Category Archives: Road Woes

Life on the road isn’t always easy even for the most experienced road warrior.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Trust Hotel Websites

bates_motel_embed1

Have you ever booked a hotel online which you thought looked great on the hotel website only to discover that it more closely resembles The Bates Motel upon your arrival?  And found yourself wondering, “What the heck am I doing here? Why on earth did I book this wretched place?”  You are not alone!

Quite often hotel websites can be very misleading.  They contain photos of hotel rooms and facilities that may have been taken 10-20 years ago, or the last time the hotel was renovated.  Another scam is that some hotel chains may have standard photographs of hotel rooms that they use to represent all hotels in that particular chain even though in reality, some of their hotels are high end and others more closely resemble 1 star motels.  How are you to know the difference?

Another kicker is that usually by the time you arrive at the hotel (or motel), you won’t be allowed to cancel without any penalty.  Most hotels have very strict cancellation policies which usually require that you provide 24-48 hours notice or more to cancel your reservation.

Websites like TripAdvisor can be immensely helpful when selecting a hotel because for the most part, the reviews are legitimate.  Occasionally however, especially if the town you plan to stay in is quite small, even the top rated hotel might not just be up to your usual standards.  Sometimes even the top rated hotel can be well, much, much worse than you had ever imagined.  Below are some of my hotel booking horror stories:

Oriental Working Girl Oasis

Oriental Room

I needed to stay at a hotel that was relatively close to my first appointment that I had scheduled for early the following morning.  After reviewing all of the hotels on TripAdvisor (but without reading the reviews I must add!), I booked myself into a hotel that was rated 4/5 stars, was very highly rated in the provincial hotel rating system and wasn’t cheap. At $175 per night,  how bad could it be?

Upon my arrival at this “hotel”, I quickly realized that it was more of a motel and located within walking distance from a strip club.  In the hotel lobby, I noticed that the high ranking they received from the provincial hotel rating system was well out of date. They put me in a room that I can only describe as an ‘Oriental Working Girl Oasis’, to put it nicely.  The picture of this Oriental themed room is from the hotels website and was clearly taken before it was ever used.  What you can’t see in this picture is that the room:

  • had mirrors all around the bed and on the ceiling
  • stunk like cigars and perfume
  • had no windows, just a sliding door to the street
  • and everything was covered in dust (clearly nobody was using the desk!)

I didn’t want to touch or use anything in that room.

So what did I do?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I kept all of my clothes on including my boots and a hat, drank a bottle of wine, passed out on the bed (on top of the covers on my jacket) and just got up and left immediately for my meeting the next morning. I didn’t even open my suitcase. I left it in the car because I was sure that some sort of vermin or insects would get into it. I know this doesn’t sound very classy, but in speaking with other sales representatives, I’m certain that I’m not the only one who has experienced this!

In doing some research, I discovered that this small town with a population of just over 50,000 people has 4 strip clubs.  That’s 1 strip club per 12,500 people! In Canada, Windsor and Montreal both claim to have the highest number of strip clubs in Canada. Windsor has 10 strip clubs to service a population of 217,000 (ratio of 1:21,700) and Montreal has 75 strip clubs to service a population of 1.62 Million people (ratio of 1: 21,600).  Based on this basic internet research I’ve done, I’m pretty sure I was staying in the Strip Club Capital of Canada!   Next time around, I stayed at a very nice place that was over an hour from my first meeting.

 

Escort Escapade Hotel: The 5 Star Experience

woman-man-hotel-120427

This hotel I found online and not on a trusted traveler site.  I was looking for a nice hotel in this particular city where I had an early meeting the next morning.  In an internet search, this 5 star hotel came up.  The website looked nice and the pictures of the room looked fabulous.  The price was decent as well.  I must add that this hotel website was in both English and French and the English side didn’t seem to make too much sense to me.  The gist was that it was ideal for all business travelers and it had photos of what appeared to be business or high class couples enjoying champagne in the hotel room.  When I went to make the reservation, I noticed that you could only do so if you paid in full with PayPal in advance.  I called the hotel and they informed me that they do not accept credit cards but will accept cash or PayPal.  This was a HUGE red flag!  I asked my coworker to read the French side of the webpage, and well, let’s just say that there was a lot of information about this place that was either not correctly translated into English or not translated period!  In particular, this “hotel” offered packages for business travelers where the hotel room was accompanied by an escort! I was sure glad to find this out BEFORE I decided to book this hotel and show up.  Needless to say, I found alternative accommodations that did not come with an escort!

