let’s discuss business trip mishaps

Let’s talk about business trip mishaps. Maybe you were booked for a 26-hour series of flights for a trip that should have only taken 11 hours, or maybe your boss told you to camp in a tent while traveling for work, or maybe you had to share a hotel room with a coworker who screams in her sleep.

Why not turn your misery into our entertainment by telling us your business trip horror stories in the comments?

{ 1,269 comments… read them below }

  1. The Original K.*

    Not my story, thank God, but what leaps to mind is the admin who sent their boss to Naples, Italy instead of Naples, Florida.

    1. FuzzFrogs*

      Oh my gosh, so many questions. Did they actually end up in Italy?? I was going to ask if they didn’t notice needing their passport, but I guess if you’re not American, it wouldn’t come up…

      1. purple monkey & bubblegum tree*

        IIRC they were all Canadian, so would have needed passports either way.

      2. Purple Loves Snow*

        I remember this letter. They were from Canada so would have needed their passports to get into the USA. They were also from a French speaking province so English was not their first language so that added to the confusion.

        1. umami*

          Oh no! I was ordering pesos for a trip to Monterrey, Mexico the other day, and the person helping me mentioned going to Monterrey on his first-ever flight, and since he had never booked a flight before he thought you just went with any airline and picked the time you wanted. He went with the top choice and didn’t realize until he got to the airport that his flight was going to Monterey, California.

          1. Sad Desk Salad*

            I was visiting San Jose, California, once, but my bags ended up in San Jose, Costa Rica. Sigh.

            (I did ultimately get to Costa Rica years later, but with different bags.)

            1. I Have RBF*

              Oh, no.

              The Costa Rica destination would have been much more fun. (Source: I live in San Jose, California.)

            2. Eater of Hotdish*

              Intelligence is knowing the way to San Jose.

              Wisdom is knowing which one.

              (also, this sounds like something I could do, so I’m not hating)

          2. Flemmard*

            I’m reminded of ordering some equipment from a US supplier to be delivered to an address in Oxford, England. Somehow, they contrived to send it to Oxford, Nova Scotia.

        2. Indie*

          In Canada we usually have three airport “terminals” – domestic, international and US-bound. The US-bound is there because we pass US customs and border control BEFORE getting on the plane. So the fact that they didn’t have to speak to an indifferent US agent should have been a pretty good indicator that something is off. Another one is the expected arrival time printed on the boarding pass. So, if this whole thing is true, this is as much on the boss as it is on the admin.

          1. It’s Suzy Now*

            In Vancouver, though almost all US bound flights go out of the US bound terminal with pre-cleared customs in YVR, some do leave from the international terminal. My favorite Vancouver-New York flight for many years was actually the last leg of the flight coming from Hong Kong and continuing on to New York, and used the international terminal.

            1. Picky*

              Oh, the wonderful Cathay Pacific flight, of blessed memory. Always half-empty, many opportunities to stretch out and sleep.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        They were Canadian, yeah, so the passport aspect wasn’t the clue it could have been. They did end up in Italy, and IIRC the admin in question was fired shortly after the plane landed. Search the site for “naples italy florida” without the quotation marks and it will come up.

      4. Hlao-roo*

        The letter was titled “I accidentally sent my boss to Italy instead of Florida” and it was posted April 3, 2017 if you’re interested in reading the whole thing. The letter-writer commented once under the name “H.S.”

      5. The Original K.*

        The boss did end up in Italy, yep! Didn’t realize what was going on until they landed.

        1. B*

          Are we sure this was a mistake and not a favor? “Oh, no, I’m in Italy and would you look at that, I can’t get a flight to Florida for 3 days!”

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            Unfortunately all the flights for three das were booked. I’ll be leaving for home sometime next week. I’ll let you know when I can get a flight….

            – Orders more gnocchi and gelato

      6. DannyG*

        I use my passport to fly anywhere, so that wouldn’t have been a tipoff, but an 8-10 hour flight time vs a 2-3 hour one sure would have been.

        1. Clisby*

          I do, too (I’m in the US). I have a REAL ID for travel, but my nightmare is that I get to the airport and I’ve let my driver’s license expire, so I always take the passport, too.

          1. La Triviata*

            If you’re from Washington, DC (District of Columbia) it’s sometimes a toss-up if the TSA agents will accept your driver’s license. They’ll assume you’re from Columbia (the country) and send you back for a US passport. Even Real IDs. Some nice people might compliment you on how well you speak English. Yikes

            1. Just wow*

              The country is Colombia- spelled differently. I’d have thought a TSA agent would know the difference, but your experience says otherwise. Yikes is right.

              1. compliance and coffee*

                Also known to happen frequently for New Mexico (thought to be Mexico), and also people who don’t know that US territories are US citizens.

                And then also people who don’t know about Hawaii.

                Sometimes I wonder if TSA agents are that incompetant or just trolling us.

                1. Professional Straphanger*

                  There’s a reason our license plates say “New Mexico USA” on them!

              2. SchuylerSeestra*

                I’ve run into this issue twice at bars, but thankfully not at the airport. In one occasion the bouncer didn’t realize Washington DC is a real place and thought I had a fake ID.

                1. Nina*

                  If they don’t know that DC and Colombia are different places, are they really likely to know what a Colombian ID card looks like?

                  Asking as a New Zealander who got into all kinds of places with my NZ driver’s license and only once had the date on it questioned (31/04/94 – clearly not a US-style date)

              3. L'étrangère*

                I’m never surprised like that since the time an Air France agent on the phone asked me which country Paris was in

            2. Laura*

              This has only happened a handful of times, as far as I know. And it happened right after they changed our (DC’s) driver’s licenses so they didn’t look the way many other states’ licenses look. But I fly between 2-5 times a year and it’s never happened to me and I haven’t heard about it happening after the time it happened several years ago.
              I’m not saying it never happens, but I don’t think it’s common.

            3. Veryanon*

              I don’t ever use my Pennsylvania driver’s license for traveling, as we’re not required to be Real ID compliant yet and I keep forgetting to do it. The last time I used it, I had to go to Memphis for business, and the TSA people acted like Pennsylvania was on another planet. So I always just take my passport.

            4. Beka Rosselin-Metadi*

              I’ve definitely had to explain to TSA agents that DC was a real place and I did in fact live there and was also a citizen of the United States.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, I suppose that can happen if geography’s an elective and people have absolutely no intellectual curiosity for learning for its own sake. I can sort of understand not knowing much about the rest of the world, but basic facts about your own country?

                When I was in middle school I had to learn all the capital cities in Europe. I thought that was fun so I learned all the state capital cities of the US just for the heck of it, before losing interest.

            5. Indigo a la mode*

              They actually changed the entire DC ID because of this issue. My sister was just here from DC and showed me that her license reads “Washington, DC” instead of “District of Columbia” these days. Makes you wonder how many times that had to happen to warrant a whole redesign.

              She *did* recently get refused service when buying non-alcoholic beer(?!) in Chicago because DC IDs have black-and-white pictures, for some reason, and the clerk didn’t believe it was real.

          2. LJ*

            PSA to everyone – REAL ID enforcement at airports has been pushed back (again) to 2025 now. They’ve been kicking the can down the road for so long I wouldn’t bother wasting time to line up at the DMV for it

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I got mine all done, and now continually nag Husband to–but since they keep pushing it back he never bothers, arrrgh.

              1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

                I (not a US citizen) travel a lot. At many airport, they do not have the machine to verify my US issued ID, a TWIC (transport worker identification credentials) that is supposedly good to fly domestically. It’s much more secure than a drivers license as it requires a background check and fingerprints; I need it to work inside the security perimeter of seaports.
                Oh well, my passport is always at hand.

            2. Princess Sparklepony*

              I got mine but I’m still salty about it. I shouldn’t have to show a special ID to travel between states. That’s one of the perks of being a country. Although the way things are going, I’m not going to be shocked when they start doing border crossing inspections at state lines.

              1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

                As of 2015-ish, I saw at least one border inspection station at the edge of California and Oregon. It seemed like they were mostly on the lookout for agricultural products that could be carrying disease.

          3. Anonomatopoeia*

            Well, you can always get home without ID if you accidentally totally lose your driver’s license while 1800 miles from home (but still in the US) the evening before your flight back, but it does involve a lengthy conversation with TSA and a deeply ridiculous scenario where the officer whose English is the most heavily-accented comes to you IN the busy TSA line with a walkie-talkie and that officer and another one elsewhere with the other walkie and a computer that has google play telephone while they quiz you about your destination as you and they keep moving to let other people through the line.

            I assume that conversation would have gone less well were I not white, but it was still a pain.

          4. ArcticFoxy*

            You can fly with an expired license, at least domestically. I learned that after spending a whole afternoon at the DMV getting a temporary paper one, only for the TSA agent to tell me I didn’t need it.

    2. danmei kid*

      My fear every time I need to travel to Portland, ME or Paris, OH. Was on a train to Newark, NJ once and the guy next to me was stunned to learn he wasn’t going to Newark, DE.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        When I’ve taken the train from DC to New York (so both are in the same direction – if you were starting from Philly it’s a different story) the conductors are always careful to enunciate “New Ark, Delaware” vs. “Nuark, New Jersey” (the two are pronounced differently).

        1. Whomever*

          It doesn’t help that the station in Newark, NJ is Penn Station, and that on Amtrak, the next station heading north is New York Penn Station (both named after the Pennsylvania railroad vs the other railroads who might have stations in the area). Over a bad PA, especially if you are not a native English speaker, Newark and New York can sound quite similar. (Again these days the conductors usually emphasize the “Newark NEW JERSEY” because of this).

          1. AnotherOne*

            I immediately thought about the two Penn Stations and the number of times I’ve been on trains were people were so confused.

      2. Testing*

        I don’t know if it’s an urban myth, but I’ve heard the airport in Vienna, Austria has a counter for people who were actually going to Australia.

        1. ConstantlyComic*

          It is an urban myth, alas. I looked it up a while back after a pro wrestler that my partner’s a fan of did a whole bit where he said he was ready for an event happening in Australia… with a picture of him at an airport in Austria.

        2. Alex*

          I actually have a magnet on my fridge that I bought in Vienna that says “no kangaroos in Austria”

        3. Ophelia*

          Sadly a myth, BUT I have an (Australian) friend who was living in the US, and when she tried to ship some gifts home, the carrier sent them to Austria, and she ended up on the phone having a series of increasingly frustrating conversations.

          1. Linley*

            That surprises me. I cannot convince the US post office that Austria is not the same as Australia… I have to hang ovet the counter to see what they stamp and inevitably need to correct the clerk. They’ve often never heard of Austria. When I lived in Vienna I once had a package arrive to me (from my family in NY) by way of Sydney.

            1. Academic glass half full*

              I have had stupid arguments with my administration that when I speak to a consultant in New Mexico, IT IS NOT AN INTERNATIONAL CALL.

            2. Stora paket*

              I’m in Sydney and I’ve had a package arrive from a friend in Sweden via Austria! Which I suppose is kind of on the way…

          2. CatMintCat*

            I (living in Sydney, Australia) once received a package that had visited Sydney, Nova Scotia on its way to me. My book had seen more of the world than I had.

      3. The Original K.*

        Thankfully those two are within a couple of hours’ drive! Or you could get on a train going south and get off in Wilmington and then drive or Uber; it’s like half an hour. You could resolve that fairly easily, I think. It would be annoying and inconvenient but not impossible.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It would suck if he had started in Philadelphia!

          (For readers in other regions, Philly is about halfway between the 2 Newarks.)

      4. Foxy Hedgehog*

        I do know somebody who hired a pilot to fly them, along with a bunch of electronic equipment, from Michigan to Bloomington, Indiana. They ended up in Bloomington, Illinois, instead.

        I’m not sure they ever agreed on whether the pilot or the client was at fault there. The client for not specifying, or the pilot for not asking for clarification (the cities are about the same size).

      5. L. Ron's Cupboard*

        I once interviewed for a job in Wilmington, North Carolina and was told a previous job applicant had once driven 12 hours across 3 states for an interview at that business – but went to Wilmington, Delaware instead because he wasn’t aware there *was* a Wilmington in North Carolina.

          1. Nightengale*

            SEPTA (South Eastern PA Transit Authority) has regional rail trains there from Philly as well.

      6. Clisby*

        This wasn’t a case of business travel, but once, during the freak southern US snowstorm of 1989 around Christmas, I was stranded overnight in Atlanta, along with a bunch of other people. One was a woman who had worked for the past few years in Paris. She was finally getting to go home to visit her family in Dayton, OH. Unfortunately, the travel agent in France booked her to Daytona, FL – right in the path of the snowstorm. I hope she finally made it to her family – the only way I got to mine in time for Christmas was to rent a car and drive from Atlanta to my hometown not far north of Charleston, SC. On Christmas Day, my father and I went to the beach in 60 degree weather to see 6 inches of snow still on the dunes.

      7. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        So many states I’ve lived in have Portlands and Parises. Or plenty of other towns named the same as a more famous city. Though once it was two similarly named small towns in states where the two-letter abbreviation were similar enough that the wrong font could mix them up.

        Back when I was dating my spouse, one of us rented a V8 Mustang and got a little too carried away on the Wyoming highways (spoiler: not me). Two speeding tickets on consecutive days, the first one acquired in Buffalo, WY (second was in Casper). Spouse’s driver’s license was from an east coast state, so when it reached that state’s office, someone read it as Buffalo, WV and entered it as West Virginia instead of Wyoming.

        Wyoming tickets were paid promptly, but the DL office had a fit when there was no payment on record to the (nonexistent) ticket in West Virginia. Pre-spouse had to call and explain that for them to get a speeding ticket in Buffalo, West Virginia and then one the next day in Casper, Wyoming within that timeframe was not technically possible without going 80mph the entire way.

        1. BubbleTea*

          Well, they WERE speeding tickets… maybe they thought that’s exactly what happened!

          1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            I did once drive from Wyoming to Iowa going 90mph as much as possible and turned a 17 hour drive into a 12 hour drive. In my defense, my grandfather was on his deathbed and I was trying to make it before he was gone. I just barely made it. In my second defense, anyone who’s ever driven I-80 across Nebraska knows that the speed limit should be 90.

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          TIL there is a Buffalo, West Virginia. (Too bad, that would have been an easy way to get the ticket dismissed!)

        3. New Jack Karyn*

          “So many states I’ve lived in have Portlands and Parises.”

          There are also a lot of Springfields!

      8. Dog momma*

        Does the train even go to Newark DE?
        We live in SC. The only close passenger service I know of is in Charlotte, NC, 2 hrs by car.
        We’re from Rochester NY. The only passenger service is east to NYC, and west to Toronto, Cleveland etc. . I would have loved to take the train to Binghamton NY to visit family, especially in winter, but alas , Binghamton dropped passenger service in the late 60–70s.

        1. Doreen Green*

          Yep, Amtrak has (limited, I think) service, and there is also regional rail service from Philadelphia to both Wilmington and Newark.

    3. HailRobonia*

      This sort of thing never seems to happen in fantasy/sci-fi stories. “You must throw the ring of power into Mount Doom”…. three movies later “I meant Mount Doom in Mordor, not that mountain in the north named after famed explorer Hannah Doom…”

      1. ferrina*

        I would absolutely read this series!
        And now I want to learn about Hannah Doom, famed explorer. Great name for a kids series.

        1. SunriseRuby*

          She could be a descendant of the Doom family of Cold Comfort Farm! Old aunt Ada Doom “saw something nasty in the woodshed” when she was a child and refused to leave the safety of the farm, but she spent her life keeping her children, grandchildren, and various nieces and nephews there with her until Flora Post showed up and convinced her to travel and reorganized everyone else’s lives. For those of you who haven’t read “Cold Comfort Farm”, it’s a comic/satiric novel, believe or not! Read the novel by Stella Gibbons, watch the movie version with Kate Beckinsale, or both! It would be just perfect for explorer Hannah Doom to be Flora’s adventurous, intrepid godchild, lucky enough to have missed psychological imprisonment by an accident of birth.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            I love that movie. I’m not sure if I’ve read the book but it’s now going on my list (just in case.)

      2. Hannah Lee*

        … And I would absolutely read a series which starts out by introducing a “hero” who goes on his quest to Mount Doom, is the kind of hero who is kind of annoying because they seem like a self-insert Marty-Stu who is kind of a perfect dude who can do no wrong but is also kind of boring. One of those lead characters whose pages are kind of a slog compared with what’s going on with the side characters and incidental characters.

        And then in chapter five, he’s approaching Mount Doom, and you’re thinking “ok this is where something is going to go wrong, some complication, obstacle will pop up that derails, delays him reaching his objective for several chapters. But no … a few little glitches, but he’s there! He does the thing! He tosses the ring into the inferno of Mount Doom! And, nothing. It’s clear The Hellmouth is still opening.

        Then suddenly! one of the Hellmouth Advance Team Beasts swoops down and eats the “Marty-Stu Hero” dude.

        And you realize, to your delight, that HE wasn’t the main character. Those 3 other really amazing, complex, interesting funny characters are going to be center stage, and the real heroes you’ll be following for the rest of the story / stories. And whole caravan of those other compelling characters he ran into along the way are going to be coming along for the ride.

    4. Bob*

      A friend of mine worked at a bank in Charleston, WV. Software sales guy could not find the address because they had flown to Charleston, SC. They showed up that afternoon at least.

      1. theothermadeline*

        Not for work, but one summer weekend when I was an undergrad my then-boyfriend and I decided to do a spontaneous road trip and just go where the wind blew us. We were starting out from Cincinnati and after a few hours he said, “I’m getting tired, how about we stop in Charleston?” Me – thoroughly thinking that we were talking about Charleston, SC because I’m bad at geography – was thrilled and then shocked at the tiny sleepy town we ended up in.

          1. Kesnit*

            Except they are real. Charleston (the state capital) is in the southwestern part of the state. Charles Town is in the Eastern Panhandle.

          2. slashgirl*

            In NS we have two places named Centreville, there are two Lawrencetowns (although one is near a beach and honestly they should make the name officially Lawrencetown Beach, c’mon folks), two Greenwoods….and those are just the ones I’m aware of. At least none of the duplicate places are both in the same county…..

      2. Bronze Betty*

        Years ago, my husband and I drove from Michigan to visit our son in Charleston, SC. The roughly halfway point is Charleston, WV. When we texted our son that we had arrived in WV (the day before we were to see him), his roommate was very confused that we had arrived at our destination so quickly. Nope, but we did get a chuckle that we had two stops in Charleston.

    5. Future*

      I love that one.

      There is apparently an occasional problem with people booking flights to Sydney, Nova Scotia (in Canada) instead of Sydney, Australia. I think sometimes people see a really good price and just book quickly without checking where they are actually going!

      1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

        In the 80s there was a guy from Sacramento who famously accidentally traveled to Auckland instead of Oakland. Apparently the two sounded the same to him, and he mangled his ticket so badly the flight attendant couldn’t read it.

          1. Panicked*

            Ah, the joys of 1990’s sitcom travel, when two unaccompanied children with no passport and no ticket, can just hop on a (not jam-packed) flight to New Zealand.

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I flew out of St. John’s, Newfoundland once (was there for a friend’s wedding) and the gate agents were very careful to distinguish between “London, UK” and “London, ONTARIO, CANADA”. Neither was my flight but it was very amusing. And from there the distance probably wasn’t too different!

        1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

          I have a friend that lives in London, Ontario and she said if she had a dollar for every time she had to explain to someone she was not talking about England, she’d have enough to book a ticket to Vancouver.

          1. noncommittally anonymous*

            I’ve had the same issue with Ontario, California, including the Post Office saying that to send something from Arizona to Ontario CA required international postage.

            1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

              New Mexico Magazine has a column called “One of Our 50 is Missing” which is filled with stories of New Mexico residents (or people trying to travel to/from or send packages to/from) running into various issues because a ticket agent, postal clerk, or other don’t realize it’s one of the US states. The online archives only go back to 2012, but it’s a fun read.

            2. thunderingly*

              I went to college in CA(lifornia) and was very confused at how many people were from Ontario, having only heard of the Ontario in CA(nada).

        2. Kristin*

          Ha I once went to London, Ontario, put the travel details in my Google Calendar, then got a frankly gushing email from Google Travel, inviting me to all the exciting things I could do on my trip! Including a visit to Big Ben and the Tower of London!

      3. Herr Z. Lich*

        There is a famous case of this here in Germany which, when you read about it, doesn’t sound very believable because the mixup was between Bordeaux in France and Porto in Portugal.

        Except the booking was made over the phone by a woman from Saxony, where the local dialect makes people soften hard consonants. So p/t/k become b/d/g, and [porto] became [bordo].

      4. Tee*

        I always wonder if people accidentally book to fly to Saint John, New Brunswick instead of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, or vice versa, for a conference or other business travel. The names are very similar, and both are in eastern Canada, and they are geographically far apart but you’d take a similar route — for example, from western Canada or New York you’d connect through Toronto either way. It would be a relatively easy mistake to make if you weren’t familiar with the destinations!

        1. Two Dog Night*

          My work involves a lot of hotel names… and, yeah, those two get really confusing, especially since they’re both major cities in their provinces.

        2. Formerly Ella Vader*

          1988: pre-internet, pre-cell-phone, pre-self-booking-flights:
          As the small airport in St John NB cleared out after people on our flight picked up their bags and left, I was sitting quietly reassembling my bicycle and touring gear. I eavesdropped shamelessly as a panicky young woman in a University of Toronto jacket approached the information counter telling them that her aunt and uncle hadn’t shown up to meet her and she didn’t know what to do. A few exchanges later I heard her raised voice, “Wait, you mean I’m NOT EVEN IN NEWFOUNDLAND??”

          I didn’t stick around to find out how that got resolved.

      5. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I have more than once managed to stop myself from booking a flight to Costa Rica instead of San Jose, CA.

        1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          That’s one where much like the guy who ended up in Italy rather than Florida I’d really be tempted to just stay there being “unable to book a return flight” for a few days.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        It was not. They were headed to a conference to pitch products. So they lost out on a lot of orders. This cost the company a ton of money.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yeah, and the admin was fired and marched out of the building. The admin’s question was “how can I get them to give me another chance?” and Alison’s advice was “shoot your shot but it’s probably not going to work.”

    6. BellyButton*

      Like the poor Brits who ended up in Sydney in Nova Scotia, Canada instead of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

    7. Red_Coat*

      Oh, I remember that one, lol. Reminds me of the time that due to a crazy winter storm, I got stuck in airport hell. A friendly ticket agent got me on the last flight to Manchester. It was stupid early in the morning, everyone was tired and grumpy. I didn’t notice until they asked for my passport that my ticket had gotten booked for Manchester, England and not Manchester, New Hampshire.

      I told my mom the next day that if I’d had a passport, I would have gotten on the flight and not made a peep about it.

      1. Toaster Oven*

        I had kinda the opposite problem once — I was trying to get from the US to Birmingham, England, during a big storm, and the ticketing agent rebooking my flight thought I was just being an idiot and so tried to book me to Birmingham, Alabama.

      2. Anonintheuk*

        I have an ex colleague who did not realise that the city of Genoa is called Genova in Italian, and it isn’t the same place as Geneva.

        1. londonedit*

          There was a mix-up a few years ago between some of my running friends, who were organising a trip to run the half-marathon in Lausanne. Except a couple of them managed to enter the half-marathon in Lucerne. Both in Switzerland, both races on the same day, but definitely not the same place.

    8. Anonymous professor*

      I used to work at Miami University in Ohio, and there was a story among the international student office about the time that a student called them after arriving and couldn’t find the staff that was meeting arriving students at the airport and bussing them to campus. Eventually after a series of calls back and forth (“they say they’re at baggage claim by door D”/”I’m in baggage claim, all the doors have numbers?”) they realized that the poor student had flown to Miami, FL instead of Cincinnati, not realizing where they were actually going to be studying abroad.

      1. Orv*

        There are various tales of international students at University of Washington (Seattle) thinking they were going to get to see the nation’s Capitol.

        Supposedly the state was originally going to be called Columbia, after the river, but they figured that’d cause confusion with the District of Columbia…so, they named it Washington.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It amazed me how many people mix those two up! When my mom and I visited England, I had to clarify “Washington, the state, the one on the west coast, above California” every single time I had to say where I was from.

          I did absolutely love the shop assistant who perked up like a sparkler and said “Oh! Fraiser! With the little dog!”

        2. Labrat*

          When I was a kid, there was an Ann Landers or Dear Abby letter about a boss who asked to be booked a flight to Washington (DC). He got a ticket to Somewhere in Washington state. Secratary said he didn’t give a city, so she picked one. As an adult I wondef if that was a joke.

          …Then I think about some of the stuff people pull.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      There are two Montgomery Streets in San Francisco, on opposite sides of town. Am out-of-town volunteer who was chairing a meeting for my former job once ended up on the wrong Montgomery Street. Fortunately, he made it to the correct location on time!

        1. Auntie-Sis*

          I only know Montgomery and New Montgomery and they’re,.. the same street just different sides of Market Street? If there’s another one, I’ve never heard of it in 30 years here.

    10. Glad I’m not doing this any more*

      I couldn’t use Indeed to find a job when we moved to Los Angeles bc it does not differentiate between Ontario, California (abbreviated CA) and the province of Ontario in Canada (also abbreviated CA in most job postings.) Gave up and declared myself retired.

    11. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My predecessor in my university departmental admin job once sent a guest lecturer to Mexico instead of bringing him to our university/town. I’m not sure how it happened, but it seems to have been a mix of English not being her first language and poor communication with the department head, as they had both become fairly frustrated and disenchanted with one another.

    12. BlueWolf*

      Reminds me of the story I heard about an (former) assistant at our company. The assistant apparently sent the boss to a meeting on the opposite coast, but the meeting had been canceled (presumably with enough notice to cancel the associated travel). Needless to say the boss was not happy to waste a day traveling for nothing.

    13. Not A Girl Boss*

      My employee is in a very prestigious global development program for our larger organization. She told me that she got her month-long travel trip assignment, and it would be to Melbourne. I was so excited and happy for her (although honestly kind of surprised because usually we don’t get to go anywhere cool) talking about her trip ‘down under’ and such for 3 weeks before she finally said “um… why do you think Florida is this exciting?”

    14. Middle Name Jane*

      Honestly? I have no patience for people who take no personal responsibility. Yes, the admin made a huge mistake. But the boss who didn’t check their own boarding pass or notice an airport screen or literally any other indicator that the flight was going to Naples, Italy or that the flight time was going to be much longer than a trip from Canada to the U.S.? The boss bears responsibility too.

    15. RedinSC*

      I almost sent myself to San Jose, Costa Rica, rather than California.

      Too bad, I’d like to go to Costa RIca one day! (The airline let me change my flight just after booking it, fortunately)

    16. Thank you for your email*

      On this theme, my husband once flew into the pretty small airport in Redmond, Oregon and was surprised that the airport serving Microsoft’s HQ would be that small.
      As he tried to organise a taxi he realised that he needed to get to Redmond, Washington and should have flown to Seattle.

    17. H3llifIknow*

      I *almost* did a similar thing. Heading to Riverside County, Ca to an AF base there. I was told “the nearest airport to fly into is Ontario, Ca.” Ok, so I start the booking process thinking “wow, my geograph is bad; I had no idea Ontario CANADA is close to California, at all!” As I’m booking the trip, I mention to my husband how crazy this is and he says, “ONTARIO CALIFORNIA do NOT BOOK THAT TICKET” and saved me from much embarrassment.

    18. Ace in the Hole*

      Oh no.

      This does make me feel better about the time I mistakenly sent a large shipment to Ontario, Canada instead of Ontario, California.

  2. Tuckerman*

    Excitedly ordered shrimp and grits at a diner in Charleston, SC for lunch while at a conference. Proceeded to get violently ill, lied in the grass until the next session. Now that I live in the South, I know what quality shrimp and grits should taste/look like.

    1. KBrooks*

      Oh no.
      I was just thinking of which business trip disaster story to tell, and yours reminded me of the worst: I got a stomach bug while attending a trade show. Realized I felt bad, so went outside the conference hall to get some fresh air. Then further realized I was about to puke — had no time to make it to the bathrooms, so vomited into a potted plant right outside the floor-to-ceiling windows in the main lobby of the hall.

