Traveling Alone

Well, after having done a couple of pretty tough software deployments with my co-worker, I am now faced with the prospect of having to go it alone for the next couple.

Evidently, the cost of sending three people out on each deployment is becoming a problem for the company.  They’ve sent two people from our group (tech support) to do the actual software deployment, and one from the Professional Services group to do training and personnel support on each of the last three.  Now it seems that only one of us will have to do the last couple of them.

At least, I hope it’s the last couple.  There is a chance that we’ll have to continue on this way until the third party vendor the company is in negotiations with actually signs the contract and comes on-line.  Until that happens, I’m sure that it will continue to be one of us doing it.

The next one on the horizon is in a town about two hours away from here.  I have a feeling that I’m going to definitely be asked to do that one.  It’s too local for me to wiggle out of it.  And if I do, I’m probably going to have to spend a lot more money than if someone from the company had come with me.

That’s one of the bad things about being in this position as a contractor.  I don’t have a company expense account and can’t use their AMEX cards.  Additionally, I have to rent a car to get there.  My poor ol’ Jeep won’t handle a lot of traveling and I don’t really want to ask it to.  Buying a newer car is something we just can’t do until we’re more stabile financially.  It’s just not a possibility right now.  So that’s one thing that I wouldn’t have to do with a company employee escort; they’d be willing to drive (we talked about this in one of our team meetings).  Without them, it’s up to me to get there on my own, and while it’s not a huge distance, it’s more than I’m willing to roll up on my old car.

Secondly, I have to pay for everything up-front and wait to be reimbursed by MY company.  They may or may not choose to reimburse me after the client company pays THEM.  That will leave me in a financial lurch.  And if I need the money I use for the trip for something else — like, say, car repairs — I’m boned.  That’s kind of an issue for me too.

Finally, I just hate traveling.  If I have to pay for everything anyway, I may as well see if the family wants to come with me.  I can pay for a bigger room, and see if my wife and the kids want to get away for a couple of days.  I might even stay over longer than the trip so that I can spend some family time with them.  That, actually, wouldn’t be that bad, but that would mean a lot of additional work.  I’d have to rent something large enough to haul all of us and our luggage, get a room and figure out a way to get reimbursed only for my part of it and only for the days that I was actually on the business portion of the trip, and then see if we have the money for food for all of us and things like that.  It would be a mini-vacation, but I’m not too sure it’s feasible.  It would make the trip more palatable though.

In any case, I have to brace for yet more travel.  As nice as the weather’s been this summer, it’s still been miserable for me.  I really, really don’t like business travel, and I’m not sure I know how I got roped into it.  I was asked if going to a facility a few miles up the road would be okay, or the one that’s a couple of hours away by car.  That was it.  No one said anything to me about having to go places like Puerto Rico, Minnesota, Wisconsin … and some of those were, and are going to be, travel over my weekend.  While I see the advantage of getting to wherever you’re going early, it still takes that much more time from my family and as I get older, I’m less willing to do it.

Well … I feel better having griped about this.  I’m glad there’s a place I can go to get things like this off of my chest.

As to whether I’ll be traveling over my daughter’s birthday next week, there is a (slim) chance I won’t have to, since I did schedule the time off well in advance of the trip.  On the other hand, I may end up having to go alone because of how things are developing.  I’m not sure if it’s a budgetary matter or just something where it’s too hard to justify more than one deployment tech, but if there’s a chance the deployment won’t be “easy” — and none of them have been — then I’ll likely have to go, and go alone.

I wonder if they’ve considered that it might be cheaper for them to send two of us than it will be for me to make all my own arrangements and reimburse?  I don’t get the corporate discount on things like flights and car rental.  Unless they’re going to pay for that before I go.

Hmm.  We’ll see … we will see.



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