Searching for Sanity

I took a short work trip recently, and it was just so ridiculous that I just had to share the story.

It was a week-long work trip to Waterloo to work with my colleagues in that office on a few things. I had two co-workers that flew with me; I am going to henceforth refer to them as Nat and Cole.


On Monday, I flew from San Francisco to Toronto. Nothing to say about this. Canada Air is a pretty dank airline. My flight schedule was a bit out of sync with Nat and Cole, so I had to wait for 4 hours or so for them to get there, but that was fine as well. I tried Tim Horton’s for the first time, and just chilled out. As Nat and Cole got here, we rented a car, and drove to Waterloo. Little did suspect, but night was coming.

Tim Horton's coffee does not taste good

So I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think we booked the wrong hotel. Regardless, it was a last minute trip, so there wasn’t that many hotels available anyways. We pulled up to the address to find a Comfort Inn which, while they aren’t known for their comfort, are usually ok on a budget. Usually. Anyways, we got our keys and split up. When we met up the next day, each of us had a different experience to share.

As I entered my room, quite tired from the trip, I realized my room was very humid, warm, and smelled a little off. I opened the window, and turned on the air to hopefully clear it out a little bit, and then went into the restroom… to find that the toilet was not flushed. Yum!

Nat woke up the next day with about a dozen bug bites. She was not pleased.

Cole’s story was the most exciting of the three. He entered his room to find trash on the floor, and the beds not made. Since the room was obviously not cleaned, he went to get another room. He talked to the receptionist, who found it unbelievable, saying, “That room was definitely cleaned today.” Cole recalls his response as “Did you want to check?”. He was quite adamant that, he was not going to stay in that room. So the receptionist got him another room key, and he went to check-in for the night. Except that his new door’s room wouldn’t open… which was odd. Then he heard someone speaking Chinese on the other side of the door… which was also odd. Ok, so someone lives in this room! He’s been assigned a booked room. He did not feel like being little spoon. So Cole went back to get another key. Third time’s the charm.


So we get to work on Tuesday, and we’re ok, though slightly traumitized from the previous night. And the day starts off well. It turns out, in the haste of this visit, though, priorities got a bit confused. The reason we were sent on this trip was not the reason we had originally expected. Soooo our preparations for the trip were not so useful, and we had to quickly adjust. I don’t want to get too into it, but our work days in Waterloo tend to be long. Everyone works very hard when we travel there. We definitely felt it towards the end of the day. These days weren’t too eventful, but since our hotel experience was so suspect, and some vacancy opened up at a nicer hotel nearby, we cancelled the rest of our stay. We stayed on Tuesday night, but the rest was refunded. The week was finally looking up! We got out of the uncomfortable Comfort Inn, so life was good. #goinstrong.

We are not allowed to play hockey at the Waterloo office


We wake up Thursday very refreshed from our nice hotel experience. It’s a good thing this night was so good, because it was our last good night of sleep for the rest of the week.

Work went well on Thursday, and we went to get dinner at Bhima’s Warung, a fancy restaurant for Indonesian-style food. It is super tasty. During dinner, Cole gets a message; QA in San Francisco had just found a major bug on a new feature that is supposed to release on the upcoming Monday. This new feature, the new PS4 Store search was a feature that a lot of players were very excited for: heck, we got mentioned in polygon and ign on it’s release. That’s a pretty big deal for a feature on a Game Console that isn’t very related to actually playing games. The problem with this, though… one of the two client devs of the feature was in the middle of the ocean on vacation (let’s not talk about the timing of that). The other developer was Cole: this was his first big feature, and he had spent the better half of the year working on it. So at this point, dinner started to become a bit less enjoyable. We might have to work over the weekend if we don’t fix this bug ASAP, but our plan was to explore Toronto over the weekend, since we don’t make it to Canada all that often. So we resolved to try and fix it before our next progress meeting: before 1:00PM Friday. We left the restaurant around 10:00pm on Thursday. Thursday night ended up being very, very, very long.

