On the Road Again…

I am not a road warrior.  I like the idea of travel, but I am not fond of the travel-related logistics.  We’re currently checking out colleges for our son, a high school Junior, in Oregon and Washington.  When Dad met up with us in Eugene, Chris couldn’t wait to tell him ALL the things that went wrong in the first day and a half that he and I were on our own!  Such as…me losing my driver’s license…twice. (well they make you take it out of your wallet and I don’t think very clearly on 4.5 hours of sleep); almost missing the plane because “I didn’t call him”, even though the loud speaker kept reminding “LAST CALL FOR FLIGHT ### – I mean I was begging them to not close the doors. (I guess his brain wasn’t awake either.)  Then, of course I kept trying to turn onto one way streets in Corvallis (every street is a one way street).  Typical travel adventures…so Dad just laughed and put it in perspective.  I asked him to share some wisdom, so he wrote the following for my readers:


I’m one of those “Road Warriors”, travelling by air for business on a very routine basis.  With elite level frequent flier membership in several different airlines I think I’ve earned my stripes – I passed a million cumulative miles a long, long time ago.  This aspect of my life often seems interesting, exciting, or even exotic to non-business travellers, but I most commonly disabuse them of that notion, for several reasons.


First:  Customers who purchase my company’s product don’t tend to be in interesting, exciting, or exotic locations.  They settle in real places, where real people live, and tend to be less spectacular locations than here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visualize Hackensack, Wichita, Omaha, or pretty much anywhere in Minnesota and you can get my point.  Sure, there’s no nightlife, but that feeds into the next paragraph.

Second:  If you’re doing business travel right, you’re squeezing productivity out of every available minute, primarily to avoid having to make a second trip to the same location if possible.  Having nothing to do outside of the hospital I’m visiting, no travelling companions, and only an empty hotel room (with HBO) to look forward to – well, that makes 15-hour workdays all that much easier.  Let’s just say that when I get home on Friday night after a 2 or 3 city trip for the week, I’m not a sparkly and refreshed man.

Third:  When you’re on the road you’re eating retail food at every meal.  My company has a daily budget for meals on the road, enforced by financial bean counters with attitudes.  This, combined with elements from the first reason, above, mean that I’m generally eating a free hotel-provided continental breakfast (read: no protein or variety), an inexpensive lunch, and dinner at some deep-fried chain that takes their supply deliveries by semi-truck.  Savoring a triumph of business acumen over a fine, three-course chef-prepared meal (with a glass of just the perfectly matched Pinot Noir) seems to only happen in movies with Richard Gere or George Clooney.  They’re not working for the same company as me, I guess.  And their suits stay freshly pressed, somehow.

Fourth:  I’m not the only one doing this.  I have fellow travellers packed in with me on flights like cars during rush hour on Bay Area freeways.  Have you noticed while driving that there are pros on the road commuting smoothly, and then there are amateurs who tend to mess up the commute for everyone else?  The same is true with business travelers.  On a recent flight I had stowed my carryons after boarding, taken my seat and was starting my crossword puzzle while the passengers streamed by in the aisle.  Without warning, I was drenched.  One guy had been squeezing by with a precariously balanced plastic cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice on top of other things he was carrying.  I got soaked from my chest to my thighs (but at least it was ice cold).  Over the course of the 2100 mile flight it did dry out, and I actually got used to being sticky.  On the plus side I was citrusy fresh all the way to Detroit.  I also see travellers who simply aren’t prepared for the unexpected…Oversold flight?  I can’t be bumped!  I’m special!  I have a reservation!!…  I also see other travellers who just can’t adapt to the changing circumstances and fall victim to their own air rage.  I sometimes think airports might have secret, padded cells hidden behind false walls on each concourse…

Last reason:  I’m basically a homebody at heart.  Cross-country conversations with my wife at home aren’t nearly the next best thing to being there with her.