So the Swampinator here is preparing for a 3 week, maybe 4 state, Odyssey that, despite having baby in tow, remains a pretty standard part of my life since I left graduate school to enter the enviro-work force.
Oh, it has its perks. Time alone. Independence. Quiet. Solitude. Those are all great things. And wild men have made a living just by writing about their work travels - from Jack Kerouac to Woody Guthrie to John Steinbeck (try on "Once there Was a War" - his newspaper articles from the battlefield) to Henry Rollins (whose "Smile, You're Traveling" is a good selection also). But work travel, even in our pretty civilized society, has a whole lot of negatives, too (as any one of those gentlemen would tell you). The lack of control over your schedule and travels ("Hi, this is the home office....we need you to stay out there for another week.") is a big one that causes a lot of Americans to live a pretty frenzied existence. So, for those of you who loathe your 40-hour office job, here are some random thoughts:
- "Sir, is this a business or pleasure trip?" Travel business folks ask this frequently, although only occasionally does it result in a different rate. The question is too often a little knife in your pride. Because honestly, why would you be be vacationing in Phoenix in July, or Connecticut in February?
- If you think you dread your boss's whims on "donut fridays" and office supplies, imagine if he or she had the power to send you across the country on a "fact finding mission" with no notice whatsoever. That's fun.
- I'm sorry, 10am is not a "late checkout." 4pm is a "late checkout."
- Every personal trip becomes a possible work trip when your boss sees your request for vacation..."Well, since you'll be down there already, do you think you can get some face time with........ and find out the status of ...........? Yeah, that'd be great."
- I'll leave you with this one from circa 1999: I had been working (post-grad school) for about a year when the boss frantically called me in (on December 18th) and said, "We just received an lucrative emergency contract for environmental work at Fort Myers Airport (southwest Florida..I worked in Baltimore). I need you to book travel for meetings on December 22nd, 23rd, and 24th." When my jaw dropped and I said, "Maybe the 26th," the Boss Man looked at me and said, "You know, when I hired you, I thought you'd be a team player. Obviously I was wrong.....send in Courtney - I can depend on her!" The Boss Man sent me away on a 5-day trip on January 3rd. I finally got to come home on March 15th....and requested a transfer. Courtney quit a year later. The Boss Man is still there.
Time alone. Solitude. Be careful what you wish for!