      1. Yeep*

        ooh! Puking! Yes! I was at a conference when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. It was winter in DC so the weather was not terrible but the welcome reception was in a heated tent on a rooftop. The heat was super high and I started to feel a very familiar feeling coming on (soooo much puking all throughout all my pregnancies). I said something like, “Hah, I’ve heard this story before,” while my boss was talking to a group of guys, walked out, over to the rocks/landscaping, threw up, and walked back in. It was a delight.

    2. Tio*

      I got food poisoning during a vendor visit on an out of state business trip and missed a ghost tour I had booked for that evening out of pocket. I was also the only one who got sick because my food had been prepared separately due to dietary issues. My suspicion is that they made mine earlier and let it sit too long, but who knows.

    3. Wilbur*

      Ate the meatball dinner on a United flight from China, landed in the US and spent the next ~4 hours violently ill. Couldn’t keep any medication down to mitigate the horror. Spent the hour long connecting flight desperately trying hold it together. When my wife picked me up from the airport I was an empty husk, unable or unwilling to string together more than a few words.

      Also United lost my luggage.

      1. Princess Sparklepony*

        Your silver lining here is that it was on the way home. So at least you were able to go home and recuperate. It’s worse to be sick at the beginning or middle of a trip.

      2. Protoa*

        have you heard the song ‘united breaks guitars’?
        United broke a musician’s guitar, by handling it roughly while loading it, refused to compensate the musician, he made a song about it, United was suddenly willing to pay…
        But they still took a PR hit.

    4. noncommittally anonymous*

      I once got stuck on the East Coast for 3 days because of a snowstorm. I made my first connection, but then couldn’t get out of Raleigh to get home. The first night, I ate something in the airport that made me violently ill, so I got to spend the night in the airport while continuously running to the bathroom (with luggage!) and throwing up.

      The second night I went to the airport hotel, gave them a credit card, and said, I don’t care what it costs, get me a room!

    5. ArlynPage*

      I traveled to another country for a global meetup for my company. I was only a couple of years in, hadn’t met very many of the higher-ups or rest of the company, but I was extremely honored to be recommended by my manager to do a presentation at the global meetup about the software my company makes. I was so nervous about the presentation, and when I finally got to the meetup, I was SO jet-lagged; I’m well traveled but I was absolutely obliterated by the travel and the time change. On top of that, I must have had some bad sushi and ended up with violent food poisoning. I managed to stop throwing up enough to go to my presentation, got up on stage, and looked out to see that the audience was full, comprising not only the higher-ups, but also the DEVELOPERS who MADE THE SOFTWARE. I’m so glad that I practiced so much, because I think I blacked out and just went through the presentation on autopilot, trying my hardest not to throw up. I was told afterwards that it went very well!

    6. Marillenbaum*

      From my previous stint in university admissions: I was at a Very Fancy British Boarding School (think, Princess Margaret donated the science building). I was feeling not great. I get through the college fair and I think I just have to make it back to my hotel when suddenly…nope. In the middle of the glass-walled teachers’ lounge, during class change, I am suddenly, violently unwell. I was mortified!

      1. Frieda*

        I threw up in a hallway at a conference after getting food poisoning. Extremely kind graduate students from the school where it was held called someone to clean up and shooed me out the door, where I went back to my hotel and laid in misery for about 12 hours, being ongoingly sick. My partner eventually called the hotel front desk to see if there was any food available and I wobbled down the hall to get something to nibble on. Eventually I was able to drive to get takeout soup at a Chinese place.

        I’ve never been sicker. Had I been at home I would have had my partner take me to urgent care for dehydration. Awful awful awful.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        When it happens, it happens, ugh. I’ve seen and been that person and have only ever felt alarm and sympathy!

    7. Kc*

      On an international trip with ~ 20 subordinates, we ended up passing around some sort of noro virus that led to uh, problems at both ends. It was a nice location too where we had booked some fun excursions, but every day another group of people was sick. I ended up skipping the excursions, buying a case of Pedialyte and Imodium, and just handing them out to whoever was sick each day. Fortunately only one needed urgent care for dehydration, but it was the work trip from hell!

    8. Dog momma*

      And its not necessarily in a diner! But our little coffee shop derves, delicious shrimp & grits …only during Master’s week & A week at Xmas. Which reminds me I didn’t get any yet…

    9. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      Wasn’t a business trip, but was a chaperone for my kids elementary school tip to science camp. One of the activities was the neutral buoyancy pool…. And I had… um…. intestinal disturbances … right before we were scheduled for that.

      Needless to say, I did not go into the pool.

  3. Green Goose*

    At a previous job I lived in California but would travel to Colorado for work. On one of my first trips the temperature dropped about ten degrees and then started raining about two days into my trip. Even the rain was colder!

    I was severely underdressed for my work trip and I had to do a class observation in a portable building so I was soaked in ice rain shivering through the class.

    A bright spot is one of my Colorado coworkers drove me to a Ross after that class so I could buy warmer clothes for the rest of the week.

    1. Rocket Raccoon*

      Northerners love to outfit unprepared visitors. It’s like taking a baby kitten into the kitchen :)

      1. NutellaNutterson*

        I live in the PNW and have had to warn visitors to bring warm layers. My script is “Yes we’re visiting an island, and yes it’s late June. Seriously, bring a fleece, waterproof, and your warm socks.”

        I attended a conference that handled this beautifully by citing the “chilly air conditioning” in the conference center in their reminder/head’s up to bring warm clothes. It significantly reduced the number of people awkwardly wearing tourist sweatshirts!

        1. Rocket Raccoon*

          I have a friend in MA who works at PAX East every year and he makes a sport of recognizing first-year attendees by their lack of weather preparation.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL, I was totally ready for a typical New England winter this past year (my first in MA) and then we didn’t have one!

          2. Beancat*

            Another MA-er here who’s PAX-adjacent (different cons, haven’t made it to PAX yet unfortunately) and this is utterly delightful!

        2. Chick-n-Boots*

          Kind of the opposite but when I was in my early 20’s I used to live in an old WWII era building in Brooklyn that was totally charming and wonderful except for the radiator heat that went on in October and did not shut off until spring. We were on the 5th floor of a 6th floor building and it was so flipping hot in our apartment in the middle of winter, we’d often have the windows open. (There was no individual thermostat in any apartment – the heat was just on. Period.) When my mom came up to visit me for the first time it was December and she asked me what to pack. I told her all the usual cold-weather type things but said “bring shorts and a tshirt for hanging out in the apartment and sleeping.” She thought I was kidding. I was not. My roommate and I had to loan her some stuff to tide her over because as a person who is perpetually cold (and who thought I was kidding) she only brought fleece PJs.

          She loves to tell that story because the first night she stayed there, she woke up because she could feel snow falling on her feet. (We’d opened the window to try to manage the temperature before going to bed.) Outside in the city it was snowy, windy and freezing. Inside the apartment it was the tropics in July.

          1. NutellaNutterson*

            Fun fact! Radiators were designed to keep it warm enough for you to have your window open for fresh air!

          2. KerryBee*

            Same with my first place in New Jersey. It was like living on the surface of the sun. It regularly registered 89+ degrees inside during winter. We sometimes used to sleep with our window air conditioner running even in the height of winter since we both have asthma and couldn’t sleep with windows open. If I never live in a place with radiators again it’ll be too soon.

          3. WhyIsEverythingBananas*

            My first apartment after I moved out was leased by a Turkish PhD student. We had electric baseboard heat, and we live in a climate with VERY cold winters (one day my first winter here, our windchill was colder than Mars that day…). She would turn the baseboard heaters up to 38C and my boyfriend had to learn to layer with a Tshirt so he didn’t boil in my apartment in January. When she eventually moved out, I realized there was so much ambient heat from being an inside apartment on the second floor of 3 (apartments on 5 of 6 sides of me) that I NEVER turned the heat on for an entire winter…and I was still plenty warm.

        3. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

          When my parents visited me in Wyoming for the first time, I told them to bring a warm coat, warm socks, gloves, and a scarf because it might snow and even if not, the nights can get very chilly with the wind. They thought I was bananas because it was late June and did not heed my advice. First morning there, they woke up to snow and had to shiver their way to the nearest outfitter for something other than shorts and tshirts.

        4. goddessoftransitory*

          ESPECIALLY when said visitors are from a significantly warmer clime!

          Back in the day I worked in a tee shirt/sweatshirt store, and we sold soooo many sweatshirts to tourists from hot areas that were absolutely freezing. This was during mid summer where as far as we natives were concerned it was roasting, so ACs everywhere were blasting. Thus furthering their discomfort!

          1. Star Trek Nutcase*

            Works same in reverse. I tried telling Pennsylvania relatives to bring shorts, tees & bathing suits, along with some warmer stuff for their visit at Christmas. But nope, they just wouldn’t accept we had more really warm Christmases than cold here in north central Florida.

        5. Artemesia*

          The PNW is always likely to be chilly especially in the islands in Puget Sound. I make it a habit to always throw a set of silk long johns into my luggage and they take up no space but can make a huge difference in comfort in unexpectedly cool places (doesn’t take the place of wool socks and a rain coat but still). I am right now in Chartres where it is chilly and I spent last night till midnight wandering around cursing myself for not having those silks in the luggage which I ALWAYS do but somehow not this time.

      2. starsaphire*

        Northern Californians, on the other hand… well, unfortunately, we tend to just point and laugh.

        Yes, California is very warm and bright and sunny on TV. In the movies, California beaches are jampacked with bikini-clad sunbathers slathered in tanning lotion.

        And pretty much every gift shop on every pier of every coastal town north of Pismo Beach is fully stocked with $100 sweatshirts, which sell like hotcakes during our frequent foggy 55-degree summer weekends…

        1. Happily Retired*

          I used to work in the San Francisco and lived in the East Bay, and my commute took me over the Golden Gate Bridge. On July afternoons driving home, I enjoyed watching the tourists in their wife-beaters (sleeveless T-shirts) and tiny sundresses, blue with cold, walking across the bridge as the fog rolled in from the Pacific.

          Meanwhile, employees wore puffy parkas.

          1. Lily C*

            I grew up in SF. Spent many summer days as a teen hanging out on the beach in a down jacket with hat, scarf, and gloves. I used to bring my dad’s old army entrenching shovel so my friends and I could dig ourselves a windbreak to hang out in.

          2. ypsi*

            I have a different story (unrelated to business travel).
            Each year in early October, there is a big gathering of people with greyhounds (the dogs, not the buses) in Dewey, Delaware. I attended it one year and even though it was an overcast day, it was very warm and humid. So of course we (being Canadians) wore shorts and short-sleeved Tshirts and were amused by folks from California who shivered badly in all layers they had brought on this trip (even their greyhounds had winter jackests on!).

          3. Forrest Gumption*

            Not trying to be snarky, but why were you driving over the GG Bridge if you lived in the East Bay? GG Bridge is the gateway to the North Bay, whereas the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge is the gateway to the East Bay.

            1. Happily Retired*

              The East Bay goes quite a bit north and south from the Bay Bridge. We lived in Point Richmond, just off the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. So I drove GG and RSF bridges.

              The Bay Bridge gets you to Oakland/ Berkeley, and I’d then still have to trudge along 580 home. I tried it a few times and thought I’d blow my brains out.

              I worked at the VA. So I went home through Sea Cliff *drools*, then GG, then 101 up through Marin, then Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, then home. Random: there were times that I simply couldn’t merge onto the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and wound up driving all the way up and over San Pablo Bay, just so I could keep moving.

              People who don’t have commutes into major metropolises and/or geographically-restricted cities don’t know what these drives are like! I bought a ton of Great Courses CD’s to listen to along the way. Ask me about the Vikings or music theory, I dare you!

          4. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

            San Francisco is one of my favorite places to visit in the summer for exactly that reason. It’s a lovely change from 115F temps and unrelenting sun.

          5. AFac*

            The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco.
            -paraphrased from Mark Twain, who apparently never said it

          6. Dog momma*

            yes, many years ago, I took mom on a vacation going up Highway 1 in Cali. we took warm jackets and sweaters. As we were told people wore winter coats in SF ..in Aug. .And found this was true.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              Yep, my cousin lives outside of SF, and she posted family pics of a trip into the city where they were all wearing sweatshirts in late June.
              I did a trip where I went from Boston to AZ to San Francisco (for a wedding), and had to pack basically every kind of outfit I owned to cope with the weather changes.

              1. Maisy Daisy*

                That’s like the time I went to Anchorage in June for several days of vacation before the annual meeeting with upper management for four days, then to Las Vegas for a five-day business confernce. I needed casual clothes for the cool and rainy weather for the vacation and then bussiness clothes for each day of meetings. The Las Vegas weather was 100 degrees+ but business casual-ish. I packed as much as I could for work and conference that could go to both and mailed the rest of the Las Vegas clothes to Anchorage. The Anchorage casual clothes and work clothes not for Vegas were mailed back to my office. It worked.

          7. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            I used to live on the coast a ways south of San Francisco, but worked in Palo Alto. I would complain about the summer heat every now and then.
            “You moved to California!” said my friend (living near San Jose).
            “I moved to SAN FRANCISCO!” I would always clarify.

        2. Popscicle*

          That happened to me at a conference in a late summer heat wave in the Ozarks in the early 90’s. The gift shop $40 long-sleeved polo ($85+ now) seemed too expensive; but I finally caved, wore it in every air-conditioned session, and still have it today. In that case the price reflected the quality.

        3. lyonite*

          One summer evening we were meeting up with some of my husband’s friends who were visiting from Canada. We were near the coast, so it was cold and foggy of course, and I made a comment about being able to recognize tourists by their brand new San Francisco sweatshirts. Then we went outside, and the other couple put on. . .their brand new San Francisco sweatshirts.

        4. L'étrangère*

          There was the summer where a French friend’s sisters insisted on coming in August, then ignored her FIVE urgent, expensive long-distance phone calls urging sweaters. Fortunately they were Frenchly thin so the community pulled together a wardrobe of sorts, but there were daily discussions and unlike a normal August the sun only peeked out twice in the entire month of potential afternoons. She ended up having to drive them to LA the last weekend so they could go home suitably sunburnt and avoid the humiliation of coming back from California looking more palely Parisian than before they left

        5. Princess Sparklepony*

          Used to live in the SF Bay Area. Going into SF during a heat spell was always funny. SF residents don’t really own summer clothes. The outfits you would see….

          But when the fog rolls back in… it’s cold, even in the summer.

          I miss the sight of fog rolling into the city. It was impressive, it actually does roll. (Or at least it used to.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Santa Cruz was the same way. You could set your watch by the fog — out around 11 am, back in again around 5 pm. In between, it would be warm, but as soon as the sun set, you needed a jacket.

            One year at Christmas while I lived out there, MO had a cold snap and my family were all really mad at me when I said I was walking around in a t-shirt.

        6. Cedrus Libani*

          I’m in the San Francisco area, and we definitely have to warn the visitors…it may be August in California, however within the city limits it’s London in November, pack accordingly. Some believe us, some end up with a new $100 sweatshirt.

          We also sometimes have to talk them out of a day trip to Los Angeles. It looks super easy, it’s only halfway down the state (and a mile is only 0.6 km, right?), but it’s a LONG day even if you just take a selfie with the Hollywood sign and immediately turn around.

        7. Ace in the Hole*

          I’m in coastal california, way up north. Used to work at a shop popular with tourists. I loved the reactions when someone complained about the cold and I informed them that we were actually in a heat wave.

      3. Alex the Alchemist*

        Yeah, last fall I was at a friend’s wedding in Colorado and their MIL had arranged a pre-wedding hike for everyone and provided extra sweatshirts for us Southerners who didn’t think to pack any. It was wonderful.

      4. KaciHall*

        I was in college in Indiana, and we called the kids from down South frozen peaches. By the beginning of October you could tell who they were, because they’d be walking to class wrapped in a comforter. Apparently at campus visits (over the summer) some of the tour guides told students that they wouldn’t need coats until after October break because it didn’t get cold until then.

        1. Dog momma*

          We’re from WNY. so know all about the weather. But we moved south 8 years ago. and visited family there once in Oct with a nice Indian summer in the low to mid 70s. Luckily brought jackets but were freezing the entire stay. Another time came the beginning of June? ,anyway, during the lilac festival & stayed on Canandaigua Lake. I noticed right away the daffodils were still blooming. Uh oh.. And definitely no lilacs yet. We damn near froze.. Furnace didn’t work in the little house ..we only had a portable heater. Terrible!

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      See, this is why, whenever I go anywhere, I pack clothing suitable for everywhere between Barrow and Bimini. People laugh at me and my giant suitcase, until they’re stuck in a heatwave in a normally cold place or a cold snap in a hot place. Or searching all the tourist traps for phone chargers, antacids, extra socks, etc.

      1. SarahKay*

        I live in the UK, and usually holiday there also, so holiday packing will always include at least one warm sweater, probably two.
        For my fortieth birthday I had a week in Saint Lucia, with a weather forecast of 28-30 C (84-86F) the entire week.
        I had a reasonably warm jacket for the travel, but dear god, the mental effort involved in not packing at least one warm sweater was almost beyond me.

        1. BubbleTea*

          In fairness, you need four seasons worth of clothing in a single week in the UK, holiday or not.

            1. sarbah77*

              As a Michigander who just got back from a trip to Liverpool…. we ain’t got nothing on their weather swings!!

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yup. Every time I go to Florida, it immediately becomes rainy and cold, in spite of 80+ degree forecasts. So I always bring all my Florida sweatshirts and fleeces I had to buy the first few times I was there.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Hee, this reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon where a woman is writing a postcard saying “Once again, Alma, our arrival has ended the drought of the century.”

      3. Artemesia*

        Because of a horrific experience a dear friend of mine had on a plane 35 years ago I never fly without in the bottom of my carry on a change of clothes and it includes a very light weight pair of pants and t-shirt to save weight and space — it has more than once been a life safer when the place I visited was unexpectedly super hot and the rest of my clothes designed for expected weather were too warm.

    3. Ms. Murchison*

      Ha, being under-dressed on a work trip is so frustrating. I went to New Orleans for a work conference one summer and packed for the weather forecast. I had no idea that folks there keep the air conditioning cranked up so it’s 60 degrees indoors. I was shivering the whole time and there was no opportunity to run out and buy a sweater. Everyone else complained about the humidity outside but I couldn’t wait to escape the convention center at lunch every day!

      1. Shannon*

        I did the opposite – I live in the south and traveled to Rochester, NY for a few weeks in January. I was so excited – finally I’ll be able to wear real sweaters! I didn’t realize they run the heat so high that they can wear short sleeved polos in winter. I was roasting inside!

        1. AFac*

          When I moved back east for school I was lent a giant, waterproof, wool peacoat by a relative. I had to give it back because while it was fine for outdoors, it was too darn heavy to lug through the halls of my university every day.

          I also lived in the dorms, and after Thanksgiving the heat was so high we all slept in tank tops and shorts. Which meant a rush to put additional clothes on every time there was a 3am fire alarm.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This happened to me at the sci-fi con I went to in 2022. Blazing hot summer, so of course I didn’t bring a jacket. I was in the freezing-cold panel room all day for two days and I had no time to run out and get something. They had these thin long tables with three-sided cloths on them — the second day, I finally just took the damn thing off and wrapped myself up in it.

        1. Ms. Murchison*

          I did bring a denim jacket “just in case” and it was completely inadequate against southern AC. I wish it had occurred to me to do something like this.

      3. Artemesia*

        I did some work in both Singapore and Kuwait — and both places, but especially Singapore had AC that would freeze ice. It is an otherwise warm and muggy environment. Sitting in those super cooled rooms was miserable.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      Meanwhile as a Chicagoan who’s traveled to San Francisco a few times in February/March on business and pleasure trips, I still found SF to be uncomfortably cold and damp, even when escaping subzero temps in Chicago. None of the layering I’m used to made it very pleasant.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I was going to say cold in a humid place is worse than colder temps in a dry place, but I assume Chicago is quite humid, so I’m curious about why SF was so much more unpleasant for you. I’m sure a weather or climate expert could explain it. But it does go along with my belief that you can’t safely pack for a trip based on temperatures alone.

        1. starsaphire*

          It’s hard to explain, but San Francisco cold is like… cold from the inside out. Like, your *bones* feel cold.

          Lifelong northern Californian here, and yeah, it’s a different kind of cold.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Meanwhole, as someone from the UK who lived for many years in the Bay Area, San Francisco’s damp fog seemed practically balmy to me compared to UK winters!

            I did always enjoy spotting the tourists in their shorts and over-priced sweatshirts. Apparently there’s a vending machine at the airport which sells Patagonia fleeces to well-heeled visitors, too.

            1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

              Similar, but from Alaska. I don’t think I used my apartment’s heat more than twice in the years I was living in the Bay Area. It was a welcome change from Arizona.

          2. Arglebargle*

            I love San Francisco and have a lot of friends there and love to visit but I always say there is NO WAY I could live there because 45 degrees in San Francisco is SO MUCH COLDER than anywhere else. Once I was so cold I put on every article of clothing I had brought with me and got under the covers of my bed. I even checked my temperature because I swore I was having chills but nope. It truly IS cold from your bones. The only other place I have found that is in New Orleans. It’s HOT as heck there in the summer but the winters? 40-50 degrees and damp and miserable.

            1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

              Where I live is similar. It’s very humid and damp here, so the summers are brutal and the winters just miserable enough to be offensive. If I’m sweating my behind off in 70F indoors in summer, why am I now shivering and can’t get warm in 70F indoors in winter? The weather outside it doesn’t even have the decency to get a proper winter temperature yet I’m somehow colder here than when I lived where it got 20 below.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                I despise humidity more than any other type of weather condition. My sister lives in Maryland and is always trying to get me to visit in summer (she’s a teacher and has time off then.) No, thank you! You can NEVER get cooled off–it’s like living inside a giant dog tongue.

                1. EmmaPoet*

                  I’d prefer the dog tongue- it would come with a dog, at least. DC area humidity was hell on earth for me.

        2. Popscicle*

          I’m not sure exactly how it works either, but it’s so true. I left Kansas City, dressed appropriately for the 15 degree (F) weather and was chilled to the bone in the same clothing in the 45 degree fog in San Francisco. Winter (or cold temp) humidity is a whole different thing than summer. (Insert Mark Twain quote here.) Chicago’s humidity is more a summer thing, though some lake effect weather systems may cross seasons.

        3. Clisby*

          The only time I’ve visited Chicago was in January – I was living in Charleston, SC, at the time and went to visit friends. It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, what anyone from Charleston would call humid. I had to buy some heavy-duty moisturizer at a drugstore because I felt like my skin was all drying up.

            1. Cheshire Cat*

              One time when I visited my sister in Chicago in September, she let me know that they were experiencing a heat wave and I should pack accordingly.

              I live in the South where summer isn’t over until October, and the temps in Chicago were about the same as they were at home. The humidity was lower than at home, too, so it was quite pleasant for me. Unlike other visits where I froze in July because of the wind!

          1. Artemesia*

            I retired to Chicago and it is dry in winter. I have issues with dry skin and I have to slather myself with moisturizer every day not to be an itchy mess — and in winter we run humidifiers in the bedroom and living spaces and go through gallons every day.

        4. RabbitRabbit*

          Agreed with the other commenters. Chicago can definitely be humid, and I checked – we’re actually on average more humid during winter months (?!) than warmer ones but you do need hardcore moisturizer in winter to deal with lizard skin popping up. SF just felt way more damp and bone-chilling.

          1. Martin Blackwood*

            Keep in mind, cold air holds less moisture than warm air! so its probably a similar amount of water in the air.

        5. Kristin*

          people SAY this but having experienced a damp -30 in Montreal and a dry -30 in Winnipeg, both of them suck

          1. Not a Vorpatril*

            Once you get notably below freezing, humidity is not longer really a factor (probably because it effectively has to freeze out)

            That being said, my wife and I appreciated our time in Montreal where we broke an outdoor thermometer, which was obviously deficient for not being able to cope with sub -40 temperatures.

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            I’m not sure how you could have “damp -30.” At that temperature the air barely holds any moisture even when saturated.

        6. Aspirational Yogurt*

          Typically, the colder it is, the drier it is (not a perfect scale but generally). Chicago is very humid in the summer but not so much in the winter. And though SF is much warmer than Chicago in the winter, the dampness feels unpleasantly cold.

          This is a thing that people don’t realize about coastal California generally, how chilly the winters can be because they are damp. My SIL moved to San Diego last year after growing up in Minnesota and living in NY for 10 years. She complained about how cold the winter was. In SAN DIEGO!!!

        7. Quill*

          In Chicago winters it’s routinely cold enough that if there was any humidity at all, it would be snowing. So staying dry and sheltered in 20 F in Chicago keeps you out of the worst weather, while at 40F in California mists you will never feel warm again.

          1. Sad Desk Salad*

            There’s a train station in the bay area that hits exactly in that not-so-sweet spot that it can be full sun and 60F and I’m shivering my face off and my Reynaud’s has rendered my hands the color of highlighters. The next stop on the train might be 10 degrees cooler but it doesn’t make you feel like you’ll never be warm again.

        8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          According to a wilderness EMT I once chatted with, the highest number of hypothermia cases are not from subzero situations (where most people have the good sense to stay indoors, or at least bundle up) but from 40 degrees and raining, especially for people who started out in 40 degrees and sunny and got caught in the rain. Cold fog isn’t going to be quite as bad as rain, but it’s still pretty bad – wet skin loses heat MUCH faster than dry skin. (It’s why when you’re swimming, you feel FREEZING when you first get out of the pool even if it’s 90 degrees out.)

          Apologies to non-Americans. 90 is about 32 C, 40 is about 4 C. “Subzero” in Fahrenheit means below about -18 C.

          1. Juicebox Hero*

            Yep, my brother-in-law ran his first Boston Marathon in 40F rain/slush and wound up in the hospital being treated for hypothermia, and he was far from the only one. He was prepared for the temperature, but not the wetness.

            My sister had a lovely chat with a nice man in the waiting room, who was also waiting for a hypothermia patient to be released. The nice man was Wycliffe Grousebeck, majority owner of the Boston Celtics. She doesn’t follow NBA basketball so she had no idea. Upon finding out, my BIL darn near had to be hospitalized all over again from the shock XD

        9. Laura*

          Chicago isn’t humid in the winter though. It might be chilly (mid 50s-mid 60s) and humid in the spring or something, but it’s not humid when it’s at peak winter.

      2. Madame Hardy*

        “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Often attributed to Mark Twain, but not his; author unknown.

      3. Princess Sparklepony*

        Just for you!

        She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair
        Life without care
        She’s broke and it’s ok
        Hates California, it’s cold and it’s damp
        That’s why the lady is a tramp

        California especially Northern California can be damp. Also, the residents pride themselves on not turning on the heat during the spring/summer/fall even though the temperatures drop quite significantly when the sun goes down. “Just put on a sweater…” Hey, how about you put on the heat!

    5. kim*

      I also traveled from California to Colorado for a conference only to be caught off guard by the weather. I even checked the weather beforehand! It was supposed to be in the low-to-mid 60s. It was instead extremely windy and then later in week it snowed. I did not have a suitable jacket or shoes. Fortunately the conference was downtown on the mall and I ducked into a Ross – possibly the same Ross!? – to get a couple pieces to tide me over.

      I was an exhibitor at the conference and at the booth next to mine in the exhibit hall was a guy from Alaska; he found me HILARIOUS.

    6. MsMaryMary*

      Years ago I had a business trip from Cleveland, to Denver, to Sioux Falls, SD, and back within a work week. It was 70 in Denver. It was 70 when I arrived in Sioux Falls. Then the temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight when a storm blew in. It was a full prairie blizzard and the warmest clothes I had was a wool cardigan. The car rental return was outside and I seriously thought I might get lost in the storm walking to the airport. Obviously, my flight was cancelled and I managed to get the last open room at the airport hotel. I spend the night snowed in before being able to leave the next morning.

      I also double checked my ticket and hotel several times to make sure I booked them in Sioux Falls, SD, not Sioux City, IA to avoid the Naples/Naples situation.

      1. MendraMarie*

        At least Sioux Falls / Sioux City are only about a two hour drive apart. Not that that would have helped in the storm!

