This past Thursday, I had the pleasure of flying out to Philadelphia for an interview with a very interesting company. The interview was scheduled for Friday. Nothing I do every goes smoothly, and this trip was no exception. Throughout the trip, I took time to jot down some thoughts so I could share my experience with you. Please note that I place no blame or ill feelings toward the company that was kind enough to give me the interview. In fact, I had an excellent trip, and I was very impressed in the interviews. In the event that I do receive an offer, I will definitely consider it thoroughly.
The whole story starts at the Purdue airport. It had been raining all day which was just my luck. I was wearing my suit on the trip because I didn't want to check any luggage. This also meant that I got to walk around in the rain in my suit. The plane we were talking from Purdue to Detroit was delayed getting into Purdue for 10 minutes because of the rain. Luckily this didn't end up affecting us very much. I love flying so I had been looking forward to the flight. However, the rain ruined my view. Once we left the ground, I could see the ground for a total of about five seconds. It rained the entire way to Detroit. There was one interesting thing that happened on the flight. As we were preparing for departure, the pilot told us that this was the first flight he had been on that had a reinforced cockpit door. There was a resounding cheer from the handful of people on the small flight out of Purdue. It's a good thing they picked that plane to install the new door on. I'm sure there are a lot of terrorists hiding out at Purdue.
Once in Detroit, I grabbed a bite to eat and then waited at the gate for my connecting flight to Philadelphia. President Bush was on TV so of course I spent some time watching. He mentioned that the FBI was expecting some sort of attacks for the upcoming weekend. After the speech, CNN switched to one of their oh so helpful panel discussions. The major topic was basically "What Can We Do?" No one had a good answer… no one except the guy sitting next o me. I hadn't said anything to him since I sat down, but he looked at me and said, "All we need to do is trust the Lord." That was the best advice I heard all night.
The flight out of Detroit was delayed for an hour because they had to replace a thermostat. Now I'll admit I don't know much about airline maintenance, but on a car a thermostat does not take anywhere near any hour to fix. In any case, we finally left the ground for Philadelphia.
The delay in Detroit had an unanticipated effect. I was told by the travel company that I should take a specific shuttle to the hotel. However, by the time we arrived at the airport, it was after midnight and the shuttle company was closed. Not only that, but every shuttle I called was closed. After an hour of trying to find someone to take me to the hotel, I finally decided I would just get a cab. As the driver took off, wheels screeching and the needle peeking at 90, I realized that the meter wasn't running. I'm just a goofy kid from Indiana. What do I know about taxis? Maybe I said the magic words and I'm getting a free ride? Maybe he'll start the meter later? Nope. We pulled up the hotel and the meter still said "Vacant." What do you tip a driver for a free ride? Should I tip him at all? All I had in my wallet were 20's and three 1's. So I handed the guy three bucks and got out. I was almost to the door when he rolled down his window and shouted, "Hey! This is only $3!" Was he just happy that he could count? "Yeah, I know." "It's $20 bucks!" Oops. So I handed the guy a twenty and walked into the hotel.
The hotel was a beautiful Courtyard by Marriot. It was right across the street from city hall, and the buildings around were amazing. Obviously I felt more than a little out of place in a hotel of that caliber, but it was past 1 a.m. so I just wanted to get to bed. After I checked in, the lady asked if I wanted a wake up call. I knew I had to be in the lobby by 7 a.m., so I said 5:30. On my way up to the room I realized how stupid that was. An hour and a half to take a shower and walk to the lobby?!? Oh well, I just wanted to sleep.
I stepped onto the elevator in an attempt to find my room. My key card said 1521. I figured the numbering was just weird so I got off on the fifth floor. Stupid me. The building had 15 floors. I can't remember the last time I was in a building with 15 floors. So I got back on the elevator and rode it to the top. I quickly found my room and it was extremely nice. The company had a nice basket of snack foods waiting for me. I figured I would have a nice view from the window so I headed straight there to check it out. I was wrong. All I could see was the building next to us. I couldn't even look down and see the street! I assumed the ground was down there somewhere, but I sure couldn't see it.
