Another Day, Another Flight

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” Walden,  Henry David Thoreau

During the first 2 weeks of January, my last week of January appeared to have NO travel. All that I had planned in my work calendar was 3 remote visits. I would have ended traveling after my week at the Mayo Clinic last week. However, 2 of my clinical sites enrolled subjects into one of the studies I’m working on. Per the study monitoring plan, the first on-site visit must occur 2 weeks from the first subject enrollment. This meant that I had to complete these visits by 31-Jan-2020. I was already traveling the third week of January (Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for the week), which meant that I had to conduct my new found visits at the end of the month. It often shocks people to find, that the clinical research world is a metric and deadline driven world. In the event that the FDA audits any of my sites, the FDA will look to see that the company I work for adhered to the protocol and study plans. Luckily, there’s a new version of the monitoring plan coming in the near future that is going to use language that suggests APPROXIMATELY 2 weeks for the completion of the first visit rather than WITHIN 2 weeks. Using flexible language when writing these plans is everything 😉 I’m not one to “work for the sake of work” – that’s silly! Sleep is always my priority. If I’m cutting my sleep short, there’s a good reason.  It is my intent to share a detailed account of my day-to-day for the past week in this blog post. Why? Because I want folks to see the process rather than focus on the product (ie. I get to travel often). I billed 70 hours in the past 5 day period. That means I worked 70 out of 120 hours available in a five day period aka I spent 58% of my week working. For those that are not familiar with billable hours, they are hours where the company that I work for uses to charge our clients (pharmaceutical companies). The number of hours I work does NOT affect the amount of money that I make. I’m a salaried employee – therefore, REGARDLESS of whether I work 1 minute or 168 hours in a 7-day week, I still earn exactly the same. I’ve had better weeks and I’ve had worse weeks.

I wanted to share this because I’ve often received messages about how “lucky I am” or how “cool my life is”, but the truth is that it’s just a ton of work. I’m not one who preaches the “hustle” or the “grind” – I think that’s a ton of bullshit that feeds crony capitalism and sustains the oligarchy. I’m also not one to sit back and “manifest” by only meditating all day. My approach has two parts: (1) Show up, (2) Give what I’ve got. That’s pretty much it – I don’t strive to be the best, but I also don’t sit back and observe. I show up and whatever results my showing up yields, I make peace with. And yes – I  have a nice salary, I’m remote (no office), I’m bonus eligible, get to keep my flyer miles, hotel points, and free car rental days. The company I work for also gives us the option of having personal “floating holiday days” in addition to PTO/vacation time. Next week, I’ll have a slower week. But as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden remember that, “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

Here’s a detailed overview of my week:

Monday

WK1
27-Jan-2020: San Diego International Airport, California

I left my place in Carlsbad at 7:30AM PST on Monday morning. I drove down to the airport and arrived to the San Diego WallyPark garage at 8:30AM PST. The WallyPark shuttle dropped me off at the airport at 8:45AM PST. I can’t UBER to the airport because I park my car on the street. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursday, there are NO PARKING ZONES on the street for street sweeping days. At 9:30AM PST, I boarded a flight heading towards San Francisco, California (SFO). I was flying into SFO to catch a connecting flight to Bozeman, Montana (BZN). I was supposed to arrive in BZN around 4:29PM, to the go pick up my rental car and drive to Butte, Montana (about 1 hour and 10 minute drive away from BZN).

After I boarded the flight to SFO, it was identified that the flight had a mechanical issue and the flight towards SFO was not going to depart until 11:10AM PST. This meant that I was going to miss my connection in SFO. I called the travel agency that the company that I work for uses and I asked them to find me a flight that would get me into BZN. The company identified a flight via Denver an re-booked me. I grabbed something to eat and then set up my expense reports, my billable hour sheets, and did something called “site management” until I boarded my Denver flight 12:11PM PST. We took off to Denver and landed at 4:37PM MST. As soon as I was off the flight, I went to the bathroom. I then went to grab some good at the airport. At 5:15PM MST, I was in line to get food. Ten minutes later, I had my food. I finished eating by 5:35PM PST. I then opened my computer and updated my expense report and responded to the work emails I had in the interim of not checking my email. I then called Firestone. My car needed to be fixed ASAP (something that was identified by one of the awesome guys that works at WallyPark) and I wanted to see if they had availability on Wednesday morning. The Firestone guy told me to bring it in first thing Wednesday morning. Firestone in Carlsbad opens at 7AM PST. Around 6PM MST, I closed my work computer and made my way to my gate. My flight was boarding at 6:32 PM MST. I got to my gate within 5 minutes and used the remaining minutes to respond to personal texts I had received during the day. Our flight to Bozeman was delayed by half an hour because we needed to de-ice the plane. I arrived to Bozeman at 9:37PM MST. I was in my rental by 9:50PM MST. I arrived to my hotel at 11:05 PM MST.

