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10:24 a.m. - February 08, 2007
Business Travel, Feh...
I love my job.

I love traveling.

But traveling for my job? Feh.

It's lost its appeal.

It always seems I miss something special now, or miss something that I really should be there for, when I go out of town.

For instance, I had to do some traveling in Ohio a few years ago on day trips to exciting locales like Dayton and Columbus. Katie got ear infections on two occasions. She's had three ear infections in her life.

When I was in Cedar Rapids in 2005, right after Kristin was born, a huge thunderstorm rolled through town and Liz was afraid our huge Chinese Elm was going to blow down. During dinner on two nights, she called me because of issues with the kids and the house and the weather. I really should have been there.

I was out of town in Toledo when I heard that Kristin pulled up for the first time.

It seems every time I leave and come back, Kristin is talking more, and Katie is being, well, a sassy five year old going on 14, and the sibling rivalry games have started big time.

Actually, I think from my very first business trip, I haven't really been enamored of traveling, at all, for business.

That first trip was a total disaster. I had late airplanes that caused me to not roll into Austin until 3:00 AM, a hotel change, and a meeting with a client that wanted something exactly so and a salesman who insisted we could do it exactly so.

Other than that, the trip was splendid.

The day after Liz and I got back from our fifth anniversary cruise, I had to be on a plane to beautiful Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to spend two days with a cranky customer. I flew back on December 31, 1999, and actually had to circle around Pittsburgh for a while as the crew dealt with a landing gear indicator light gone awry. I had the co pilot come to my row, ask me to leave my seat, and uncovered some window thing deal to see if the landing gear was in fact down.

Nice. Of course, it was December 31, 1999, so I was all thinking it WAS the apocalypse and maybe Pat Robertson was right and not some nutball.

Then after that, the next week I spent a week in Georgetown, Ontario, and the week after that I spent a week in Merrillville, Indiana. Liz was thinking "Happy 5th anniversary, oh phantom husband."

Most of my travel now is for conferences, and yes, I've taken a few liberties in the past, and extended my stay before or after for fun and frivolity.

But now, that's just wearing on me.

Take my recent trip to Philly.

Fly in on a Saturday. Taxi to the hotel. Go grab dinner. Check in and call Liz. Collapse on the bed because you're tired.

Sunday, wake up, get breakfast, check out, cool your heels for a couple of hours, present your session, catch a cab, go home, get home around midnight. Go to work Monday morning.

In DC this year, I fly in on a Saturday, and since I'm now on the board of the user group, I have a lot of meetings and obligations to go to. I basically will have Sunday afternoon to myself, perhaps, until 4:30, but from Saturday night through Wednesday night I have to be here, go there, do this and that, and then around 9:00 go up to my room and pass out.

I love to travel and see the country, but I like to do it at my pace and without a real schedule or agenda (which kind of bugs Liz, so we compromise).

That's why I hate flying. I am a good flyer, and I'm not very nervous except when the puddle jumper that I take to DC has bumps climbing up through the clouds that always infect Indiana during the late winter / early spring.

No, I hate flying because I hate the hurry up and wait aspect of the airports. I don't like being herded around like cattle. I don't like rushing to the gate to change planes and then find out there's a delay, and there's no more seats in the waiting area, and the airline can't tell you WHEN the plane is going to arrive.

Then at the conference site, I always feel rushed during the conference. The food they serve at the conferences is OK. Sometimes they have nice breakfast options (with bacon!) but then sometimes the lunches are bland and small and you really want to go to the coffee shop for a burger, but can't because you're already sitting down with your colleagues and the speaker is about ready to start and that just looks rude.

Eating on a business trip is also dicey, mainly because I don't seem to exercise self control. Ribs? Sure! Ribs and a beer? Double sure!!

Even when I'm driving on business, it's a grind and I eat too much. Two, count 'em, TWO stops at Burger King on the way to Okemos the other day. That's, um, not good.

The bad thing is that I have more trips in the offing. I go to Chicago Saturday for a meeting, so I need to leave at 6AM to get up there in good time, especially since who the heck knows what roads are open and closed in that town.

(Yeah, and here's another thing. It's fegging below zero and snowing, and I'm going NORTH? Yeesh...)

Then I have my DC excursion in March. Because of all of this travel, I'm doing the College a budget favor and not going to Austin in April. Yeah, I'm missing a COOL city to go back to DC and not be able to go anywhere because I'll be in meetings all the time.

I have three other meetings to attend because I'm on the board. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great opportunity for me and for the College. It's just I have to travel to Toledo in September, Fairfax in November and somewhere else in the fall as well.

Plus, hopefully our work in Chicago will get done, but if not, there's another springtime weekend trip.

The reason I'm going to Chicago is that we're forming a new professional organization, the Association of Advancement Services Professionals, to give our profession a voice, a say, and more opportunities for personal growth and development. But there no doubt will be yet another conference to attend in late 2007.

Add in Liz's meetings, my community and church involvement, and other things, Liz and I are definitely going to take advantage and take a weekend late this month.

Of course, we're going to Chicago.

Brrr...guess we'll have to figure out how to keep warm.


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