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Grew up in Sioux Falls. Can confirm that is an entirely normal prairie weather pattern. Though a “full prairie blizzard” would likely include windchills below zero (F). To this day, the world record for fastest temperature drop belongs to South Dakota (though on the other side of the state), where once it dropped 58 degrees F in 30 minutes.

    7. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      Attended a two-week course at a rather well known university near San Francisco. The lecture hall was dreadfully cold as the cleaning staff always set the AC as cold as it would get.
      After two days, they got what you get when you put 40-odd engineers in a room: A technical solution to a social problem. We simply put the thermostat to a less frigid temperature and stole the knob so they couldn’t freeze us again. (We reinstalled it on the last day, of course).

    8. Mid*

      Oh Colorado. It’s not uncommon to go from 70°F to 30°F to 70°F again in the span of less than 48 hours. I tell visitors to always pack for all four seasons, regardless of the time of year they’re visiting. One fun Christmas had us in the high 60s all week, and then a 45° temp drop leading to a blizzard in less than 12 hours.

  4. HonorBox*

    Not mine exactly, but I was party to it. At a work conference many years ago, a friend came up to me during one of the breaks and asked how many beds I had in my hotel room. I told him I had two, and asked why. He explained… He and a colleague “Joe” (who was married) from another business had agreed to share a room for the conference, and Joe told him that a female friend from a neighboring town was coming to visit and they were definitely going to hook up, so my friend should make himself scarce, because there was a zero percent chance that this hook up wasn’t going to happen. My friend asked if he could crash on the second bed in my room so he didn’t have to make things even weirder than they already were. I agreed of course, and have side eyed Joe ever since.

    1. AVP*

      oh my god!!!!

      $50 it didn’t happen in the end anyway and Joe brought this upon himself for nothing.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Once she realized that she wasn’t worth the price of a hotel room? Yeah, “I told my roommate to make other arrangements for the evening” stops being a flex sophmore year of college.

      2. A Poster Has No Name*

        Or it didn’t happen and Joe planned it that way all along so he could have a room to himself.

        1. HonorBox*

          People knew who she was, as she had been to conferences as an attendee previously. And if I remember correctly, my friend had to run up to the room to grab a few things early in the evening and they were in there already.

      3. Leash Witness*

        While I obviously (and thankfully) wasn’t there to know for sure, I think I’d be taking your $50. If I remember correctly, the female friend confirmed enough the next day to a couple of people I know.

        1. HonorBox*

          Damn. Wrong username… had changed it to comment. But yes, I am almost certain it did happen.

          1. HonorBox*

            Also compounding matters, I got a stern talking to from some female friends for “enabling cheating.” I told them I was just helping out a friend because he was put in a really terrible spot.

            1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

              Gosh, yeah, it sounds like the cheating was going to happen regardless, and it’s just a matter of whether your friend was stuck IN THE SAME ROOM.

            2. Nonanon*

              Hate it for a couple of reasons, up to and including you don’t know what the relationship is like, and the parties involved might have a more open relationship than you’re aware of.

              1. allathian*

                Regardless of whether it’s open or not, it’s none of my business. Sure, I wouldn’t lie to cover for a cheater if their spouse contacted me full of suspicion about the sleeping arrangements, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell the spouse unless they’re a close friend and I know for a fact that their marriage’s supposed to be monogamous. And even then I’d risk losing a friend for “shoot the messenger” reasons, but I’d rather take that risk than the risk of losing the friendship when the spouse learned about the cheating from someone else and learning they were the last to know about it.

            3. Star Trek Nutcase*

              FFS when will some women stop assigning any responsibility for cheating to anyone other than one(s) in committed relationship/marriage. My focus is on my spouse or SO who made vows/promises – it’s anyone else’s responsibility to monitor or making cheating difficult.

    2. Green Goose*

      The audacity!
      A former coworker of mine was studying to get her MBA while working and one part of her MBA was an international trip that the cohort went on and when she came back the stories she had.
      People blatantly cheating on their spouses, and she said one person literally left the trip to go be with an ex and then just showed up the last day at the airport to go back home with everyone.
      She had gone their to learn while a lot of people went there to go wild and misbehave.

      1. theothermadeline*

        “Married But Available” is an alternative definition that I unfortunately learned about while in business school

      2. CommanderBanana*

        I worked at a very small association that ran a very large annual conference (think 10,000+ people and I’m sure it’s grown since then) and that kind of stuff happened. All. The. Time.

        1. Artemesia*

          I think I got hit on at every professional conference I went to till I was about 45 — and I was married and so were they all. It never stopped surprising me.

    3. Saturday*

      What the heck, Joe. If you’re gonna try to hook up during the conference, you need to get your own room!

    4. Chick-n-Boots*

      Oh hell to the no. I’d have told Joe that if he needed to hook up with that old friend so badly, he could get himself another room. There is no way I would have gone along with that.

      What a jerk!

  5. Pink Candyfloss*

    I was traveling to a conference with my whole team including boss. I was a very late inclusion due to management oversight, so I booked super last minute, and when we arrived at the hotel I was told the block was full and the room I had reserved wasn’t available. My boss offered to put me up at the Red Roof inn down the street from the lovely resort conference hotel – and just then the hotel manager told me they’d be updating me to the Presidential Suite at no extra charge. So in my case, it paid off! My boss was openly jealous; that alone was worth the aggravation.

    1. FuzzFrogs*

      The nerve of your boss! I hope you discussed the Suite in front of him as often as possible, both during the conference and afterwards.

      1. Phony Genius*

        I like to think that the boss discussed the Red Roof Inn in front of the hotel manager hoping to get a result like this, since the room was reserved and unavailable.

          1. Lab Boss*

            They’re a pretty bare-bones chain hotel. In my experience they’re seldom BAD, if I have to book a hotel to do literally nothing but check in, sleep, and leave in the morning Red Roof can be a good choice, but they’re not where I’d want to live out of throughout a conference.

            1. Curious*

              They allow you to bring your dog for free, so if you are driving on vacation, they can be a reasonable choice.

            2. Clisby*

              That’s how I’d characterize it. I’ve stayed in them (and similar on long road trips, and usually they’re OK for what they are – a bed for the night.) I wouldn’t want to stay more that that, just like I’m not booking a Marriott so I can check in, fall into bed, get up in 6 hours, and be back on the road.

          2. Sleeping Panther*

            They’re a budget hotel chain. The last one I stayed at was fine for a graduate student trying to attend a conference on the cheap, but was much lower-end than the hotel where the conference was hosted or the sort of hotel business travelers would use.

          3. Hannah Lee*

            It’s what my pet loving friends refer to as The Red Woof Woof Inn.

            Because though it’s not fancy and it can range from bare bones to very run down, it’s pet friendly. So if they are traveling with their dog, and doing a road trip, they can book rooms there an know they won’t have issues when the go to check in.

          4. I Have RBF*

            Red Roof Inn is what I’d call a traveler’s hotel, where you get off the highway, check in, eat, sleep, get up, shower, breakfast and then go on to the next. It’s no frills, but sometimes they have a free breakfast. It’s not a place to stay for several days unless you are cheap, or it’s the best thing in the area. It is in the same class as Motel Six, Comfort Inn, Vagabond, La Quinta, Days Inn, etc.

          5. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

            I just stayed in one in Dallas TX for the eclipse. It earned all two of its stars, but also there was peeling paint, rust in the bathtub, and hair in the corner that definitelty wasn’t ours. But they did hand us a paper bag with treats (chips, granola bars, fruit snacks, a water bottle) which was weird but appreciated. AND, a full sized fridge!

        1. The Rafters*

          I think maybe he wanted the resulting Presidential Suite, but thought somehow that he would get it.

        2. Ex-Teacher*

          I like to think the boss is a known jerk, and the hotel employees noticed that the boss was being a jerk and gave the upgrade as a way to stick it to the boss.

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      I love it. Boss trying to be petty and you wound up in the Presidential Suite instead. BTW, always wanted to know what one of those is like.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Evansville, IN, the night before the eclipse. They called my husband a few days before and asked if he wanted a free upgrade to the Presidential Suite from the regular room Mr T had reserved months ago. He said yes and I was very excited to experience this fancy room.

        When I saw the room, I remembered Oh RIGHT we’re in Indiana! We’re not at a resort. We’re not in an expensive hotel.

        There was a sitting room, but it there was no more furniture than in a regular suite, so there was a ton of space between the sofa and the TV. Like – I would have wanted to move the sofa closer to watch TV.

        The bathroom was enormous – but it was just a stretched-out bathroom. There was the regular microwave and fridge plus a bunch of cabinets and drawers. I guess if you had to stay for weeks, it would be nice to have the space to sprawl and cupboards to put food, but the only thing presidential about it was that is had a lot of square footage. Nothing was even gilded.

        That said, it was fine. We had a great view of the flight line next to the hotel. We were in the corner, so it was quiet (except for the airplanes). And the hotel staff did a great job with fun eclipse treats, including Moon Pies, Starbursts, and bakery cookies decorated with eclipse themes.

        1. Vice president sweet*

          We got a “presidential suite” like that one time, and we joked about how it was OBVIOUSLY for the presidents of cheap nonprofits (like the kind we worked at at the time) not, like, actual presidents of actual countries.

        2. Just Another Cog in the Machine*

          We stayed in a regular room at a “fancier than we normally get” hotel in Fort Wayne the night before the eclipse (we traveled another hour to see the eclipse the next morning). What we ended up with was needing to pay $8 to park in a nearby, unaffiliated parking garage (other choice was $25 for “valet” parking) and no mini fridge in the room.

        3. BW*

          Are you me? We checked into a Hampton Inn in Avon, IN for the eclipse. Our room wasn’t ready, so they “upgraded” us to a nicer suite. It was exactly as you described. Nice, clean, and way larger than normal, but not a presidential resort. We were there for a week, so it was very comfortable. No eclipse treats, though.

          On a different note, I remember the conference I attended where EVERYONE got food poisoning except the vegans. It’s been 25 years and people still talk about it.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          I splurged once at the Radisson in Branson, MO for a sci-fi con and got myself a suite on the VIP restricted floor. It was a lot like this. The toiletries were nicer, and there were twice as many towels, with a separate room for the toilet and shower. Plus, there was a giant round tub in the main bathroom, but it was surrounded by mirrors. (No, I do not want to look at myself climbing in and out of the tub, ergh.) It was very nice, but it would have been more fun pretending to be a mini-celeb if I hadn’t been by myself.

          I love that they gave you eclipse-themed treats. :)

        5. goddessoftransitory*

          Back in prehistoric times when I was wed, we booked a room in a very nice local historical hotel for our big night (we were starting our honeymoon the next day.)

          The room was nice but SMALL. Like, it was a dollhouse sized room or one of those tiny houses but stuffed inside the hotel. The bed was big and luxurious and took up almost the entire space–there was like, one foot square clearance around the edges so you had to kind of shimmy alongside it to get in. It was only that one night so we didn’t care that much but man, for what they charged…

          1. nottechnos*

            I’ve stayed (intentionally) in a Carrie Nation like that. The room had no closet, or appliances, or bathroom, but it did have a big brass bed and just enough to shave and dress.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            There is/was a tiny motel at Rehoboth Beach in DE with a “honeymoon” room like that. I’ve never slept on such a big bed in my life.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I mean, I appreciate the tacit acknowledgement that it was indeed the honeymoon suite!

        6. Princess Sparklepony*

          Reminds me of the time I got upgraded to first class on an airplane. It was a very small airplane. The only difference from coach was the location of the seat and the glass of champagne. Same chairs, same pitch, same recline.

          It was a flight of about 30-40 minutes. But hey, it was First Class! We had a laugh.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Delta “upgraded” me to Comfort Plus on my 25′ flight from Seattle to Vancouver (BC). It was slightly nicer than a regular seat, which may have been noticeable has the flight been longer.

      2. MechE31*

        We booked a presidential suite (on credit card points) at a higher end hotel in Orlando. It was 2 floors with the upstairs being a master suite, the downstairs contained a great room with a full size dining table and a couch/tv area, a kitchenette, a 2nd living room which converted to another bedroom and a connected room that was optional that looked like another standard hotel room.

    3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Surprised the boss didn’t demand you switch rooms with him so that he could enjoy the Presidential Suite.

    4. Sweet Suite Life*

      Sweet and also Suite!

      I have a similar story from many years ago. Our org — a nonprofit but the boss I worked for had delusions of grandeur — was putting on a conference in a sunny resort destination in January. I was told to arrive early the day of the conference rather than two days before in order to save the org money. Unlike my boss and his favorite, who somehow just *had* to go down two days before.

      I showed up and my room reservation wasn’t there. My boss refused to answer both my calling him AND the hotel front desk calling him repeatedly.

      The desk clerk said they were very booked up but they could get me into a room for the night IF I put it on my own credit card and allowed it to be charged so my org could reimburse me. Now, a) resort hotel = $$$$ b) January = extra $$$ c) my finances were still so bad after a nightmare divorce that I couldn’t afford to put even one night’s stay on my card years later.

      I almost burst into tears at the desk explaining why I couldn’t and that my boss had the only corporate card. The meetings staff were too busy putting out other fires to answer the front desk calling them AND the front desk manager wasn’t answering the clerk’s calls. (The meetings staff thought my boss would take care of it and apologized profusely when they heard he hadn’t.)

      So the clerk made an executive decision to hold the card info but NOT charge it, to make notes in the system and talk to their manager when they could find them, and get me into “a room we have available right now.” That way I could change and go staff the first session I was scheduled to be working in two hours.

      As they put it, “This would be simple to sort out if SOMEONE would answer their PHONE.”

      My boss deigned to ask me after that session “Oh, did you sort your room out? I got all those messages but I was busy.” (Busy working on his sunburn, from visual evidence.)

      “The front desk was SO nice! Since YOU didn’t call them back and they couldn’t sort it out with YOU as the only corporate card holder, they put me into a suite because they felt so SORRY for me,” I said sweetly.

      That upper-floor ocean-view suite was almost as big as my apartment, had a balcony with an uninterrupted view of the ocean, sported a Jacuzzi tub and chocolates on the pillow every night, etc., etc. As in, way above what I could ever have afforded on my very nonprofit salary even with our discounted room block rate.

      The boss and his favorite were stuck in staff rooms facing…not the ocean. They both sulked the entire conference about how could I have been upgraded that way. Too bad not sad.

      1. Artemesia*

        I love the stick it to the boss story. I once once upgraded when I arrived quite late to a conference where I had a speech the next morning. I ended up in a sort of multi-level town house suite — quite elegant and lovely. And I managed to break a toe on a marble pillar that sort of extended at the bottom and so the next morning I could barely wedge my now purple to the ankle foot into a shoe and limp to the venue. And then there was the endless walk to the gate at the Toronto airport. These days I would have figured out how to get some assistance, but I was young and shouldered through.

    5. Napster*

      I’d been with a company two months, went to a conference, had to stay at a Red Roof Inn (boss’s choice). Would have quit upon return but I needed that job. Glad you didn’t have to stay there, even more glad that your upgrade caused the boss consternation.

    6. RedinSC*

      Oh man! I had to actually stay at the Red Roof when this happened to me!

      Everyone else was at the Opry Land hotel resort conference center place and I was down the road and across the street behind the Waffle House at the Red Roof. Hahahahahaha

  6. Llama fan*

    At a conference, the last speaker before lunch droned on and on and on and on for over an hour past his allotted time. Meanwhile, the tuna salad, egg salad, and potato salad, all with a copious amount of mayo, were sitting out being uneaten and unrefrigerated. Half the attendees got sick that night. Starting the following year, they had a rule that when lunch arrives, they cut the speaker off and eat right away.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      URGH I had something similar happen at an Awards Dinner. Food was already eaten thank goodness. But the room we were in was reserved for a group right after us. So we had a hard stop. The keynote speaker kept telling these long stories. he would stop one and then say want to hear another one. We literally all shouted No. he kept talking. Meanwhile the next group was waiting out in the hall for him to shut up so theyc ould get in.

      It was so rude of the keynote.

      1. noncommittally anonymous*

        I, personally, have pulled the plug out of the projector when a speaker went 20 minutes over his allotted time. He kept saying, “I’m almost done! Just one more minute!” and then just kept talking.

        1. Cats Ate My Croissant*

          I used to work backstage at a receiving house – mostly touring plays coming in for a week, but occasional one- or two-night comedy acts. One of these was Ken Dodd who was NOTORIOUS for over-running, to the point where the crew had a betting pool on how far he’d go past the alleged close of show. Sadly I wasn’t there at the time, but on one occasion the stage manager got fed up and dropped the curtain, whereupon Ken just stepped around it as it descended with nary a pause in his rambling.

      2. Skippy The Wonder Admin*

        Fortunately no food poisoning in this one, but the keynote that went on. and on. and on. and on. was the organizer of the conference and the grand high lord of the organization. First thing in the morning. I was making frantic wrap-it-up gestures from the back and… nope.

        The carefully balanced schedule for the whole day exploded. Lunch was an hour late, and since lunch delivery came at the scheduled time and set up and I didn’t think to intercept them and get the stuff in the refrigerator, the sandwiches went out and then everyone picked up lunch on their way to the next panel. Which was better than letting the sandwiches sit, but at that point nobody knew what was going on or when.

        Everyone seemed to enjoy most of it, fortunately, but we won’t be working together again.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      It may have been a food poisoning incident but I doubt it was due to the food being left at room temperature for an extra hour as such.

      1. She of Many Hats*

        Catered food is usually prepped off-site and transferred to the meeting. If the caterer was across town during the summer, and didn’t have a refrigeration unit in their vehicle, it could have been more than two hours since the food was at proper temp. Add in the factor that many caterers use DoorDash or Uber to deliver the goods and you have even less control over food temps.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Maybe, but room temperature food that is supposed to be chilled is really hard to choke down. We keep our food on ice and chilled until the speeches are actually done because in the summer a lot of events are held outside. Warm salads and sandwiches with flies buzzing around is an appetite killer. We temp the food all through the process and it can warm up to the danger zone in less than an hour.

      3. Winstonian*

        I agree. And that’s from multiple experiences of eating room temperature egg salad sandwiches and devilled eggs (definitely out for more than an hour).

      1. beware the eggs*

        Cooked eggs actually have a very short shelf life. My husband found this out the hard way when he ate a breakfast sandwich that he left in his work bag for an hour or two. His sister has an MPH and confirmed that eggs are a high risk if left at room temp for long.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Yep. My grandfather was a preacher who took a new assignment every 5 years, and there’s a legendary story from one of those cross-country roadtrip/moves where he insisted that the family would eat egg salad sandwiches while on the road… but the cooler was not sufficiently cold and the car eventually reeked of sulphur. I’m pretty sure no one ate the sandwiches and my famously frugal grandparents were forced to buy food. I never saw my father eat egg salad. (I like it, personally, but I wasn’t crammed into a station wagon with my 5 siblings and two parents and forced to endure the smell for hours.)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Butter, apparently, can be left at room temperature for no more than four hours–that’s the maximum cutoff.

          1. Bethlam*

            Wow, not at my house.. I don’t like hard butter, so the current stick is left out until it’s gone. That can be anywhere from 4-7 days.

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              I use a butter bell with water in the bottom. But when full summer hits, then I have to put it in the fridge.

            2. Dog momma*

              Bethlam, that’s the way mom did it. but we live in the South, so it totally melts. and yes we use AC in the summer lol. I buy spreadable butter and leave it in the fridge..problem solved!

          2. allathian*

            Not true. Butter needs to be at slightly below room temperature to be soft enough to use as a spread. My grandparents kept their earthenware crock of butter on the table all day and only put it in the basement at night (the earthenware helps keep the butter a bit cooler). They had a fridge, but it was very small for the size of their family, so they only kept extremely perishable goods, like milk, in it. The basement had an earthen floor and maintained a fairly stable 10-15 C (50-60 F) temperature year round.

            My grandparents had a homestead in the country, and because everyone had a basement/cellar to keep things cool, most households there bought a chest freezer before they bought a fridge.

          3. Artemesia*

            Wow — we never refrigerate our butter unless it is really hot. Lived to tell the tale so far.

          4. londonedit*

            What? That’s why butter dishes exist, because traditionally (before fridges became commonplace, and even after that) people didn’t refrigerate butter, they just kept it in a butter dish and that way it was always spreadable. Then again this is Britain where you can usually (barring freak heatwaves) count the number of days a year where it’s over 25C on the fingers of two hands.

          5. Distracted Procrastinator*

            The point of butter was to preserve the cream. If it could only last 4 hours at room temperature, then it sort of defeats the purpose. Butter is fine for days at room temperature. It can oxidize which changes the flavor a bit, but that’s why it’s kept covered. It does not “go bad” if left out for a few days.

          6. Ace in the Hole*

            That is untrue, and also very strange advice. Butter needs to be at room temperature to be used, otherwise it’s too hard to spread. From the USDA:

            “Butter and margarine are safe at room temperature. However, if butter is left out at room temperature for several days, the flavor can turn rancid so it’s best to leave out whatever you can use within a day or two. Margarine, especially soft tub margarines, can separate into oil or water and solids when not kept refrigerated although it will be safe.”

            In other words, you never need to refrigerate it for safety. You might want to refrigerate it for longer-term storage to keep it from getting a weird taste.

      2. FL*

        Bacteria multiplies really quickly outside of the food-safe temperature ranges, so if there’s just a few little e. coli or whatever floating around in there, they could become a big enough colony to make us sick. I learned the hard way not to partake of crockpot buffalo chicken dip that had been sitting around lukewarm for a few hours after a potluck lunch…

      3. ferrina*

        It’s not decomposition that you worry about, it’s bacterial growth (even microscopic). As soon as you get a food into the danger zone (40-140 F) bacteria starts growing. It grows at different rates on different foods.

        Some of the most dangerous foods are- cooked potatoes, potato salad/tuna salad, cooked eggs, sliced melons.

      4. run mad; don't faint*

        There’s also all the time it took to make them and plate/box them to factor in. I knew someone whose job was food safety at a huge convention venue. He said that explaining to people that they couldn’t have 10,000 sandwiches just out and waiting until the conference was ready was a common part of his job.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Refrigeration has to be one of THE biggest game changers in our perception of how reality works ever. Like, right up there with mechanical clocks and the internal combustion engine.

          In the US, at least, the idea that food cannot be kept “fresh” indefinitely comes directly from the idea that we can habitually buy fresh items and keep them cool, consistently, and the proper temperature to inhibit bacterial growth. That notion is much, much more recent than many people realize even in America (the cliche’ of grandma cooking meat dry as a bone, for instance, came from making sure your meat was cooked all the way through because of uneven refrigeration technology distribution.)

          So ironically, being so used to food being kept “good” for days means people have a far shakier sense of how short a window they have once something is out of a climate controlled environment.

      5. fhqwhgads*

        2 hours is generally how long it’s still safe. Unclear how long it’d been refrigerated prior to being visible in the room. Doesn’t mean guaranteed sick after 2 hours, but the potential increases exponentially over time with two hours being the “it’s going downhill absurdly fast” mark.

        That said, not-shitty catering shoulda had that stuff in trays over ice on the buffet. Not just sitting there.

    3. Mztery123*

      I don’t even understand why they serve tuna salad, and egg salad at a buffet like this. Asking for trouble.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, obviously not everyone can have sandwiches, but there are buffet lunch options with much less potential for disaster!

    4. LCH*

      over an hour past his allotted time? someone should have cut him off regardless of the food. WTF.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Or people should have quietly started to leave. We used to have a yearly orientation. The pizzas would arrive and the grandboss would keep droning on as they slowly congealed.

        1. Oh, just me again. . .*

          But a battery could be even better, if you could just time the amount charge on it to the time allotted to the speaker!

    5. whyblue*

      I was on a business trip to Paris with my then boss (we are German). We were meeting clients in several suburbs, so we decided to stay in the city and take the train out. On one day, the train service was suspended half-way to our customer, so we had to switch to a cab. The driver was wearing a purple suit.

      We show him the address we want to go to. No problem he says. A few minutes into the drive, we notice he is going back to the city. We ask him about it. No, he says, he knows where he is going. We look at Google maps and we’re pretty sure he does not. After much discussion, he finally says he thought we were trying to get to a street by the same name in the city.

      At this point, we are running half an hour latenfor our meeting, so we decide to stick with the driver rather than trying to find another taxi. Henturns around and heads towards the suburbs.

      Pretty soon, we notice he is not following thebstteet signs to our destination. No, he says, he knows a better way. More discussion ensues as we drive through what feels like the deep countryside, hardly a house in sight. The discussion abruptly comes to an end when he turns a corner into a cul-de-sac.

      At this point, my manager, never a calm person, is screaming blue murder and jumping out of the car, wanting tontake a different cab. Only that we are now in the middle of nowhere and about an hour late to our meeting.

      Eventually, I manage to make him get back in the car and webtell the driver to follow our Google maps for the rest of the way. Eventually, we get close to our destination, but the driver refuses to drop us of in front of the company headquarters and stops about a block away.

      Then the haggling starts. Obviously, we are not willing to pay for the city tour and the scenic drive he gave us. The driver insists on us paying full price. The haggling gets heated and eventually my manager jumps out of the car, screaming blue murder, and runs away.

      I am wearing a skirt and heels. I couldn’t outrun a snail in that get-up, so I stay and keep arguing with the driver. He threatens to lock the door and take me the police station, so I jump out. He gets out his phone and tells me he is speaking to the police. I ask him to hand me the phone, because I would like to speak to them as well. Turns out he is on the phone with a friend. Eventually, we settle on an amount. I pay and walk to the customer’s building.

      In the lobby, I run imto my manager, who apparently went to get our client to help us, only he didn’t tell me. He yells at me for paying anything at all. Turns out later, the amout I paid was less than the fare should have been, had we taken the direct route.

      Moral of the story: Never even trust a driver in a purple suit. Also, it pays to know foreign languages.

      1. Artemesia*

        I had a business trip to China and brought my husband and we ended with a brief personal stay in Hong Kong. There is a sheet they gave us at the airport explaining cab fares, how much it should cost and that tolls are only charged into not out of the city to the airport.

        On our return to the airport the cabbie starts complaining about traffic and then the heavy tolls he is paying and I KNEW — so when we got there I told my husband ‘I’ll pay, you guys get the luggage out’ and I stood on the curb digging in my purse for the money — so when the guy said 400 whatevers for a ride that should be 200 whatevers. I told him I knew that the fare should be 200 and handed him that and when he started making a fuss I told him to call the police. He drove off.

    6. I Ain't Eatin' That!*

      Once more for the folks in the back. Mayonnaise was invented to preserve eggs. It will become transparent without chilling, but it doesn’t go bad easily. It wasn’t the mayo that went bad, it was the tuna and the eggs.
      In this situation, why didn’t people leave at the appointed time? Surely they weren’t chained to their chairs.
      In Pastor Labelle’s comment the participates were complicit in the speaker’s rudeness. Get up and go, people.

  7. RIP Pillowfort*

    Okay so I had a conference last year in Washington State. We stayed at this very posh art hotel. Hotel itself was lovely. Everything regarding travel was perfect. Conference was so great.

    But the entire floor I was on was dedicated to boob art. They had them in the hall, my room had drawn photos of boobs, etc. I was not expecting it.

    1. Leash Witness*

      This made me think of a somewhat related experience! I was in DC for meetings along with a number of other business leaders from my community. The hotel we were staying at was hosting some sort of sex convention. The “meeting room” they were using was draped off well so it wasn’t obvious what was going on, but as I was checking in, standing right next to my Mayor, we saw a couple leaving the “meeting room.” They were both dressed in skimpy leather outfits and she was leading him through the lobby on a leash. The Mayor looked at me and said, “What the F— is going on here?”

      1. Morgana*

        I attended a conference at a mouse-themed hotel known for families, think princesses in the lobby. Our conference was medical ethics, with meeting rooms throughout the buildings featuring happy, upbeat titles like “When the Baby Dies – Neonatal End of Life Issues.” Coming out of a presentation into the “happiest place on earth” was a trip. It was also hard to find cafes or hall space to have the side-line conversations. What were they thinking?

        1. Cease and D6*

          That’s hilarious, and I have to know why it happened. Aren’t those ‘Mouse Themed Hotels’ typically quite expensive? Why did the organizers choose it?

