This is another previous post from an earlier blog. A favorite of mine that I wrote at two airports on my way home during a very long day of travel.
Forty years. Half a lifetime.
Forty years looking for, going to, work.
Employed on Thursday; fired on Friday. Not because you are bad at what you do. Just because.
Because you make too much money now. Because you didn’t want to truncate your life and move your family to the other side of the country. Because the new owners want to cut expenses to the bone so they can find new owners in a year, or two. Everyone is expendable. None of it really matters.
Forty years. Fifteen jobs.
For your father, it was thirty years with the same company. Then retirement. A pension.
For you, it’s Monday mornings in the airport, waiting for the first flight to Dallas, or Chicago, or wherever it is this week. Through security, shoes off, liquids and gels in a zip-lock bag. You wheel your bag towards a good seat in the waiting area, one on the end and not in the path of traffic. Not back-to-back with another row of seats because they always move whenever someone sits down. A good seat, out of the sunlight, close to an electrical outlet for your laptop.
Priorities change when you are a business traveler. You leave behind the family you love and now try to avoid families who dare to travel for pleasure on your flight. You avoid them at check-in, avoid their eight bags of matched luggage, avoid their children. You especially avoid them at the security check-in because things will not go smoothly for them.
You love your children but not children who travel, except children who travel alone. Those children are perfect travel companions. They are pros, just like you. No whining or fidgeting. No running up and down the aisles. No kicking the back of your seat. Those children are compatriots, younger business travelers on their way to see the non-custodial parent, or their grandparents. You like children who travel alone. Many years ago you learned that you can pull the tray table closer to you by watching a child traveling alone.
Years ago, you established some rules for business travel:
Always use the moving walkway. Take as few steps as possible because you will be taking too many steps as it is.
Take one bag and only one bag. The bag is small and has wheels.
Rental cars never have an owner’s manual in them. Always rent the same model car so you know how to turn on the headlights.
Avoid certain chain restaurants inside the airport. Huge portions of fried food are not served with your health in mind.
In the hotel, always sleep on the side of the bed closest to the bathroom.
Never run to catch a plane. There will be another one.
Your flight out on Monday will be on time. Your flight back home on Friday will be delayed. Try to leave after work on Thursday.
Hire a cleaning service for your home. Hire a trustworthy handyman to take care of problems at home. Shop online during the week. Keep your weekends free.
Tip the housekeepers in the hotel. Their jobs are worse than yours.
Don’t sit in the hotel bar with your co-workers every night. It’s bad for your liver; it’s worse for your marriage. Go back to your room and read. Or get some sleep.
Forty years. Twenty down, twenty to go.