Friday, May 25, 2007

Elvis is Leaving the Building

In case the cat's not out of the bag yet, let me pull it out by the tail: I'm heading to Warsaw this Saturday morning for about two weeks' worth of business meetings and corporate discussions.

Yes, that's right: Warsaw, Poland. It's not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think "business trip", but that just happens to be where I'm going. From all indications, Poland seems to have a sizeable pool of programming talent. That, and I hear they have great museums.

The funny thing was that, about three weeks ago, I wasn't expecting on a sudden trip to Eastern Europe. The entire affair sort of got dropped into my lap one Friday afternoon, after the company's original choice decided that circumstances wouldn't allow her to go.

Sean: "What?"

??: "You're going to Warsaw."

Sean: "In Poland?"

??: "Yes. You need a visa."

Sean: "For Poland?"

??: (Pulls out long list of requirements) "You've got till Monday to get all this stuff together. Processing takes three weeks, maybe longer if you're unlucky. Kiss your weekend goodbye."

Sean: "Poland?"

??: "It's not good to hold your mouth open like that, you know."

As anyone who's ever applied for a visa probably knows, it takes forever to get the processing done. A Poland visa, moreover, was no exception -- it had to pass through an accredited travel agency, mail itself to the nearest consulate in Thailand, and otherwise join a presumably long waiting list.

After a long and harried weekend, I had about half of the requirements readied by the time I reported to work on Monday. It took me about two days to gather everything else that I presumably needed for the visa processing, a fact that got its share of "tsk, tsk" comments.

??: "Have you submitted your requirements yet?"

Sean: "I need two more signatures! And a credit card number! And a miracle!"

??: "Your deadline was yesterday, you know."

Sean: "Where's that envelope? Did I copy those IDs they needed? Where's my wallet?"

??: "Normally, you should expect processing time to be delayed about about one week for each one day you're late."

Sean: "I'm doomed."

I ended up submitting everything on a Wednesday... two days late. Naturally, things were looking grim a couple of weeks later, when not even so much as a single word had arrived from the consulate. I asked the travel agency for an update, and all that they could tell me was that my application was "in process".

True to form, I decided to throw in the towel this Wednesday. There was no way the visa was going to arrive in the next two days. For all I knew, it wasn't going to come around in the next two months.

Sean: "Sorry, everyone. Looks like I won't be able to make it."

??: "It's okay. You did what you could."

Sean: "I suppose so. Ah, well... I might as well fill my next two weeks with meetings so as to make up for my non-presence."

??: "But what if the visa arrives?"

Sean: "Suuuuure. Like it's suddenly going to magically appear before the end of the week."

And, like clockwork, Murphy's Law kicked in.

Suddenly my colleague in Warsaw was on the communicator, telling me that they had fast-forwarded my application. Suddenly the travel agency was on the line, telling me that I needed to re-book the flights and hotel reservations that I had cancelled. Suddenly -- with bags unpacked, supplies opened, and two days left before departure -- I was royally screwed.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I'm tired right now. I've been running around all day, postponing appointments, taking notes, and desperately picking up stuff at the last minute. What's worse is that I'm likely to continue doing the same thing tomorrow... and that the constant feelings of apprehension aren't going to abate despite my finally getting on that fifteen-hour flight. I'll be spending the next two weeks constantly worrying that I've forgotten something really important.

So I'm going to be in Warsaw for a while. I figure that I'll probably have Net access, which should hypothetically allow me to update this blog. I obviously won't be in direct contact with a lot of people for a while, though... but we'll always have e-mail, I suppose. And Messenger. And global roaming.

Now... where's that suitcase?

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