Murphy’s Law?

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Murphy's Law: Our Social Media Strategist Travels to Atlanta

Murphy’s Law? Our Social Media Strategist Travels to Atlanta

The CEO of our company gave her less than a week’s notice, “You’re going to Atlanta for The Landing Page Optimization Summit.” Office deadlines looming, Rachael started to mentally prepare. She had Memorial Day weekend to work at home on wrapping up Grand Incentives eBlasts and other important business. Her husband would care for their toddler. She would have Tuesday, one last day in the office, to make sure her fledgling staff would be comfortable in her absence. Her flight was scheduled for 7 a.m. on Wednesday.

While Rachael could probably easily pilot an airplane – if not design one – she had never traveled alone: never had to pay attention to airport signs, terminals, gates, where to find baggage claim. Since she was leaving from Sarasota Airport (SRQ), she had no concerns about the departure portion of the trip. If you’ve ever flown in or out of SRQ, you understand why.

Small, quiet and staffed with happy, helpful people, it also features a 6,000 gallon aquarium with a diverse collection of colorful fish. These elements plus a cascading waterfall, bright array of shops and multiple dining venues make the airport a destination in itself. In fact, it’s our resident travel journalist’s favorite airport in the world. Her least favorite? You guessed it… Atlanta; a navigational challenge and test of nerves for even the most seasoned of travelers.

“You can do it,” her immediate boss and our CIO, Frederick, said assuredly. “Just pay attention to the signs once you land, and be sure and take a cab to the convention center.”

But I’ve never even been in a cab!

We all assured her the taxi ride would be the easiest part of the trip.

Rachael survived the somewhat turbulent flight and less than ideal touch-down, arriving at the airport with plenty of time to spare. She just needed to pick up her luggage from Baggage Claim, catch that cab to the convention center, check in, and find her seat at the Summit. Naturally, she was dressed in her signature fashionista style, which included a form-fitting pencil skirt and designer high heels.

First order of business, find Baggage Claim. The airport was buzzing with people, the walkway was difficult to navigate and directional signs were sparse. Airport trams were plentiful, but they all seemed to be headed the wrong way. So, she walked as briskly as she could manage, teetering on her heels, feeling at times she was walking in circles. After 20 minutes of nudging her way through the crowds, she found herself at a dead-end. Ouch! Her feet were not happy and she just wanted to sit down.

An airport attendant noticed her deer-in-the-headlights look and advised her to stay put; the tram to Baggage Claim would soon arrive. Whew! Rachael was finally where she needed to be. The tram pulled up, she boarded, and, despite her aching feet, she stood lest she miss her stop. Fortunately, it was less than a minute away.

She stepped off the tram, and lo and behold, there was an escalator right there. But was it the escalator to Baggage Claim? It had only one sign – and it read, “No re-entry after this point”. Hmmm… a gamble. And time was running out. However, there were also signs pointing to an elevator, clearly stating “Baggage Claim.” A sure thing! She followed the signs, walking, walking and walking some more.

The elevator appeared in sight at last. Relieved, she stepped inside – only to discover the buttons weren’t labeled. Okay, which is the magic button to the Baggage Claim floor? She held her breath and pushed one. The elevator ascended slowly and finally bounced to a stop. The door creaked open, revealing signs pointing to Baggage Claim. Yes!

Once again, she followed the signs, walking, walking and walking some more, feet screaming at every step. There, at last, were the elusive baggage carousels. Right next to the escalator she decided not to take…

With help from another attendant, she found which of the 10 carousels would deliver her luggage. She waited patiently, slipping off her shoes – something she would never do in public – but her ultra-high heels were definitely not made for walking. She stood for 15 minutes; 30 minutes, 45 minutes. No luggage. Shoes back on, she hobbled over to a kiosk designed to track luggage. An attendant helped her scan her ticket. There was no record of her luggage.

The attendant offered to check the back office, disappearing for what seemed like an eternity. He finally emerged – with her suitcase. Great. The hard part was over! And catching a cab was a breeze.

Seated at last, she heaved a big sigh as she gave the driver the name and address of her hotel, The Westin Peachtree Plaza in the heart of upscale downtown.

After a 20-minute ride, the cabbie pulled into the driveway… of the Atlanta Detention Center. The complex was located in a sketchy part of town and was surrounded by huge barbed wire fences.

“I don’t think this is it,” Rachael said, feigning composure and hoping with all of her heart that the hotel wasn’t actually nearby. “Are you sure?” He asked in disbelief. “Yes, I am sure. See the sign in front of us? It says Atlanta Detention Center.”

The driver called dispatch for directions, he backed out of the driveway and Rachael was sure they were back on track. They cruised through bustling downtown Atlanta while she enjoyed looking at the shops that lined the city streets. Almost there! Or not. To her dismay, he circled back and retraced his route to the detention center.

That’s when she decided to take matters into her own hands. After trying the GPS on her phone to no avail, she called the hotel for directions. Thankfully, she arrived within 10 minutes. The Summit session had started, but fortunately, Rachael arrived at the first break. She slipped into her seat unnoticed, but amazingly not at all unnerved. Would she do it again? What do you think?

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