Hotel Hell

hotel corridor

I discovered this gem which I call “Hotel Hell” when I first started out in sales.  One of my superiors recommended to me that when I am researching hotels, that I should book those that were either in close proximity a major highway or the airport, depending on my schedule, so that is precisely what I did.   However, having just researched location and price, I did not spend much time researching the quality of these hotels and now I am much the wiser!

This hotel was supposedly close to the airport and very reasonably priced.  I had a very early flight the next morning, so I figured it would be fine to just spend the night.  As I pulled up to the hotel, I quickly realized that it was in much poorer shape than the photos on the website had indicated.  I noticed a bar/club/bowling alley on the main floor of this “hotel” and as I was pulling into the driveway, I witnessed a drug deal clearly taking place in front of the hotel in broad daylight.  I immediately thought I would be a target of some sort of crime since I was driving an Audi A4, which was a complimentary upgrade from the rental car company. So much for that being a blessing! I hesitated going into the hotel, but I didn’t know where else to go since there were no other hotels in sight, because it was NOWHERE NEAR THE AIRPORT and I also didn’t want to just leave my belongings in car since I was sure it would be broken into.

At the front desk, I was informed that I had to pay in full for the room in advance and they asked me if I needed the room for the night or just a few hours??? Yikes!! Now if that wasn’t a bad sign, I don’t know what is!

I proceeded to the room and well, I couldn’t believe my eyes! These are some highlights:

  • The huge old school 27″ TV had a large sign on it saying “Please Do Not Remove From Room
  • The bed sheets were filthy, torn and had clear hand prints on them
  • The window opened to the roof outside and had no locking mechanism
  • There was no phone in the room
  • Mouse or maybe rat excrement in the room corners

So what did I do?

I didn’t even want to sit on the bed it was so horrifically disgusting.   I needed to find another hotel room ASAP.  There was just NO way I was staying here.  The problem was, I was in an unfamiliar city, there was no phone book in the room and my computer was dead (but I’m sure there was no internet access anyways!) so I had no way of figuring out another place to go.  I had misplaced my city map and I felt lost.

So what did I do? I called my ex-boyfriend, whom I hadn’t spoken with in at least 5 years, hoping that he still lived in this city  which is where he had moved here after our break-up.  Luckily, he answered the phone and bailed me out.  He escorted me out of the hotel (no pun intended) which made me feel safer since he was a big guy and he drove with me to a much nicer hotel that actually was close to the airport. I’ll never forget when he arrived at my hotel room, he said to me, “What are you doing here? I wouldn’t even &*%$ prostitutes in this hotel!”  That was reassuring!

Needless to say, I’ve never stayed at discount hotels since, even if they are part of a major chain!

I also make sure to thoroughly research the reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and read them in great detail.  When booking hotels now, my preferences are in the following order:

  1. Hotel amenities
  2. Positive Reviews*** MAKE SURE YOU READ THE REVIEWS FOR DETAILS! I CAN’T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH!
  3. Price
  4. Location

So the next time you’re booking a hotel, make sure you do your research and not just blindly trust the hotel website because otherwise, you might just be in for a horrific surprise.

Bates Hotel anyone? Count me out!

If you have the time, take 5 minutes to write a review of the hotels you stay at regardless of whether or not your review is good or bad.  All of us depend on those honest reviews.

Safe travels my friends.

Cheers,

 

TSW

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Canadian Healthcare: “Free” but Certainly Not Consistent

Canada Map

When you travel as much as I do, it is pretty much inevitable that at some point, you will succumb to illness.  Regardless of how much effort I put into eating healthy, working out, washing or sanitizing my hands at every opportunity I get while I’m on the road, I occasionally get sick and require medical treatment.

Since my territory is the entire country of Canada, I often get sick while away from home and therefore am unable to see my family doctor.  Over the years, I have noticed a significant variance in the healthcare treatment we have in Canada, in particular the difference between provinces.

