I work for a little startup company in Baltimore developing a wireless medical device for which I write firmware. The details of the technology are not important.
About a year ago my boss decided that the two of us should go to a medical technology conference in Boston where we will show off our device to anyone interested. The conference was on Saturday and Sunday. Our plan was to leave after work on Friday so that we could be in Boston when the conference started Saturday morning.
Come that Friday our device was not yet ready to be demoed at the conference, so we spent all Friday trying to get the device working, but to no avail. Eventually we had to leave for Boston, figuring that we would work on it on our way there.
At this time I was new to the company and did not yet understand my boss's fiscal stinginess, so I assumed we would be taking nice, comfortable Amtrak. Little did I know. As it turns out we would be taking the bus. Not a big deal, right? Well, as it turns out it was the $15 Chinatown bus (not exactly the epitome of comfort) from Baltimore to New York and then again from New York to Boston. And it was leaving Baltimore at 10:30 in the evening, and the total trip time to Boston was something like nine hours. Yuck.
So we get to the bus depot in Baltimore at maybe 10:00 and wait for the bus. At 10:30, no bus. At 10:45, no bus. At 11:15, no bus. Eventually we talked to someone who told us that the bus came at 12:30, not 10:30 as my boss had thought. So we went over to the McDonalds nearby to get a bite to eat and wait for 12:30 to roll around.
(At the McDonalds we met a couple of deaf college kids who were apparently on their way home from college and had NO IDEA where they were and were trying to get in touch with their parents. This was all communicated via my boss's laptop, and my boss was kind enough to let them use her Sprint wi-fi card to email their parents, who soon came and picked them up. Happy ending!)
Anyway, 12:30 rolls around and the bus does actually show up. So we get on and begin our journey to New York! Now, I don't know about you, but I CANNOT SLEEP IN MOVING VEHICLES. Not cars, not airplanes, not busses. So I worked for a couple hours trying to get our device working until my laptop's battery died, after which I tried desperately to sleep, but to no avail.
Finally we reach Chinatown in New York -- first half of our trip is over! Yay! Both my boss and I are extremely hungry and, more importantly, need a place to plug in our laptops so we can continue working. But the only place in Chinatown that was open at 4:00 in the morning was this extremely sketchy hole-in-the-wall Chinese ethnic food place that had clearly not been cleaned in a while. And this was no Americanized Chinese restaurant -- this was a place even my very open-minded Chinese-American boss was revolted by. It's not like we had a choice though, so we went in, plugged our computers in, ordered a couple bowls of what might have been soup, and started working on our device again. At 4:00 in the morning, with no sleep. It was in this little hole-in-the-wall eatery that we finally got our device working well enough that it could be demoed at the conference.
Eventually 6:30 rolls around and we get on the bus to Boston. The rest of the trip to Boston is uneventful -- either that or I have blocked out the memory of something incredibly aweful. I still couldn't sleep a wink.
So we get to the conference in Boston. There, the first thing we do is show our device to a small group of people who go, "Ooh, that's cool! But you shouldn't show it to anyone here because they will steal your ideas." So yeah, our whole reason for going to the conference in the first place was pretty much moot.