Tuesday

WK2
28-Jan-2020: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Montana

On Tuesday, I got up and got to the clinic I needed to work at by 9AM MST. I worked straight through, did not eat lunch, and was able to finish my work by 3PM MST. At 3:05PM MST I started my drive towards Bozeman. I arrived to the Bozeman rental car facility at 4:19 PM PST. I grabbed some food. After eating, I worked on my trip report a bit as well as my expense report. I then boarded towards Salt Lake City (SLC) at 5:19PM MST. The airplane door opened at 7:25PM PST. Due to the renovations and construction at the SLC airport, we had to be transported via a shuttle to get to the airport after landing. I arrived to the airport at 7:50PM MST. I grabbed my gate checked bag (very common with regional jets as they are small and can only hold so much in regards to carry on luggage) and made my way to Starbucks. In all sincerity, when my system is tired after a full day of work and some travel, I don’t feel like eating full meals. Smaller, “tapas” styled snacks are what I crave – Starbucks bites are perfect, they’re not huge meals. I then ate and worked on site management and my expense report until boarding for my San Diego flight at 9:45PM MST. We landed in San Diego at 11:30 PM PST. I was to my car by 11:45 PM PST. I arrived to my place at 12:35 AM PST.

Wednesday

WK3
29-Jan-2020: Firestone, Carlsbad, California

I pulled an all-nighter and finished 3 reports due by 31-Jan-2020 by 5:30AM PST. I brushed my teeth, got ready, and made my way to Firestone to drop off my car to get fixed. While at Firestone I worked on other reports, site management, and putting off whatever fires came my way via email. I then took an hour off the clock to go to Starbucks, shower/get ready, and switch out the stuff in my suitcase – dirty clothes for clean clothes. After I was ready, I worked on reports until it was time to head to the airport again. At 1:30PM PST, I made my way to the San Diego Airport. I arrived to the WallyPark garage at 2:30 PM PST. I arrived at the airport at 2:45 PM PST. I grabbed a meal, then updated my expense report.  We boarded at 3:29PM PST and made our way to Denver. We landed at 7:31PM MST. I was in my rental by 8:00 PM MST and arrived to my hotel at 8:30 PM MST.  I grabbed dinner. I then read and answered emails that were top priority and although I wanted to continue working, my body gave out on me. I was asleep by midnight.

Thursday

WK4
30-Jan-2020: Nick showing me his cool 90° Degree reading glasses while having dinner at City O’City – Fantastic Vegan + Vegetarian Restaurant in Capitol Hill, Denver, CO

I awakened at 6AM MST on Thursday to get ready. After getting ready I simply laid on my bed staring at the ceiling without any of my technology near me. My manager had messaged me via chat at 5:37 AM MST and I didn’t even notice. I laid on my bed for 30 minutes after getting ready. I did absolutely nothing – I was feeling a bit depleted. Initially my visit had been planned to start at 11:30 AM MST per my site’s request. The site staff had agreed to stay later as needed. On Wednesday afternoon, as I had been getting ready to fly to Denver, the site notified me that they now had availability to begin the visit at 10AM MST instead of 11:30 AM MST. Around 7:30AM MST on Thursday morning, I responded to my manager and continued working until I left the hotel for the site. I worked on-site all day and at 4:37 PM MST, I was finished. I headed towards Capitol Hill in Denver and had dinner with Nick! I’ve mentioned Nick on here before and he’s one of my favorite people on Earth. Prior to my dinner with Nick, my only non-work-related social interaction had occurred during the first weekend in January (03-05 Jan 2020) when my friend Matt came to visit me. It’s really nice when I get lucky enough to not have dinner alone! After dinner, I made my way to the airport, dropped my car off at the car rental station, and took the rental shuttle into DEN. I went into the airport, got through TSA pre-check, then to the train into my gate. By 9:10 PM MST, we were boarding. I was off the plane at 10:55 PM PST (Remember – there’s a one hour time difference between San Diego and Denver!). I then requested a shuttle to get back to the parking garage. I arrived to my place at 12:05 AM PST.

Friday

I was awakened by one of my sites with a call at 6:13 AM PST. This particular site is located in the CST time zone so when they called me it was 8:13 AM CST for them. I think it’s very common for people to forget that different time zones exist. I used the wake-up call as an opportunity to open up my computer and start working. I continued working for the rest of the day and finished working at 6:37 PM PST. Ya’ll ever have a day when you have a checklist of all the stuff you’re going to get done, but then get interrupted time after time after time, adding to the amount of time you initially intended for a task? YES – it happens to all of us. When focusing on one task, I can get things done (with pretty good accuracy) at a relatively fast-pace. I’m really good at focusing on one thing and seeing it through to completion. However, I’m an awful multi-tasker. If I’m working on a task and get interrupted 10 times to head in a different direction – I lose track of it all. I end of having to stop, re-prioritizing per importance of request, then getting back to what I was initially doing.

HOURS BILLED FOR THE WEEK (5 day period): 70.

Just wanted to share some behind-the-scenes reality with ya’ll. I have a class to attend to tomorrow morning (Sunday @ 8AM), but other than that my intent is to be a hermit and recover from the week. And as I always remind ya’ll on this blog every other day: Remember that death is life’s only guarantee. Use that knowing to adjust your life as needed. Have the best of weekends.


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