For my American readers, in Canada we have provinces (not providences) which are equivalent to individual states.  Most of you are aware that in Canada,  our healthcare is “free” and covered by our government.  I say “free” in quotations because we do pay for it in the form of taxes which are automatically deducted from our income.  The most common misconception about our healthcare system here in Canada is that all Canadians have full and equal access to all healthcare professionals.  In my travels, I have discovered that this is clearly not the case.

Fortunately, I have not required medical treatment in all of the provinces, however I would like share a combination of my personal experiences and those of my associates in this post to illustrate the gross inequality of our healthcare system.

Below I have ranked the provinces in terms of the quality of healthcare they provide and the average wait times for a “walk-in” to see a doctor.  Note that I have only listed provinces for which I have had direct experience in or have heard feedback on.  I cannot comment on the others.

Best: BRITISH COLUMBIA “We sincerely apologize for the wait.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: <1 hour

To date, I have sought treatment in this province 4 times and I have never spent more than 1 hour in total from checking in to walking out with a prescription as a walk-in from out of province.  Two times I had eye infections and the others I was sick and required antibiotics.  Every time, yes 4/4 times, the nurse or receptionist apologized to me saying “We are so sorry that you have to wait to see a doctor! I promise it won’t be much longer.” This is unheard of in my home province of Ontario.

NEW BRUNSWICK “Well come on in and I’ll wrangle up a doctor for ya!”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: <1h hour

This province is one of the most sparsely populated provinces in Canada which might explain the exceptional treatment that I have seen.  My friend had completely severed his biceps tendon while trying to push a car out of the snow.  We walked into the hospital emergency department, spoke with a triage nurse in less than 15 minutes, were in to see a general physician within 30 minutes and an orthopedic surgeon within an hour.  If I recall correctly, I think the triage nurse said something to the effect that “Relax, take a seat and I’ll wrangle up a doctor for ya!  I think you’ll end up seeing Dr. Y. who is here today and he did a great job on me and lots of my coworkers.” Maritimers are an exceptionally friendly bunch.  At the 2 hour point, my friend was having an MRI and he was out the door with a sling and a promise for a call back with the results by the day’s end.  By the end of the day, he had a surgery date scheduled for less than two weeks later.  This is completely unheard of anywhere else in Canada.

ONTARIO “Know where to go for appropriate care or wait and rot.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 2-4 hours

Ontario is the most populated province in Canada..  In order to receive the appropriate care, you must know where to go.  We have a service called TeleHealth Ontario which is a toll free number that anyone can call and speak to a nurse and they will advise you as to whether or not you should see your family doctor,  go to a walk-in clinic, the emergency department or to call 911.  Generally speaking, Ontario is quite good for healthcare if you go to the appropriate place for your particular ailment.  If you have a legitimate emergency and go to the hospital, you will be seen immediately and receive excellent care.  If you have a non-urgent condition, you can expect to wait approximately 2-6 hours (depending on the condition) to receive treatment.  You may have to wait but, you will receive excellent medical care.  Going back to my friends’ experience with getting an MRI in New Brunswick; I was particularly impressed with the speediness of his diagnostics because when I had a bad concussion and was experiencing olfactory hallucinations (smelling things that are not there), I saw my family doctor and had to wait 8 months for a CT scan.  I thought that was completely unacceptable.  Needless to say, by then my brain had healed, or at least I’d like to think so.

SASKATCHEWAN “You’re close enough to a nurse.”

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 3-6 hours, or maybe never!

Fortunately, I have never required medical treatment in this province.  Although I do not have any direct experience here, one of my clients told me this story.  She had to take her mother into the hospital for an impacted colon.  Her mother had a history of bowel problems and had prior surgery so she was well aware of what symptoms would qualify her condition as an emergency.  At the hospital, the intake nurse decided that this was not an emergency or a typical non-urgent condition, which meant that she was in some sort of grey area where she was not going to see a doctor, period.  My client was with her mother at the time and made a big fuss over this, as anyone in their right mind should do.  Ultimately, the nurse decided that since my client was a veterinary technician, that she was “close enough to being a nurse”, so she gave my client medications and verbal instructions on what to do if her mother’s condition worsens.  None of the medications were labelled nor were any written instructions provided.  This is something I would expect from a third world country! Fortunately, the impaction passed and she did not require further treatment.

