Normally, waking up at the ripe hour of 3 a.m. and ordering an Uber to catch two flights with one layover all while losing two hours due to time change would be a miserable experience. However, the minute my alarm sounded on September 17th I was up and ready to go alongside my four travel buddies because we were officially on our way back to Madison, WI – which meant back to our 16 other NUTmobile and Wienermobile homies, and for me, back to my home, my family and my friends.
After nearly seven hours of travel (and 4 hours of naps, thanks to my spontaneous but necessary purchase of a neck pillow) our west gang of five finally arrived back in the land of beer, cheese and brats – WISCONSIN. We collected our rental cars and one of our central nutty buddies and sped off to where we were meeting the other nuts and wieners for brunch. While the food was excellent, the reunions with our friends were even sweeter. There were hugs all around as we began to catch up and share stories of our experiences – which were often extremely similar and relateable. Even though I had only ever spent two weeks with most of these people, it felt like a reunion with a bunch of my lifelong friends.
The next day – which was like deja vu from Peanut Prep – I woke up bright and early, rushed to get ready, and grabbed a quick breakfast before riding out with everyone else to get to business at Roundhouse Marketing (a.k.a. where my boss works a.k.a. my second home). The day was filled with meetings and discussions of how things were going on the road. For Fall Staff, each team was required to come up with an idea for a new promotion and present it to the team and bosses, and we did our presentations that afternoon. Sadly, the Westies did not win, but we did create a pretty fire rap video for our presentation, here’s the link if you want to watch it: https://youtu.be/G4GYmfdnl-w
After our long day in the office, the 21 of us ordered a party bus to properly celebrate our reunion. The night was spent riding around the streets of Madison from bar to bar and dancing to music in a converted school bus. Being a Monday, the bars in Madison were pretty dead, but our large group took over the scene and still managed to have a good time because we were finally all together.
Though most of us weren’t fully functional the next morning, we managed to make it on time to our early morning meetings before heading out to Devils Lake in Baraboo, WI for some team-building games. My favorite game was one that tested how well we know our partners. Two of the partners would be asked a question about the third partner such as “What is Maggie’s favorite food?” and the team would get points if they all put the same answer. My team didn’t end up winning (although this is debatable as there was some cheating going on) but it was really cool to see how well we knew even the small, random details about each other after only a few months on the road.
After our day spent at Devils Lake, we all headed to the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells where we got to spend the next two days. The Kalahari is home to the world’’s largest indoor water park, and even though everyone on our staff is in their twenties, we had no qualms about spending our day speeding down the toilet bowl slide and riding waves in the wave pool. When the waterpark was closed for the night, we all gathered in one hotel room – not wanting to waste any of our short time together – and played games, shared stories from the road and laughed with each other late into the night.
After I said many heartfelt goodbyes (some of them even occurred while Sam Smith’s emotional ballad “Too Good at Goodbyes” played in the background), my team and I packed into our car and rode back to Madison. We had a few hours to kill in town, which was a great opportunity for me to see some people from home. I got to spend a few hours with two of my best friends, Kate and Amanda, and I also stopped by StudentPrint – my beloved print shop that I worked for in college. My mom even made the two hour trip to see me for a time much shorter than her drive. We ate gourmet Madison Spring Rolls and talked on the Terrace before it was time for me to head back to the airport for my final departure from Fall Staff.
While Fall Staff was full of new information and a great refresher before getting back to work on the west coast, the best part was the reminder that I am truly lucky to be doing what I’m doing. Not only does my job supply tons of nutty adventures all over the country, but even meetings at home consist of lake-side games and waterparks. As I hugged my coworkers hello and goodbye and sped down waterslides (in the middle of a work week nonetheless), I felt thankful to have a job that cares enough to not only keep me connected with my friends in our program, but also to provide me with fun experiences no matter where I am. I’m beginning to fear that I’ve peaked career-wise.
Thanks for reading, I’m NUTS about you!