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            I looked into a Disney hotel as a potential conference venue once and can confirm they are incredibly expensive even if you’re getting a group booking discount. However, if the conference was primarily aimed at doctors, the organisers could have assumed they would be less price-sensitive than other types of attendee.

        2. Yeep*

          I was at an indoor waterpark resort in the Wisconsin Dells over the winter (not my choice, thank you) and the conference they were hosting was a conservative Christian values conferences including titles about porn and what to do if your child is gay.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Coulda been Land! Been to conferences at both.
            Dolphin/Swan, no thanks.
            Grand Californian, fine by me.

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              I like Land so much better. We used to go on vacation and stay at the Candy Cane Motel that was pretty much across the street as I remember. Very down market. I think it’s been bought out and redone as an expensive motel now.

        3. goddessoftransitory*

          I would guess someone thought “these are such heavy issues; let’s make sure people can distract themselves in a good way!” without realizing how tonally jarring it was.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            Or were the doctors bringing families and the location gave the spouses and kids something to do during the conference?

      2. AMT*

        Was it the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit? I’m a therapist and was a speaker at that conference a couple of years. It’s usually held in the DC area (Alexandria, if I’m remembering correctly). It’s a big, strange mix of people—sex therapists, coaches, educators, disability activists, religious leaders, leather folks, drag queens, pretty much anyone you can think of who might have an interest in sexual freedom.

      3. New Jack Karyn*

        That’s so rude of the couple. The public had not consented to be a party to their stuff.

        1. Thinking*

          IDK. I need to think about this, thanks for making me do that.
          I mean, I don’t consent to people’s clothing loudly declaring their political beliefs. Or deliberately loud cars and motorcycles drowning out the TV in my living room. But society is clear that both groups are allowed to do those things.
          This feels a little different, but is it? They are actually “disturbing” me less than the loud noise is.
          Thanks again, I’ll be over here arguing with myself.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        I know people who’d think that was the breast work trip ever. I’m sure it made for some lifelong mammaries, though I guess RIP Pillowfort would have liked art with bra-der appeal. I hope the windows were at least good for birdwatching – you know, tits, boobies, hooters…

        Yes, my inner child is a 12 year old boy.

    2. Meow*

      I was actually on the other side of this one, but I used to go to some smaller, local anime conventions, and so they’d usually rent out only half the hotel. Which means invariably, someone else would rent out the other half. So you’d be dressed in a costume with armor – or an enormously poofy dress – with a wig that goes down to your ankles, maybe even a fake longsword. And then you’d turn the wrong way in the hallway and find yourself in the middle of a medical convention. Elevator conversations were always fun.

      1. Meow*

        Whoops, this was supposed to be a top level comment, but it ended up as a reply. Oh well, tangentially related I guess!

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I once went to a library conference and the other half of the convention center was an adult entertainment conference – a fair number of librarians wandered over to that side of the convention center but I didn’t notice any adult entertainers coming over to check out the librarians. Another small conference and there were 2 other events at the same site – Mary Kay (lots of attendees wearing pink) and a cheerleading competition (lots of teenagers in cheerleading costumes and their parents).

        1. BubbleTea*

          I feel that second one could have been intentional – the cheerleader to MLM shill pipeline.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I picture pink Caddys, cruising like sharks through the parking lot–“Mary Bell! That one, with the orange and purple pompoms! She’s perfect!”

      3. Minimal Pear*

        Back when I went to anime cons I know we shared the conference center with some kind of Greek heritage festival and a gardening show on two separate occasions!

        1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

          The local Greek church and the synagogue shared a large parking lot. When Greekfest happened it was always well attended from the other side.

      4. ursula*

        My industry has an annual conference that happens in a different city every year. For 3 years in a row our event coincided with a furry event in the same hotel! I have to say, they were honestly great? Super friendly, great vibes, everybody clearly having a good time and living their best life. I’m not a furry but I walked away from these experiences thinking so warmly of that community! Lifetime furry defender over here.

        1. Anonymous Industry Scientist*

          That happened to me as well. Everyone was so nice, but I one hundred percent refused to explain to the very staid VP at my company why there were people in the elevator with him wearing giant animal costumes. I am just not touching that with a 6 foot giant raccoon costume.

      5. Kesnit*

        My wife and I are pagan, so had a pagan ceremony for our wedding. We had the wedding at a hotel – and next to our room was an evangelical Christian women’s event. (We don’t think they noticed…)

        What was noticed was all the people in costume. You see, our wedding was Halloween themed, and everyone was told to come in costume. The entire wedding party was in Renaissance garb. I saw a woman frantically pushing the elevator call button when my best man, groomsmen, and I walked through the lobby. (The best man and I were wearing swords. One groomsman had a 6-foot staff. And my 6’3″ brother-in-law was wearing a full kilt.)

      6. Tupac Coachella*

        I went to a horror movie convention that split space with a Christian ladies retreat. Got my own biases checked when I saw two of the ladies’ retreat participants politely approach two of the celebrity guests at the bar (one of them a *very* well known person in that community but not particularly well known outside of it) to share that they were big fans and request a photo, which was happily obliged.

      7. Buffy*

        My favorite shared convention experience was the simultaneous occurrence of:
        -a nerd convention
        -a teen beauty pageant
        -a Tuskegee Airmen reunion

        (I was one of the nerds)

      8. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        I once attended a Transformers convention where the adjoining conference hall was hosting a home improvement showcase convention thing for professionals. While my friends and I hung out in the lobby, we started trying to guess who coming in was going to which convention. Not as many people cosplaying back then, but we got a surprising number of them wrong.

      9. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        I’ve had this happen as well.
        I was at the comic con but to get from my room to the con floor I had to walk through….. the Methodist convention.
        Though there were some very lovely older women who were excited to get my picture for their grandsons.

        Then there was the year the con took up the whole center…. except the big theater type room that they’d rented out for some local college’s graduation.

      10. I Have RBF*

        Oh, I know of worse.

        A Red Lion airport conference hotel. A smallish pagan convention, sharing the hotel with … a very Christian fundamentalist MLM group. What a mess.

      11. Artemesia*

        I was at a conference in Charleston and my husband and were surrounded surrounded by small children in pageant costumes. We got on an elevator with two older women and a little toddler boy all kitted out like a lothario in a little tux and slicked back hair (all but the painted on mustache). My husband said ‘you have a fine little gentleman there. And the two older women with him — guessing grandmother and great aunt then answered in baby talk for the child ‘Thank you kind sir’ — we contained our laughter until we got off the elevator.

      12. Anonymous Industry Scientist*

        One time a scientific conference overlapped with the Bronies. Another time, there was a fandom convention in the same center. There were quite a few scientific attendees who bought one day passes to the fandom convention (including me…)

        It was less positive when the oil and gas industry convention overlapped with the scientists.

    3. BikeWalkBarb*

      I think I stayed in that hotel for a conference several years ago. Is it in Tacoma? Must have been on a different floor as I don’t remember the boobs.

      I do remember noticing that the list of artist names was 100% men. Gosh, no women artists available to feature in a hotel with *25 floors* and a different artist on every floor? How strange. If they don’t rotate the art that gives you additional insight into the theme on that floor.

      1. RIP Pillowfort*

        It was in Tacoma so it’s likely the same hotel. They may not have had the display several years ago because the main artist featured for the boob floor was a woman! So that has improved!

        1. linger*

          It’s maybe not so much of an improvement, as they seem to have literally chosen a female artist for her boobs. Unless she chose the theme to match their attitudes. Or unless there was some unifying concept for all the artists’ commissions. In which case there could have been a more startling theme a few floors down.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      I went on a trip for a professional development program a few years back and the hotel was obviously going for a certain kind of hip vibe. Exposed concrete ceilings in the rooms, no lighting in the room good enough to be on a zoom call, a glass window from the bedroom into the shower (and past the shower to the toilet), and a minibar that included condoms and a vibrator.

      Since we each had our own rooms it was just kind of funny and the attendees joked about it a bit but it was no big deal. But it was kind of weird for a work trip.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Sounds like the work conference I went on to a hotel in Florida, where a younger coworker brought along her similarly-aged brother to enjoy the beach and bars. They shared a room (two beds) but the shower was the type with the big glass window into the rest of the hotel room. They saw that, winced, and mutually agreed to pointedly look the other direction when it was shower time for the other.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Whyyyyy with the glass doors? Even alone I would feel very exposed (not in the good way1)

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            So you can see who’s creeping up on you with a knife dressed up like his mother!

    5. SpaceySteph*

      I have to know if this is Hotel Murano, because I stayed there on the floor with art entirely dedicated to phones of various eras.

        1. Siege*

          Ha, we had our organizational convention there in 2019 and I don’t remember any boobs, but I was cracking up – the lamps in the bedrooms were all different colors of glass, and mine were red, which gave the room a certain ambiance! Also, call me sheltered but it was the first time I’ve ever seen condoms and other aids in the mini bar. Quite honestly, I would bring my own if that was why I was there; I can’t imagine trusting something like that regarding expiry date and quality.

            1. Siege*

              Mini bar doesn’t mean refrigerator only. In higher end hotels, in my direct experience, the mini bar includes drawers with goods you wouldn’t want to refrigerate, such as candy bars and condoms.

    6. Salsa Your Face*

      Oh! I was at a similar hotel in Florida, once. It seemed very much like the kind of place where business travelers might stay, except all the artwork and sculptures were…labial.

    7. E. Chauvelin*

      I and several fellow members of the award committee I was on stayed at a hotel at a library conference several years ago where all of the floors had themes. Because none of us had opted out of the “scary movie floor,” a bunch of us were on the scary movie floor. When the elevators opened they said “Here’s Johnny,” Amityville Horror house in the hall, etc. The rooms were normal, although apparently there was one suite that went along with each floor’s theme. Not bad but part of my streak of unintentionally finding the weirdest hotel at any conference. I’d picked it because the restaurant sounded good.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        One of my friends had to take a work trip into Olympic National Park. She was happy to stay in the park, but her employer insisted on booking a hotel room in a nearby town. The town was Forks, WA. The hotel was the Pacific Inn. The room was the Twilight-themed room.

        She was so mad, I kept getting ranting texts from her along with pictures of all the Twilight posters and decor she had to endure. By the time she fell asleep, I was laughing so hard I was hiccupping. She refused to let her employer book a hotel on subsequent trips.

        1. Beka Rosselin-Metadi*

          That is hilarious! I would easily have been texting about how angry I was and laughing at the angry texts.

      2. saf*

        My sister got married in the Catskills, at a ski area. The recommended hotel was the Roxbury motel.

        Just looked it up, and prices are MUCH higher now than we were then. And I am glad we got the chance to stay in the star trek suite! And to see so many of the other rooms, as most of them were occupied by family.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      For a convention in Atlanta, my material-handling engineering company was in the same hotel as a Furry convention.

      I had never heard of Furries before. And I was in an elevator with a grown man dressed in a purple squirrel costume, with his tail draped over his arm.

      1. Thegs*

        Good old Furry Weekend Atlanta (FWA). The last time I was there was… 2018? My fursuit with stilts was still in good condition back then, and I had a friend who was 6’6″ and we were quite the hit with all the tipsy business people in the lobby bars. I would have joined them for a drink, but stilts and alcohol don’t mix!

      2. Tinkerbell*

        Dragoncon in Atlanta (which encompasses five host hotels, 12 ovverflow hotels, and regularly draws 60-80K sci fi fans) always ends up with a significant number of football fans there for the big game that always falls on the same weekend. Unfortunately, many of the football fans never learned “cosplay is not consent,” so every year we have trouble with non-Dragoncon attendees getting handsy with young women in revealing costumes :-/

    9. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I’ve stayed there! In Tacoma? I, too, was on the boob floor, and I loved every minute of it. I was just afraid to walk across the lobby with all the glass art! It was beautiful, but I’m a real klutz.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      My goodness! This is like the next to last episode of Fallout in hotel form!

    11. JJL*

      That reminds me of a story my dad told me, he was on holiday with my older brother and stopped in a tiny town at an antique hotel that was now run as a cafe. They were the only customers at the time so while my dad was outside on his cellphone, the owner offered my brother a tour of the hotel. Which was all well and good until he found that every room had vintage pinups and erotica hanging on the walls!

  8. HonorBox*

    Another minor story, but one that still makes me laugh. I was at a conference in Vegas in the middle of July. In order to keep things cool enough in the meeting rooms throughout the day, the temperature was set to 60 degrees. People were FREEZING. We inquired about adjusting thermostats and were told that it wasn’t possible. So the facility staff brought in table cloths for people to wrap around them like blankets.

    1. Auntie Social*

      A similar situation is how I learned to bring one “opposite” piece of clothing when I travel. Brought a coat to the Vegas hotel and that’s how I stayed comfortable while the rest of the room froze.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        I pack a large scarf in my bag. I don’t have to carry it around separately. It has kept me warm more than once in freezing conference rooms.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I have a lot of $5 “pashmina” scarf/shawls I’ve bought on the street. I love those things. I think pashmina is the Chinese word for polyester. But they are soft and warm but light and can really take a beating. Wash well in the machine and you can even put them in the dryer. They come out fine. I think the price has gone up though.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Pashmina wool is made of cashmere, the undercoat of the the Changthangi goat. The word “pashmina” has been co-opted to refer to a large draped scarf that can indeed be polyester, which is probably what you have.

            I have a true pashmina someone at an old job gave to me. She got it as a gift and never wore it and passed it on to me. I’ve used it as a blanket on airplanes. It’s amazing.

      2. anon24*

        I don’t travel often and when I do I travel light, but I always have a hoodie with me, no matter where I go. If I’m flying I wear it to save space in my carry on, even if it’s the middle of summer. Gives me a comfort item that smells familiar to bury my face in at night and saves me if I end up somewhere unexpectedly cold.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        My wife is an astronomer, and she always says you can pick out astronomers on the flight to Hawaii (there’s a major telescope on top of Mauna Kea on the Big Island) because they’re the ones carrying a parka.

        1. Spring*

          My family went to Hawaii in the summer when I was 10 or 11, and I was surprised at how very cold it was when we went to Mt. Haleakala to see the sun rise. Fortunately my dad, the planner, was not at all surprised, and we all had parkas with us on that trip for just that purpose. It was beautiful, BTW.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Did the same – being from Chicago and traveling there in cooler weather, we were acclimatized to colder temperatures. We didn’t spend extremely prolonged periods on the top but having packed windbreakers helped tremendously.

            1. Bronze Betty*

              Same here. From Michigan, and we didn’t pack parkas, but we did have warm hoodies and several layers.

            2. Siege*

              I was in Spain in 2001 at Christmas, and it actually snowed in Valencia. So all the Spaniards were freezing and wrapped up in giant overcoats and I was wearing a fleece vest because I was coming from the UK at a Canadian latitude and it was merely chilly to me. It probably also helped that I drank a lot of sangria because it vastly improves my Spanish.

      4. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I’m always cold in air conditioned rooms. I always have a sweater. (including non business events like just going to the movies in July.)

      5. AnonAnon*

        ALWAYS!!!!!! I was on a trip where the heat broke AND they never switched the bedding to winter so it was a thin sheet on the bed, no comforter. I was able to sleep in my hat and gloves and use my coat and large shawl as a blanket.

    2. aspirational yogurt*

      This happened to me at a conference last year in South Florida. When I saw the guy from Ireland get up and return with his parka on. I knew it was COLD and not just me possibly sitting directly under a vent or something.

    3. why do people make the choices they do*

      I checked what 60F is in Celsius (about 16C) and yikes, that’s definitely jacket weather. I wouldn’t leave the house without long pants and a layer or two at that temperature. I have not spent a lot of time in countries that are warm enough to need air conditioning, but is there a reason places do this? I mean, it makes no sense to deliberately have a room that cold no matter what the temperature is outside, doesn’t it? Especially if people will be mostly sitting around rather than walking, like they might in a mall or something.

      Is it bad design? Incompetence? Money saving? Some kind of status thing?

      1. Jack Russell Terrier*

        It happens everywhere and is a constant mystery. I live in DC and swear it’s hotter in winter than in summer. On and off, are articles in The Washington Post about it – people bringing space heaters into the office.

        1. Spring*

          NYC used to be like this, but after the 4 day blackout of a huge swath of the east coast of US and Canada in the early 2000s, buildings stopped being air conditioned to freezing levels. It was so much more comfortable, and I was glad to not freeze indoors in the summer anymore.

          1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

            I remember that blackout, a lot of business kept their lights half off for months afterwards because they were already over-brightly lit and they saved money.

        2. CommanderBanana*

          I HATE IT. I have to dress for 3 climates – the Metro, the walk to/from the Metro, and the office.

      2. HonorBox*

        It can be related to the design of the HVAC system and whether or not there is control for separate spaces. So in this case, it was probably likely that in order to increase temperature in the one meeting room, they’d be doing it for all areas on that floor, and there may be a lot more activity in the service areas. Then to reverse the temperature if it gets too hot later in the day, it takes quite a bit of time to even things out.

        Also, if I’m remembering correctly (this was 16 years ago), the hallway outside of the meeting rooms had large windows and there were doors that led out to some sort of patio. So the exterior heat (my shoe soles melted on the concrete that trip) was something they were trying to balance against.

      3. ADD hoc*

        Partly it’s cultural (history of AC being a status symbol, even if it no longer is), partly logistical. A large space full of (even stationary) human bodies will warm up a lot. So they crank up the AC before the people arrive and keep the thermostat low. You might notice a movie theater being cold when you walk in, but chances are that you don’t notice it by the end of the movie, because a bunch of humans have warmed it up over the course of the showing.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          I wore a fleece blanket on my overnight tech support shifts in Arizona. There were just a few of us, so the temperature really never got warm enough to be comfortable. Someone from Facilities explained to me that if they had it at a comfortable temperature overnight, the inherent lag in the climate control would mean it would be much too hot by mid-morning and the system would be playing catchup all day, which is not where you want to be.

      4. A CAD Monkey*

        Basically the temperature is set low to offset the body heat from the conference attendees and heat from electronic devices. This typically means that to have a “comfortable” temperature of ~72F (22C) for 1000+ people, the thermostat get set to COLD and left there. It’s not the ideal scenario, but the alternative of allowing the individual areas to adjust temp costs a lot of money and comes with more maintenance issues.

      5. The Prettiest Curse*

        Hotels in the US generally keep their air con very chilly for conferences. The excuses they’ve made to me (an events person) when I’ve asked them to turn it up include:
        1. The room will warm up over time as it is populated by people.
        2. The weather outside is warm so they have to keep it cool inside.
        3. It keeps people from falling asleep after lunch. (They would keep it cold and people would fall asleep anyway.)

        Hotels in the UK are kind of the opposite, since we’re a countey less into air conditioning. I did an event for 200 people in a hotel ballroom this week and had to ask them to make it cooler because it was getting stuffy. I never had to do that in the US!

      6. Some Words*

        It keeps attendees awake. Warm and comfortable can easily lead to drowsy and nodding off.

        1. Future*

          I just can’t believe that. There’s a massive range between so cold you need long pants and a jacket and so warm people are nodding off. Also, if people nodding off is genuinely a big problem I don’t think it’s really the room temperature that’s at greatest fault!

      7. Dancing Otter*

        They haven’t gotten out of the mindset of men in business suits needing it cooled until they are comfortable, and to h*ll with anyone else.

      8. run mad; don't faint*

        It’s to combat the rising temperature outside and also to combat the temperature rising when the hall fills up with people. I think the crowds interfere with the flow of air, so the room gets/feels warmer.

      9. JustaTech*

        Vegas is notorious for being extremely over-air conditioned. Part of it is to keep you inside on the casino floor, because when you step outside in July you’re going to turn around and go back in because it’s like 110F outside. (I once burned my arms leaning on a railing to take a picture in Vegas in July. Do not recommend.)

      10. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I think a lot of it is tradition and a lot of it is a misunderstanding of how thermostats work. A correctly set thermostat already takes into account the heating of a room as it fills up. That’s what it’s for. it doesn’t measure the temperature of the air going into the room, it measures the temp of the room itself. If the room warms above the set temperature, the system will turn on and cool it down more. it makes no sense to over cool a room because people will make it warmer. of course they will, that is why we have thermostats. So when that happens, the system will turn on and send more cool air. 68 would still make the room feel cool, but not make people feel like they need to dress in winter gear.

      11. goddessoftransitory*

        A little of each. When AC first became a thing for buildings and businesses, they were set for the comfort of men wearing three piece suits made of wool, and often that just never evolved. It was also a status thing, and a selling point (like movie theaters advertising ICE COLD AIR, a real draw in a boiling hot city.)

    4. ADD hoc*

      That is how I got my “AC hoodie” that says “Las Vegas” in sparkly beads. Living in Texas, I have a lot of use for it.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Had a similar experience in Phoenix last September. I went out to the 100+ sunshine between every session.

      1. HonorBox*

        I wasn’t as uncomfortable with the temperature as some were, but I definitely took advantage of the Vegas heat during breaks.

    6. Heather*

      Yup. Went to a training in Alabama. We were told it was a bit chilly in the classrooms. I took that to mean wear sleeves. I had to go to Costco the first night and buy layering clothes because it was so cold inside. In my feedback, I told them they should be telling people the classrooms are in the low 60s so people can dress appropriately.

    7. Nightengale*

      I went to a conference in Phoenix Arizona in September, along with most of my department. Everyone kept talking about how hot it was going to be. I tend to run cold and insisted I would be cold.

      I was cold. Many of us were cold. Sure, it was 120 outside but we were barely outside. It was 60 inside. I had worn layers but was still chilly and survived by filling my water bottle from the hot tea urn.

      I was in a medical training program and one of my supervisors went back to her hotel room during the first break, got the blanket off her bed and came back to the sessions wrapped up in it. I considered doing the same, but she already knew almost everyone there and already had a job. I knew I might need a job from someone in that room someday and needed to come off as mildly eccentric at best (rather than my flamingly neurodivergent self.)

  9. Pivot*

    In a former life, I directed a student support service with a staff of college students. Wanted to take them to an upcoming conference, but all travel has to be paid by employees up front and reimbursed (usually months later). I hardly expected my students to pay up front, so I paid for rental car, hotel rooms, conference fees, etc. myself. Drove a van with students and show up to a hotel that, while a reputable chain, has seen better days. It was filthy, so I had to argue with the hotel for a refund while ALSO booking additional rooms, all on my card, at 11 pm. It was so stressful – there has to be a better way.

    1. redwinemom*

      I always check the reviews for hotels – even when it is a reputable brand.
      And I don’t use the hotel’s own website for those reviews….. I fear that they would remove the negative reviews. (I tend to use Tripadvisor)

      1. CatMouse*

        A friend who used to work for a business that bought/sold hotel properties told me to look at photos of the sidewalks and parking areas. If there’s grass/weeds growing through cracks, you probably don’t want to stay there as they probably don’t pay attention to details when handling maintenance and cleaning either. Don’t know how valid it is, but since I now only stay at places with maintained sidewalks and parking areas, I’ve never been disappointed with the interior!

        1. vito*

          Well, I work frond desk at a hotel and the grounds are GORGEOUS. The rooms…not so much. the rooms are tired and the owners do not want to put the money in to upgrade. so looking at the conditions of the grounds might not help.

      2. Ms. Murchison*

        I used to always use AAA books to find clean, safe hotels. Unfortunately, the AAA website uses a mishmosh of reviews and its harder to shop for the ones that legitimately have the AAA star rating. I really ought to see if they still make those travel books with their own hotel reviews.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I thought AAA was really stringent with their reviews. Don’t they have a team that anonymously reviews hotels for their awards?

    2. Anon for this*

      I’ve been in academia and in corporate, and that’s one thing that just blows me away. In grad school I made $18,000/yr and had to occasionally book tickets to Europe (from the US) and hotel rooms for a conference, and then get reimbursed months later. Making ten times as much now, I get a corporate card and my boss checks in to make sure I’m getting reimbursed in a timely manner and they urge me to put appropriate purchases (technical books) in the development budget. It just continues to bother me…

      1. Sleeping Panther*

        My grad department offered professional development grants for job interviews, internships, conference presentations, etc., and while you received the grant far enough in advance that you could use it to pay for travel, you got a maximum of $500 for domestic travel and $1000 for international, either of which barely covers airfare if you’re lucky. I got an internship in North Macedonia, and my professional development grant did cover my airfare, but flying from Texas to the Balkans and back on the cheap will give you a pretty brutal itinerary. My return trip involved spending 36 hours on planes, in airports, or in an airport hotel, and I wasn’t allowed to take my checked bags with me for the overnight layover.

      1. Yeep*

        In the meantime, I run vigilante offering up my travel card to any students I find out are going to a conference. LET ME BOOK THAT FOR YOU

  10. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t have anything too interesting myself, but i recall an old letter here about someone who was stuck in a foreign country with no money or credit card because her colleague had somehow taken their ticket because they needed two and didn’t want to tell anyone.

    1. Observer*

      That was actually a post on one of the open threads. And it was the person who took the ticket – she was posting about how to deal with the fact that her employer was ticked off when they found out about it.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          This is the first time I’ve read that and OH.MY.GOSH. What an absolutely messed up situation.

            1. Storm in a teacup*

              Spectacular failures on the part of the OP more like. They were embarrassed and behaved irresponsibly and cruelly to a junior employee and then in the chat seemed to initially take no accountability for their action or be able to see beyond their embarrassment to the actual harm they caused their junior employee.
              They left their employee stranded in a foreign airport. They took the work phone and petty cash. They knew employee had not got enough authorisation on their company card.
              Did not inform company employee was stranded.
              Employee’s sister had to take a payday loan to get them a flight back.
              Yes the company should have better travel policies but that doesn’t excuse the appalling behaviour on a part of the OP.

            2. Iain C*

              About the only thing the commenter didn’t do was chloroform their colleague and leave them in a dumpster.

              Changed flights to pocket cash. Took all the money with them. And the phone. Didn’t tell anyone else.

              Sure, the company should have been better, as should the airline – but those all add to OP’s blame, they don’t take away from it.

              1. Quill*

                Yeah, I commented, read further, and while the company didn’t do great (in terms of the reimbursement) and the airline did poorly in not having a policy of being sure which human being a ticket is for… OP did so much worse

    2. Hlao-roo*

      It was posted in the open thread from March 30-31, 2018 by commenter “no Name”

      I’ll link in a follow-up comment.

    3. Janet*

      I think it is the one where the LW was too large to fit into a single seat? Maybe? And they were so embarrassed they told no one.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        And they had made a habit of trading in the company-paid-for fully refundable tickets to buy worse non-refundable ones, pocketing the difference and referring to it as “petty cash.” Which is not where petty cash comes from.

        1. Anon for this*

          I… wow. Just read that, and… they were so hung up on the fact that they were being shamed for their weight that they glossed over breaching company policy to steal money, stealing their junior coworker’s work phone, and essentially just left him for dead?

        2. Antilles*

          Reading that thread, I’m honestly surprised that wasn’t discussed more by commenters because it seems like straight up fraud.
          I’ve generally worked for companies that were easy to work with on travel expenses and reimbursement, but I can’t imagine ANY of them being okay with “we paid for a ticket, you changed it to a cheaper one, and you quietly pocketed the difference without telling us”.

        3. Quill*

          Don’t you know that petty larceny shares a word with petty cash, and is therefore the same thing? /s

    4. Sage*

      I vaguely remember that, but I think it was written by the person who stranded their colleague. It was hard to read.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have just read the post and responses and was horrified.

        The worst part was the casual way in which the junior employee was stranded with no money, nothing to eat or drink and no mobile phone.

        1. MM*

          I think the worst part was how many people commenting defended her and tried to blame the company and the stranded junior coworker.

          1. Anon for this*

            I WOULD blame the company… but for not firing that OP immediately because the incident revealed their fraud, and for not making the junior who was a victim of OP’s fraud whole.

          2. Hindsight*

            To be fair to the commenters at the time, OP really trickle-truth’ed the part where she took her coworker’s phone and especially the part where she created the whole situation by committing fraud (changing flights away from the company-approved airline to a cheaper one and pocketing the difference).

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, going through the comments at the moment, it’s super unclear at first that 1) the flight switch amounted to actual fraud, rather than some kind of conflict with taking the cheaper airline’s price / time frame for convenience, and that 2) OP actively removed coworker’s ability contact anyone.

              1. goddessoftransitory*

                The OP did indeed slide that info under the blanket of “being forced to take two seats.”

