I liked to travel. Initially, I wasn't fond of traveling for business. But early in my career, I settled into it. I thought that it was kind of cool to jet off to different places, representing my company's products. I was happy and secure in knowing that they felt they had one of their very best selling their goods and services around the country. I knew that they admired my commitment, performance and loyalty.
But while I showed adoration to my employers, back home, I missed the soccer matches, PTA meetings, first steps and first words. I was never able to integrate myself fully into my community. I couldn't be counted upon to volunteer for this or that because my schedule was unreliable. My kids hated Sunday evenings because that was when I departed for most of my trips. And while I thought my commitment would vault me up the ladder, it really didn't. It only opened me up to more lateral opportunities to travel for other companies. And I found that all the frequent flier miles in the world, all the free hotel stays, didn't matter much to three kids, who wanted their dad, or a wife, who wanted her spouse. The nice little vacations here or there were not ample remuneration for the many nights I stayed away from home. My family could not be bribed.
For better or for worse, I continued on with my ways. It was my only way to make a living, I reasoned. It is my contribution to the household, I said. And, unfortunately, I continued to do it. And I found that as I did it, those grateful employers, weren't really grateful at all. At the end of the day, they didn't view jumping on a plane and jetting to all kinds of locations, representing their products, services and brands, as anything remarkable. After all, they paid me a good salary to do it. They simply didn't care. They only wanted results. And I accepted this then and still do, today. They paid me to perform a service that required travel.
And over the years I traveled for a few companies. As I got older, the glimmer and glamor wore off. It wasn't sexy anymore. It was just part of the job. And once I put it into its proper perspective - work - my life began to normalize. And I realized also, that my employer saw it as nothing more one night when I was returning from Oklahoma. I connected through St. Louis and while waiting on my flight home from St. Louis, the skies in the entire Midwestern and eastern portion of the United States exploded. Violent storms were everywhere. We boarded and our pilot cautioned us to stay seated because it was going to be a very bumpy ride. And it was. The turbulence was unlike any I had previously encountered during my thirty years of traveling. And when we arrived, safely at home, I got off the plane and murmured, "I sure hope they appreciate what I do to sell their product."
But for my company, it was about business. Only that. Nothing more. And I realized then, that all the trips, all the miles, all the nights away, paled in comparison to what I had really lost. For me, it was always about being at the airport, making that next flight, and delivering the goods. But, back home, I missed so many important things.
Because I used to travel, a lot.