Travelling and not forgetting
by Rob Tiller
When we were much younger, my friend Henry proposed the following definition of middle age: you know where all your warranty cards are. How things change: what once sounded dull now sounds impressive. I have no hope of locating all my warranty cards. But having just got back from a journey to San Francisco, Dallas, and D.C., I feel a quiet satisfaction that I forgot only one item I intended to pack (workout shorts), didn’t leave anything in a hotel room or plane seat, and never got lost. I was on time for every meeting. I nearly missed the flight out of Dallas because of a misunderstanding about adjusted schedules. But all told, I managed competently.
How good to be home! My wife’s smile is so sweet! Our house is so comfortable and familiar! But change is in the air. Sally managed to sell the entertainment center ($375!), and so the audio system had to be disconnected. With two weeks to go before we move out, it isn’t clear that it’s worth the effort to hook it all up again. It was more pain than expected to get the TV going again. Why are there eighteen possible connections, only one of which actually works?
Business travel is wearing, even with the benefits of nice hotels (loved the Ritz-Carlton) and jets. My dad travelled more than week a month in his sales job for Norfolk Southern, and most of that by car. I thought it was a hard way to make a living. He took me along a couple of times of multi-day sales trips, first when I was about six. The drives seemed endless, the waits for sales meetings seemed endless, and the meetings themselves seemed very dull. Especially in the car, I disliked my dad’s smoking (Salems), but I assumed it was necessary to smoke in order to drive a car. My favorite thing was staying in the Holiday Inn, where I got to stay up unusually late and watch TV. I also liked eating fried shrimp and hamburgers.
As a kid, I assumed that my dad hated his long business trips. He always seemed tired when he got home, and often grumpy. At some point in my teen years, though, I asked him how he felt about his travelling. He said he kind of liked it. Probably true.