Do you have so much work that you can’t get away from it? Or maybe work can’t get away from you? The other day I witnessed, in sound only, a gentleman in the restroom stall typing on his laptop. Let’s be clear, this was the restroom at my office building, not at home, not in an airport, not at a restaurant, but in an office building where one can easily make the assumption that this is where the gentleman works. One can also easily extrapolate that he has a desk and a computer somewhere in the building. Why then does he feel the need to sit in the restroom stall, making noises, and typing away at his laptop? Any thoughts?
I’m on my way back from Denver this week. Well, not quite Denver but Centennial, Colorado that is located about 30 miles southeast of downtown Denver. It is flat. Relatively dry. And very suburban. No offense to folks in Centennial, but there really isn’t much charm to life in this “city.”
So on to my question, “Is it worth it?” What is “It” you may ask. “It” is the status many frequent flyers accrue for sitting butts in seats, nights in hotels, dollars spent, cars rented, etc… I think you get the hint. What does Silver, Gold, Platinum, Pre-Check, Global. Premier, Executive status confer upon us and “What is it worth?”
Is it worth getting on the plane first? Is it worth getting upgraded to a suite instead of a regular room, even though the traveler will only spend a few hours in the room? Is it worth getting a Dodge Charger muscle car instead of a Kia? Is it worth going through security at the airport and not having to take off your belt in the name of safety and security? I’ve started to accrue a few of these perks myself and have tried to take advantage of them as much as possible but I always ask myself “Is it worth it?” My only answer right now is “I don’t know” at least I haven’t figured it out yet.
Which brings me to my next point. Is it OK to say “I don’t know.” Alas, someone smarter than I can chime in here as I don’t have a good answer except to say “depends.” Until next trip….
It has been a while…over a year since my last post. I am going to rededicate myself to writing posts more often as I travel.
I’m on my third week in a row on the road. The wife isn’t happy about it. It is part of my job however. Traveling is only a part of my work not all of my work. It has however, taken me away from home three weeks straight now.
My first stop two weeks ago was Seattle, WA. Last week was Anchorage, AK. And this week I’m in Baton Rouge, LA. I will have two weeks off before heading to Denver for three days in early July. I have been home (outside Boston), between each of these trips making my airline miles grow on one or two specific airlines.
What have I learned these past three weeks? Why do I like traveling so much? Why do we all visit places outside of our home towns or cities? I’ve got some thoughts. We wait in security lines, take our shoes off, store our gear, shove bags in overhead compartments, deal with delays or cancellations, take buses, wake up early, get in late, rent cars, deal with traffic, multiple personalities, and multiple languages or dialects as we travel the nation or globe. Why do we do this?
We want to see how lucky we are compared to others. We want to find out if we are in a better, or worse, situation than others. We want to see how others live, and die. We want to ask ourselves, “could I live here?” “Would I want to live here?”
Some folks have other reasons; to put up with the grind of travel to see other people and places. We want to see our great country and see the unique sights and sounds of historically significant places. Some folks travel to see the people. Some folks travel to see the places. Some folks travel for educational reasons.
What do we find from our travels? People are strange. People are generous. People are distinctive. People are proud. People are stubborn. People are self-centered. In sum, people are different. Generalizations are no good when describing specific cultures, regions or areas of the country or of the world. Everyone is distinct but there are some generalizations to be made about people in general.
My travels have taken me to all four corners of our great country and around the world. I have found that most folks are trying to better their lives as best they can within the boundaries of their current environs. People are mostly helpful, if asked. People are inherently good but often need to be pushed or pulled or coaxed. I don’t know why this is but on my future travels, I will try to figure this out. Maybe we just don’t trust folks we don’t know or don’t feel a need to stick our necks out without expecting something in return. Who knows?
In sum however, cultures may be different and may seem foreign to us, languages may seem like gibberish and we may feel uncomfortable not understanding but jump in…learn the language. Learn the culture. Try the “exotic food.” See the local sites and take in the art, the history, the architecture. One can only enjoy traveling and deal with the hassles of getting there in order to see all of the various distinctions and similarities of people and places around our great country and around the world.
Now go travel somewhere!!
Sitting in traffic stinks. It is no fun watching the same two red tail-lights blink on and off traveling at a snail’s pace toward home after a long day at work. It is frustrating, especially when there are no good songs on the radio.
Yesterday, as I was within a few miles of home, the traffic was backing up, forming a snake of red lights in front of me. I slowly approached a side street, I saw an elderly woman waiting to cross my lane and make a left turn. She waved at me, I pointed at her and flashed my high-beams allowing her to continue on her journey. Afterall, I had nowhere to go with the red lights in front of me waiting for the light to change. As she passed in front of me, she blew me a kiss thanking me for my patience. This was a first. I chuckled to myself and marveled at how this small act elicited such a response.
And the moral of the story is: Let old ladies pass…they may blow you a kiss.
By the way, I cut off a tractor-trailer one minute earlier to make the previous light.
I travel a bit for work, maybe 4-8 flights a month, depending if I have non-stop flights or have to make a connection. That means that I have had dozens of seat neighbors of all shapes, sizes, colors, odors and states of sanity.
I recently took an early morning cross-country flight from Boston to LAX and maneuvered my seat assignment in coach to an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, half way back. In January, I had ACL surgery on my left knee and feel comforted when I can stretch my sometimes achy or stiff knee out into the aisle. I put my bag in the overhead compartment and pulled into my row, standing, waiting for my seat neighbors to arrive. Soon enough a middle-aged woman appeared and asked not so politely, if I would move to her assigned aisle seat on the left side of the plane, six rows back.