            2. Laura*

              wow, just read through that and IT’S WILD. OP absolutely knew what they were doing and they’re upset about getting caught and has no empathy for the coworker that they STRANDED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY FOR TWO DAYS.

              1. Random Bystander*

                And that the stranded co-worker had to rely on a family member getting a *payday loan* (which comes with outrageous interest rates) in order to purchase a ticket. “no Name” was all ‘I’m being picked on; other country is very biased against overweight people, the airline personnel were mean and commented, when Fergus got back and told people about how he had been stranded I think that everyone at work is talking about my weight’ and not so much about ‘I am ashamed that I treated a junior employee so badly that he was left in a foreign country with virtually no resources and no way back after I broke company policy to pocket extra cash’. I mean, if Fergus hadn’t had a relative able to get a loan and wire him the money, then what?

                I do agree with the commenters who said that the company was slightly at fault for not having mechanisms in place to prevent ‘no Name’ from going rogue on the travel arrangements (since the approved arrangements would have protected Fergus from being stranded). I also do think the company should have made Fergus financially whole (so that the payday loan + interest could be paid off) and taken it out of ‘no Name’ in whatever manner possible.

                Wild, wild read.

      2. ferrina*

        Wow, I hadn’t read that before and that is a tough read. Not just for what the poster did, but the way they hid a lot of it. They were so focused on their shame that they glossed over a lot of their behavior- like directly violating company policy in booking the tickets so she could have extra petty cash for the trip, then taking his ticket (it sounds like without telling him?), stranding him without a way to communicate (taking his phone with her), and not actually telling anyone that he was there….just, wow. I wouldn’t be surprised if the poster was fired.

        1. Princess Sparklepony*

          I read it and I didn’t understand really what happened. And I just didn’t care to reread it because it was hard to read the first time… It did seem like a flustercluck with everything going wrong that could. And no backup from company.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I mean honestly; this is how people get set up to be kidnapped/assassinated in action movies!

    5. TG*

      Was there ever an update in what happened to the woman for flying home and making the junior employee to fend for himself? I’d have said yeah you can go as soon as you book me a room with a food credit and give me the cash you made on turning in the tickets for cheaper to pocket the money!!

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      Woof I just read through that and it is…A Lot. To summarize:

      -The poster was in a foreign country on business with a junior colleague
      -When they were trying to fly home, the airline informed her that due to her size, she would need to use two seats/tickets. According to the poster they were incredibly cruel and mean to her, and out of panic/shame she just boarded the plane, using the tickets meant for her and her colleague, leaving the colleague without a ticket home
      -Compounding things, she took with her the petty cash and the colleague’s work phone. She also admits to knowing that the colleague does not have a credit card, just a debit card with low funds. The corporate card he did have was not approved for high amounts, making it mostly useless.
      -On top of all that, they were flying on the weekend and there was no one in the office or weekend travel support available, so there was no one to contact about the situation.
      -When she got home, the poster was so ashamed she did not contact anyone or tell her manager about the situation. It only came to light when the junior colleague managed to make it home after his sister took a payday loan to wire him money to get another ticket, which was days later.

      To summarize the summary: the poster left a junior colleague stranded for two days in a foreign airport with no food, money, lodging, or even his bags. It also came out that the airline home was different from the one out (so she didn’t know about the extra seat requirement) only because the poster went against company policy and rebooked the tickets home on a cheaper airline in order to pocket the difference. (Not exactly relevant to the main issue but not a good look regardless.)

      It was a rough read, I wonder how it all shook out. I hope the poster is in a better place but I really hope that the junior colleague was made whole again. (Another issue was that the company was refusing to reimburse the junior colleague.)

      1. linger*

        The junior colleague was greatly inconvenienced solely through the actions of the senior colleague, who had not told anyone at the company about those actions (unsurprisingly, because those actions went beyond negligence into fraud), and also prevented junior colleague from contacting the company (taking junior’s work phone does not seem a mere accident in this context). It’s difficult to see what responsibility the company had, other than getting the money out of senior colleague to reimburse the junior colleague as soon as they were made aware. Garnishing the senior colleague’s wages would not have been an overreaction, though possibly moot since the senior colleague thoroughly deserved to be fired immediately.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Yes, if you read the thread, she just keeps harping on how ashamed she is and oh the shame, yet somehow she didn’t apologize or try to make the junior employee whole. Interesting.

          1. CeeDoo*

            I’m not trying to pile on here, but when she said, “I should have told them when I got back,” I nearly had a heart attack. She should have informed the company immediately, not after she took an international flight home! The whole situation was bizarre.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              It was honestly jaw-dropping to me how many people in the comments were rushing to assure her that it was all ok because she felt ashamed, and that meant that leaving her coworker stranded, with no ticket, no way to get home, no money, no credit card, no way to contact anyone, and not telling him or anyone else what she had done, all the while committing fraud with the ticket switcheroo to pocket more cash, was acceptable.

              Her weight wasn’t what she should have felt ashamed of.

              1. Anon for this*

                She admittedly didn’t make a lot of the horrible details apparent, at first. The fact that she stole his phone so he couldn’t try to call for help, the fact that she fraudulently rebooked their flights onto a cheaper airline that didn’t allow refunds, the fact that the “petty cash” she took with her wasn’t actually petty cash, it was the money she stole….

                1. Princess Sparklepony*

                  In reading it (which I found difficult) I didn’t realize she stole his phone – who in heck does that? And I couldn’t figure out what the petty cash thing was or what her “plan” was. I thought it was super confusing but it seems she was trying to hide a lot of her actions.

                2. goddessoftransitory*

                  From BOTH the tickets. So she involved him in the fraud. There’s no way the whole “I took his phone and didn’t tell anyone where he was” wasn’t deliberate at that point.

                  I get her panicking when she realized exactly how much trouble she was in (as she should have) but the whole “oh, I’m so ashamed” thing doesn’t really work when what she was ashamed of wasn’t stranding a coworker in another country for two days! With no money or phone!

              2. A Simple Narwhal*

                I think part of the issue was the poster didn’t reveal all of the information – she made it seem like her colleague just got bumped from their return flight and then a mess happened unbeknownst to her, and now her company is blaming her for something she could have had no idea would have happened. And based on that people jumped to comfort her.

                Then she slowly revealed that she actually stole his ticket and knowingly left him with no money, no way of contacting anyone, and no way home. I think people would have been way less sympathetic if they had the whole picture up front.

              3. Hlao-roo*

                To be a little fair to the commenters at the time, a fair chunk of the reassuring comments were made before the clarifications that the coworker had no was to contact anyone and that the OP booked cheaper tickets as part of a switcheroo to pocket more cash. The commenters were more stern after those details came to light.

                From the original comment alone, it is possible to think that the airline and the company bear the bulk of the blame for that situation (the airline for allowing the OP to use the coworker’s ticket and not rebooking him on a new flight, and the company for not having stronger/better travel policies). The later comments show that most of the blame is/was OP’s.

          2. tabloidtained*

            People can feel deep shame, completely freeze up, and be unable to face the people they hurt through their actions.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              True. Sometimes feeling deep shame is justified. In this case, I think her feeling ashamed of her choices is entirely justified. It doesn’t change that she left an employee stranded, phoneless, cashless, ticketless in another country and didn’t tell anyone.

              Again, I sincerely hope she got fired.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Honestly, the company should have immediately reimbursed the junior employee for all his costs (including the payday loan and any interest) and then gone after the senior employee to reimburse them. And then completely overhauled literally everything related to travel.

        1. CeeDoo*

          I hope she also reimbursed the other employee/his sister for the interest charged for that payday loan. Those places are so predatory, that even if the company reimbursed his flight, the sister might have been out hundreds of dollars in interest. In Texas, the typical rate is 664% interest. For an international flight, that could run into the thousands just in interest.

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            Sadly, sometimes people end up taking out another payday loan to pay off the interest on the first payday loan. It’s a vicious cycle. They really should be outlawed.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          If I were that employee I would not rest until I and my sister were totally reimbursed and that person was fired. Like, it would be my quest.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        If I were the junior employee I would have gone straight from the airport to work and lay out the whole situation to my boss and grandboss. And tell them that unless they did a full reimbursement they would be contacting a lawyer or quitting and leaving a very blistering review on Glassdoor.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Oh, I would absolutely contact a lawyer, and if the company didn’t reimburse me completely and provide compensation for the time and stress of the ordeal, I would have sued her personally. And if they didn’t fire her for her string of horrible choices, I would quit.

        2. Kiv*

          It sounds like he did, and based on the fact that they sent her home for at least a day for making the excuse that he should have had his own credit card, they probably did fire the person shortly afterwards.

      3. Dog momma*

        I call bull on the panic and shame by the person that did this..apparently there wasn’t A problem on the way out, just the way back. Once I’m done with the comments, I’ll go back and read that. This is JUST EVIL, and the company refusing to reimburse the Jr colleague is just as bad!

  11. Bird Lady*

    A friend and I were traveling to present at an academic conference, and asked me to arrange the hotel room for us to split since I had received a generous financial gift from my now-husband to pay for the weekend at Harvard and to have the ability to “live it up” a bit. I booked a room with two beds and purchased admission for two to the hotel’s breakfast buffet. We figured that if the lunch at the conference was lacking, at least we’d have a good breakfast.

    When we arrived, the hotel manager apologized to us as somehow my double queen room had turned into a single king. While a little awkward, we made the best of sharing a bed since there really wasn’t anything we could do – the hotel was booked with the conference and we couldn’t find another suitable hotel that would allow us to walk to Harvard. Parking in Boston is a nightmare and I didn’t want to pay to park at the hotel and then pay to park at the college. (That money was for the Harvard bookstore, thank you very much!)

    The next morning, I went to breakfast first while my friend finished up. When she attempted to join me, she was told she was denied entrance since the room she was in was a single bed. I tried to intervene, but they refused her entry into the dining room. When I asked for a refund for the breakfast – it was $48/ person – I was told it was nonrefundable. So we went to Dunkin Donuts.

    The next day, we tried again. She entered first, then I joined. And apparently it was okay. But I’m still spicy over losing almost $50 because of a hotel mix up requiring me to share a bed.

    1. Delta Delta*

      The breakfast thing makes no sense. If a couple checked into that room only one of them would be allowed to eat breakfast? Especially if you paid for it? I’m annoyed on your behalf.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        Yeah, the hotel was so wrong on this in so many ways. For that money I’d have made A Scene and I’m not one to ever do something like that.

      1. Jackalope*

        Right? Or two family members; I probably wouldn’t share a bed with my sister these days but when we were young and spry in our 20s, sure! It seems so weird to knee jerk deny someone a perk like this when there are good reasons to assume they’re telling the truth, and almost certainly a way to check in the system (or go to the reception area and get a voucher or something) to confirm.

      2. Bird Lady*

        We could have been married as a same sex couple too. It would not be the first time we’ve been confused for a married couple, which we find rather funny, but it just seemed like a weird hill for the hotel staff to die on.

      3. Curious*

        Or a wife and a wife — which I think shouldn’t be a problem in Massachusetts, at least!

    2. CommanderBanana*

      As someone who runs conferences for a living, if that happened to an attendee at one of my events, I’d shred the housing person and the person who refused them entry up one side and down the other.

      1. Bird Lady*

        This was also the same conference in which water was provided, but no way to bring the water with you. Seriously, there were no cups or glasses offered! Lunch was a buffet of vegan lentils and rice, but there were no forks. We were encouraged to use some sort of naan or pita bread to pick up the food. As a Celiac, there was no way for me to eat my lunch other than to use my fingers. We decided to sneak away for a burger and fries with a rather large contingent of folks with food allergies.

        For a food history conference, the choices about food were strange. I could understand trying to be thought provoking, but these were just odd choices.

        1. Hungry*

          I was thinking of a small conference me and a fellow grad got to go to in Denmark years ago. We were very much the juniors there and it was a perk that we got to attend. We were locked in for two long days in a group of about 20 – so there was no sneaking out.

          It was two days without food. Both of us had a few foods we didn’t eat – the main issues here were fish and cheese. Everything had fish and/or cheese mixed through it. The dinner the first evening was a buffet and in amongst all the cheese and fish was a bowl of unadulterated pasta, which the two of us tried to covertly consume without looking too weird.

          There was a fancy dinner the second night with a set menu of no choice (don’t know what vegetarians are supposed to do). The starter was smoked salmon (tears) and the main was veal (wailing). The dessert was pancakes and we both fell on them like wolves. At the end of both days we finished too late for any shops, so we couldn’t even get chocolate or snacks.

          Now that I am older I travel with snacks in all my bags just in case. And I know that bacon, pastries and butter cookies are not actually common danish foods.

    3. Jack Russell Terrier*

      This is odd because my experience with hotel b&b packages is that the amount for breakfast is for the room not per person.

      1. Bird Lady*

        This was per person as an extra add-on to the accommodations. In retrospect, there were plenty of fantastic places to eat near by and it wasn’t necessary. I have Celiac, so I know eggs and protein is usually safe to eat and offered at a breakfast buffet. We figured better safe than sorry, especially if the offered lunch wasn’t great… and it wasn’t.

        1. Jack Russell Terrier*

          Ahh right – not a package!! I can’t believe they didn’t honor it after they made the cock up!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Wait, what?? Because only one person at a time sleeps in a KING SIZED bed? I do not get that at all!

  12. Lunch Meat*

    This is a pretty low stakes one. In 2019 I was traveling to a convention my work was putting on. It was my 8th convention so I had my routine pretty well figured out. They told us ahead of time that the hotel had stopped providing free coffee in the rooms. They now had keurig machines, and the pods were available on the minibar if you paid for them. I planned ahead by bringing a reusable k-cup and a small Tupperware of grounds.

    When I got there, I realized that the coffee cups, stirrers, creamer, and sugar were all packaged in plastic WITH the coffee pod. I bought a cheap branded travel mug and then realized it wouldn’t fit under the coffee maker spout. I figured the plastic water cups would survive the hot coffee long enough to pour it into the mug…they did not.

    I think I bought coffee that morning and requisitioned cardboard takeout cups from the meeting rooms for every other morning.

    1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      I have never been in a hotel in the US either so cheap or so “we’re high-end and don’t provide free anything so our base prices will look reasonable” that they didn’t provide at least free crappy pod coffee! Or coffee machines downstairs!

      1. Lunch Meat*

        This was in Las Vegas, where the rooms actually kind of suck because they want you downstairs spending money lol.

        1. Mairead*

          Yup, my first thought when I read the surprised post above was “tell me you’ve never been to Vegas without telling me…”

        2. Ally McBeal*

          Adding to that, I’ve been to Vegas exactly one time (on business) and was horrified by how skimpy the room service options were. The hotel I stayed in had restaurants, but IIRC the room service was only available from the cafe, and that was prepackaged salads and sandwiches that cost at least 2x what I paid for similar fare in NYC.

          Maybe it was just my hotel and I’d have had better luck if I’d stayed at the Bellagio or whatever, but it was really disappointing.

          1. LCH*

            we stayed at the Cosmo and it did not have room coffee. but it did have windows into the shower from the bedroom.

        3. Skog*

          Las Vegas is notorious for this! One place I stayed at didn’t even have a mini-fridge available!

      2. i need my coffee*

        I’ve been doing a fair bit of international travel the last six months, to quite a few countries on several continents, and I have noticed that a lot of hotels don’t have coffee or tea in the rooms. And not just in the cheap hotels.

        I am not sure if it’s that it’s less common in some of the countries I was travelling in (it was my first time in a certain region) or if hotels are just starting to cut costs because everything is just getting so expensive. I suspect it might be a bit of both.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          A lot of countries in Europe don’t have tea and coffee in the rooms although there might be a free coffee machine in the lobby.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            The B&B I stayed at in Cardiff had a whole kettle in the room, along with a little teapot and some biccies. I mostly just went down for breakfast and had my coffee there, but it was nice, and right in the center of town close to everything. I’d stay there again.

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          That’s why I specified “in the US” – I’ve definitely been in hotels in other countries with no in-room coffee or tea.

    2. Lunch Meat*

      I forgot to mention it wasn’t even a real keurig so my cup didn’t *quite* fit and that also made a mess.

    3. OMG, Bees!*

      A new variation to office coffee wars somehow emerges! Wow.

      I don’t drink coffee, so I luckily skip out on most of those. Instead, I drink energy drinks, which are nice and personal/private, so no mugs to share/fight over. But, as they are canned liquids, not allowed on airplanes, so I still have a story.

      After a weekend trip, catching a 6am flight back home to arrive at work by 10am, I sorta planned ahead by bringing an energy drink with me to quickly chug before the flight. Only problem was, due to the early hour, I got my plan wrong and expected to get through airport security, then drink it while waiting to board. Instead, I was told to throw away my unopened drink into the trash to be able to proceed through security. Completely on me, and still annoyed by this years later, but had I been awake enough to realize this, I could have easily had the energy drink well before then instead of needing to get sad airport coffee as a replacement.

  13. ML Sylvet*

    At a large conference, when the CEO finished breakfast room service and went to put tray outside the door, and it slammed behind him. Wearing boxers and with no phone on hand, he stood around until someone else on staff happened to walk by and saved him (and saved some embarrassment).

    1. Yeep*

      Ugh, I forgot my key in the workout room at the same hotel, same conference, multiple years in a row. I am fair skinned and turn the color of an apple when I do cardio, so I had to go to the front desk, sweating, red, and in shorts and a tank top, while everyone from my conference milled through the lobby to get to continental breakfast.

  14. ElizabethJane*

    My first ever business trip happened while I was also working for a horrible boss. It was my first ever corporate job, I was 24.

    There was a truly outrageous amount of traffic around the Atlanta airport and what should have been a 30 minute drive took almost 4 hours (partially because the sales rep driving me made several wrong turns).

    I missed my flight and called my boss about rebooking or what other options I had and he told me the company didn’t pay for employee mistakes and the solution was to buy my own ticket in my dime to get home. I went to the agent to try to buy a ticket and the same day flight cost was over $1000, which I did not have because I was 24. I burst into tears and the gate agent was like “OK we’ll fix this” and I don’t know what she did but I didn’t have to pay anything to fly. I still love Delta for the kindness they showed me.

    (also I learned later that it would have been absolutely fine to put the new flight on my corporate card and that terrible boss was wrong and terrible).

    1. dorothy zbornak*

      I remember being broke AF at 24 so I am very happy that the Delta agent showed you such kindness and booooo forever to that boss.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Many years ago I did travel arrangements and at the time people got their travel advances in the form of travellers’ cheques. It was the government and there was no such thing as corporate credit cards at that time. I would regularly get stacks of travellers’ cheques in the thousands of dollars if I was booking for more than 3 people. The travellers were expected to use the cheques for everything, hotels, taxis, meals, etc. One time I was returning to the office with 10K worth of checks stuffed in my purse which was clutched to my chest because I couldn’t imagine any excuse that would explain my losing that much money.
        Finally, there was a conference big enough to rationalize me coming along. My boss took care of paying for my hotel room and meals with his funds. Later I realized how lucky I was because being young 25! I had one poor little credit card and if anything went wrong at all I had was my airline ticket home.

    2. Miette*

      That boss is an ass but you know that. I remember being in a similar situation at the same age, driving my own car to a city about 3 hours away for a work trip, and then having a tire blow out while I was driving. I had crappy credit, not enough credit limit to cover, and the place wouldn’t accept an out-of-state check. I too burst into tears and the manager took pity on me. When I got back and told my boss, she got on the phone to whoever made the decisions about it and yelled until they agreed to let me get a corporate AmEx. The great thing about getting it was that using it and paying it off each month for the business expenses I incurred repaired my bad credit, and I haven’t looked back.

      Anyway, long winded way of saying that… I really think teaching junior staff about travel policies is something that is very much lacking, and should be covered at onboarding for staff who will need to travel. It never has at any company I’ve worked, all you were given was an always out-of-date employee manual and that’s it. I make a point of going over everything with my own team (when I’m a manager), but not all bosses take the time.

      1. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I neglected to ask about travel policies before my first business trip and no one thought to go over them with me. Luckily was a short trip and a small business, so it wasn’t a huge issue to straighten out later, but it would have been nice to know before hand. (my previous company was a very large multi-national company and if I had screwed up procedures with them in the same way, it could have cost me my job. They were very attached to their procedures, especially when it came to money.)

        All employees who are expected to travel should be briefed on travel expectations/processes before their first trip!

    3. Anonanonanon*

      Oh, my gosh this reminds me of my really wonderful boss when I was young and truly broke. We were travelling together for a conference (probably my first business trip), she had my room and flights on her card, she paid for all meals or told me to put anything I ate at the hotel on my room. She had the rental car. Unexpectedly she had to change her flight to travel home the night before we were originally scheduled so we would no longer be travelling home on the same flight. She pre-paid for a car to take me to the airport and left me with petty cash so I could eat. I think of her often and make sure my employees now don’t have work travel costs burden them.

    4. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I was flying Delta from Reagan National (DCA) to LAX (via ATL, of course).

      Well, the flight that I was going to take from DCA to ATL was late coming into to the airport… big surprise, right? So while I was waiting for the plane to arrive at DCA, I spoke with the gate agent, explained that I had a connection that I might miss, and could he help me?

      So this guy changes my seat to the first row of economy (I was towards the middle rear), and then books me a backup reservation from ATL to LAX…

      The plane finally comes, and we get to ATL. Anyone who has ever changed planes in Atlanta knows what a nightmare it is. So I’m doing the OJ run through the airport, and actually get to the gate three minutes before scheduled departure. Of course, the jetway is closed, so I sigh, and tell them, I have a backup reservation, for the flight that happens in one hour, and ask if they could please look it up. They print me a new boarding pass, and I look at it, and I receive a very pleasant surprise. I got booked into first class for my inconvenience.

      So, I make it home only an hour late, and get to fly transcontinental first class. Not a bad trade-off.

  15. Quartz*

    Splitting my favorite pair of work pants right down the booty in the Denver airport. I was crying for another reason too, but luckily now I can’t remember. 10 years later I’m in a much better place in my life!

    1. prof*

      Oh no! Nothing like looking back on those moments from a better place and feeling light years away though!

    2. Florence Reese*

      Omg, that’s horrifying at a baseline but that airport is SO CONFUSING and so spread out to boot! Awful!

      (I did laugh out loud at “I was crying for another reason too” though, because yeah, been there. Glad you’re in a better place!!)

      1. Elk*

        I grew up in Denver and it still surprises me every time I fly to another city and the airport is actually functional. DIA is awful!

      2. FricketyFrack*

        I feel like DIA is pretty simple – it’s just so LONG. Like, there are only 3 terminals, so that’s not bad, but it means each one takes 30 years to walk. I had a flight in one of the very end gates once and by the end I was dramatically talking about how we would reach Mordor any minute.

        Meanwhile, I had to take a 20 minute bus ride to change gates at Atlanta, and thought I was going to miss a connection at Heathrow because it’s a 30-40 minute ride to get from terminal 5 to 4, and then you still have to walk more. That airport is insanity.

        1. Quill*

          I can always FIND things fine at denver but can I cross the three mile long terminal in time? Dodging everyone else?

          Last time I flew through denver they had a kiosk of emotional support dogs and honestly, good idea, but they should have had sled dogs to haul me and my carry on across the airport too.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I used to feel that way at the Dallas airport — and the little carts were always going the wrong way. Then I went back some years later and they had put in a train. It saved my butt when I (stupidly) left my wallet on the plane when coming back from AZ. They called the other gate and someone found it in my seat pocket. Thanks to the train, I was able to zip down there, get it, and zip back. If I had had to walk, there’s no way I would have made that connecting flight.

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      On my first business trip, wearing my favorite trousers (and the only pants I was bringing for the trip) – someone had left the broken stub of an audio jack sticking out of the headphone plug in my seat’s armrest. It caught and tore a small but definitely visible hole in the hip. I was so upset.

      1. JustaTech*

        I was on a business trip where we had our Federal Regulators visiting the site and I walked into the bathroom and discovered that the zipper of my pants had ripped out of the fabric. Thankfully I was wearing a shirt I could untuck to cover up my un-zipped-ness but it was just another ball of stress I did not need on that trip.

    4. whyblue*

      I split my pants down the back while trying to get onto a train and slipping on a patch of ice. On my way to day one of a consulting gig for a new client.
      I spent the day trying to keep my back to the wall and walking at the back of the group at all times – only the were very polite and kept gesturing for me to go first. Since then, I do not leave the house without a safety pin.

    5. Anonymath*

      Was scheduled to present some research at a conference in DC and discovered, upon unpacking the afternoon before my presentation, that my husband’s cat (not mine, I like dogs, they came as a package deal with the husband, I treated them well but am not a cat person) had left a present on my presentation clothes. I had no other suitable clothes to present in. Thankfully, I was able to find a dry cleaners that did emergency overnight service, so I was able to pick up my suit on the walk to the conference and changed in the bathroom stall right before my presentation.

  16. Savoury Creampuff*

    This happened to a friend of mine when he was a law firm associate – let’s call him Gallant.

    Adam was driving the partner (Goofus) back to the airport in a rental car . When he started to exit the highway, Goofus told him it was the wrong exit and to continue driving. Gallant said no it wasn’t, and continued. Goofus physically took the wheel and forced him to stay on the highway.

    Needless to say Goofus was wrong, and it took a good half hour to correct the mistake. By the time they were getting to the airport, they were in danger of missing their flight. Gallant told Goofus he would take one for the team, drop him off at the gate, then return the car; if he missed the flight, so be it, and least Goofus wouldn’t, and he’s the partner. But Goofus said, “No, just leave it at the gate.”

    So they left their rental car in an airport drop off lane, with the keys inside. They made their flight. The firm paid a hefty, hefty fine. Neither Gallant nor Goofus was disciplined.

    1. Savoury Creampuff*

      Sorry – “Adam” in the first para is “Gallant” (luckily his name isn’t Adam – that’s just the first pseudonym I meant to use)

    2. AVP*

      Oh my god, I’m just remembering the time that my boss locked a hugely expensive piece of essential work equipment in a rental car when trying to drop it off.

      It was one of those 6am flights where the lot is unmanned and you put your keys in the box and walk away. Right after he did this, he Realized His Mistake. And that the desk people wouldn’t be getting in to fix it until long after our flight had boarded.

      To his credit he said he’d stay with the car and get it fixed while the rest of us went home. He got so lucky, though – he was sitting in the lot trying to call any corporate number that might help when one of the rental co employees drove by the lot on their way to get breakfast, saw him there, realized there was an issue, and pulled off to unlock the box! He made the flight by a few minutes.

  17. Fun Times At Nonprofits*

    Not so much a travel mishap as an organizational one, but: my boss and I traveled to a state capital for a meeting with a governor. It wasn’t one of those state capitals that’s in a real city, it was one of the ones where you fly to a real city, then have to get up at 6am to drive several hours to the capital. So that we did all that, and I was told at the last minute that they wanted to reduce the number of people in the room for the meeting. Cut to me taking “what career is right for you?” quizzes on my laptop under the capitol rotunda as I contemplated how my presence on the trip ended up being completely pointless (not to mention a waste of money).

    1. Fun Times At Nonprofits*

      Oh, I forgot a detail: this was early in my career and I literally bought my first suit for this meeting.

    2. Lab Boss*

      Oh I STRONGLY suspect I know which state capital you were in, with that length drive from the nearest real airport and the rotunda- if it’s where I’m thinking, at least you had a nice view of some pretty architecture in the capitol building (and some extremely flat sprawl in all directions outside).

          1. Not-So-New Mom (of 1 8/9)*

            I read an academic article once that showed that, taking the 50 states + every sovereign nation, Springfield is not only the worst-placed capital in the nation relative to the center of its region’s population, it’s one of the worst-placed in the _world_.

    3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Says a lot about where I grew up that I can think of multiple states off the top of my head where that would be the case.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I was thinking Frankfort KY. I think it is about equidistant from both Lexington, KY and Louisville. But it isn’t flat in that area, rolling hills

      2. Whomever*

        I’m reminded of a friend of mine who is on the “Visit every country in the world” plan (something I’d love to do myself but it’s a lot harder with kids). He was complaining about tour companies that include the capitals of countries in places like Central Asia which tend to be some of the more boring cities in the place. I joked that he clearly needs to do a tour of the US, with stops in Albany, NY, Springfield, IL and Sacramento, CA.

