When I talk to friends, relatives, and the occasional stranger seated next to me on the plane, about my job, they get this look of wide eyed fascination on their faces and proclaim, "Man, you are so lucky. I bet that's fun and interesting." I chuckle when I hear them. So, here is a typical trip. You can decide for yourself if it's fun.
I usually have my son drop me off at the airport about an hour and fifteen minutes before my flight departs. I can do that where I live because the airport is not too busy. Once I am dropped off, I go through security. It's suppose to go faster for people like me. I fit the category of the new "Expert Traveler". But apparently either no one is reading the sign, or everyone, including the family of five in front of me, believe they are expert travelers. So, as I move slowly through the expert travelers line, I do all I can to keep my cool. Traveling can be stressful, especially going through airport security. But safety first.
After going through security, I head to my gate. I have been traveling Southwest Airlines a lot. For one, they have the most flights out of my airport. And two, they fly 737 jets, not the small, commuter jets that American, Delta, and Continental (and others) fly. I've tried the commuter jets. They get you there, but it's a tight squeeze for someone portly, like myself.
Most people are familiar with Southwest's boarding policy. They board in groups - A, B or C. Within each group you are assigned a number. The folk who take the time to check in 24 hours prior to departure get the really good numbers. Typically they are business travelers, like me. We check in 24 hours in advance because we don't want to have to fight for luggage space in the overhead bin. Nor do we want to check our luggage. When we get to where we want to go, we grab our luggage and go. No waiting for checked luggage.
Once on the plane, I usually choose an aisle seat, open a book and keep to myself. It's not that I don't want to talk to anyone, it's just that I am ready to go. So, while folk come down the aisle, hitting me on the arms and in the head with luggage, I try to do the best I can to read my book and block out all the commotion.
When I fly, I usually have to connect in another airport. I don't have many direct options where I live. So, most of the time, I am connecting. Connections either involve running really quick in the airport to make my flight, waiting two or three hours for flight to depart, or sometimes, sleeping in a cold terminal all night because my originating flight was delayed. It's not fun to connect. Direct flights are always best. And connecting really sucks on rainy or windy days because I get to experience all that bumping from the "rough air" more than once.
When I finally get to my destination - sometimes it takes all day - I go get my rental car, program my Garmin and I am off to my hotel. The Garmin, while one of the greatest inventions ever, will get you there, but sometimes not in the most direct way. So, after maneuvering my way around unfamiliar terrain, I arrive at my hotel.
Now the fun really begins. Supper is either spent eating fast food in my room and watching SportsCenter, or going to a restaurant, and eating by myself while I pretend not to care that I am alone, by reading a book. Back in the hotel room, I wind down by spending the remainder of my evening working on my sales presentation for the next day or assorted paperwork. I know, fun right! I get my clothes ready for the next day, and then finally try to drift off, constantly fighting the whining of the room air conditioner/heater. The next morning I realize I have had very little sleep because as most business travelers know, there are only two temperatures in a hotel room - too hot or too cold.
I get dressed - sometimes exercise - and then head off to my appointments. Then, after I have completed all my business, I hop back on a plane and try to make it home at a decent time. But usually, that decent time is late at night.
That's a typical trip for me. In doing these trips - and this year alone I have been to Chicago a few times, Kansas City, Omaha, Dallas, San Juan, Pensacola, Atlanta, Norfolk, Baltimore, Providence, Hartford, Birmingham - I've experienced one thing in common about all the cities that I have visited. That is the inside of a hotel room looks the very same, no matter what city I travel to.
So when Dorothy chanted, in the Wizard of Oz, " there's no place like home!", she was on to something very brilliant. I enjoy meeting folk from around the country. People in different locales are typically hospitable and extremely nice. But even the best hotel bed or accommodations in the world, pale into comparison to the feel of that old mattress back home or the feeling of my old, worn carpet on the bottom of my feet, when I touch the floor the first thing in the morning. I've still have a lot of places to go this year and I look forward to it all because I know at the end of each trip, home is waiting for me.