve ever had. It is so good. Wow, I love fresh seafood. I ask them my questions. They give good answers but fail the two important questions. Sad, really.
Saturday C2 ~ Takes a trip out the the beach. (Same one C is having lunch at.) She got some seashells and enjoyed the waves. She saw a line of pelicans dipping gracefully in the water. (Her family crest is a pelican–even cooler.) She then checked out the downtown and the riverwalk. Not as cool as it could have been (someone parked a big battleship in the river view) but still enjoyable. She then checked out the local specialty shops. Managed not to buy anything (I’m so proud of her.) She then went on a quest for lunch. The first place was too closed. The second place was too loud and rowdy. The third place was just right–and served great sushi.
Saturday Dinner ~ Hosted in another committee member’s house. Much better food. Conversation was better, too. Though, honestly, true colors really started to show through. Not in a good way either. (Q:What does it mean when the chair is a conspiracy theorist who only sees things in black and white terms? A: Trouble) When we get back to the inn, I modify my presentation for the next day and head to bed.
Sunday 6am ~ Up to pack, get ready, and pick up the committee in the mini-van WE rented to get us all to the neutral location 2 hours away. After spending $120 on a mini-van, we find out two of the committee members have mini-vans. (????) I drive north and we get there with plenty of time. In an odd attempt to ensure their anonymity, the entire committee sits all together.
Sunday 10am ~ It goes very well. People really like my presentation and my message. The kids are great. I’m in the zone. We socialize and then boogy.
Sunday noon ~ We all go to a local eatery (with really good food and huge portions) and the committee starts talking. To each other. Again.
After a half hour, I ask if they want to ask me any questions or make any comments about the presentation we drove 2 hours one way to experience. After some silent, vacant looks at each other, they hazard a few comments and questions. Conversation stalls… C rescues me by suggesting a good question. I ask the committee about conflict and divisive tendencies in their organization. The committee promptly gets into a conflict and divides over the answer. (Wow… what a great answer to the question. I might have skipped the demonstration, but hey, it is their dime, so I assume they have their reasons.)
Sunday 1pm ~ We start the drive back. Two hours in the mini-van. (They pay for gas. Least they could do, really. No I mean it, really the least they could do.) This is the last two hours they get to talk to us. Surely they will use this opportunity to…. talk amongst themselves. And they do, on a wide range of topics. I manage not to fall asleep through a sheer act of will. As our journey comes to a close, our time together is coming to an end, the committee engages in one last topic. What topic do they want to be sure to get into before C and C head back to their home? Any guesses? Future plans, perhaps? Theology, maybe? Social Justice, always a big one. The weather? (We’ve talked about it a lot, but, hey, why not finish with something familiar?) Nope. Strip clubs. The location and name of every strip club in town. I kid you not. C and C are speechless. Stunned. WE say our goodbyes and head off to the airport.
Sunday 5pm ~ Area 1 airport is all right. We wait for our flight.
Sunday 8pm ~ We arrive at our connection in Charlotte. We are told we do not have assigned seats and might be bumped. C is not happy. She has clients to see on Monday.
Sunday 10pm ~ We are allowed to board the plain. We are the last passengers allowed on. We are happy.
Monday 1am ~ We get home. We are tired. Off to bed we go.
All in all, Area 1 has been an underwhelming experience.
Area 2 in 4 days.