When you’re in college, many people fantasize about getting a ‘travel job’. Well, now that I’m in my 40’s, I’ve done a lot of business travel over the years. Most of the time I have at least one overseas trip a year – sometimes two. I also have any number of domestic flights – maybe 5-10. That’s about the max I’m happy with. It seems very romantic to travel for work, but in the end, it’s really work you’re there to do. You might get a few hours a night after work – but that’s not the time many things are open – or the sun even up if it’s winter.
There were times, however, when I was flying once every week for months on end. That is a completely different thing. You start entering this different state of living – a sort of half-living in an altered state. You waking wherever you are with just what fits in a day pack, run to an airport, parking and security, flying somewhere, eating airplane and hotel food, then perhaps catch a brief nap while flying. Then you wake again – on a plane this time – what city? What time zone? Then collect your stuff and unload, rental car and transit to the site where your day really starts. Work 8 hours with new folks while the clock ticks on you until it’s time to leave for the airport or maybe a hotel. Everything is institutional and commercial – with fancy designer metal, leather, 800 count bed sheets and hotel restaurant food – all pretending to be like a home. Maybe you work another day, then it’s in the rental, return to the airport and figure out returns. Getting to the terminal, security, and a flight back home. Another brief chance at rest before you unload as you awake – where again? What time? Collect things, unload, take airport transit to your car, then home. Home? Is it just another room?
One of the best clips that captures the experience is from the movie Fight Club:
But now there is a new player. The video for the song ‘Let It Happen’ by Tame Impala does another great job. It appears to be about a business traveler that is having a heart attack, but it captures that constant sense of going to sleep and not knowing where you’ll wake up next. I found it fascinating. I think there is something interesting here that might make for a good writing/art project…