The Worst: QUEBEC “You’re better off going back to Ontario or go to the US.”   

Approximate wait time to see a doctor: 36-72 hours

Yes, it gets worse!  Quebec is by far the worst province in Canada to receive healthcare.  On one trip, I had a very severe bacterial infection in my chest and in required antibiotics ASAP so that I didn’t develop pneumonia.  In the late evening when my condition worsened, I called around including the emergency department and they informed me that my best bet was to simply show up at a walk-in clinic at 7am when they opened and I might be able to see a doctor in the next day or two.  So, that’s exactly what I did.  When I showed up at 7am the walk-in clinic was fully booked for the next 2 days! Is it just me or do they have some deluded idea of what a walk-in clinic is??? They told me that I could either show up at another clinic tomorrow morning to book an appointment, or go to the emergency department and wait a guaranteed 36 hours minimum! I lividly told the nurses, “I could be dead of pneumonia by then!!” and then they told me, “You’re better off going back to Ontario or go to the US”.  So, I cancelled the rest of my business trip and drove home to Ontario where I saw a doctor right away and got the medication I needed.  Sometimes you just have to do things like that.  If you don’t have your health, there isn’t much you can do in life.  Know your priorities.

Ironically, Quebecers pay the highest income taxes in Canada.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences with healthcare.  In particular, to my fellow Canadians, I am interested in hearing your experiences with our healthcare system in each province.  I would also like to hear from my American readers about your experience with the promptness of healthcare in the USA and if it varies by state.

Travel Safe and Keep Healthy fellow Travellers.

Cheers,

 

TSW

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How to Qualify Leads and Not Get Led Astray

Qualifying leads is probably the most difficult skill a salesperson must learn in their career.   It is particularly difficult to do if you are new in sales or new in your industry.  In order to properly qualify your leads, you must:

  1. ASK the right questions
  2. LISTEN to your customer
  3. BE CREATIVEwinternowhere

When I first started in sales, I made the mistake of blindly trusting anyone who suggested a lead to me.  I can’t fault myself for my naivety.  I mean, I was just an eager brand new sales rep.  So whether I got a lead from upper management or by word of mouth through a referral, I quickly learned that you just never really know until you ask your potential customer some crucial questions and qualify them yourself.

I will share with you an example of a time when I failed to do so, and ended up in a less than ideal situation.  My very first week on the road as a sales rep, I got led astray big time both literally and figuratively all because I didn’t know how to properly qualify my lead.

I was having a good meeting with a customer and she asked me “Are you planning on seeing Dr. X?”.

The name wasn’t familiar to me, so I thought that I must have missed that doctor in my database.  I replied, “No, is Dr. X in this city? I don’t recall seeing their name in my database.”

She informed me that “Oh, you must stop by and see Dr. X.  She would use all of the products you are selling and she is only a 10 minute drive away.”

To me that sounded like a win-win.  I had some time to kill before I had to go to the airport, so why not try and get some new business and get working on that hot lead?  After all, it was only 10 minutes away and it was a referral.

She proceeded to give me explicit directions and I was on my way.  I must note that these directions were to drive along this highway for 20Km, make a right at a landmark and the clinic was just around the corner.

As I was driving on this prairie highway in the dead of winter, I was watching the odometer and 20km came and went.  On this particular stretch of highway, there were no businesses, no side roads and certainly no exits.  On top of that, the driving conditions quickly deteriorated into a complete whiteout.  I was driving a sedan with no snow tires.  Rental cars never have snow tires.  The landmark that I was looking out for was a white horse.  Try finding that on a flat prairie highway in the middle of a whiteout!  I was starting to panic, especially since I had a flight to catch later that afternoon.  My panic worsened when I saw a sign for the next town: It was over 300km away! “How on earth do I turn around and get out of here?!?” .