Here is where it gets tricky. Most people I have observed on a plane, who are asked to move a seat, half-heartedly agree and shuffle out-of-the-way to their new seat without complaint. Are we expected to say yes regardless? Most people agree because they don’t want to raise a stink with a stranger. Afterall, we Americans fear confrontation on a personal level, generally speaking. If a new mom with an infant needs some extra room or a pregnant woman asks, my answer is “No problem. Can I help you with your bags?”
The issue I had was that the lady who requested that I relinquish my seat was neither pregnant, nor did she have toddler in tow. She did not have any discernible ailment that would prohibit her from sitting in her original seat. In fact, she told me that “THEY” (the airline) split up she and her partner and they wanted to sit together. I thought to myself that this was her problem and she should have booked the two tickets together on the same reservation almost assuring they would be able to sit next to each other.
I looked back to where the lady’s seat was and saw a cluster of 52 15 year olds who, I found out later, were traveling to LA for a conference. Their two chaperones were sitting just a couple of rows ahead of me. After having woken in the four o’clock hour to get to the airport in time, I was not in the mood to get little sleep on the nearly six-hour flight listening to the constant gab of teenagers, not that I have a problem with teenagers, just 52 of them in a cramped airplane cabin for six hours on little sleep, isn’t ideal.
I told the lady “No, I would not move at this time to her seat” and only felt a pang of guilt for two milliseconds. She returned a big harumph. Luckily for her, one of the teenagers, who was assigned the window seat, arrived. The lady asked her to switch to the aisle. Shockingly, the blond teenager flatly said no also stating she was comfortable in the window seat. It wasn’t until one of the chaperone’s encouraged the youth to move did she shuffle down the aisle to her new seat, leaving me with two middle-aged women as seat neighbors who were now upset at me, not that I cared much.
Some questions to think about: Do we have to move seats when asked assuming there is no physical ailment or mitigating circumstances? Should we feel uncomfortable saying no to a stranger? Should we feel guilty when we DO say no? Do I have to tell this stranger why I said no and provide a reason why I don’t want to spend six hours in her original seat?
Say NO and put on your noise-cancelling headphones and don’t think twice about refusing to move seats, unless you’re a cold-hearted bastard who won’t move for a pregnant woman or family with toddlers.
I know the day will come when I ask someone to move for some inane reason and they will have the personal strength to say no to me. Until then, just say no, unless they offer something better, or cash!
“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus
What is it about the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers that seems to apply so much to our lives today while those most prominent in our society disappear after their 15 minutes of fame? Those ancient dudes really had staying power. Lets dig a bit deeper and ask why.
I am not an expert or claim to have significant knowledge about the ancients but I can recognize when those who came before us had something worthwhile to say that might still relevant. Were they smarter than us? Maybe not. Afterall, they didn’t have DWTS or David Hasselhoff and took the 9 o’clock donkey to work. They did however, seem to possess a penchant for seeing beyond their years and beyond themselves and understanding what may come after they were long gone. The ancients seemed to understand some universal truths that would be relevant for generations and generations to come. They definitely had more time on their hands and did not have smart phones that kept them tethered to everyone else. They certainly did not have Justin Bieber to mock or Lance Armstrong to castigate.
I am guilty of looking toward the future and being disappointed because I want more and cannot have them yet. With that, I write this post for myself, and if you’d like to add it to your thoughts then we’ll all be better for it, I think. I shall try to live more in the present and be happier with the love from my family and friends of today. I will try to not look past the “things” in my possession, secretly (or openly) hoping for more.
My wife does not let me forget however, that we cannot always be satisfied with our present situation or we shall never strive for more or better in the future. We just cannot forget that what we have now, whether physical or emotional, are things that we did not have at some point in the past and should take the time to appreciate them more.
I do not want to discuss our most recent election but I can’t help think about this country as I wind my way to work each morning and when I return in the evening. You see, the marker above is just one of many historical sites/structures I pass along my route. The below image is of Nathan Meriam’s House in Concord, MA where, on April 19, 1775, the first shots of what would become the American Revolutionary War, were fired.
What connects this location to the 2012 elections? While this country had not formally declared its independence yet, on this day in April 1775, we came together as 13 colonies, to fight for what we believed, the right to self-determination and self-governance. While the colonies were rather homogenous at that time in terms of beliefs and relative puritanical views, the southern plantation owner might have had different opinions than the dockworker in Boston Harbor and would not agree 100% on how best to govern our colonies.
What we need today is to come together to work toward a common goal: the betterment of this country in all areas. Like the inhabitants of the colonies who could not afford to lose their fight, we cannot afford to let partisanship get in the way of fixing this great country and ridding it of the ills we ALL face.
Use the following links to write a quick email to your Congressman or Congresswoman. Urge your county representatives or local district representatives to put partisanship behind and work together. Send a tweet, text message, email, phone call or snail mail to your reps and let them know how they should be representing us.
We need strong leaders, surely, but being strong does not mean being stubborn and playing a zero-sum game so that no progress is made.
As an aside, my wife can claim roots to the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War. One of her descendants is captain John Parker, who led the Lexington militia against the British. Over a century ago, he was famously cast as the statue standing proud at the head of Battle Green in Lexington, MA. He is known as the Minute Man Statue or the Lexington Minute Man.
I am quite certain our founding fathers would be amazed, dumbfounded and dismayed to find out what a stubborn, uncompromising and divided people we have become!
COMPROMISE IS NOT A BAD WORD!!