Why I Hate It

Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Cowgirls have To-Do Lists

Why I hate to travel, all the time and every single time I do it. After nearly a year of not traveling, I had forgotten just how much I truly hate to travel. I spent more than twenty years as a road warrior, every week on the road, Sunday night out and usually, if I was fortunate Thursday night back home with Fridays spent catching up on expense reports, conference calls and all the rest of business activities necessary to keep my life in order. This was my life for over twenty years. I wanted out, I made a conscious decision to get out, that did not quite work. Now I am reminded why I wanted out.

All the reasons why I Hate Travel, in no particular order.

There is the schedule itself usually dictated by clients leaving you with approximately 16 waking hours unless previously scheduled on Friday to see; doctors, hair stylists, manicurists, dentists, friends and family. Of course, did I fail to mention during this short time home there are also things screaming for your attention such as house cleaning, laundry and shopping because frankly whether or not there is a spouse or family one still must have at least some food in the house and in my experience, no one but me is ever going to put it there.

Why do I Hate Travel? Because this is absolutely no way for a normal person to live, it is not romantic, it is not exciting and it surely does not make me at all happy.

Let’s talk about hotels, just for a brief moment. When you travel for business you are not staying in Five Star hotels, no most of the time you are staying in chains, sometimes they are fallen stars. If you are like me, you only have a few 170380_13053106480012593076_STDrequirements some these days are harder to meet than others. I don’t want to leave my room in the middle of the night for a cigarette, don’t hate me I smoke and believe I should be able to do so in the privacy of the room I am paying for. But let’s talk about the rest, shall we? Starting with closets without enough hangers and those f’ng hangers that do not come off the rack, I am constantly fighting them. Then there are the mattresses, has anyone ever slept in a hotel and gotten a good night’s sleep, I toss and turn all night and wake every morning feeling like I have run an Iron Man. As a coffee drinker, I ask only one thing please, leave me more than one small packet of real coffee; I have learned to ask for more on check-in and every single night when I arrive back. Then there are the dangerous as all hell shower/baths, why in all that is holy don’t hotels simply install showers stalls rather than these tubs with showerheads? Narrow tubs, no traction and add to this flimsy curtains that stick to your skin actually climbing into your crevices when you are trying to bath, gad I hate bathing in hotels.

Finally, why do I Hate Travel so completely and entirely?

Airports and flights, it is getting worse and worse. No matter where I travel, I notice the ‘cost cutting’ measures first, the lack of human interaction when checking in. If you need assistance, you had better plan on a long wait. Then there is Lines form at the security line at Denver International Airport at as the TSA works to clear passengers for their flights.TSA and the security process, come on boys and girls, you have anywhere from 3-5 lines you could open up and you have a line of people waiting to get through security, tell me again why is only one of the lines open? By the way, please explain to me why I have to take my computers out, my shoes off, my coat off, my sweater off; damn do you want me naked? By the way when it comes to TSA, could we please have a line for seasoned travelers and another for those who are on vacation with families, I know very elitist of me but really the next time I am behind a family of four struggling with children, strollers and too much carry-on luggage I think I will scream, loudly.

Finally, we get to the airlines and the flights themselves. They are in another round of cost cutting and they are idiotic in their methodology. I can only talk about the one I fly the most often, bet you can guess given I live in the Dallas area. Now I have flown this airline for most of my career, I am a Million Miler on them, retain my Gold status for life even if I never fly again. In truth I have flown more than 1.5 million miles on this airline alone, this doesn’t count other airlines, all together between the four primary airlines I fly I have well over 2 million air miles, this means miles I have flown not all the additional miles I collect in other ways. The benefit of being an ‘Elite’ member of the club is upgrades when they are available, when they aren’t the flights are even more miserable. These days though even First Class flights are fairly low class, there is no service unless you ring your bell repeatedly and demand attention from the apathetic attendant’s, there is no meal service for any flight under 2.5 hours, even if that flight is during the dinner hour, if you are lucky they will throw you a bag of peanuts. Drinks are served in plastic cups, coffee in paper.