Finally after driving almost 60km and almost having a full blown panic attack, I finally saw the white horse landmark she mentioned.  I was going to give her the benefit of the doubt thinking that  she accidentally told me the distance in miles instead of kilometers (1 mile = 2.2km) but I don’t think the average person could drive 20 miles in less than 10 minutes! .  So that was lie #1.  When I saw this landmark, I was most relieved to finally see a road that I could take to TURN AROUND and go back.  But instead of turning around, I figured that I had already gone this far and I’ve already passed the point of no return, so I drove on in pursuit of this “lead”.

After I make the turn, it’s another 5 minute drive until I find this clinic. Certainly not just around the corner! Lie #2.

Upon my arrival at the clinic, I greet the staff and get in to see the doctor. Lucky for a cold call! I mention Dr. Y recommended that I see her because she thought that she could use my products.

Well as it turned out, this doctor didn’t use any similar products and in discussing her practice in greater depth, I realized that there wasn’t even potential for her to use my products. Lie #3.

I was furious! Dr. Y. sent me all that way in a blizzard on a route that was 3x longer than what she told me and this doctor she referred me to didn’t even use anything remotely close to what I was selling.  She totally sent me on a wild goose chase.  I’m sure she was very amused.  I was so angry that if I didn’t have to make that flight, I would have gone back to her clinic to blow a gasket on her. Not very professional I know, but I got quite scared on that drive and I just couldn’t believe that a professional would lead me astray like that just for fun.    People lie to sales reps for a multitude of reasons but as you may have guessed, this particular individual just happened to be a tad more “off kilter” than the average person.

I later found out from other representatives who had called on this doctor, that she had been known to deliberately go out of her way to get reps into trouble.  For instance, a few reps who used to call on her informed me that she would actually lock the door in front of them when they showed up for an appointment and then she would call their sales manager and tell them that they never showed for the appointment.

Although this lady was an exceptionally bad seed and it is extremely rare that professionals would act in this type of manner, this story is a great example of why you should not just blindly accept and follow any lead you receive without properly qualifying it first.

What did I do wrong?

You guessed it, I didn’t qualify this lead.

What should I have done?

A simple phone call to the clinic in advance would have saved me a lot of time and grief.  Calling in advance of dropping in is not only a sign of respect for your potential future customer but also a great opportunity to qualify them as a potential buyer and decide if they are worthy of your time.

Some questions to help qualify your lead may be:

I hear your business does “X”, can you tell me a bit more about your business so I can see if there is a potential fit between what your company does and what our company has to offer?

Does your business currently use Product or Service X (a product or service that is similar to what you are selling)?

How often do you buy/use said product/service?

Who is normally involved in making the decisions to purchase this product/service?

When do you intend to purchase? It is essential to find out where they are in the buying process and is it a wish, a want or a need? This is very important.

If they don’t currently use a product or service similar to what you are selling, make sure to ask them more questions about the nature of their business to see if there is some way that they could find your product or service useful.   Be creative! Think outside of the box.  But sometimes, just like in my example, there may just not be a fit.

If you can manage to ask a few of these questions in an introductory phone call in order to ascertain if the lead is worthwhile pursuing, it will definitely pay off.  If they are worthwhile pursuing, great, go for it! If not, you just saved a lot of time and effort which you could otherwise be spending focusing on clients who will actually buy from you.

In summary, qualifying isn’t easy.  Sure you can learn some good probing questions in your sales/product training but until you really have a solid grasp of your industry, it isn’t always so intuitive.

Practice makes perfect and the more questions you ask, the more you learn.   

Happy Sales!

 

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The Travelling Saleswoman on SalesBabble.com

Travel and Sales Advice from the Travelling Saleswoman      (a SalesBabble.com Podcast)

h - Jaclyn Goldman-0021

Yours truly, The Travelling Saleswoman is honoured to have been a guest on SalesBabble.com, hosted by Patrick Helmers. In this interview I give travel and sales advice from a savvy travelling saleswoman’s perspective.  This website is an excellent resource for anyone starting out in sales or who is a small business owner.  I would highly recommend you take a moment to check it out.

