Wednesday, 4/4/01 - Thursday, 4/5/01 - Philadelphia and Heading South
Tried to get an early start from Pittsburgh to Philly because I had been told the drive would take about five and a half hours, and I always add at least an hour to regular drive times to compensate for travel by old RV.
Before I left, I wanted to meet up with a really interesting woman I had met via email who had helped me with some Pittsburgh contacts and who I had subsequently included in my upcoming book. Since it was still early in the morning, I emailed her to ask if she was up and interested in getting some breakfast. I figured I'd hang out for an hour or so in order to try to hook up with her because I really wanted to meet her in person and hadn't seen her at my previous events in the area.
Within the hour, I received an email reply, and I guess the tone of the reply was in keeping with my recent encounters in Pittsburgh. Basically, she was offended that I hadn't called her back. It turns out she had called me while I was struggling on the highway trying to navigate my way to the campground when I first arrived in town. I vaguely remember receiving a phone call while driving and saying I'd call back, but then I couldn't remember who had called.
So rather than having a nice breakfast with an interesting, entrepreneurial woman and meeting someone who I had featured in my book, I was basically chastised for being "unprofessional" and essentially "ungrateful" and sent on my way with a snub.
Was it a full moon this past weekend? Or was it just an adjustment period to the road and leftover tension from the city? Whatever it was, I left Pittsburgh not just a little bit depressed. Up until that point, all of my encounters with strangers and email acquaintances on the road had been nothing short of wonderful. I guess there had to be a wakeup call at some part of this journey.
After hours and hours and hours of driving, I finally turned off the Turnpike in the Westchester/Philadelphia area around 6:30pm, heading for the campround. I suddenly realized that I still had at least another half hour to go, so I did what any depressed, exhausted credit-card holding RV Girl would do. I decided to stay at a hotel on the main road instead of heading deeper into suburbia and farmland in search of camp. Pulling out my trusty book that listed dog-friendly hotels, I found a Holiday Inn Express down the road that would take both me and the Berts. This would be our splurge for the month.
The Berts enjoy hotel living - carpeting on the floor, big bed, warm temperatures and the fact that it doesn't move around and bump on the road. We shared a dinner of rotisserie chicken, watched "Wit" and "The Sopranos" on HBO (both excellent) and slept soundly.
I like hotel living because I can take a long, hot shower in the morning and because someone else cleans up after me. Had a quick continental breakfast courtesy of the Holiday Inn Express and spent a little over an hour driving into another part of the deep suburbs to the home of the Philadelphia Webgrrls chapter leader, Andrea. The Berts rejoiced in the large, open, green lawn surrounding the big house before we packed them into Andrea's car and headed into Center City.
The event for today was for Women.Future, a global, satellite conference discussing women's roles in business and leadership. I was the lunchtime keynote speaker for the Philadelphia location's live program. Most of the program was spent watching the panels on a big screen as it was broadcast from New York City - sort of like going to a conference to watch television.
J.C. Herz and Watts Wacker were on one of the panels - both brilliant, funny and a little off-kilter from the rest as they discussed marketing to women. Sally Helgesen, who wrote "The Female Advantage," was on another panel about women and leadership along with Myra Hart who leads an entrepreneurial program at Harvard Business School and was the founding officer of Staples, Inc.
Myra Hart made some statements that really resonated with my thoughts about women in business, particularly things I had written in my upcoming book ("PowerTools for Women in Business"). She even stated emphatically that she went out of her way to help women entrepreneurs and stressed the importance of doing so. Hurrah!
The irony of her statement is that I called her the next day to express how much I enjoyed her participation in the panel, to explain who I was (a woman entrepreneur turned author who just finished a book about women entrepreneurs), how what she said was extremely in sync with what was in my new book, and would she be willing to write a very short foreward for my book?
Her reply was, "I don't know you, and I would only do it if you were a colleague of mine."
I was flustered and flabbergasted - never expecting such a perfunctory rejection. At least, I thought, she would explain that she is very busy and would really like to help me - a fellow woman entrepreneur - and that she would see what she could do or refer me to a colleague or she'd sign off on something I wrote if she could take a look at it. But no, she rejected my request instantly.
Not being one to give up too quickly, I pressed on a little bit. "I was just so impressed with how you said you went out of your way to help other women entrepreneurs. And we're not strangers - we've actually met several times when I spoke at Harvard Business School for your women's entrepreneurial conferences."
She mumbled something which sounded like she knew who I was but still said "Sorry, I can't do it." I said a polite goodbye and thank you and hung up, stunned. This was definitely not my week.
Back to the road, I left the Philadelphia area early Thursday evening and figured I'd have at least two hours of driving time left before dark, so I set a goal of getting into Maryland. Found a convenient campground in Perrysville, Maryland just as the sun began to set and the cost was only $20 a night.
Of course, I should have known when I saw the train tracks by the campground that the low, low price of twenty bucks was to make up for the fact that it felt like trains were driving through the RV all night long. At first, I thought it was a semi truck entering the camp, but after the third rumble and roar, I peeked out the window to see the dark form of a train passing by.
Ah, life on the road! But you know what? I wouldn't trade it for anything else right now. This is where I want to be.