        1. cabbagepants*

          Hey now!!! Albany NY is awesome!!! We have, uh, stuff!

          (In seriousness, we have relatively affordable housing and a lot of stable, decently-paying jobs with the state government as well as universities. Can you ask for more in this year 2024?)

    4. Heather*

      Perhaps “large city with a sizable airport” would be a better descriptor. Those of us in mid or small sized cities still live in cities!

  18. JuneBug*

    I was in my mid-twenties traveling to a conference with my fifty something boss. He could be odd and a bit awkward but never creepy or inappropriate. We were having dinner at the hotel restaurant when approached by a violin player obviously offering romantic musical accompaniment. I politely declined but my boss excitedly requested a specific piece. I then had to sit there awkwardly for several minutes while the violin player played his piece circling around us as if he was enhancing our romantic dinner. My boss smiled the whole time and afterward spoke about how lovely the music was as if he had no clue everyone was thinking I was his much younger mistress meeting up at with him at a hotel. We were both married to other people and after this we went back to discussing business.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Ah, nothing like the “Fun” of being assumed to be a couple. My sister and I look nothing alike and have received similar romance-enhancing attention when we meet up for a meal. At least we don’t have a professional relationship and can just laugh it off.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Same thing happened with me and my late brother. Even more funny, people always assumed he and our sister were married, even when my brother in law was with them.

      2. Shannon*

        Could be worse – my brother and I could pass for twins, and we get asked all the time if we’re married. Like, how vain do you think I am, that I went out and found a person who looked exactly like me to marry? And we’re not especially touchy-feely, we just have the same sense of humor.

        1. Scintillating Water*

          Meanwhile my fiancee and I, who look absolutely nothing alike, keep getting asked if we’re sisters.

          1. CeeDoo*

            We had a girl’s night out on 6th street in Austin, TX with about 6 of us. I was sitting beside my sister at the restaurant. The waiter came over and squatted by the table, looked at us, and the first word out of his mouth was, “lesbians?” We said, “no, sisters.” What’s especially funny is we generally get mistaken for twins.

      3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        My stepdad is only 15 years older than me, and we used to take father-daughter adventure/camping vacations together. We have frequently been mistaken for a couple. It’s very ick.

        1. allathian*

          When I visited my ex-boyfriend’s parents for the first and only time (we’d been dating for nearly 2 years by then), his dad and he could’ve been mistaken for brothers. My boyfriend was in his early 30s and looked older than his age, and his dad was in his mid-50s, but looked younger.

          I was also 7 years younger than my boyfriend, and looked even younger than that. But thankfully nobody ever mistook us for a father and daughter, eek! The irony is that I ultimately left him because he was too emotionally immature for me.

      4. Beth*

        Two memories:

        Work party for a female co-worker, who was marrying her female partner. The restuarant staff figured out that a wedding was involved, so they assumed that the briode was marrying the only guy at the table. He was also gay.

        That one was funny.

        Not funny: a male friend of mine paid a passing musician to perform a folk song for me. The musician not only assumed that we were a couple, but acted as if the music was going to inflame us to the point of heading for a hotel together. I was *trying* to enjoy the music itself, but ugh. SO CREEPY.

    2. Problem!*

      This happened to me too!

      The travel group was myself and another mid 20s woman, and our two middle aged male colleagues. Our business trip was to a city in Florida that’s mostly high end resorts and every time we went out to dinner the wait staff would assume we were two couples. Most of them at least had the grace to look embarrassed when we all pulled out or business AMEXes to pay for our separate checks, but it was still super awkward.

    3. Butterfly Counter*

      *uncovered memory*

      I was at my first professional conference in a major city. I was walking in a group of people and was chatting to a fellow student a year behind me. A man selling roses came up to us and told the guy, “If she gives you a kiss, I will give her a rose for free!” I was young and game, so I kissed the guy on the cheek. The flower seller gave me the rose and promptly asked the guy for $5. Yes, I had the rose for free, but not my acquaintance. I tried to give the rose back, the seller refused to take it, so the guy paid the money.

      Ugh. Back into the vault it goes…

      1. Dog momma*

        Yeah, those free flowers aren’t free, they just don’t tell you that. We saw this pre Covid in Mexico

    4. Yvette*

      In a way that is kind of nice. Especially since you said he seemed clueless as to the romantic connotation . It was probably a favorite piece of music that he got to hear live performed right in front of him.

      1. JuneBug*

        Yes and I also think he wanted to show off his knowledge of classical music and appear sophisticated. He was one of those people who liked to pronounce French words with an accent as though he was fluent. He was not lol.

    5. Kiv*

      Something similar happened to me in high school when I ended up having dinner at a restaurant with a younger male chaperone after a group on a high school trip accidentally got split up. He was a very sweet and awkward fellow – we both just pretended it wasn’t happening.

  19. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I was on a 6-month gig in our San Antonio field office, standing up a new project. We also got the chance to bid on some additional work in Houston, thanks to the new capabilities in that project. So the local office manager and I, along with some help from HQ, wrote a proposal and then I was going to take a quick hop on Southwest to Houston to deliver it in person.

    Weather was bad (thunderstorms), and the flight was delayed, so I was starting to get worried about getting there in time. We finally got into the air and it was a bumpy flight. I was in a window seat, right over the wings.

    When we got close to Houston, the pilot came on the PA with a classic, calm Texas drawl “Well folks, we apologize about the delays and the bumpy ride, but we’ll be on the ground shortly.”

    We came in low, I could see the flaps being extended, but then the pilot increased the throttle, retracted the flaps, and pulled up. “Folks, sorry about that, but approach control has informed me that there’s a bad thundercell at this end of the runway. So we’re going to circle around and approach from the other direction. See you on the ground soon.”

    3 minutes later, we’re coming down, flaps are out, I feel the thunks as the gear went down, and we pass over the fence at the end of the runway. Suddenly the pilot slams the engines all the way on and really pulls up hard.

    “Well, folks, as you can probably tell, we’re not on the ground. When approach control told me to come around from the other direction, they neglected to inform me that there was still another airplane on the runway. I have expressed my displeasure to approach control, and they have assured me that this time we will be able to land. I apologize again for the delay, and we’ll be at the gate shortly.”

    When he said “I have expressed my displeasure…” he didn’t raise his voice or speak any faster, but from the tone you just know that he raised hell over the radio to the tower.

    1. Which Susan are you?*

      OMG. As Dave Barry says, You are now free to change your underwear. I would have spent the entire time in Houston sloshed to the gills, trying to forget that near-death experience.

    2. Observer*

      Oh, wow!

      I wonder if this guy was ex-military. They are the ones most likely to be able to pull that off, but also to “express their displeasure” without spilling all over everyone not in the line of fire.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Oh certainly a good chance of that!

        There’s a stereotype/trope that all airline pilots sound like Chuck Yeager.

      2. Jack Russell Terrier*

        Yup – that’s exactly what my ex-army boyfriend would have done. He flew helicopters, b

      3. Random Bystander*

        Yeah, I have read that a lot of AF pilots retire from the military and go on to fly commercial planes, so ex-military is highly likely (especially with the masterclass-level understatement with “express displeasure”).

      4. She of Many Hats*

        A friend who flies frequently can tell if the pilot is ex-Navy or ex-Air Force. Ex-Air Force tends to give you a gentler, long-angle landing. Ex-Navy tends to be “get landed now”.

      1. Alda*

        Here’s a low stakes one – my partner was in Chile for work, we live in Sweden. When he was touristing a bit on his own, he kept going in the wrong direction down streets. So he would look at the map, see “okay, I turn onto X street and head north” and then when he looked at the map again he would find he’d walked entirely the wrong direction.

        And then after a while he realised that this was because he automatically navigates by the sun (which I’m impressed with tbh because I can’t do that without a whole lot of thinking), but because he was on the other side of the equator, his usual internal settings for north/south based on sun position were now wrong.

        1. saf*

          I grew up in Rochester NY. The lake is always north.

          This causes problems when you are in Toronto.

          1. noncomitally anonymous*

            Ha! I lived in Los Angeles – the ocean is always to the west, and the mountains are always to the north.

            Then I went to Hawaii. The ocean is all around and the mountains are in the middle.

          2. Tinkerbell*

            I grew up in Manitowoc, WI (on the shore of Lake Michigan) and I do the same thing! I haven’t lived there for more than half my life now but my brain still always assumes any large body of water is “east” and maps accordingly!

          3. No Internal Compass*

            I live near Denver. The mountains are always west. Huge navigational problems when I was working in Albuquerque.

          4. Tupac Coachella*

            Interstate 70 runs right through the town I where live, so I navigate based on a combination of 70 East and 70 West and my position relative to my most visited cities in either direction. I learned that if I can get to 70 moving toward one of those cities, I can get home. Now that I travel frequently for work and can’t use those markers, I’m realizing that I have no internal compass at all.

          5. Distracted Procrastinator*

            I moved from the Mountain West to the South. I went from being able to navigate anywhere without issue to being completely lost half the time. It wasn’t just learning a new city, it was the fact that the trees and rolling hills meant there were zero landmarks to navigate by. (also, why don’t roads have a freaking shoulder here???) Drove me crazy and made me a bit claustrophobic the first year.

            I love the trees, but man, I miss the horizon.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I moved from the Midwest, where many cities are built on a flat grid, to Boston, which is decidedly not. I practically need GPS to walk across the street. One of my coworkers who grew up here said he even has to use it! I can never tell which way I’m looking or pointing either, especially downtown.

              During the eclipse, a group of us went outside from the back (?) side of the building, down a couple of side streets, and out to an open corner where we could see it. It was not even two blocks from the office, but I had NO FRICKIN IDEA where the hell I was.

            2. OMG, Bees!*

              Amazingly, I have known some people from Texas who complain when visiting west that the mountains get in the way of the view! They ARE the view!

          6. Dog momma*

            saf
            I lived in Rochester/ Webster for 30 yrs. That’s what I was told as a newbie. Remember the lake is always noryh

        2. RW*

          I was just thinking about this the other day – I have a fairly solid sense of direction because I am basically a human sunflower, but I live in the southern hemisphere and would get SO LOST anywhere the sun is south of me

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Damn.

      Scariest ride I ever had was when I was in first class, which means close enough to hear the alarms going off in the cockpit followed by the captain coming on and saying “Flight attendants sit down NOW” as we plummeted suddenly from 30,000 ft to 10,000 ft.

      There was a depressurization alarm so they were trying to get low enough so the masks wouldn’t deploy and then we flew at a nauseatingly turbulent 10K for the rest of the trip

      1. OMG, Bees!*

        Coolest airplane ride I had was in an 8 seater Cessna. No separation from the pilot and I had the same view out the cockpit he had, with window views effectively good left, right, and front of me. Only flight where I had to be weighed as well as my luggage. It was in Autumn and a bit chilly in the air; I highly doubt I could have handled a winter flight!

    4. Taki*

      If you remember the date and time of the landing, you might be able to look it up on LiveATC and listen to what he said to the tower/approach.

    5. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I was about to ask if this was Southwest and then I scrolled back up.

      We were coming back from a trade show on Southwest once and had a less-than-gentle touchdown in heavy fog. The pilot came on to assure us that yes, we had landed and no, we were not shot down.

      1. Dog momma*

        Coming back from a nursing conference in Vegas, to Rochester… in Feb, in a blinding snowstorm back in the 90s. I’d never heard people crying or praying on a plane before. We landed, but I was sure we were going to go off the runway. Brakes on but we weren’t slowing down. We finally stopped.
        My BIL picked me up, said it took him almost 3 hrs from Webster to the airport.. bc ya know, lake effect. Not as bad driving back bc by then all the plows were out. My sister still said WHAT TOOK SO LONG?? Its usually 30-45 min on dry roads depending on traffic.

    6. TheBunny*

      Similar but not quite as harrowing…I was returning to LAX from Nashville and they couldn’t get the jet bridge to connect to the plane so we could get off said plane.

      Pilot kept coming on with slightly more terse updates until the last one before they got it worked out was…sorry all. They still haven’t fixed the issue. I’ve asked for those rolling stairs and they said no. I told them they have 5 minutes before I see how many passengers are willing to use the emergency exit…they managed to get us off the plane.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        I had rebooked to an earlier flight on the same day, a Friday, as my meeting was done earlier than planned. A good thing as Munich was suddenly hit by a blizzard.
        The flight was now overbooked with lots of passengers jumped from delayed or canceled flights; the saving grace was that I was working for a subsidiary of the airline so I had the security clearance to fly on a jump seat (those folding seats may not be sold to passengers).
        They put me into the check pilot’s seat in the back of the cockpit. Not the most comfortable but it got me home without an unplanned overnight stay, and also quite interesting. Flight was still fairly chaotic on the ground but okay once airborne.

  20. Dr. Rebecca*

    While in the Minneapolis airport at the tail end of a business trip, I accidentally flipped my thick, braided hair into former senator Al Franken’s face, then eavesdropped on how he was almost Hilary’s VP running mate.

    I submitted an apology to the contact form on his website, under the subheading “transportation–air.”

    1. Ally McBeal*

      Al Franken as Hillary’s almost-pick for VP … I’ll admit I’m having trouble believing it. His background as a comedian and his very liberal politics would not have been any sort of complement to Hillary as she attempted to win swing states. Sounds like he was bloviating a bit. But what a story – I love that you apologized via official webform XD

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        It was November 2016, and he was on his cell phone talking about how he had “gotten the call” and “was almost on the ticket” but when they discussed it, they both decided that Kaine was better for the overall ticket.

        There wasn’t any other way to contact him!! XD

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        I don’t know, I think he would have been a great pick. He’s good enough, he’s smart enough and doggon it, people like him!

  21. starsaphire*

    Not mine, but my best friend’s:

    She traveled for business at the time three weeks out of four, and she usually stayed at the same hotel every time. There had been some confusion over one booking, where her company had booked her a day short, and she had adjusted it at the front desk on check-in. So everything was fine. Or so she thought.

    Until she stepped into her room after meetings on the final night of her stay, to discover that the front desk had not communicated with the cleaning service – and so the cleaning service had turned over her room and ALL of her things were gone. Clothes, luggage, everything.

    She was able to get most of her stuff back, but that was a pretty chilling experience, and it soured her on business travel for a long time.

    1. merula*

      How often do people leave EVERYTHING behind in a hotel room?? I feel like if I was in housekeeping I’d at least check with someone if I saw a suitcase and all kinds of toiletries.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        They probably did, but if the front desk didn’t record the extra day, how would anyone in housekeeping know otherwise?

      2. Distracted Procrastinator*

        yup. I once had a miscommunication with the front desk over a check out day and when housekeeping found all our stuff still spread out in the room, they called me! They didn’t just take all our things out and assume we’d somehow forgotten every single thing we’d brought with us when we checked out.

      3. Orange You Glad*

        This happened to me but it wasn’t even an issue of extending the room or a late checkout. It was the last day of a conference, I was planning to leave from the conference and road trip through a national park since I was in that part of the country anyway. I had gotten up early and loaded my suitcase into the car before breakfast but left in my room my other luggage and a lot of groceries/supplies I had picked up the night before for the road trip. I went from breakfast to the last conference meeting with the intention of then going up to my room to finish packing and check out by the normal checkout time. I get back up there and housekeeping is just finishing up and all my stuff is gone! I asked the cleaner what happened and she was confrontational about how I wasn’t supposed to be there. I pointed out that all my stuff was missing and eventually she pullout out my luggage bag from her cart to return it, but everything else was gone. I complained to the front desk and they didn’t do anything to compensate me, they just shrugged it off as housekeeping had the wrong list of rooms to service and it wasn’t a big deal. It was a big deal to me because I was about to leave to go to some remote areas where all the water and food I bought would be needed.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      Oh, wow, that happened to me once–in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

      I think that because I travel light and didn’t leave my suitcase in my room–I had to use it to carry documents to my client–the cleaning person assumed I had checked out a day early? But some of my clothes and my toiletries ended up in the hotel trash (!) The front desk gave me some free toiletries and some bonus points, so I guess they did what they could to make up for it.

      1. starsaphire*

        There was an episode of Ace of Cakes where something similar happened… but with cake.

        The thing is, when they do the fancy cakes for a big event, there’s usually additional sheet cakes baked to serve to the guests. On this episode, Geoff was on his own in some big city – he went downstairs to take the first load of stuff down to the car, went back to the room, and the sheet cakes were GONE. Hours before checkout, too.

        I think they had to call a fellow baker to pinch hit on the sheet cakes? (Can’t find a link, but I think the ep was from like 2008 or so??)

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Oh, that’s awful. Reminds me of my cousin’s wedding, though – after the cake cutting, he sidled up to me, somewhat tipsy, and muttered, “it’s all a sham, there’s sheet cakes in the back, they don’t serve the fancy cake.” Still makes me giggle.

    3. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      How did her key work if they had turned her room over? Talk about chilling.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        If it was keycards – those are switched on and off automatically within the hotel booking system, there’s no human interaction required. Her room was actually booked for another day, so the computer knew she should have access and granted it to her.

      2. starsaphire*

        The front desk had her still booked in the room, so her key worked.

        The daily cleaning docket had not been updated.

        She still grumbles about that dress, something-teen years later…

    4. LCH*

      the flip side is when the hotel gives you a key to a room, you walk in, and it is obviously still in use by someone else because their stuff is everywhere.

      1. Yeep*

        This *almost* happened to us, not on a work trip, but at a turnpike motel with real keys. We had just about gotten to the door to put it in the lock and the manager came running after us, yelling that he gave us the wrong room.

      2. piggy*

        One time I was traveling to do a project with a senior colleague I’d never met before. We arrived at nearly the same time and she checked in to the hotel a few minutes before I did. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to “my” room and heard a panicked voice from the bathroom….the front desk had mixed up whose room was whose and given me a key to the senior colleague’s room instead of my own. That was a very awkward first impression!

      3. A Real Person I Swear*

        Something similar happened to us on a family trip to Vegas when I was a kid. Front desk gave us a key card to our room, and we opened the door to find another family still in there. Had to go back to the front desk and get another room.

    5. Katherine*

      What I don’t understand is motels throwing things away! When I’ve left things behind, theyve always offered to courier them back to me.

      1. Welp*

        Almost guarantee they didn’t “throw them away”… most likely housekeeping took the items they wanted. Especially brand-new unopened food like noted above.

  22. No Tribble At All*

    Two, on a two-week overseas trip, six months into my first ever job out of college:

    (1) I was working shifts and didn’t realize my hotel had a bar. I get off work Saturday night, and the hotel’s small parking lot is packed. I didn’t know the local language for Parking Garage, so I couldn’t read the sign pointing me around the corner to the garage. I was so tired, I double-parked a local and got an angry phone call from the front desk to move my car or it was about to be towed.

    (2) The company said it would pay for my hotel stay directly. They did not. At checkout, the hotel asked for my card, but since it was a *two week* stay, my card was declined, because two week’s worth of meals + rental car + the hotel stay was over my credit limit on that card (baby’s first credit-card-with-no-international-fees). Had to awkwardly call my manager in the lobby and put him on speakerphone with the hotel manager until they got it sorted out.

    1. Siege*

      Why do companies do this? I was once in a position where I almost had to charge an $800 dinner on my credit card, which … well, we would have been lucky if the charge had gone through, except I would have been unlucky, because the card definitely did not have $800 left on the credit limit due to a massive car repair. Fortunately the other staffer had a company card so she charged it (it was a spur of the moment thing when we realized the way to make up for an issue was to invite some of our company’s guests for a very nice dinner) but then when we got back home from the convention, her department tried to stick my department with the bill because they’d gone way over their budget on the trip. My boss, who was the nicest person on earth, ate them alive very politely and pointed out that the original issue was their fault and they would be paying for that dinner. But why would you send people who are early career out on travel without a card? Do companies assume everyone has a trust fund?

      1. iglwif*

        I worked for my first employer, which gave corporate cards only to people who travelled frequently, for so long that I started to think this was normal.

        Several times I put airfares, hotel rooms, and meals on my card because my early-career direct reports didn’t have room on theirs — that started to seem normal too.

        Then I went to work for a grown-up company that required all expenses to be on company cards, and friends, this is so much better.

    2. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

      Honestly businesses requiring employees to put expenses on personal credit is horrifying for specifically this reason; most of us don’t have a credit limit to sustain these kind of expenses.

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      We almost lost a house we were buying because of the credit card thing. My husband got a job for a start up in Oregon and we were moving from Texas and the parent company was in California and he was working at the vendor site in Massachusetts until they had equipment in Oregon.

      He had to travel every week until we moved and both the reimbursements and his paychecks kept being sent back and forth between California and Oregon but never getting to him until by the time we finally got to 5 days before we closed on the house they owed us over $12K, all of which was flagging the mortgage company.

  23. (Former) HR Expat*

    I was invited to attend a leadership development training in the London suburbs that was being run by my company. I lived in Manchester, so it wasn’t too far of a trip. There were a couple things that went wrong- I think there was some disturbance in the space/time continuum or something.
    1-My company asked us to fill out a form with all our information so that they could set up reservations at the hotel where the training was being held. When I arrived at the hotel, I found out that I didn’t have a reservation and the hotel was fully booked. The closest hotel that had an opening was 10 miles away. I was the only one whose reservation wasn’t made.
    2-I woke up the next morning with about 50 messages from friends and family in the US asking if I was ok. The previous night was when the Manchester bombing happened at the Ariana Grande concert. I had traveled through the adjacent train station the day before. Because of the bombing, I spent my morning checking in on the team I supported and my business leaders to see if everyone was ok and what support was needed. I missed the first morning of the training.
    3- We were in the middle of settlement discussions for an employment law case, so I spent the 2nd afternoon of training on the phone with our lawyers working that out.
    4- Everything went fine for the rest of the week. But when I went home on Friday, I couldn’t get my car. I had parked in the parking garage for the arena and it was still closed off for the police investigation. Luckily, my work paid for a taxi home that night and I was able to get my car over the weekend.

    1. KT*

      I remember a work conference fairly early in my career. It was the local office, and 2 from other states that had come in for the meeting (I worked in the local office). Turns out everyone except me had been given hotel rooms for after the conference – including all the local people. There were discussions of all the fun to be had that night and the awkward moment when the people I was chatting with realized I was the only one excluded until I finally just slunk away.

  24. KD*

    Our (small) engineering team was traveling to a conference. We had a “set” budget for the conference and lodging. This meant our admin booked us in a tiny AirBnb where the power went out on the second day, one coworker had to sleep in a walk in closet, and I had to *share a bed* with the only other woman on the engineering team. We spent half the conference on the phone with AirBnb trying to get the power restored and missed several talks. (It was an illegal AirBnb so they didn’t want us to speak with the super.)

    Never. Again.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        I was gonna say, if the AirBnB was illegal, you should have all the leverage to get it fixed quickly (assuming you knew it was illegal at the time).

        And, seriously, people, if you run an illegal AirBnB, you really don’t want to give people stuff to complain about…

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Seriously! One “crime” at a time! If it’s an illegal AirBnB you (the owner) need to be doing everything in your power to make it appear legal. Maintain it well, provide lots of amenities to distract/entertain guests, etc.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          Someone in my building lost her lease for running an illegal Air BnB out of our building. It was a basement efficiency.

    1. OMG, Bees!*

      Wedding trip, not work, but 2 AirBnB stories out of it.

      For us, we had an AirBnB in Brooklyn and were told to get the keys from a bodega nearby. We arrive at the bodega around 9pm after flying all day and they had no idea who we were, no AirBnB, they suggested looking elsewhere; maybe we got the address wrong, they said. Multiple calls to the owner/renter of the AirBnB went unanswered and we thought maybe we got scammed.

      Finally, after the 5th call, someone answered, apologised, and said to mention Nigel to the bodega. Who change tune immediately and a loud and jolly “NIGEL! OH, HA HA HA! HERE IT IS, HERE’S THE KEY! NIGEL! HA” and a few minutes later we were on our way.

      Next day, I went to the same bodega for breakfast items, and someone there who recognized me, but wasn’t at the Nigel part asked if we found our room. I said yes, something about Nigel, and the same over-the-top “NIGEL! OH, HA HA HA!” again. Friendly after that…

      Another friend, for the same wedding, had an AirBnB in Manhattan, but no bodega for her. Instead, she had a scavenger hunt across a couple streets and a back alley to find various keys to get in at a similar late-ish night hour. For a reason I forget (but not AirBnB shenanigans), she had to spent a night at our rental.

  25. AVP*

    I was traveling for work A LOT with the same crew for years, and we all knew each other really well. We had a good hotel budget and preferred to stay in boutique type places, not chains, preferably in a downtown so we didn’t need to drive together every time we wanted a meal.

    We went to this one major US city pretty often, and it only had a few hotels that made sense. We had gotten sick of the W and so one time I opted for the “historic” non-chain place. Turns out that by historic they meant “has not been updated or renovated or had basic maintenance done since we opened.” In addition to being kinda dirty, the first time we tried to take an elevator it dropped a few floors! Slowly! No one got hurt but it did not inspire confidence! My boss was back at the W that night.

  26. Cow Mom*

    Years ago, when I booked travel for one of my managers. I didn’t realize it would arrive so late and that it was a smaller airport, that they would be out of rental cars. When he landed the rental car agency didn’t have any more cars and the guy running the booth offered to drive him to his destination (this was before Uber); the car was his personal car with trash in the passenger seat. When manager returned from the trip, he commented to me about looking back and wondering why he took the guys offer, since he didn’t know anything about him and only later thought that he might be a murder/kidnapper. We had a good laugh about it, but I paid more attention to flights and rental agencies after that.

  27. Lab Boss*

    In an effort to pack light, I took a single pair of pants on a trip to Europe (suitable for both work and casual wear). As I buckled my seatbelt on the first leg of my flight, the buckle caught on the button and popped it free, lost forever into the abyss of the plane. I skulked around my connecting airports holding my pants up by keeping at least one hand in my pocket constantly, looking like a big creep I’m sure- when I finally got to the hotel, I used my emergency sewing kit to simply sew the entire set of pants together permanently where the button had failed, it worked like a charm

    (Yes, today I would probably just go buy new pants. I had less money and was less willing to just buy things without finding a sale, plus I was already nervous about my first international trip and my problem-solving skills kind of froze up).

    1. Stopped Using My Name*

      Using the emergency sewing kit such that you did not have to buy new pants counts as excellent problem solving.

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Agreed! I stopped carrying an emergency sewing kit a few years back (mostly because my purse is heavy enough already and I need to stop treating it like a mobile command center) but now I’m gonna go throw it in my travel duffel.

      2. Lab Boss*

        Thanks! I guess I should say, in retrospect I definitely COULD have afforded new pants and the more sensible solution would have been to buy them. I was still thinking like a summer camp counselor, and not like somebody who had stores nearby and money in my wallet, but hey- it got the job done! (The pants, tragically, did not survive the trip. They profoundly ripped when I hoisted my bag off the carousel in my home airport and were given a dignified burial in the trash).

    2. ferrina*

      I was so broke in my 20s, this would have absolutely been me. Once I had money where I could cover stuff like this, it still took me a while to break the habit.

    3. Manders*

      I flew to Sweden for a work trip. I barely made my flight, my luggage did not. I stupidly decided to wear my knee-high boots on the plane, I guess so I didn’t need to pack them. I unzipped them on the flight, only to land and find that my legs had swelled enough that I couldn’t zip them back up.

  28. Ruby Soho*

    It was new hire orientation near Frankfurt. I couldn’t find the driver at the airport for like an hour, and when I did find him, he was just about to leave and was very unhappy with me. After a very fast ride on the autobahn, he dropped me off at my hotel. Which had a short twin bed instead of the expected queen size. So my trip was already off to a rocky start. The next day, we had training sessions at my company’s HQ. I don’t know what happened, but mid-morning I got horribly sick, throwing up and slouched down in the bathroom stall. Eventually I managed to get out of the bathroom and a coworker got me a cab back to the hotel. Except the driver didn’t speak any English, I don’t speak any German, and he had no idea where to take me. It took far too long to get me back to the hotel, at which point car sickness had kicked in.
    It really really sucked.

