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"A change of underwear is always nice, but I wanted my Advil!"
- Paul Talley

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Business travel, Mexican style
by Paul K. Talley, 39, Montreal, Canada
Aug 11, 2000

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Lonely Planet Mexico Travel Guidebook

Actually, I never shut up the whole time. The more I showed the clients, the more they wanted to see. From 9 in the morning until 3:50 in the afternoon I talked non-stop. I was getting anxious about catching my return flight at 5. But the VP of Technology kept reassuring me that his secretary would look after me. Finally, Rodrigo stepped in and said "If Sr. Taylay (ah ha!) is to make his connection to Houston, he must leave now!" Begrudgingly, I was allowed to go and placed in the custody of the secretary.

The secretary, Juanita, was charming. I was beginning to relax. We got in the car where she turned to me and said, "I'm terrible at driving." To prove it, she ground her way into reverse and stalled three times in the parking lot. My heart sank. The ride to the airport involved more near collisions than I would care to remember. All the while, I was subjected to Juanita's life story. It wasn't that I was disinterested, I just wish she had paid more attention to the road... and oncoming traffic.

I arrived in good time, checked in and went to the waiting area. More like a stall. What do you expect from a 2 gate airport? And I waited. And waited. My plane never came. It was delayed, I was told. After 2 hours, I knew I wouldn't make my connection in Monterrey. My migraine was starting up again. At that point Rodrigo showed up for his flight to Monterrey. He was surprised to see me. Thankfully, he latched onto a gate agent and demanded an explanation. The agent rudely informed us that she hadn't the foggiest idea about my flight and that they would fly me out the next day, if there was a seat. Saturday. Someone was trying to dislodge my eyeball with a red-hot poker from inside my skull. Visions of being sucked into the Limpopo pool flashed before my eyes. I guess one look at my troubled expression told Rodrigo how I felt about this. Something akin to a verbal scuffle ensued. Could I not go back on the same flight as Rodrigo? No. That flight was full and if Rodrigo did not board now, the agent would not answer for the consequences.

Rodrigo bade me farewell and left to catch his plane. On the way he accosted another agent and a very expressive exchange of words took place out on the tarmmac. I watched Rodrigo's plane take off. The sun set. I was alone. If I didn't have a wife waiting for me, it would have been a different story. But "She Who Must Be Obeyed" was not going to be happy. My migraine took on new and sinister dimensions. My Advil was in the bag I had checked. I was hot, tired, and hungry. What a mess.

A gate agent approached me, calling me by name. Now what!? Let me guess, my bag is on its way to Monterrey, but I'm staying here. Right? A change of underwear is always nice, but I wanted my Advil! No, this was more serious. I was asked to accompany him out of the waiting area and back into the terminal. To the manager's office.

The manager, Gloria, reminded me of Odd Job from James Bond and had enough gold dental work to open a jewelry store. One of the perks of being a manager? She introduced herself and the other minor officials that had congregated in her far from spacious office. We all shook hands - a very important aspect of social and professional interaction in Mexican society. We all sat down. First came a series of apologies. Then I was asked to surrender my tickets. All of them. These were examined in detail by the entire staff. There was a lot of tut-tutting and tisking. There was much debate, but a consensus seemed to be forming. For a moment I thought I was back in Japan. Finally, Gloria took control. A series of commands were issued to individual members of the staff and they departed to execute them. It was just me and Odd Job. With the aural dentures. Curiously I was less anxious. Whatever was going to happen would happen and there was little else for me to do but accept it. I was offered an assortment of beverages from the manager's personal stock in her small refrigerator.

What has the manager got in store for Paul?

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