Great Moments In Unprofessionalism

What not to do on your business trips…

Context: It was my first post-university job, my department was being eliminated, and I was 23.

On my first ever business trip, we went to Europe. I was spending a weeknight with a team lead and a manager with whom I was friendly. We’d already had a couple too many at the hotel bar, but we decided to go play poker at a nearby casino. And we had a great time winning and losing our Euros, laughing and chatting, and of course drinking more, until the casino closed at 2am and we staggered back to the hotel. Alas, the start of the workday in the office that day was to be 6am. I soundly slept through my alarm, and through coworkers knocking on my door, to then show up at 8am, completely hung over, to a very icy reception from the coworkers who hadn’t partied on, and to many ribs from the European team. I was mortified! But the team lead may have had it worse. Though he made it in on time, he was still drunk, spent the morning slurring his words, and then passed out in a conference room by lunchtime.

Did I learn my lesson? Not well enough.
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Come a Friday night before our weekend off, we three musketeers repeated the process of “let’s go to the casino!” and this time talked the bartender from the hotel into coming with us after his shift. He turned out to be pretty swell to party with, because as we collectively pouted about the approach of 2am, he piped up that there was another casino downtown and whisked us away. I woke up at 7am curled up in a chair in the lounge of that casino, with my accomplices nowhere in sight. And I was supposed to catch a train out of the country with some of my office friends that day to spend a weekend sightseeing!

I somehow managed to speed walk back to the hotel despite not knowing where the heck I was, just in time to literally meet my friends coming out of the hotel. While they hailed a cab and promised to leave me if I took more than 5 minutes, I ran upstairs and threw together a travel bag, and we caught our train.

Thankfully (?) they managed to be more impressed that I made it and was functional to explore the city we were visiting that day versus pissed at me for holding them up.

Lesson learned then? Perhaps.

I spent the rest of the after-work time out with some of the European team I’d become friendly with at acceptable levels of party (including an awesome concert).

But the night before our flight back to the US saw the infamous we three sat once again at the hotel bar together. By the time the team lead dared to breathe the suggestion of the casino, manager and I exchanged “oh dear heavenly spirit no!” looks. Our buddy the bartender took notice and suggested we’d join the team lead there after we “finished” our drinks. This transformed into bottomless drinks of fancy bubbly beverage, on the house, for the rest of the night. And we didn’t miss our flight!

What did I learn? Corporate travellers love a good party, but there’s a fine line between creating fun memories and great stories to share with others, and being remembered for all the wrong reasons.

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