I settled in and was all set to hit the sack when I realized that I didn't have a razor for the morning. I left it at Purdue because I heard you couldn't take a razor through airport security. I guess it's a deadly weapon. Now I like to pretend I'm a manly man, but you've probably seen me after skipping a shave and you just didn't notice. But this was an important interview and I wanted to do it right. I called the front desk to see if they had one for me and of course they did. I grabbed my key and headed out the door when I realized what I was wearing – plaid shorts and a white T-shirt. That's what I wear all the time in my room back at school, but it sure didn't fit in at that hotel. So I went back into the room and put on the only other outfit I had – my suit. After that long trip was over I finally got to bed around 2 a.m.
When my wake up call came, I rolled over and went back to sleep. I set my alarm for 6 and figured I could use the extra sleep. That was the quickest half hour of my life. But nevertheless I got up and wandered on down to the lobby to find my ride. The rides were there all right. They were guys in suits and sunglasses driving brand new black Lincoln's. Nice! I found my driver and he asked if I was all set to head to the New Jersey site. New Jersey? No! I was supposed to go to a site north of Philly in Pennsylvania! What a great way to start off. I specifically remembered my travel agent saying to make sure I got in a car to the PA site. So I did just that. I rode with another interviewee to that site.
Traffic was insane. Even the driver who drives those roads for a living kept commenting on how horrible the traffic was. The half hour trip took us an hour so we arrived late. I walked in the door and up to the front desk. They had no idea who I was. I was supposed to be at the New Jersey site… an hour away. Augh! Thankfully they were extremely accommodating and found some interviews for me at their site. They also set up a teleconference with me to meet with the guys across the river. Obviously I was very thankful! I felt the interviews went very well and I had a very informative trip.
After the interview, I was driven back to the hotel. I checked my bags at the front desk and walked around downtown Philly for a while. I instantly noticed the National Guard presence on the street. They were all carrying M-16s. I headed down the historic district and spent quite a bit of time there. I wanted to be sure and see the Liberty Bell. The security there was heavier than in the airports! It's in a glass building and they were only letting a few people in at a time. You had to go through a metal detector with about a dozen National Guardsmen standing watch. I didn't feel like waiting in the line so I just looked through the windows. I also saw Independence Hall a many other history buildings. Since I only had a few hours sleep the night before I tired quickly. Plus I was wearing a suit and tie so it wasn't the most comfortable walk in the world. I headed back the hotel to try and find a ride to the airport.
Lucky me! The shuttle was right in front of the hotel. I hopped on and we took off to the airport. I got there very early, but it turned out to be a good thing. It only took me 20 minutes to get to the counter for my ticket, but the security check took much longer. The line was longer than a football field! It took us a half hour just to get through. Of course I set off the metal detector. I always set off metal detectors. They pulled me off to the side to check me. There was a new guy being trained. He was about four and a half feet tall. I had to hold back a laugh as he strained to reach up and wave the metal detector over my arms. He then proceeded to pat me down. He did a very thorough search. A little too thorough for me! The guy training said, "Whoa! Don't go above the knees!"
I have a few thoughts about the security check. I was asked a few times, "Are you carrying any weapons or sharp objects?" If you're a terrorist, are you going to say yes? Oops! I probably shouldn't be hijacking this plane. I better go home. And if you could somehow get through the metal detector, you could easily hide a weapon high on your thigh (unless you got frisked by the guy that got frisky with me!) I don't really feel like the security is any better than it was before September 11th. What they really need are reinforced cockpit doors. Why didn't we have those before?
My trip from there on was fairly uneventful. Actually I think this whole article is pretty boring. And if I think it's boring, that probably means no one will make it this far.
All in all I had a good trip. I'm very glad I had the opportunity to meet with the company and I hope to receive an offer from the them soon. But even if I don't, I've definitely made some more memories!