You can follow our descent into darkness by reading our commit messages:


At around 6AM or so, or around 137 nerf dart ceiling targets later, we still had a bit to fix, but we finally had the code in on ok place, and we were basically brain-dead. As we walked back to the hotel, towards the risen sun, an old lady jogged passed us. She was all eyes, and her eyers were wide open, kinda invoking an expression of death. As she kind of shuffled by and passed us she just stared blankly ahead, not acknowledging us at all. She must have made a loop, because she passed us again. Then we tried to cross the road. I swear that the walk light flashed for maybe a second, and started counting down from 2: giving us 2 seconds to cross the road total. The whole experience was almost kind of a weird feeling of kind of aimlessly floating back to the hotel. But we still had work to do. We resolved to get back at 10am, giving us about 3 hours to efficiently die and reincarnate.

Naturally, we met back at the office around 12pm; just in time for lunch. I went and grabbed some pizza, and started to work my way back to the cave to try and finish this out. One of my Waterloo colleagues inquired: “You’re not going back to work are you? You look tired, you should take a break.” Instinctively, I defended myself. “I just did take a break! I just slept for like… a whole 3 hours.”

But we actually DID IT. We got it fixed by the 1:00 meeting, everything looked good, and search launched on-time as a success (with a few workarounds we had implemented for some nasty edge cases). So that was super cool. We felt super successful, and didn’t work the rest of the day.

We had a team outing to the Grand River (a grand river of about quarter-meter of water). Apparently, the kayak was hurting Nat’s back, because she KILLED it. I’ve never seen anyone kayak that fast. I quickly fell behind, because I was too exhausted to paddle, so I just kinda let the river pull me all the way down. That was relaxing. Then we went back to the hotel and slept. Yay.


We finally made it to our vacation! On to Toronto! We visited the Royal Ontario Museum, which is pretty intense: It’s a huge museum. In an entertaining moment, Cole overheard a Chinese couple proclaim very proudly in front of the exhibit featuring busts of endagered animals: “在中國餐廳裡全部都有!” (All of this, you can find in a Chinese restaurant). We also got some good food, saw some sights, went up to the CN Tower and got some cool pictures.

The view from CN Tower is pretty impressive

We then started to go back to our new hotel in Toronto, about a 15-minute drive away. Unfortunately, some friends of ours also started going home at the same time. By friends, I mean to say that were leaving Toronto at the same time that a Taylor Swift concert was getting out. About 2 hours later, we made it back to our hotel. Again, quite tired. The hotel was not as nice as the last one, but it’s still pretty nice. It even has a stove, which is kind of odd, but hey, who knows. It’s Canada. Also, the room only had 1 towel. So we had to ask for towels. But we finally finished our trip. A successful journey. Time to go to sleep, wake up tomorrow, and fly back home. Right? RIGHT???

I have never had more of an issue with T-Swift than at this moment of my lifee

Sunday, 3:30AM

The fire alarm rings. Yup. Everyone has to leave the building. Cole suspects a Chinese person smoking in their room. Who am I to argue?

Sunday, the rest of the day

Time to go home. We check out, and it’s cool. We go to the airport, and that’s fine. I get stopped on the way through security for a random check, and they take my can opener, which is about standard I think. Got on the airplane. Cole jokes to Nat about how, with our luck, we will probably sit on the plane in front of a crying baby. I did not sit in front of a crying baby. Cole and Nat also did not sit in front of a crying baby. They sat directly in front of a whole ROW of crying babies. Fun flight. Then we landed. But, little did we know, our trip STILL was not over. As we split up and commuted back, we initiated our ending round of choose-your-own-adventure:

Cole finally escaped, and made it home safely.

Nat somehow dropped her phone in the restroom, and then walked out of security. She had to beg the security people to walk with her so she could retrieve it. Which she did. Then she took an Uber home. The Uber broke down on the way there, so she had to catch another. She also lost her house keys.

I took the BART home. There was construction happening on the track, so I had to exit the train early. Ok whatever. Then I decided I should do my laundry while I walk home, since I had it all in my backpack from the trip. I walked to a nearby laundromat, around 3 blocks from my apartment, where I started to wash my clothes. Then the whole block lost power. So I had a bag of wet laundry. So I gave up, walked home with a heavy bag of wet laundry, threw it in the bathtub to dry later, and went to sleep.

There was no way I was extending this trip any longer. I am still searching for my sanity.