    1. Panicked*

      There are few things worse than being sick AND in a place where you don’t speak the language.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        Always grab a hotel business card when you check in. Then you have something to show the driver if needed. A young friend spent his first evening in Spain searching in vain for his hostel – all he remembered was it was old and had large wooden doors, in a town where just about all the buildings are old and have large wooden doors. He was in despair until he spotted a Canadian flag – it was the consulate! So then a consular officer drove him around until they finally found the right hostel.

  29. LibraryAnne*

    On trip for a conference several years ago, I was staying at an AirBnB with two coworkers. It was a little bit far away from the conference and you needed to either take public transit or a rideshare/taxi. The very first morning, I decided to walk to the public transit. On the way, I stopped and picked up a breakfast from a Starbucks. I popped my wallet back in my bag and then headed to the stairs to get to the train.

    As I climbed the steps, I became aware of someone close behind me. Then I felt a faint tug on my bag, which had migrated to behind my back as I climbed the stairs. I shot a quick look behind me and the man stopped and looked at me in surprise. I ran up the last couple steps, started frantically looking in my bag and.. my wallet was gone. The man had pickpocketed me. I yelled, “That man stole my wallet!” and he took off running down the steps and away.

    Fortunately for me, I still had my cell phone and my notebook with all my passwords and phone numbers. I called the police first, then the bank. He’d already used the card in it to buy a bunch of gift cards at a nearby pharmacy, but the bank flagged them as fraud.

    However, I now needed a way to buy food/transportation for my entire rest of the conference. My coworkers were able to spot me some funds until I returned home. I banked with a local credit union that didn’t have any branches nearby, and I didn’t have ID anyway! Which was also a problem when I was trying to catch my flight home. I was lucky enough to have taken a picture of me holding my Library of Congress library card that I had got on a vacation to DC, which helped establish identity a little bit. But of course, I was subject to a pat down and all my bags were searched before I was allowed on my flight.

    I now take a picture of my ID before I fly anywhere, have my wallet match the color of the lining of my bag, make sure that I bring some cash and keep it in my luggage, and I push my wallet to the very bottom of my bag after every transaction.

    1. Bethany*

      I always travel with at least one credit or debit card in a separate bag. On the plane, I have my wallet in my personal item and the separate card in my carryon. Once I’m at the hotel, the card lives buried in the bottom of my suitcase until it’s time to go home. I’ve never had to use it, but it’s reassuring to know that it’s there.

  30. A Significant Tree*

    Three short stories:

    I had an international business trip (9 hour time diff) and proceeded to have wicked insomnia for the entire duration. I don’t think I slept more than an hour at a time, or more than a handful of hours overnight. I did all the right things for sleep hygiene and adjusting to the schedule, and I was okay during the business meetings, but when I finally got home I was wrecked for a week.

    Same trip – this was when US credit cards required PINs when used in the EU. I thought I had set up my PIN but my card was constantly declined and my ATM/debit card wasn’t accepted anywhere. I could not get cash or pay for anything! I had to keep borrowing cash from my coworker and keep a running tab to make sure everything was reimbursable.

    Another time, I had a business trip to Las Vegas – my flight had a late arrival so I was checking in around midnight along with a surprisingly large number of guests. A man in a suit walked up to me and asked if I was staying alone (!) but then introduced himself as one of the managers. Turns out they were about to reduce the reception desk staff by one – my line – and he asked me if I could tell anyone who tried to line up behind me that the line was closing after me. In exchange I would be upgraded to a suite. So I said fine, and I did have to tell a few people but if they didn’t believe me and lined up anyway the manager would eventually come let them know the situation. It was a little awkward but whatever, I didn’t have to enforce the policy.

    At check-in, I did get my upgrade, hooray! It was a very nice suite… with a connecting inner door to the neighboring suite. On day 2, some hardcore smokers checked into that suite and the smoke just poured under the connecting door. I kept jamming towels along the base in the evening and housekeeping would pick them up during the day. Really ruined the experience that I couldn’t leave the smoky casino smell behind me at night.

    1. me*

      On the second to last night of my last business trip to Vegas, I got back to my room and there was a SMELL. I could not figure what it was, until I realized that the smell was coming from me. Specifically, all the smoke from the casinos had gotten into my pores and almost everything I had with me. I went through my suitcase for anything that didn’t reek and fortunately found a dress and sweater that were both slightly too casual for the last day. Fortunately, my boss understood when I explained it to him. Also fortunately, I was able to get the smell out of everything I had with me, including the suitcase, once I got home.

  31. Fernie*

    On my last work trip, which happened just before the pandemic, I was scheduled to be away for two weeks over four legs to three different destinations. I packed my biggest bag with every favorite belonging and article of clothing because I was going to be away for so long.

    I departed from City 1 (midwestern US) on Airline A. When I was checking in, a youth choir was practicing an angelic, multi-part song in the lobby, and I remarked on it to the gate agent. He said it was making him sad, because basketball star Kobe Bryant had died that day in a helicopter accident. He gave me a stub from the bag tag and sent me on my way.

    I transferred in Chicago to Airline B, arrived in City 2 (Germany) overseas, and no bag. I filled out a claim and detailed everything that was in the bag, to the best of my recollection, and went to the hotel to wait for it to be delivered. In the meantime, I took a shower but the curtain didn’t fit well so the few clothes I had with me got soaked on the bathroom floor, and I had to drape them on the room’s radiator to dry. Still, I managed to be presentable at my meetings.

    Several days later I traveled to City 3 (Scandinavia). Still no bag. I called and filled out another claim with Airline A for good measure, again detailed the very many things that were in my bag. I spent the weekend in City 3, but the many hours spent talking to airlines ate into my planned tourism time, as well as shopping for ten-packs of socks and undies, and trying to use Google Lens to figure out which bottle at the store was shampoo and which one was conditioner.

    During one of the airline calls, we surmised that, based on the number on my bag tag stub, my tag had got mixed up with someone’s who was flying to Panama City, Panama. I contacted the airport in Panama City directly, and they replied with the kindest email, and a photo of my bag. It was found! I emailed them my complicated itinerary and hotel details, and they plastered the bag all over with thorough and highlighted instructions. Hooray! Maybe it was on its way?

    After the weekend, for the second week of my trip, I left City 3, giving lots of instructions to the hotel to hold onto the bag if it arrived there because I would be back in a few days, and few to City 4 (Germany), checking my previous carry-on and buying a tote bag (covered with pictures of Moose!) at the airport to carry my new belongings. I was awakened in the very middle of the night by a call from someone from Airline A baggage services in Newark, New Jersey, and tried to make as much sense as I could in my sleepy state, to confirm that it was my bag and where I would be.

    Returned from City 4 (Germany) back to City 3 (Scandinavia), still no bag, but now, when I tried to look up my case number or new bag tag number, my bag was not in the system at all any more, it had fallen off the face of the earth after New Jersey. I made do, hand-washing my new belongings, and realized how very much less stuff you actually need when you’re traveling. My colleagues praised me for my calm, because at this point I had become resigned to my reduced circumstances.

    I returned at last to City 1, and amused everyone with the story and my resilience. I thought the incident had turned into a funny travel story from my past and had moved on, accepting that all those favorite clothes and belongings were no longer part of my life.

    The next week, like magic, my bag appeared at my house! Newark had shipped it by FedEx, which is why it dropped off all the airline tracking sites. Airline B had a reimbursement program, so I even got some money back for my 10-packs of this and that which I had to buy. And that Moose tote bag and the one sweater I bought in City 3 are still some my favorite things I own. But I now pack much, much lighter and will never, ever check a bag again, no matter how long I’m going for! And I will always remember what day Kobe Bryant died.

    1. Myrin*

      Oh my god, I’m incredibly stressed just reading this – I gotta agree with your coworkers, I’m amazed at how calm you sound through all of this. I’m really glad your bag arrived at your doorstep eventually!

  32. Problem!*

    After a long, stress-filled few days on a business trip my colleagues and I were finally ready to fly home. Halfway through checking in the airline’s entire computer system nationwide went down. Every flight grounded, no one could get boarding passes, the works. The terminals were zoos of stranded passengers since this airport was a hub for that particular airline. During this ordeal we all started coming down with some nasty flu-like virus so imagine being stuck in an airport with your colleagues whom you’re friendly with but not actual friends, while all of you slowly decline in health, waiting to board a plane that’s delayed for about 8 hours. It was a bonding experience for sure.

    1. MsM*

      I also got the nasty post-trip bug right before a red-eye I’d scheduled so I could be there for an important Monday meeting. Needless to say, I went straight home from the airport and did not make the meeting.

    2. Minimal Pear*

      Oh man, was this in 2017(?) with… British Airways or something like that? I was in Scotland and showed up at the airport for my flight to London only to be confronted with Pure Chaos. (Of course I’m sure this has happened many other times.) I managed to BOOK IT and catch a train instead.

    3. me*

      1. This sounds stressful and not fun at all
      2. This also sounds like the setup for an amazing new zombie movie

  33. Sunshine*

    I had one miserable week-long business trip. I was the sole employee of a small business owner, and we travelled to a convention, where we spent a week tabling to connect with potential new customers. The problems were many:

    Introvert vs Extrovert showdown, Introvert lost. I had been clear about my need for alone time during this trip. We drove together one day there and one day back, spent each day talking with potential customers, and shared a hotel room all week. She said she would respect my occasional off-hours time alone to recharge. Nope. One night, she swore up and down that if I would get dinner with her, we could sit in silence. She talked the whole time. On the drive home she kept talking even after I pretended to fall asleep.

    The Incredible Changing Performance Review! She kept telling me she could never have managed this trip without me… until mid-week, with no new customers, when she asked me for the first time how much it was costing her to bring me on the trip. (I handled payroll.) Boss promptly panicked about the cost vs return, and spent the rest of the week telling me my work wasn’t good enough to justify my pay. Back in the home office, in a continued panic, she cut my hours from 3 days/week to only 1 day, effective immediately. Then she told me “I didn’t do right by you” and asked me to go with her to some self-help seminars, with no pay, to mend fences between us. Without even offering to go back to 3 days per week. (I declined to attend the seminars.)

    But the absolute piece de resistance? The [Unspecified Noun] Anonymous meeting… with an audience! One day as we were packing up our table to go back to the hotel, she suddenly told me she was going to this meeting instead, and I would need to go with her because she didn’t have time to drop me off at the hotel. I could wait for her in her car. I didn’t like that – but she had an alternative! I could go with her to the Anonymous meeting – and just sit in the corner! Which, if I were going to an Anonymous meeting, I would NOT want anyone to do. And I did NOT want to do it. I finally convinced her to deposit me at a nearby coffee shop.

      1. Sunshine*

        Not long! I started applying, I started a full-time office job a few months after the unfortunate business trip. I told this boss I was applying for full-time 9-5 work. After a few weeks, she asked me, “so when you start working full time, are you still going to work here?” Apparently at first she assumed I would do both.

        This was before I was very familiar with AAM. Now I would usually follow the advice to not tell your boss you’re leaving. But apparently, even though I thought I told her I was leaving, she didn’t get the message!

    1. Wombats and Tequila*

      Yeah, that’s not Introvert vs. Extrovert, that’s Normal Person vs. Manipulative Power Tripper Who Wants to See How Many Boundaries She Can Stomp

      1. Red_Coat*

        Seconded! I had a recent travel with an introvert (I’m an extrovert), and after several hours they needed Alone Time. They went on a little hike, I went deeper into the city and did City Things around People. We reconvened and it was great!

        1. Sunshine*

          Yeah, I certainly don’t think that her boundary-stomping was an extrovert characteristic! It was a separate problem.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Seriously. I would’ve gotten up from dinner and walked away. I probably would’ve paid for my own motel room too and abandoned her to talk to the walls.

        1. Sunshine*

          These days I would do a lot of things differently, for sure. I weep for my younger self. At least I started a job search after that trip.

    2. Sunshine*

      I should add, I was there mainly to do admin work, she was there to sell. The “no new customers” thing was not a result of my poor performance. (Nor hers, really – it just turned out to be a different group than our target audience.)

  34. CTA*

    This is on the less dramatic side of things. IDK what happened. Human error. Technology error. But a few things could have been prevented if the hotel had made any effort to help. Rant incoming.

    I was on a business trip with 3 other colleagues. We were all staying at the same hotel, but arriving at different times. My grandboss’s assistant booked the hotel. She shared the confirmation email with all of us. The email listed the reservation in my grandboss’s name, but she said she had added all of our names to the reservation.

    My grandboss was the first to arrive and he checked in fine to one room. Then, my boss arrived and the hotel would not let him check in because his name wasn’t on the reservation. Boss had to call grandboss. Grandboss has boss added to reservation. He tells the hotel that two more people are checking in later and asks if he needs to give those names. The hotel says no. My boss said the hotel was debating which room to assign him. Boss didn’t know why this was an issue because the reservation was for 4 rooms all with king size beds (so no difference in room type).

    I arrive later. The hotel doesn’t let me check in because my name isn’t on the reservation. I have to call my grandboss. I did contact his assistant, too, but my grandboss’s name was on the reservation and he was the only one the hotel would authorize to let me check in. The assistant wasn’t on the trip. Assistant also seemed really confused when I said having the confirmation number won’t help me because the hotel said my name wasn’t on the reservation. The hotel didn’t even offer to call my grandboss’s room and see if he was at the hotel. They wanted me to call him. I guess to prove I wasn’t a fraud?

    My grandboss calls the hotel and adds me and our remaining colleague to the reservation. The remaining colleague doesn’t have an issue at check in because grandboss adding his name took care of that. Later that evening, my grandboss told me he tried to add us the first time my boss had trouble, but the hotel said he didn’t have to add our names.

    IDK what the hotel was thinking. Didn’t they wonder why my grandboss had a reservation for four rooms? Didn’t they wonder why he was only checked into one room? Did they think he was going to return 3 more times that day to check in 3 other people? I don’t know why all the names weren’t added to the reservation. Human or technology error. But the hotel had a chance to fix things the first time my grandboss had to call and add my boss to the reservation.

    1. Llama Llama*

      I have to wonder if the person who helped with your bosses check in thought they would just be handling the others and now they knew the sitch it was no big deal. Something happened and they were not the ones to check you in anymore.

  35. toomuchcringe*

    My wife went on a business trip once, had to share a hotel room and bed with her boss. Woke up spooning her boss and was told later that she was snoring the whole night.

    1. Rory*

      I genuinely can’t believe people are expected to share, not just a room, but a BED with colleagues. Just ewwwwwww

    2. LCH*

      ugh. i have an upcoming conference trip where I am staying in an AirBNB (fingers crossed!) with a coworker who is senior to me. it has a bedroom bed and a living room pull out bed. really hoping this works out not weird! our workplace is having budget issues so travel is no longer covered so senior employee decided to spring for this for both of us. i already know i snore sometimes, hoping she won’t be able to hear me.

    3. Turtlewings*

      If you force an employee to sleep in the same bed as you, you lose any right to complain about their snoring.

  36. Anon for this*

    There was the time I accidentally stayed in a love hotel on a trip to Japan. With my boyfriend. In separate rooms.

    I was going to a meeting in Tokyo, as was my boyfriend, a coworker, who was Japanese but living overseas. The hotel we’d usually use for work trips was booked up for some reason, so he did some research, and found a hotel one train station over, with decent prices. We hadn’t been dating long, and weren’t out to our employers yet, so we booked separate rooms – in Japan, prices for hotel room are by person rather than room, so it costs the same as sharing.

    We arrived at the hotel to check in, and noticed some other couples checking in, but without any luggage. The rooms were clean and comfortable, but on further inspection, it had a very eclectic selection of pay on demand video options, bubble bath, and a bathtub where the tap could be turned sideways, to more comfortably fit two people. At this point, we started to figure out what was going on. Other than that, it was a perfectly fine room in a hotel that happened to also rent by the hour, and had a set of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” monkey statues as decoration. I do wonder what the staff thought of the couple staying in separate rooms, however.

    1. A Poster Has No Name*

      That’s a great story!

      I imagine the staff thought it was some kind of kink, and since they’d probably seen it all, it likely didn’t even register as odd.

  37. Rincewind*

    My worst was when I (30 yo transman) was asked to share a room with my 19 yo female coworker.
    The worst part was that I don’t even think it was transphobic. When I pointed out that the ask was ridiculous, they didn’t say anything about sex/gender and instead came back with “well, you’re married and would be attending a work event, it’s not like anything is going to happen between you two!”

    It was bad enough that they made us carpool in her vehicle (I didn’t own a car at the time) and I was stuck in a car for 3 hours each way with said 19 year old. We were not friends by the end of the trip.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Carpooling:

      I was put in a company-rented car with two colleagues to drive about 5 hours to a conference. They both said they weren’t comfortable driving a strange car, so I drove the whole way out and back. On the way there they needed to study notes and mentally prepare for the conference. On the way back one needed to catch up on e-mail and the other wanted to sleep. So I got to drive a 10 hour round trip without being allowed to use the radio. Corporate carpools build anti-morale.

      1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

        I hate driving but I am also of the opinion that the person driving gets to choose what’s playing in the car, be it radio, audiobook, music, etc. IMO your oclleagues should have brought headphones!

        1. Lab Boss*

          Both of them were slightly senior to me and said it like it was just an obvious thing, to drive in silence- I was more conflict averse back then and would often just go along to get along. Now I would be pulling over to a gas station to let them buy earplugs :D

  38. Rory*

    OK longish one here

    Part of 2 week trip from UK to Asia for big internal conference. About a dozen of us were travelling from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur direct then connecting to Johur Bahru at tip of Malaysia. (side note – flight was 7 hours but my VP refused to allow us (which included Director levels) to fly business class even though was inside policy. There was like $200 difference – he flew business class on another carrier/flight)

    Night before flight we’re all at hotel and one colleague notices our (morning) flight is now listed as 6 hour delay. As we’re unsure if this will be real, we all go to airport early anyway. Cue frustrating search around BJ airport, including finding out way into “back office” areas of airport to find airline staff to understand situation and options

    Eventaully agree that we will fly to KL, they will put us up in airport hotel and connect to JB in morning (as now arriving to KL at 11pm or so)

    Arrive at KL and there’s zero staff/info about where to go. Despite a plane full of people which is 7hours late at their home airport, there is zero info o rhelp. Again we manage to badger our way into a back office with senior member to airline to get info. Get taken to line to queue to give info for shuttle bus to “airport hotel”. Except apparently “airport hotel” is an hour away and the bus hasn’t been seen for 90 mins

    We decide to jack our layover plan and get taxis!! Cue extremely cramped 4 hour ride through the Malaysian jungle at 1am with all our bags. Get to outskirts of JB and taxi drivers are lost – so they call a local taxi to guide them to the hotel. When we get there and are checking in the taxi drivers demand extra cash vs what we agreed. With patience wearing thin I gathered whatever US dollars we had and then gave it to them with a extremely loud directive to **** off now

    One of my all time epic work journeys.

    And here’s the kicker – the flight we took was MH371. The reverse flight (KL to Beijing) was MH370, which vanished a few months later…..

  39. H.Regalis*

    When I was a kid, my mom would go to work conferences during the summer and would take me along so it would be a work conference and a vacation. The ones she picked were always in August and were either in the Deep South or the Southwest. She’d drive us there (minimum twelve-hour drive from where we lived) and our car at that time did not have AC. I was too young to drive, so I couldn’t drop her off at the conference and go explore the city: I’d have to stay at the motel all day while my mom was at the conference.

    I remember being in Albuquerque in August, stepping outside the motel room to get a soda from the vending machine, and there being a 40-degree temperature difference between our room and the outside. For years afterwards I hated going on vacation because these trips were so terrible.

    1. Liz the Snackbrarian*

      With all the love in my heart, I am wondering if your mom is a midwesterner.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        The 12-hour drive (were there sandwiches, milk, and breakfast cereal in the cooler?) is the key.

      1. H.Regalis*

        I agree! These trips were terrible. Who goes to the South in August?!

        I also remember on one of these trips we had a 9+ hour drive that day, and my mom made us stop at this little tourist-trap roadside museum about an hour before close, in the middle of our drive so we still had at least three hours to go. I was a teenager by then and I was complete asshole about it the whole time we were at the little museum.

  40. Merry and bright*

    My brother just got back from a business trip where the airline lost his luggage upon the return flight. His response was that this was the least bad thing that had happened on the trip, so it qualified as a non-event. His luggage was eventually found and returned.

  41. Delta Delta*

    Was working at a nonprofit and was sent to a conference. It’s generally understood that rooms get shared. I had shared with Coworker in the past and we got along fairly well, so no big deal. Except one year Coworker and I were informed we also had to share with Newbie.

    Newbie proceeded to get shit-hammered drunk at the conference cocktail reception. We’re talking falling-down, flammable, outrageously drunk. Somehow Newbie ended up back in our room before Coworker and I did, and she proceeded to lock us out with both the chain and the deadbolt. We tried to get her to open the door, but she was drunk-sobbing and possibly naked (I mean, who knows at this point). We tried all sorts of things and in the long run, Coworker bunked with another person we casually knew who had extra room and I slept in my car.

    1. ConstantlyComic*

      Wow, that’s wild! Was Newbie able to look y’all in the eyes at all the next day?

    2. ferrina*

      I love the description of “flammable drunk”.
      Also seconding the firing (though maybe not while she’s flammable)

  42. Llama Llama*

    My grand boss was once on a trip and went to smoke on the balcony in a very tall building. Something fell in front of the balcony door making impossible to open. He was without a phone, keys and in basically underwear.

    Eventually he managed his way into the neighboring balcony (10 stories or so up!!) and slipped out of that person’s room. He had deadbolted the door so he had to go down to the lobby in his underwear to get someone to open the door for him. Of course this requires maintenance so it takes a while for it to happen. So it wasn’t just a quick fix.

    At this point he was late for the meetup with colleagues so he had to tell them what happened. Everyone in the department knew by our next department meeting.

  43. RCS*

    I was new to scheduling travel, the former admin left and I was trying to help out. CEO flew to California from the East Coast and I somehow reserved his rental car 30+ minutes away from the airport. I guess I was trying to save $ and this was a deal! He had to take the rental car shuttle to a really scary part of the city to get his car and the car ended up being old/halfway broken down. It became a running joke for the remainder of my time there. ‘Have R reserve your rental car, she knows all the best companies’ kind of thing.

  44. Lab Boss*

    Oh, this was only business-trip adjacent but I think it’s worth telling. After finishing the work part of my trip on a swing to Europe I had booked some time off to explore a nearby city. I arrived at my hotel at dusk to find a sheet of paper taped to the door announcing that they’d permanently closed 2 days earlier and hadn’t had time to contact everyone with a reservation, so sorry. I did at least speak the language, but my phone was not cooperating and was unusuable.

    I luckily remembered another nearby hotel I’d looked into while planning the trip and they were able to get me in, and were so kind and accommodating they’re my first choice on all subsequent trips to the city, but I can still taste the panic I felt standing there.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      OMG had the same thing happen to me with a group of guys in southern France. We’d stayed M-F at this hotel for 3 weeks. The following Monday, we flew from Paris to Toulouse first thing, did 8 hours in the office, then showed up to a note saying the hotel was closed for “judicial liquidation” ie bankruptcy. This was way out in the country, pre-GPS. We finally found a business on this country road that was open, and had a fluent French speaker (but with an American accent) ask in his best broken French so they’d take pity on us.

      The silver lining is the hotel they pointed us to was better and cheaper than the one we’d been booked in before, with a great restaurant and right around the corner from a big regional park. We stayed there for another 4 months.

      1. Lab Boss*

        I, too, ended up in a superior hotel. Gorgeous view, free breakfast, an endless supply of complimentary baked goods that “the girls in the kitchen make” (AKA, constantly changing based on what they felt like making), and a receptionist who called me a “poor wee thing” and gave me a healthy discount so I wouldn’t think badly of the city.

  45. Southern law firm*

    When I was a paralegal in the mid-00s I took a trip with an attorney who was so mortifying that I went to HR afterwards. It was a on-site paper document collection with copying and some reviewing of documents and putting papers into file folders into file boxes. We were given a pretty big room that had a few tables in it and a couch at one end. When we ran low of supplies, this attorney walked around the company and found a supply closet and just pilched (stole!) supplies! I was mortified. Then we all went as a group and she showed us where the supply closet was so we could all go get some. She would tell me to just go and take some supplies! She definitely implied it was ok but I was skeptical. I tried to get out of it, I think if I did take some, I only took a few because she went back and took a lot. Then an employee from the company came to our room and specifically asked us if we had been going into the supply closet. I can’t remember if this was my fault – I’m pretty friendly and probably if I saw an employee, I would’ve admitted it straight out. I was young and could have played it off cute and dumb like “oh I didn’t know!” But this employee came specifically to the room where we were and I was on the couch – and he was definitely talking to the attorneys at the review table, but he was standing in the doorway and kind of loud, like we were all in trouble but he knew who the main culprit was. The attorney played it off like *she* had no idea and of course it wouldn’t happen again, just an honest misunderstanding!

    When I got back to my office, I made an appointment with HR and told them what had happened because I did not want to get in trouble for her inability to represent the company professionally. I wasn’t trying to report her, I was trying to protect myself. It was horrible!

    1. Karo*

      I may be missing something, but going to get more supplies if you needed supplies seems pretty normal/innocuous.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        As I read it they’re getting supplies not from their own employer, but from the off-site facility where they were working, which may well have been charging them for supplies and expecting them to ask for the folders etc so they could be properly accounted for.

      2. Ms. Murchison*

        It sounds to me like they were visiting a client to do document review. Still doesn’t seem like it would be a big problem if the work turned out to need more office supplies than what they’d expected. If so, it probably would have been best if the attorney in charge cleared it with the client first. But I’m also confused by why it triggered this level of concern.

        1. Southern law firm*

          Yes, the attorney was basically stealing supplies from the client’s office, without permission. To me it seemed like a big deal because the attorney did not have clear permission to get the supplies from there – in fact, we were told not to!

          Fair, though – I was young, perhaps I overreacted!

          1. ferrina*

            The fact that the attorney lied when she said she had no idea was pretty bad.
            If it wasn’t an issue, then why the lie?

            In general, going to HR when your boss lies sounds fine.

  46. SarahKay*

    Not me but a colleague. We were sent to some training in our Swiss site, which is located approximately halfway along the shore of Lake Geneva.
    Colleague stuck the site address into the travel planner and told it to find him a hotel within five miles of site. Sadly, he didn’t check the map. The hotel he booked was indeed within a five mile radius of site – but on the other side of the lake.
    Actual road distance – nearly 45 miles.

    1. Which Susan are you?*

      Couldn’t you take a boat? I’ve been to the Italian lakes and they all have water taxis that criss-cross them, so you don’t have to drive the terrifying half-lane road around the perimeter.

      1. SarahKay*

        I think there were ferries but they weren’t terribly convenient, or indeed noticeably faster than just driving. And at least in this case the roads round the lake were good ones, with two lanes in each direction.

    2. noncomitally anonymous*

      Ha ha! I once had an argument with a rental car rep who was confused about why I couldn’t get to a specific site to pick up a car that was only 5 miles away! Yeah, it was *on a different island*. I couldn’t drive there.

      1. Beth*

        An excellent reason to go to the bar and order Wrong Island Iced Tea. (There is, or used to be, an actual pub in the San Juan Islands, a short walk from the ferry terminal, that had that on its menu.)

  47. Coach*

    The opposite of a mishap, but I always considered it to be a karmic reward for all the toxicity i endured at this particular job. I used to be an assistant coach for a college athletic team. One of my administrative duties was to make travel arrangements for competitions. Usually we would stay in the same hotels in a particular city, but on this occasion I booked us at a new one because the old hotel had been falling short in various ways on recent visits. We were low profile sport at a big name school and I think the hotel manager was thrilled to be tapping into that university’s business. After checking in, I realized he thought I was the head coach. I had been upgraded to their best suite and was treated to perks like a fruit basket, tons of snacks and even a credit for the spa.

    The head coach was evil incarnate and I knew he’d lose his mind if he found out. Switching rooms before getting settled would not have been enough because the perceived insult to his stature of Head Coach would have more than he could handle. So I kept quiet and just enjoyed my suite and snacks. As with most business travel, we seldom spent much time at the hotel anyway. But as it happened, on day 2 the weather was awful and we were stuck at the hotel waiting out delays. So I got bored, and bold. Turns out the spa had an opening that was perfect for me so I booked it.