In this interview, I offer tips on:

  • Selecting the best transportation to and from the airport
  • Getting the best value from your travel rewards program
  • Sales scenarios-What to do and what not to do
  • Challenges on the road and how to overcome them

To listen to the full interview and to learn how you can win an Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Guest Pass, listen here or go to SalesBabble.com/46

 

 A Podcast by:

If you have any questions, comments or would like personalized advice, please either leave your comments below or email me directly at thetravellingsaleswoman@gmail.com

Happy sales and safe travels my friends!

Yours Truly,

TSW

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Part 2: The Early Bird Meets the Boogeyman

darkmanIn my previous article, “The Early Bird Gets the Sale”, I mentioned that I occasionally have to leave very, very early in the morning in order to make it to my breakfast meetings.

Regardless of the time of day, I caution anyone travelling alone to always be on alert and I’m not just referring to paying attention to the road, but also to your surroundings.   I have to admit, this can be quite difficult in the middle of the night.

To all of my fellow salesmen  and women who hit the road dark and early, this story will serve as a reminder to keep your eyes and ears peeled at all times, because you just never know what sort of shady characters might be lurking in the darkness around you.

One morning I had a 7am breakfast meeting which was a 2.5h drive from home. It was 4:25am, quiet and pitch black outside.  I got into my car, and began to organize my “mobile office” for the day.  As my car was warming up, I placed my laptop on the passenger seat and booted it up.  I normally boot up my computer fully in the morning and then put it to sleep or in hibernation mode throughout the day so that I can easily open and close it before and after meetings rather than have to start it up and shut it down every time.  As I was opening up all of the computer programs that I would use throughout my day, I organized my sales reports, notes and my agenda on the passenger seat.  This whole process usually takes me about 5 minutes.

Once I had everything organized, I glanced at the dashboard clock, smiled and thought to myself “This is great! I feel awake and I’m on time!”. As I closed my laptop and sat back upright in the driver’s seat, I noticed something out of the corner of my left eye.  Before turning my head, I glanced slightly to my left thinking maybe it was just my hair and there it was, the most terrifying thing I had ever seen…

There was a man whose face was covered in bandages pressed up against the window of the driver side of my car!!!  I was so distracted looking at the passenger side of my car that I never saw him approach my vehicle.

I completely panicked!  All I could do was start screaming and flail my hands in the air. As I was doing that, I was thinking to myself how disappointed I was in myself that I was that girl. You know, that girl in the horror movies that just gets paralyzed with fear, screams and then gets brutally murdered?  I am an avid horror movie buff and I really thought that all of those years of watching horror movies would better prepare me for when I would encounter a real life boogeyman; I would be better than that and certainly not be that girl.  But this guy looked just like Darkman! And it was the middle of the night!

Ok,Time to suck it up Princess!” I told myself.  I had to take action, so I immediately threw my car into reverse and backed out of my driveway at top speed.  Just as I was about to back right out into the street without regard for oncoming traffic, I stopped the car abruptly and thought to myself, Wait, he is trespassing on MY property!”. 

I put the car into drive and drove back up to the boogeyman, lowered my window just one inch and screamed at him at the top of my lungs “Get the #%*$ off my property!!!!!!”

He then proceeded to calmly ask me for directions to a street that was on the complete opposite side of town and not at all within walking distance.  He spoke as if there was nothing odd at all about his appearance or the fact that he just leaned up into my car window while I was parked in my driveway in the middle of the night!

I was so distraught that for the life of me, I couldn’t tell him if he had to go left or right so I just told him to Get the #$&* off my property or I’m calling the police!”.

He walked away and I sped off.  Pfewf!!!

As I sped off, I saw my neighbors lights go on.  I found out later that apparently I screamed so loud from inside my car, I woke up my neighbors on the opposite side of my vehicle!

To this day, I’m not sure where the boogeyman came from: The local psychiatric institution? The hospital after a bar fight? Who knows! Regardless, I am lucky that he intended to do me no harm.   Since then, I have installed motion activated lights in my driveway, a monitoring system and I have made it a habit to lock my car as soon as I enter it.

So fellow travelers, the take home message of this story is please be safe and aware of your surroundings.  You never know if the boogeyman will come for you.

Safe Travels.

