Last week, I had the business trip experience of a lifetime! I was on my way to the ATA Technology & Maintenance Council in Nashville, TN, where Webtech Wireless would be demonstrating the benefits of our GPS/AVL fleet intelligence solution, Webtech Fleet Center. We would be focusing on the strengths the solution delivers to transportation organizations, particularly relating to better management of fuel related costs. The trip started off like any other – an early morning drive to the airport, catching connecting flights, landing and checking into the hotel, grabbing a dinner and then settling in for the next day’s last minute event details.
I didn’t know it, but Nashville, TN was about to give me a lesson in cold that most of you would think I’d be well-schooled in. A Vancouver, BC – based Canadian – we have easy-access to local ski hills to experience snow, even though Vancouver itself doesn’t really get snow. But I am after all, Canadian and some of our provinces exemplify true winter wonderlands during the winter months.
A clear and bright morning greeted me the next day, but as the day progressed, the temperatures rapidly dropped, and my phone began a steady stream of severe weather advisory alerts. “Sure, sure, this little storm won’t impact me – I know how to navigate the cold”!
As evening approached, Nashville started to shut down – what, really? The temperature got colder and colder, which led to snow, sleet and a complete freeze. Trying to walk to and from the convention center saw me taking a low, center-of-gravity stance, with slow and measured steps in my ridiculously slippery leather soled shoes. I must have looked like Spiderman would if he was scaling a building, but I was only trying to make my way down the sidewalk!
The mayor called a “State of Emergency” requesting people stay off the roads and that’s exactly what they did. Cabs were scarce, restaurants were closed and my hopes of complimenting this business trip with some great southern fare and top-rate, live music got downgraded to hoping I get to and from the convention center safely and ensuring three square meals a day (trail mix and microwave dinners).
The freakish weather continued. This snap would go on the books as the coldest in Nashville since 1978 and the ninth coldest February in recorded history. People were stranded at the airport and parts of Nashville (that included many hotels) were suffering from power outages. Hotels were booked solid, some weren’t accepting guests as a result of the outages and travelers were combing the City for toiletries.
I did actually manage to hail a few cabs during my stay. Each time I ended up with the same great driver. He was brave enough to venture out against the advisories and provide a much needed service for us conference goers and food seekers. Needless to say, I ended up getting his contact for my next visit and future fares. I can’t thank him enough for his services.
I did survive the week and managed to return home to Vancouver without any significant delays. Remarkable, as the weather continues to play havoc and all flights have only recently resumed. In Hindsight it was a bit humbling – when you are out of your element, it’s a whole new game when you encounter something out of the norm. But, when you face the unexpected, is also when you really notice the above and beyond. I’ve known Nashville to be a friendly place, but it’s even more friendly when you are bracing against snow, ice, sleet and incredible wind-chill. Sure, I didn’t get to sample as much Southern BBQ this time and I didn’t get to float from one amazing live performance to the next, but this recent trip to Nashville hasn’t dampened my hope to return again soon so that I can make up for that oversight and enjoy southern hospitality when it’s maybe just a little warmer outside.