The plane is headed west, which is great news for me, although they’re already talking about the next trip out (three weeks from now). This particular audit went well, I think; it was clear that they’d taken pains to read through the requirements of the ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code and had structured their program accordingly: it’s neither cheap nor easy to get certified by the Board, so my Mickey Mouse audit activities had roughly the same effect as whistling into the wind. Who am I to point out discrepancies and deficiencies; knowing how we are at work I sometimes feel like a giant hypocrite whenever I open my mouth on an audit.
I had trouble sleeping last night, whether it was the difficulty of being an auditor, the excitement of the last day, me actually choking on phlegm (or my mind thinking I was), or the plans for this last day. I kept waking up every couple of hours, checking the clock disgustedly and throwing myself back into bed (oh, and here’s a tip: Hilton is proud, in their Garden Inns, of their soft beds and pillows; by last night I felt like I was drowning in quicksand every time I laid myself out) until the too-early alarm intruded and showed me to today.
Afterward the audit exit meeting we went our separate ways — some of us heading back to California this afternoon, others traveling onwards to the next one, and still others not yet ready to travel — I don’t necessarily get it. The Southeast has been quite hospitable but the choice between one more night here and going home doesn’t even make me think twice.I had just enough time to make a side trip up to Kennesaw Mountain, which is a Civil War battlefield dating back to Sherman’s March-to-the-Sea. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I’ve never been to a Civil War site before (I know, very lame for someone who’s interested in history, gravesites, and the military) but I found it oddly refreshing despite the triple-digit heat and mugginess. I’d go back, given more time and another chance; it’s places like that which shaped our nation. The battles around Kennesaw took place on days like today, where the humidity and heat take your breath away; I can only imagine what those young men felt in their hot woolen uniforms marching through the dappled woods.
It was a fitting capstone on this trip; if I was traveling with family I’m not sure we would have taken the time to head over there. At work we like to talk about lessons learned and operating experience, which can be summarized thus: smart people learn from their mistakes, but really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. If I’m coming back in three weeks I’ll have a lot more stuff to bring (hard to believe — it boggles the mind — but that PE isn’t going anywhere at the moment and I still need to study) and a better base with which to attack the touristing issue. At one point — standing atop the mountain and looking at the haze wreathing modern downtown Atlanta — I realized that the trip was worth it (the whole week) for that one moment. The ghosts were whispering stories in my ear today, maybe all night last night and I’m glad we had a chance to meet; there are so many lessons, and I love to learn.