Thursday, July 24, 2008

What I'll Do for Money

While on vacation, a friend whom I sometimes do research work for was frantically trying to reach me. The problem? She had been awarded a project which she had not anticipated getting. How's that a problem? The client wanted me to meet with them. And I was not around, was I?

No, I was about to go to Wales, to a little village on the northern side of the Llyn Peninsula, staying in a "chalet" which had been temporarily put on the site on which Pete's aunt and uncle were building a house. There is no telephone service there. There is excellent cell phone reception. And there is water and electricity and a television antenna. But there is no Internet connection of any kind.

My friend tracked me down through Pete, reaching me on the English cell phone Pete had bought the last time he visited. All I had with me was my handy-dandy Neo, which is great for writing a questionnaire, mind you, but which is not so great for sending off to someone in a land far, far away. Worse still, my friend didn't want the client to know that I was on my simply fabulous European Vacation.

I'm an early bird, folks. I don't stay up until 10 p.m. most nights, although the kids and I made it past that time a number of times only because it's so damn light in England and France and Wales when it should be the kids' -- and my -- bedtime. Guess what time the conference call was that was arranged by my friend, who never said where I was, only that I was "between meetings?" Yeah, it started at 10 p.m. It ended at 11:17 p.m. I do believe I slept through many portions of it, rousing myself at times to make a pithy comment or two.

In the end, I had to make three trips to a nearby town with an Internet cafe of sorts. It was really a computer repair shop that had two computers available for weirdos like me and mine to use. I made it an adventure for the kids: I could upload my questionnaire while they checked on the Webkinz and the latest war-like video games coming soon to an Xbox-360 near you. Isn't this fun, kids? Aren't we glad we can use a computer with Internet access? What fun!

Could I have told my friend to take a hike? Yeah, I suppose I could have. But that's just not me. I sometimes wish it was, but it's not. She's my friend. And it means money. Money to offset the outrageous grocery and gas prices here and abroad.

What's up next? My friend is working to win another quick turnaround project. How do I feel about doing some triad interviews with kids and young adults? Um, okay. Oh, by the way, how do I feel about flying to Texas to do them? Gulp!

Rides to Heaven on a Gyroscope

A couple of months ago, I saw a client I hadn't seen for a number of months. Like more than a dozen people have in the recent past, she ...