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The Busy Bee Gets Stung

Yellow-Jacket-Wasp

Entering a new year, most of us sales professionals will start preparing to hit the pavement once again. As you all know, all of that travel certainly doesn’t always go without incident.   In my first blog post of 2015, I will share with you, one of my funniest “Road Woes” which happened to me while I was working in Quebec last year.

Managing a territory as large as Canada is no simple task.  Calling on mobile medical professionals adds a whole other level of difficulty and requires superior time management skills.  On an average day, I will travel anywhere between 400-500 km and meet with 4 or 5 practitioners.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound very efficient!” however, most of my clients (90%) are located in remote areas, travel in a 1-2 hour radius from their office base and frequently get called out to emergencies.  Needless to say, I spend a lot of time on the road and well, anything can happen!

I usually spend the better part of September calling on my clients in Quebec (AKA “La belle province”).  For those of you who are not familiar with Canadian geography, Quebec is the only French speaking province in Canada.  It is essentially its own country with its own culture that is completely different from the rest of Canada.  Whenever I travel there, I always seem to experience the most hardships and not simply because I am an Anglophone.

This past year, I was about half way through my trip.  So far so good I thought.  No speeding tickets, no accident and no flat tires. I was travelling along Aut-55 to Sherbrooke grooving along to some tunes approximately 1 hour from my destination when I discovered a large bee inside my vehicle.  To be precise, it wasn’t a bee but rather a yellow jacket which is a type of wasp. It was approximately 1” long which is quite huge!

Everyone always says that if you don’t provoke them, that they won’t sting you.  Well, everyone is wrong.  So wrong!

When I first noticed it sitting on my passenger seat, I thought (and hoped) that if I simply opened the window it will just fly out.  But it didn’t. I suppose driving at 120km/hr isn’t exactly conducive to flying out of a window if you are a wasp.

How did it even get in my car without me noticing?  A few days prior when I was unloading my things from my trunk, I noticed a large wasp land inside my trunk. It didn’t leave and I couldn’t find it, so I closed my trunk and forgot about it.

Well, somehow this thing was still alive and it made its way into the front seat of my car and boy, it wasn’t happy!

I continued driving and tried to remain calm, telling myself “If you don’t piss it off, it won’t sting you.”.  I was planning on keeping calm and taking the next exit to safely pull off the road, stop the car, open the windows and doors and let it out of my vehicle.

Then suddenly, I felt an excruciating, sharp, stabbing pain in my back!

The wasp was under my shirt and bit me.  Even though I leaned forward towards the steering wheel, it continued to bite me and again, and again.

After the fourth bite, I was delirious with pain and could barely concentrate on the road.  I was still 2km from the next exit and I just couldn’t take it any longer, so I swerved my car to the side of the road and pulled over.  The car was still moving when I threw it into park.  At that point I really didn’t care if I ruined my transmission.  I immediately jumped out of my car, ripped my shirt off and started running around screaming at the top of my lungs.

So there I was, on the side of a major highway, running around my car wearing just a bra and screaming like a madwoman!  I’m sure someone caught that on video and posted it on YouTube somewhere.

I knew I was bit pretty bad and I needed some sort of treatment.  Fortunately I had my fishing gear in my trunk and in it I had a tube of AfterBite.  I couldn’t apply it to my back directly, so I squirted the stuff all over the window of the passenger side of my car and then proceeded to rub my back all over it.  Classy move, I know!  But it helped a bit.  Thank goodness I wasn’t allergic!

As I drove to my hotel, I was thinking, “What if I was allergic and had a medical crisis while I am here in Quebec? If I call 911, do they even speak English?”.

When I arrived at my hotel, I asked the concierge that very question.  She informed me that it is mandatory for all 911 operators in Quebec to speak English.

This turned out to be very useful information as the next day, I was involved in a car accident with a man who did not speak English and I had to call the police.   If I didn’t know they spoke English, I probably wouldn’t have made that phone call and the guy who hit me would have gotten away.

All things happen for a reason I suppose.

So the next time you’re driving on the highway and you see someone driving erratically, just think, maybe they are getting violently stung by wasps. This experience has given me a whole new perspective on “distracted driving”.  You never know what’s really going on behind someone else’s wheel.

Drive safe fellow travellers.

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