The best thing about traveling is the people, especially when traveling alone.
I'm on my way back to Denver from DC, my first trip as a PCORI reviewer. I didn't know what to expect, except I knew I'd be with a lot of scientists, doctors, and other professionals. Though I was a patient reviewer, I also knew they would listen to me and take me seriously. The patient perspective carries a lot of weight in PCORI.
All along the way, I've run into the loveliest people. It's amazing and humbling how the simplest moments can mean so much. I'm grateful for all these moments.
It started before I left Denver. I am grateful to the man in security who whisked me off into the fast lane, put my bags through for me, didn't ask me to take off my shoes, and had me through security in less than 5 minutes. At the gate, I got a nice surprise when a familiar face appeared and I learned that my friend, Thom, from our Rainbeau dance club works for Frontier and just happened to be working at my gate. He made sure I had everything I needed and sent me off with a smile and a hug.
From my time wandering along the National Mall in DC, I'm grateful to the two women who chatted with me and helped me figure out directions. Actually, we worked together. If you ask someone on the Mall for directions, you're more likely to find out they're from your home town and they don't know where they're going, either. I'm also grateful to the young man working at the Franklin D Roosevelt Memorial who gave me real directions, including a map, and walked me to the bus stop, just to make sure I didn't get lost....again.
I'm grateful for everyone who directed me to the right subway, to my hotel, and to my room. The hotel I stayed at was the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel, the one close to the National Zoo. It was EXCELLENT! I highly recommend this place. It is an interesting building.... M. C. Escher kind of interesting. To go from the lobby to the 1st floor, you take the elevator UP one flight. To get from the lobby to my room on the 5th floor, I had to take a different elevator DOWN three flights. In between was approximately 20 miles of hallways and desks and more hallways, and helpful staff who were always happy give me directions... with a smile. They would even check with me later to make sure I had found my way. Thankfully, I brought my scooter.
The PCORI experience I'll write about later, but for now, I'm on my way back home, sitting in the middle of the row on the most uncomfortable airplane. I hope no other airlines decides to copy Frontier's new seating. But my seatmates were great. The young man sitting by the window didn't seem to mind when I asked him if he could look out and tell me where we were. He taught me how to say “good morning” in Amharic. I still can't pronounce it. When the plane started to descend, I asked him to teach me how to say goodbye. I figured I might have it down by the time we landed. I got this one much quicker... “Ciao!”
Last, but not least, when I went to get on the shuttle, the driver greeted me by name. Chris had made the reservation and the driver was looking out for me. And, of course, Chris and Emma came to pick me up at the shuttle stop.
I'm home, exhausted, but happy. I got lost all over town, on the trains, and in the hotel. If I'd had a smarter phone, I probably wouldn't have needed to ask for directions.
What fun would that have been?