Don’t get me started on Coach where you are kicked in the back, stuffed together as if you are an anchovy and must keep your elbows so close to your ribs you can’t breathe for an entire flight. Service? Forget about it.

So far, no flight has left on time and thus no flight has landed on time!

Now I remember I hate travel; truly, I do. I want a real life. I want to be home after a day at work. I want to write and read, sleep in my own bed. I want the opportunity to have dinner with friends, family or someone I love. Hell, I want to enjoy travel because I am going someplace romantic to get away from it all.

Just a slice of life!

Tales from the Air

Farts on the Airplane

There is probably nothing worse than someone with uncontrollable gas in the tight confines of an airplane. Certainly they are embarrassed by their overactive digestive track and their own stupidity at eating foods that would cause their active flatulence.

Let me give some advice. There are some foods that lend themselves to greater amounts of flatulence than others. This is due to the types of sugars they contain, the body CANNOT effectively break these sugars down and thus they produce gas which travels to your nether regions ultimately producing noxious fumes. If you know you will be flying, do yourself and your fellow passengers a favor avoid these foods!

Beans, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Raisins, Milk (especially for those with lactose intolerances) and yes the all-important BEER.

Elbows and other Sharp Objects

I once had a man (not what you are thinking you are so dirty minded) seated next to me in those big comfy First Class Seats. This man must have seen that I was more blessed than the average woman with pair of breasts that might be the envy of a Playboy Centerfold. Perhaps in his fevered fantasy he believed this meant they were public property, since they took more space than was normal. Whatever the case may be, I once had a man and he had a plan.

Our flight to Dallas was looking to be a long one, with plenty of turbulence and stormy skies. I had already taken my seat, 1B aisle bulkhead left side of the plane. When he arrived he first glared at me, as if to say; “what are you doing in this section of the plane?” Admittedly, back then there were few women flying in First during what was considered the Friday specials, business flights back to Dallas on American. Add to this I was already in my standard Jeans, cowboy boots and tee. But then my Man with a Plan noticed my assets and his gears turned. He sat his happy self down, pulled out his Wall Street Journal leaned to the right, taking more than half our ample arm rest as his own, and ordered his Scotch and Soda before take-off. Then the fun begin……….

Turn page one, right hand grabs page turns and shakes landing squarely against the edge of my breast. I think nothing of it. A few minutes go by and time to turn the next page; oddly the exact same action produces the same result. “Excuse me, my breast isn’t public property and your attention isn’t welcome. Would you mind keeping your elbow on your side of the arm rest and your hands to yourself, please”, said as nice as possible and looking directly at the Man with the Plan. He smirked, moved slightly to the left and started reading again. A few more minutes pass (he reads slowly) and the same exact thing happens, fortunately the two gentlemen across the aisle see it this time, so when I turn and tapped him and said, ‘The next time you touch my breast I am going to break your ribs and it will be self-defense’, they concurred. Again he smirked and this time he didn’t move.

Five more minutes, he readies himself for another page turner and a free feel. I ready myself as well, I am watching for him how. He turns the page and this time takes a slow linger down the side of my left breast as if daring me to follow through with my threat. Boy did he challenge the wrong Texas girl, I pulled back my elbow and delivered a blow to his ribs that knocked the wind from his lungs and bent him over in his seat. When he could breathe again the first thing he did is push the call button and when he Flight Attendant arrived he demanded the police meet the plane in Dallas and arrest me for assault. She asked me what had occurred and I explained the situation. She asked the nice gentlemen across the aisle what they had seen and their story agreed with mine. She offered him a choice;

  1. She could have the police meet the plane and he would be arrested. I might be also, but it is likely the charges would be dropped against me.
  2. He could change seats with someone and forget the entire incident assuming I was willing to do so and someone was willing to change seats with him.

He took option two and the rest of the flight was quite pleasant. He called me a Bitch as he was moving his bags, I agreed.

Thus we have two tales of many of my time in the air. Farts on a plane, well that is on-going and frequent. Elbows that is a true story from about ten years ago.

Flying in the Face of Sanity

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

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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

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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.

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