I was scheduled to teach a training class up in Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. It was raining pretty hard where I live (about twenty miles south of the Wisconsin border), so after I packed up the truck with all the training gear: projector, white board, laptop, official training polo shirts with the Ticomix logo embroidered on the breast, I decided to hold off leaving until the storms let up. Dinner time came and went and the rain showed no signs of stopping. I finally took off around 10:00 in the driving wind and rain with lightning circling around me, all across the sky. I was driving slower than I normally do. It was a good thing because the road ended suddenly with no warning.
Most communities that tear up the streets will at least try to maintain some sort of traffic flow. Maybe they will just tear up one side or the other, make you navigate around traffic cones or horses with blinking yellow lights on them. Clinton, Wisconsin takes a different approach. They just rip the whole thing up for several miles. To be fair, there had probably been a warning sign somewhere along my route. My guess is the wind blew it away. All I know is that – suddenly – I faced the end of the pavement. There was a drop of maybe four inches and then I was on a rough bed of gravel. Luckily I was in our truck. I switched to four wheel drive and carefully navigated my way on the thin line of gravel that was still above water. After a couple of miles I made it to a county crossroad. I turned and ignored my TomTom’s entreaties to stay on course. After 6.9 miles, it finally took the hint that I was not going to head back to Clinton to catch the expressway and thought up another route.
It took a couple of hours to get to the Milwaukee area and another hour to get from one side of Waukesha to the other. A river runs through downtown and all the bridges were closed due to the rising water. I finally backtracked until I found a way around and got to my motel. I was actually happy to be stuck on the third floor! Generally I don’t get to stay at the hotels where we do the training. They’re much too nice. However, my modest motel in Pewaukee was at least on higher ground than the training facility in Brookfield. There’s a golf course next door. It looked like a large lake with the tops of flags poking up just out of the water. Part of the parking lot was flooded, but I got in and unpacked everything. The Internet was down and even the electricity had some issues. I was running late, but then so were my students.
One flew up from Texas. Another flew in from Florida. He was a young guy suffering from what appeared to be a mild attack of death. He took a seat at the back of the room, rested his head against the wall and periodically broke the monotony of his hacking cough with a sniff or low moan. I had a woman who drove in from Kentucky. She got the triple whammy: floods in Indiana, tornadoes in Illinois and more flooding in Wisconsin. Ironically, my students from Wisconsin didn’t have many problems driving in. On day two of my training, I lost a couple of my students. One gentleman’s father died and so he skipped the day to make funeral arrangements. My student from Florida vanished leaving no trace. I didn’t know whether to call his office in Florida or to make more funeral arrangements. They both returned for day three, but I lost a third man from the Wisconsin Dells area when Lake Delton ceased to be a lake and his place of business literally washed away.
Day three was a bit rushed. Everyone was eager to get home, including me. I had planned to meet one of our sales guys from Madison, but I-94 was closed due to the rising river. I took another expressway that runs a few miles south of that on my way home. The water was only a few feet under the roadway, but it made for a neat picture and nothing more. Despite the 50% attrition rate in my class, I got high marks as a trainer. We got high marks for covering a lot of material and presenting it well. However, the training facility and – sadly, Wisconsin in general – was found to be lacking by the entire class. We generally do a training class once a quarter up there. Hopefully, the monsoon season will end before the next one is scheduled.