    When competition finally resumed, the rest of the coaching and training staff were super frazzled as we tried to get the team ready on the compressed timeline. The head coach was losing it. Snapping at everyone, forgetting important things, and just in no way in control of himself. As was always the case, his bad attitude spread to the rest of the staff like a plague. I, on the other hand, was relaxed and refreshed from my 60 minute massage, express facial, and mani/pedi. I almost got caught out when someone noticed my freshly painted nails, but fortunately the head coach chose the moment to have a temper tantrum about how he couldn’t find his stop watch, which was of course around his neck but hidden under his hoodie.

    1. Rara Avis*

      When very young, I was an assistant coach at a high school. The head coach wanted to take a team of 4 to a competition that required an overnight stay. I needed to come because of school rules about gender-based overnight supervision. The head coach reserved a room for himself and one for the athletes, but forgot to account for me. The hotel was full. I slept on the floor of the girls’ room. 25 years later I would have protested, but I didn’t feel like I had any options then.

  48. cuteshoes*

    I was traveling solo to a work conference in a big city. I was going to have to get straight off the plane and get to work, so I was in business dress, including a nice (thin) pair of ballet flats at the airport. The security line at the airport was particularly busy and the TSA agent particularly aggressive, so as I was going to collect my work bag off the conveyer belt, the agent pushed everything forward with enough force that my bag flew into the air and landed, with a surprising amount of force, so that the corner of my laptop hit my pinky toe. By the time I landed, it the toe was impressive shades of purple and quite swollen. For some reason, I decided not to go to a doctor (out of town, no time, didn’t think they’d do much i couldn’t do for myself). Unfortunately, I had only brought dress shoes with me. Also, to add insult to (literal) injury, I wasn’t staying at the conference hotel, but at a place about a 10 minute walk away. I spent the whole conference uncomfortably limping around, cursing my shoe choices and that TSA agent.

    1. Yeep*

      ugh, terrible. I stayed a 10 minute walk from a conference last fall. The comfortable shoes I’d bought, that seemed fine when going short distances, slipped a ton while making the walk back and forth to the conference. Bloody blisters the entire time. I actually started walking barefoot on city streets. That was my own fault, though!

  49. TRC*

    Four of us on a volunteer alumni board were sharing a hotel room in Orlando. Yes, we were sharing beds but didn’t think anything about it at the time. We’d all been overseas and it just didn’t register.

    After a session, we went back to the room and found cigarette ashes in our toilet. That’s when we realized there was a connecting door to the room next door and were shocked to find it unlocked. So someone had been in our room.

    Eventually we figured out who the person was in that room, we realized he’d been sitting near us during our midnight Waffle House run. And he kept calling our room asking for a date. Total stalker behavior. It would have been even more terrifying if there hadn’t been four of us.

    We made the hotel move us to a different room in the morning and they talked to the guy to leave us alone. So the guy backed off or left and we didn’t hear from him again.

    But I’ve never been a big Orlando fan and haven’t been back. There a big difference between the theme park-related hotels (which I’d stayed at several times previously) and those outside that bubble and we were WAY outside that.

    1. Yeep*

      That is HORRIFYING.

      My husband was in a training program for work in 2008. He would travel to different locations around the country and learn on the job/backfill for vacations. He was at a place in Georgia about an hour north of Atlanta. His hotel seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. He gets to his room and some guy keeps calling him for a booty call. He’d obviously seen my husband in the lobby or something but my husband has no idea who or where he was, but he deadbolted the room and didn’t sleep a wink that night.

  50. Not Cajun*

    I traveled to a Baton Rouge Louisiana factory to tell them about the water research my company had done. I presented a map with local parish, city, and geographical names on it like creeks and rivers and high points. I speak American English as a my native language and took about 6 years of French in school. I mispronounced every single Cajun place name I said. Eventually I just pointed to a place on the map, and the audience would read it to me. It was a little bit funny, later.

    1. Felicity Porter*

      LOL, I’m from Georgia and work at an organization that has locations across the south, but just got up and running near where I grew up. My boss is from a big northern city and likes to tease me when I mispronounce names of places in states where I haven’t been because he’s gotten familiar with them and I have no reason to (all my work is internal). I always retort that I can’t wait till he’s getting confused stares because he’s pronouncing one of my local words wrong.

      1. Suburban Experience in the US*

        Like Cairo, Georgia – pronounced completely differently from the one in Egypt!

        1. Shannon*

          My company has a facility in Cairo, GA, which is pronounced Karo. Its pretty much guaranteed that at any meeting at our corporate office, somebody will pronounce it like Cairo, Egypt, and there will be a chorus of “It’s Cairo, like the syrup.” But that’s Georgia – we like to name things after famous things, and then pronounce it differently, for flair! Looking at you Houston County, or Vienna, GA.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            Oh and don’t forget your neighbors who have Beaufort, SC and Beaufort, NC which are not pronounced the same.

          2. Avery*

            I’m curious whether these (mis)pronunciations are the same as the Illinois towns of the same name, which also differ from the original cities. Sounds like Cairo isn’t, though–Cairo, IL is “Kay-row”. Vienna, IL is “Vy-enna”, first syllable rhymes with “Why”.

          3. Dog momma*

            I’m from Rochester NY, & we have several of these also.. Lima NY like the bean, not the city in Peru. Ch “eye” lye which is a suburb, not Chili like the food, but we spell it Chili, Ahvon, not Avon calling, lol. Cha’ lotte, another suburb, not Charlotte, like NC. CliNton Ave, not like Cli*ton st ( I’m originally from Binghamton NY, we don’t pronounce the N..not sure why).

    2. I already forgot my name*

      Native Louisianan here! Sorry about that! Sometimes we just pronounce things the way we’ve decided to pronounce them!

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yep! Also some very interesting (you’re not gonna figure it out on your own) pronunciation for names with indigenous origins.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      I live in Michigan and it is inexplicably the same here. Charlotte, Novi, Saline, Mackinac, Milan, Dowagiac, Gratiot… none of these are pronounced like you’d think, and I think they all have different etymologies (some are French, some Native American, some just people names) so there’s no trick to figuring it out, just rote memorization.

      1. Bissell*

        As a native Michigander, all those are pronounced exactly like I’d think!

        I recently met someone from Milan, Italy and had to keep (internally) correcting myself before talking about her hometown.

        1. TiredStudent*

          I grew up in Alaska near Valdez. It’s pronounced Val-deez. Spanish class was confusing for us all.

      2. JoAnne*

        Ha ha ha – Gratiot! We had someone fly into Detroit who was extremely confused as we all kept talking about taking Gratiot (a main road). The pronunciation is quite rude. Of course, we don’t notice it, in our heads we see the spelling. (gras-sh!t)

    4. Simon (he/him)*

      Yep, all the French place names here are pronounced at least a little bit wrong, lol. I took French in school for years and still can’t understand Cajun French unless they slow down a lot because it’s so different.

      1. Not Cajun*

        As someone from the American South, where “redneck” can be a point of pride, i affectionately now call Cajun “redneck French” and no one has corrected me on that point, at least.

  51. hodie-hi*

    I have two, traveling by plane from the same work site to home both times.

    The first time, my colleague and I were on the same flight home. He drove us in the rental car to the airport. I cannot remember the cause, but the maze of roads within the airport was gridlock, completely stopped, apparently for hours with no end in sight. So we–along with hundreds of other people–abandoned the car where it was and walked to the terminal, just barely making our flight. (This was before 9/11.)

    The second time, severe thunderstorms shut down all flights into or out of the airport. So we waited. And waited. It’s clearing out, we’ll board soon…oops, never mind. This was before cell phones were a thing, so I’d get on a pay phone to call home to keep spouse updated. As the hours ticked by and I called home with updates, spouse would relate to me the progress of the day, including the party that we were hosting. I finally arrived home after midnight. If I’d rented a car and driven the seven hours, I’d have arrived in time to enjoy my own party.

    1. Heather*

      I’m guessing the first few people who just walked away from their cars led to a delay, which led to more abandoned cars, etc

    2. ferrina*

      For your second story- I’ve had the opposite happen. There was a huge storm in my destination city, with no one getting in or out. My friend was supposed to be giving me a ride from the airport. My flight was supposed to land at midnight, but my friend checked the flight, checked the weather, and everything said I wouldn’t be able to get in. So she went to bed.

      Meanwhile I land. I know nothing about the giant storm- it’s just a bit rainy and windy. I guess my flight was the only one that made it in that night. I wait for my friend until 1:30am before calling. Luckily she turned off her Do Not Disturb, and she was shocked I had landed. She came as soon as she could, but it was almost 2:30am before she got there.

  52. Desk worker*

    I was packing for a multi- day and night work trip and, as per usual, my cat(s) were all over my suitcase. So, being the forward thinking problem solver I am, hung my black slacks up to pack last.

    I think we all know where this is going.

    Yep, no pants except for the jeans I wore on the plane. I worked for a company that had Very Strong Opinions on how we were to dress and look while on trips. Jeans did not cut it.

    Queue frantic store and transport searches (before Uber) to find a buy reasonably priced pants for the week, before our first scheduled meeting.

    Now I just close the suitcase between adding things. Like I should have been doing already. And definitely do now.

    1. RogueTrainer*

      This one is especially funny because of the industry- I was, very early in my career, a travel agent for a large company with many branches, one of which was travel. They decided to hold a conference for all the travel agents from all the various branches across 11 states, for one Saturday in Florida. We were all instructed to book our travel through the corporate travel department, who were separate from the commercial agents, by a certain date. Also, since it was a Saturday conference, taking the full day off on Friday was discouraged- if at all possible, we were to work a half day then head to the airport. Myself and the other agent from my office followed instructions and booked early, with flights that got us into the conference around 10 pm. However, the company did not account for the fact that only a certain number of flights that fit their booking criteria were available, and about halfway to the booking deadline, announced that so many people were arriving early, they were adding a vendor event on Friday night, complete with entertainment and drawings for prizes where you could put in your business card and the drawings would be done during the Saturday event. But, if you’d already booked your travel, you were not allowed to adjust your flights to attend this event. Also, they were only paying for one night at the hotel (Friday-Saturday), and the conference would definitely wrap up in time for the earliest flights and there’d be a shuttle service. So, by following their instructions, I missed the vendor event, wasn’t entered into any of the drawings, and the conference ran over time. Plus, since we’d only been allowed to book rooms for one night, we all had to check out the next morning before the conference events started and let the hotel store our luggage. There was so much luggage being stored it was insane, and the hotel stored by name, not departure time, so there were hundreds of travel agents standing in a sea of luggage frantically trying to find theirs so they could run for a shuttle that was running late and caused most of us to be running through the airport in danger of missing boarding for our flights home after being in the state for less than 24 hours. You know, the exact opposite of the good travel booking practices they were impressing on us to use for customers. It was a *mess* and a half.

    2. AnneCordelia*

      It’s ok, I went on a long trip once and forgot to pack any underwear. I think I had my clothes laid out in different piles and somehow missed grabbing the underwear pile. Thank God every city has a Target.

      1. JustaTech*

        When I went to see Hamilton through my husband’s work I managed to not pack any underwear. Thank goodness for Nordstrom Rack!

      2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        My wife did the same thing on her first post-pandemic work travel. Fortunately she made it to the Target in her destination city just before it closed for the night.

      3. EmmaPoet*

        I once went on a business trip and realized in the airport that I’d accidentally pulled the stuff bag with underwear in it out of my case before I left the house (I was looking for something and removed it, then forgot to put it back in.) There was no Target, but there was a department store nearby, so I scurried over the first night after our meetings ended and grabbed everything.

  53. Clearance Issues*

    3 of my coworkers were sent cross-country to an office that they were supporting, had a great time, and then due to flight issues were trapped in the airport for 48 hours and the travel department refused to answer their calls. they got home eventually…

  54. Elle B*

    My first “adult” job out of undergrad (I was 22) with a small IT consulting firm. I worked under the HR person, her boss who was the CEO, and her boss’s best friend/former college roommate the CFO. I was hired as a technical writer but it was almost exclusively administrative work.

    We (CFO, CEO, HR woman, and myself) went on a business trip to Orlando (the firm was based outside of DC). During dinner the first night we were there (all four of us), the CEO waited until I had food in my mouth before asking me if I was planning to have phone sex with my boyfriend when we all returned to the hotel.

    Everyone, including my boss, the HR woman, thought it was hilarious.

    I departed for another job shortly after arriving back home.

  55. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    I used to work for a contract photography studio, and one of our larger money-maker jobs was doing out of town graduation photos, which the studio would try to bundle up into 2 or 3 shoots over a day or a day and a half, since those took a minimum of 2 people, ideally 3, and it was a pain (and more expensive to pay for mileage) to send 3 people out for just one shoot.

    So, I, our studio manager, and another photographer had one evening shoot, then the next day we would have a morning and then an afternoon shoot. First shoot goes fine, then we drive most of the way to our morning destination. To save money, the studio owner liked to book cheap motels in less populated areas. So we get to our hotel and get our rooms (coworker and I share a room since we’re both women, studio manager gets his own), it’s already after 10pm, and there is NOTHING to eat except a surprisingly crowded Waffle House as far as we can see, and we’re starving. We decide to drive into the little town to see if maybe there’s something faster, as we just wanted to hit a drive-thru and crash at the hotel.

    We drove into the town square, having seen no fast food or really anyone, and noticed a group of people standing around a truck and started to drive toward them to ask if there’s a McDonald’s or something when the light turned red and we stopped across the street from them…and then watched in horror as the people at the truck unfurled a HUGE confederate flag while we sat at the red light. We tore out of there as soon as the light turned green, and put as much distance between us and whatever was happening down there as fast as possible.

    Needless to say, we decided to go back to the busy Waffle House, and the studio manager had a word with the owner about his choice of hotel locations.

  56. Joyce to the World*

    Didn’t quite make it traveling for work, but the last time it was requested that I travel, I ended up getting a horrible case of poison ivy. My ticket was already purchased, so I was trying really hard to get to a point I wouldn’t look like someone with a communicable disease. It only got worse. Don’t follow internet advice which includes taking a bath. Nope. That makes it spread to more areas where you do not want it to go. The day before the trip I sent my boss a picture of my arm which looked just horrible and my face, where it was also all over. She was nice enough to let me stay home and attend the meetings virtually. They didn’t get refunded for the airfare. I was so relieved. I have horrible travel anxiety to begin with and I couldn’t imagine travel while I was so miserable.

    1. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Sometimes that happens – people get sick unexpectedly, if the company wanted a refund they should have booked refundable airfare.

      1. Iain C*

        I’ve done plenty of non refundable business travel. But the flip side of saving that money is that you have to be prepared to throw a ticket away and buy a new one. Still been overall a saving

  57. too many ohio c's*

    This one was my fault: I was presenting at a conference in Ohio. It was my first conference presentation and my first time travelling for work. I had *also* just given notice that I’d accepted another job and would be leaving a few weeks after the conference–which my boss was not happy about. Four days before the conference, I went to map my route from the airport to hotel, just to see how long an uber ride would be. Readers, I had booked my flight into Cleveland for a conference in Columbus.
    I was too embarrassed to just ask the accountant to change my flight, and didn’t want my boss to be even more mad at me, so I just said nothing. I rented a car on my own dime to drive the hour between cities. It was a tight turnaround, too, since I was flying out the evening the conference ended and hit friday afternoon traffic.

  58. Ann Onymous*

    I was 6 months into my first professional job and got sent on an international trip with several colleagues. It was my first time outside my home country, my first time traveling for work, my first time flying in business class, and my first time throwing up on an airplane. For context, I was not prone to airsickness as a kid, but became much more sensitive to it as an adult. I hadn’t flown for a few years prior to this trip so I figured I’d see how things went on the first flight (less than 2 hours) because I had a long enough layover to recover and take motion sickness meds if I needed them before getting on the second flight. The first flight wasn’t bad, so I didn’t take my meds and got on the second flight. Dinner was served about an hour into the flight. I took two bites and then puked. I spent most of the rest of the 9 hour overnight flight standing at the back of the business class cabin hanging out with the flight attendants because I felt a lot less sick when I was standing. This happened in fall of 2014 when there was an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and I swear every single crew member on that plane asked me if I was absolutely sure I hadn’t been to West Africa. I have not flown without motion sickness meds since.

    1. Silver Robin*

      It was my first time outside my home country, my first time traveling for work, my first time flying in business class, and my first time throwing up on an airplane.

      This is a brilliant sentence, thank you for the laugh

  59. pally*

    Back in the day (1990’s), the VP of the company would travel to Europe a couple of times per year (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy) for business. Each return yielded lots of great stories of the people, the food, places they stayed and things they did. Sometimes souvenirs were brought back as well.

    After one particular trip, the hotel reached out to the company to ask for the return of the key to the room our VP had rented. Added that a very hefty fee would be charged if we didn’t get the key back to them right away. Which we thought was oddly out of place. Don’t hotels have oodles of keys to their rooms? What’s so unique about this key?

    Turns out, this hotel where he stayed was a former castle and located in a very out of the way place. The key for the room was the only one of its kind. No duplicates. And they were unable to get into the room until that one key was returned to them.

    Well, VP was full of the “how do they know I have that key?” talk. But he soon acquiesced. The huge fee they threatened to charge had a lot to do with that as the CFO wasn’t going to let the company foot that bill. The key was returned. Turns out, the VP had fancied the key as it was very unique-looking and wanted to keep it. Thought he might get away with it too. That is, until the hotel called the company.

    1. allathian*

      Yikes, did the VP get to keep his job? I mean, he was caught stealing…

      At the very least, I hope they never booked that VP into anything more interesting than a standard business hotel where the keys are cards that can be deactivated.

  60. JR*

    We had a trip where:
    *the hotel we were staying in caught fire (minor damage thankfully)
    *power went out in the building we were conducting software training in
    *the toilets in the same building were leaking from the above floor (so you couldn’t use the restroom without having toilet water drip on you)
    *we missed the flight home
    *and ended up having to share a room that night because there were no hotels that had two rooms available.

  61. Annony*

    I was traveling once for business and instead of my company paying for travel, the organization I was visiting was paying. They were about a 3 hour train ride away so I suggested traveling by train since it was convenient and cheap. They told me no. They were only providing transportation to and from the airport, not the train station so I would have to fly. That’s fine. They are the one paying for the flight. But then it turned out that my flight had a layover in the exact opposite direction of where I was traveling. So instead of a one hour direct flight, I had a two hour flight, three hour layover and three hour flight. Never again. If that bizarre situation happens again, I will pay for my own cab to the train station.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Something similar happened to me, on a job interview trip. There was a direct flight between my West Coast city and the Midwestern city where the job was. They sent me home via a layover in Texas, in thunderstorm weather. Fortunately, I wasn’t offered the job. That may have been the same trip where I went to put my breakfast on the room, to make it easier for the company to pay. Not allowed.

    2. JustaTech*

      One time I was booking a flight from the West Coast to the Midwest and Concur (aragh) really, really, really wanted me to take a flight through Newark. Or Atlanta.
      Why, why why with the overshooting your destination by half a continent?

  62. ArtK*

    My wife and I sang in a choir. We had a concert scheduled in a city that was just far enough away from home to warrant a hotel room to avoid a 3 hour drive home after singing. I booked us a room at the motel that everyone else was using. After the concert we got to the motel and opened our room. The room smelled like an ashtray that hadn’t been emptied in months. Neither of us can deal with cigarette smoke (both grew up with smokers.) So I went to the office to ask for a change. The clerk *insisted* that when I made the reservation, I had requested a smoking room. I, on the other hand, clearly remember selecting a non-smoking room. There was no other room available so we ended up driving back that night.

  63. The Guilty Clogger*

    I was assigned to share a hotel room with a subordinate (both female) while attending a conference. Between the flights, airport food, and nerves, my stomach was a wreck and I was…backed up. The second evening of the conference my roommate said she was going to the hotel bar to socialize with some team members. This was my chance to finally use the restroom and relieve myself – hurray! I said I’d be down shortly, wanted to wrap up a few things.

    Then… I CLOGGED THE TOILET! Water and unsavory contents were swiftly rising and there wasn’t much in reach. I grabbed my toothbrush to wedge under the tank float to stop the water flow. Then I had to call down to the front desk to ask for Maintenance to drop off a plunger. Help arrives and I’m humiliated at the door, but they won’t just give me the plunger. They want to give the full service. I’m already DYING of embarrassment so I excuse myself to meet my colleague in the bar.

    Unfortunately she wanted to go freshen up and went upstairs to find the Maintenance man unclogging our toilet, so there was no way it could remain under the radar. I just fessed up, apologized, we had a good laugh, and I picked up a replacement toothbrush at the front desk. We no longer work together, but I think we ended up bonding over the humor of the situation and are still friends!

    1. ArtK*

      I’ve clogged a toilet while traveling. The folks at the B&B were very nice about it because that particular brand of toilet is *very* prone to clogging. I should have been more careful since we own the same brand and it gives us trouble regularly.

    2. oh no*

      Oh no. Reading these are bringing so many memories back. As an undergrad, I attended a conference and roomed with another student. We went to the hotel Applebee’s that night and I went crazy – the faculty thought it was fun to treat the students so they’re ordering appetizers and desserts and all of this food I don’t normally read. We get up to the room and within 20 minutes I am having the loudest cramptastic diarrhea in our shared bathroom. It was a literal sh!tshow.

  64. ZSD*

    My now-husband, then-fiance’ was in grad school in Southern California and went to a conference in Pittsburgh in January. For the plane, he wore his California clothes, but of course his checked bag had a coat, long pants, and naturally a suit for his presentation.
    As you’ve guessed, the airline lost his luggage. For the entire duration of the conference. He had to spend the full conference in shorts and a T-shirt, in January. He occasionally dashed across the street to get fast food. (Grad students can’t afford hotel restaurants!) His suitcase was finally delivered about an hour before he had to head back to the airport to fly home.
    The positive side of this is that every day, when he called for a status update, the airline kept giving him more and more flight credit, which was transferrable to another person. So a year later, he and I were able to fly to our wedding (in my home state) and on to our honeymoon for free.

  65. Texan In Exile*

    I was the only woman in a group of men at a three-day offsite meeting. They were all sleeping in a big house on the golf course together; I was in my own little cottage down the street.

    The first day, at our meeting in the big house, one of the guys was talking about how he had hit a golf ball into the smegma.

    I gasped as the blood drained from my face.

    He noticed my response and asked what was going on.

    Instead of pulling him aside and quietly explaining, I blurted out the explanation to the entire room. (None of the other men had reacted when they heard the word, which made me think they didn’t know what it was, either.)

    Then the blood drained from his face as he hurriedly said he had no idea. He had thought the word meant a clump of grass on a golf course. (I believed him.)

    Later that day, my boss said I should go back home – it was too expensive for me to be in a cottage by myself. And it’s only now – TODAY, MORE THAN TWO DECADES LATER – that I am realizing he probably sent me home not because of the expense but because I had explained what the word meant to all those present.

    1. ThisWitch*

      At the risk of sounding out of touch, I also don’t know what that word means, but I’m at work so afraid to Google it!

      1. Tinkerbell*

        In brief, the gunk that accumulates in your nether crevices if you don’t clean yourself properly :-/

      2. NotSoRecentlyRetired*

        Yeah, I just looked it up on wikipedia. Definitely not something to look up from an office computer.

  66. Borderline*

    For about 10 weeks and International ferry ran across Lake Ontario from Rochester, New York (USA) to Toronto, Ontario (Canada). Collegues in Rochester took the ferry to Toronto for a training class. (Ferry took about 3 hours, drive is about 3 hours).

    Before the class was over, the ferry company declared bankrupcy and closed. Fortunatly one person took a car on the ferry so they could drive back when the class was over.

    1. Dog momma*

      Borderline, will assume you’re from Rochester.. but for those that don’t know, that was the biggest money breaker for the City of Rochester. Millions of dollars wasted..thanks Mayor Johnson!
      The port is in Charlotte ( prompt Cha’ lotte), and there is nothing there.. I believe the 2 eateries closed on the port closed. No taxi, bus, nothing, and you can’t walk ” to town”, its about 10 miles. There’s nothing there but the lake. Instead of being the Fast Ferry, the mayor wanted it to be decked out like a cruise ship.. total disaster.

      https://rocwiki.org>Fast_Ferry

      https://wblk.com>rochester>Toronto fast-food rye any

  67. Anonymouse*

    This is highly identifying to anyone who was there, so I’m gonna change my pseudonym…

    But in 2023 we had a “marketing summit” in the city my company is headquartered in. The first day we had some meetings, then socialization in the evening – pizza making, cocktails, so much wine, and then the VP of marketing held court at the hotel bar for as long as people could stay awake (I retired to my room around 8:30 because I was done peopling). She is known for liking a good time and being free-flowing with the drinks at happy hours.

    The next morning, we’re getting our coffee, settling in for meetings, and the VP is nowhere to be found. She stumbled in over an hour late, claiming her alarm didn’t go off. *After* the guy who also overslept, having put two bottles of wine in his cargo pockets the night before…

  68. HR Chick*

    Attended my first business trip back in the 90s when I was in my 20s to New Orleans. I came home and could not stop vomiting. My mother had to take me to the hospital to be treated for dehydration caused by the flu. I was in an out of the hospital in one day (two bags of IV fluid later). Everyone thought I drank one too many Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. LOL.

    1. ArtK*

      My first business trip/conference was to NOLA as well. For some reason, nobody told me that there was a mandatory meeting every morning, so I spent the mornings in the French Quarter eating some great food.

      Same trip, I would go out in the evenings to enjoy the food, paying well over the per-diem; I didn’t mind spending the extra. The sales guys, on the other hand, were eating at McDonald’s in order to make money on their per-diem.

      1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        I had a business trip to NOLA where they made it very clear that there was a mandatory networking dinner every single night, plus they served lunch. (This was an internal all-company offsite across our multiple locations). We had NO good food in one of the greatest food city in the country.

    2. Urban Fervor*

      This reminds me of the time my husband had food poisoning in his early 20s. We lived together at the time but I was working non-stop double shifts so we barely saw each other for a few days. I knew he was sick but I didn’t realize he wasn’t able to keep anything down for DAYS. He eventually visited his university’s health center where they promptly sent him to the emergency room. The hospital kept him overnight because he was so dehydrated! I felt like a terrible girlfriend for not realizing how sick he was.

      To this day his mother doesn’t believe this wasn’t simply a hangover, no matter how many times we try to set her straight. She thinks we’re just embarrassed about drinking too much.

  69. ArtK*

    Another one: I was sent from the US to the UK to train some folks. The nice thing was that my ex and our sons were there, so I took an extra few days to take the boys around. Things went south when I went to the airport (Heathrow) to fly home. That happened to be the day that British Airways ground crews went on strike so nothing was flying. The airport was full of people whose travel arrangements just got messed up badly. I was able to call BA and get on a flight the next day, but where could I stay? Corporate travel was useless since tons of people suddenly needed overnight accommodations. So, I called my ex’s ex boyfriend, who lived in London, and he put me up for the night.

    1. MsM*

      …I realize it’s probably not wise to ask for more detail, but I don’t think I’m going to be able to live without it.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      Don’t even get me started on company-funded strip clubs and prostitutes.

      That is, company funded for male employees to take male clients.

      I wonder why the women didn’t get the good accounts?

  70. theothermadeline*

    Is it a travel mishap if it’s actually just terrible business practices? My first business trip ever was two weeks in New York City assisting on mass hiring for a big sports and entertainment event that my national company was a partner for. I was based out of Kentucky, so my hourly rate was at the very Kentucky level of $17 an hour. We were given a $35 flat per diem for all food, travel, etc. in NEW YORK CITY. They also put us in a hotel that did not offer continental breakfast OR have microwaves in its rooms. I complained a lot about it with the woman who was 30 years my senior who they HAD ME ROOMING WITH FOR TWO WEEKS.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked for a city years ago and was sent to Banff, at a hotel out of town. I could get into town for dinner but was stuck at the hotel for breakfast and lunch. Policy was $5 for breakfast unless it is provided (this was a LONG time ago), and they provided coffee and pastries so that counted as breakfast provided. $6 for lunch and $15 for dinner. If I could have moved the money around and ate a less expensive dinner, or was allowed to use that $5 from the break