Ok everyone, I’m down near the island (South Padre) in my first post #covid, opening meetings with a few potential customers. I had a post yesterday about going on a plane, and many people were interested in how the meetings turned out. Here is a run down of how things went.
Many of us have a pre flight preparation routine. I’m no different. About 2 – 3 hours before I leave I pack my bags. Generally I do the mental checklist of all things I need, like medicine, toiletries etc. Today was no different (of course it was, but I will get to that later). So I packed my bag and remembered to bring my license and mask as they now require you to wear this on the plane, but not in the airport (this is Houston, please keep this in mind).
Getting to the airport was pretty easy, as was getting through the airport. The TSA line was shut down, but this didn’t really matter since very few people were there. I can see social distancing becoming a problem when everyone starts traveling again as it will likely be unenforceable as lines would literally have to stretch out the door. All in all, getting through security was a big non event.
Once I stepped into the airport, I looked around and noticed quite a few people, some with masks and others without. Masks in Hobby airport aren’t mandatory (On the planes they were). I decided to get a Starbucks tea with little problem, but I do envision the que process will be bad when there is a large line. I imagine the line in the Starbucks will enforce social distancing, but once you get into the terminal, I predict a free for all.
Once I got my tea, I proceeded to the terminal for my boarding. This is where things got a little odd. I was flying southwest, and as you know, they have a system by which you que with your letter and number. Normally we would all be jammed together in our little southwest hearts based on the location of the signs they put out for everyone. Today nobody went up towards the sign and we all kind of wondered around wondering what the hell to do. Most of us just went in when we heard the appropriate board groups. Altogether it was still a quick process. Prior to boarding my temperature was taken, and I passed. They also asked you the questions about recent health. As you begin to go into the jetty, wearing a mask becomes a requirement rather than an option.
Because the plane ride was short, water was the only beverage served during the flight. I don’t know if this is because they only had water, or if this is a change, but i believe it was most likely the latter.
Getting out of the airport was fine, picked up rental car, and to be honest I don’t feel like the rental car company who will remain unnamed did any special cleaning of the car, but that could have just been my perception. From the car rental location, Wes and I went to the customer site for our meeting.
We had our meeting with a government agency, so please keep that in mind as businesses may likely not be as stringent. Further, the agency we went to has had some people catch the disease, but none had tested positive in the department we visited. As we entered the building our temperature was taken. We were asked the traditional questions if you have been sick or not, similar to when we first boarded the plane. We informed them that we were healthy and then moved along. As we went to visit our potential customer we were met by people who had us clean our hands with alcohol. Once this process was complete, we went over to the meeting place. We came into a conference room where the meeting was to occur and realized the customer was already inside. This was to be the first real indicator of how people interacted with each other in our new world. While wearing our face mask we still gave each other a hug (very common in Latin culture), then sat down and conducted our meeting. Very little was said about current events, including the virus as we stuck to our business topics. After 45 minutes of conversation on our proposal, we decided to convene the meeting and follow up with a dinner in two hours from then. At dinner we all sat in relative close proximity, similar to what you would see in a traditional dining situation, without masks, and carried on conversation of general topics.
Customer 1 Highlights:
- Temperature checks
- Masks required
- Meeting and customer interaction same as prior to covid
- Post meeting activities conducted in similar fashion prior to covid.
After having dinner, my co-worker and I were going to head out to do a little karaoke, but I wanted to exercise prior to the event. This is when I realized I made a critical mistake in my packing. I had forgotten to pack underwear. I had made my first big error in packing and traveling in the post covid world. I exercised, but nobody was in the gym, so I really couldn’t tell if anyone was going to wear a mask in the gym. However, upon checking into the hotel, I noticed the staff at the hotels all had masks.
As we arrived at the karaoke bar, which will remain unnamed, we observed that it was a packed house. No social distancing, not a mask in site. My co worker and I joked that if we catch covid, it will be from this location. On the other hand, nobody seemed to be sick, coughing or out of sorts until I started singing, which seemed to be more dangerous then the virus. The most interesting event in this bar was when I ordered a drink and another patron decided to try my drink. Bold move, but I allowed them to taste it. I have to admit this exchange made me slightly nervous.
I ended the night with Garth Brooks, Friends in Low Places. Nobody got sick from my attempt at singing.
First Gaff and other notes:
- Forgot to pack underwear
- Don’t eat food that you aren’t familiar with and freak out about having the virus,
- Random people stealing sips of your drink is a little more nerve racking than before.
- People are wanting to, and still going out and having fun.
- Karaoke is clearly the best thing to do on your average Wednesday night.
- In an effort to help someone out, I tipped our bartender $50, I thought he was going to hop over the bar and kiss me, thankfully he didn’t, but I could see his appreciation.
- Some bars still allow smoking, this is one of them. I really don’t like smoking in bars.
The next day we had another meeting with a government customer. Before going to the customer’s location there is an item of note about the hotel. They did not have a community breakfast, but bags of breakfast provided. We had several hours before our meeting with the customer, so we had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. We sat in the bar area as it was the only location ready for customers. Not many people were there, but the service was very good. After finishing lunch, I still had a little time to kill. I wanted to get some caffeine, but Starbucks is still only open for carry out. I hate to say it, but might be time to find a different coffee shop to hunker down at.
Eventually, we arrived at our second customer’s location, and similar to the first we had to get our temp taken and go through a screening process. After this, we met with our client. We have been working with them for several months now so this was more of a check in. Upon being greeted, this group did not require a hand washing. We met and shook hands, again, much like we would prior to covid. As we began to do a demo of the work completed, several others came into the office. This was one place that was noticeably different. We had two additional people show up, and we gave each other virtual handshakes, I hope this does not become a tradition as I would rather just give the head nod. The meeting was completed, pleasantries were exchanged, and we went on our merry way.
Funny note, during the meeting and before the demo group came in, my co worker cut a relatively funny joke. I began to laugh, which was unfortunate, because the night before I had my mask in my pocket at the karaoke bar and it smelled like stale beer and cigarette smoke. This caused me to want to violently cough. In normal times I would have likely coughed and been done with it, now I struggled to keep it in and eventually excused myself.
- Temp taken, questions asked
- Mask required
- Meeting with key customer similar to pre covid, new client did air handshake
- Coughing or sneezing is awkward so you just start to turn red faced unless you excuse yourself.
- Thank goodness that they had a mask I could take.
Travel back home was uneventful for the most part. I had to wait for Wes to take a few meetings and this is when I discovered that eating wasn’t going to be as easy a task as it was before. Many of the restaurants were still carrying out, and I had missed my hotel’s breakfast option. I decided to buy a snickers bar. It was delicious.
We boarded the plane in a more orderly fashion than before(this time southwest was having people board in 10’s, so the first 10, then next 10). I got on with my mask, which I had cleaned in the sink with soap, along with my underwear from the night before. I cleaned them seperately of course. During the flight nothing too outstanding occurred. We took off, flew, then we landed. The last somewhat odd thing that did happen, is as Wes and I parted ways, we did a fistbump rather then a traditional handshake.
One last item to note. Upon landing at the airport on the way to our customers, my co-worker struck up a conversation with a few ladies who were on the flight with us. It appears that covid hasn’t killed the art of flirting.