Did I say that, mention sanity and flight in the same sentence. Could it be I have finally lost what little true lucidity I have left and crossed over into the land of la-la. This could be the case, but as I look at the end of another year of mileage and other sundry programs that award me for spending my life away from home I am forced to take stock.
It is important to understand what I do for a living; I am a consultant or as one of my favorite customers once said during a heated debate;
“Well Val, that is because you are a Conslutant”, at which point he grew beat red and
fumbled mightily for a way out of his Freudian Slip. Being the wonderful Conslutant that I am I gave him one, I smiled sweetly and said, “Why no George, I am not a Conslutant at all, you pay me very well for my services and thus I think there might be another name for what I am”. While the Steering Committee of the very proper southern State Board of Education stared mouths agape, both George and I burst out laughing and all was right with the world once again. Freudian Slips forgotten and the heated debate regarding the state of the project picked up where it left off.
Nevertheless, I am a Consultant, to be precise I am Project Manager big IT projects. I have been working in this capacity for twenty years. For the past five I have worked as an independent, meaning sometimes I get to pick my customers but most of the time I scramble for new contracts. The other thing this means is I spend a great deal of time in airports, airplanes and hotel rooms; that is away from home.
The Mile High Club
Get your mind out of the gutter it isn’t what you think! Those of us who spend a significant portion of our lives catching catnaps in the air belong to a unique club. We know the secrets of getting through long check in lines, security is a breeze and we generally don’t
stress when our flights are delayed. Why you ask? The answer is simple this is our life.
We make friends with the people at ticket counters we know their names, sometimes even the names of their children; we see them week after week. TSA agents greet us by name; we take the same flights week after week and are on the same schedules. Flight attendants know us and we continue conversations from the previous week with them, sharing war stories of our time in the air, bad passengers and the changes since the airline has cut back services.
How many miles can a single person fly? 3,722,902 – you read that right. Three million seven hundred twenty-two thousand nine hundred and two. Those are the approximate miles I have flown between four main airlines in the past twenty years. It is likely a bit more, but many miles have fallen through the cracks of bankruptcy, mergers and sundry other incidents of flying life. To be perfectly anal about this that works out to be five hundred and ten (510) miles per day every single day for twenty years.
The Road Less Traveled
Now of course I didn’t fly every day. Didn’t even fly every week. Most weeks but not every week. In fact there were entire years during this period where I actually I stayed in one place and was able to act just like a normal person, commuting to and from an office on a road rather than in an airplane, I found the experience far more stressful. When people ask how I can stand to fly every week I point out if they live and work in any metropolitan city in the US they likely spend up and hour or more each way in the car five days per week. They are subject to road rage, incautious drivers, traffic jams and many other terrible inconveniences. I on the other hand am met at the airport where my car is valet parked, I rarely stand in long lines, I always board the plane first, my commute consists of sitting back while others ‘drive’ and I catnap.
I don’t want to glamorize my commute, believe me there is nothing glamorous about it at all. Every privilege I have has been earned by bad food, rude seatmates, long layovers, delayed flights and being away from home.
I am starting this series here, more to come on Flying in the Face of Sanity.