The Degrading Perks of Business Travel

If you know me at all, you know I’m not the type to brag or show off or talk about being better than others. It just isn’t who I am. But today, I’m giving myself a bit of permission to be a bit of an ass. Here’s my story.

Flashback to about 6-7 years ago when I started doing a lot of travel for work. I got status with the airline and started to experience some of the perks. Free upgrades, lounge access, priority boarding, and the odd other item here and there. It was nice to enjoy these things when they were relatively new to me and I was just getting used to frequent travel.

Here I am today, a changed man when it comes to air travel. And the more I travel, the more I am beginning to notice that I have less and less tolerance for some of the things that have now become commonplace. Specifically, the lounge.

At one time, the airline lounge was a place exclusive to frequent travelers and those who flew first class. You’d enter the lounge, be kindly greeted, and enjoy the relative quiet nature of the lounge. Since only first class and business travelers were in the lounge, it was so quiet and really peaceful to be in compared to all of the loud noise of the regular airport gates. For those who travel a LOT, this was a very nice perk. Yes, some lounges have free food, and free booze, but for me, the quiet was always nice. I have a hard time dealing with a lot of noise sometimes so the quiet nature of the lounge was so appealing.

Now it seems that the lounge is no longer just for business travelers and first class passengers. I have seen more kids and babies in lounges in the last year than I ever have in all of my travels. And on top of that, it seems that the parents of said kids seem to think it’s a free for all where they don’t have to pay attention or mind their kids. Screaming, yelling, kids running around, and general panic from these little ones is more common than ever.

When the hell did this become the norm? Where did my quiet lounge go? How is it that everyone and their dog (in some cases that is literal) is now allowed in here? How is it that us who keep the airlines in business now have to put up with this racket on a frequent basis when at one time, it was nice and quiet?

Yes, I’m sounding a bit elitist but the reality is, us business travelers keep the airlines in business. If it weren’t for us, there would be far fewer flights, and they would be FAR more expensive. Is it that much to ask that we have a place where we can relax without the worries of some 1 year old kid screaming while his dad points and laughs at him thinking it’s funny. I kid you not. I sat in a US lounge last year and watched this with my own eyes. The kids scream was audible from the other side of the airport and his dad thought it was just funny. I left the lounge quite pissed.

It would seem now that the lounges are no longer for us who earn the right to be in them, but for anyone who can smile nice enough to get in. Makes me want to spend less time in them.

Then comes a second, albeit much smaller qualm. First/Business class.

I rarely get the chance to fly first class because my clients don’t want to fork out that kind of money. But I do get free upgrades from time to time. Part of flying first class is the extra special treatment you get, and that it’s somewhat “above everything else”. It varies from airline to airline but you expect far better service and a quality of treatment that you never see in economy. Today, flying from Toronto to Houston, I had a business class ticket. I was looking forward to sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the flight.

Well, it didn’t quite happen that way. For starters, I forgot my tablet at home so I was forced to watch what the airline had. Not a big deal but annoyed. Then came in not one, not two, but THREE kids who were all seated in business class. Add to that a VERY loud SCREAMING kid just behind the first class cabin. Between the racket and commotion the three kids made and the screeching noise coming from the baby, it was very hard to relax at all. Thankfully, once we were up high enough, noise cancelling headphones cranked up solved the problem.

I have never seen that many kids in first class. And yes, I know all kids are not bad. I have two of them and I know exactly how they’ll react when they get on a plane. They will be excited, blah blah blah. I get it. But as a business traveler who deals with dozens of flights a year, the less commotion for me the better. This just made it worse.

As a result of this trip, I find myself turning to the dark side and becoming more and more of an ass when it comes to air travel. I’ve never thought of myself as a snob or stuck up in any way but I think I have become that way with air travel. My tolerance for bullshit is at an all time low. If I have to spend 8-12 hours on planes and airports, I want and need less bullshit to deal with. Noisy kids in first class and the lounges needs to go.

But since it’s never going to happen, I’ll simply vent my frustrations here, get on my next flight, plug in my headphones and hope I can drown out whatever terrible noise is happening this time.

Categories: Rants, Travel | Leave a comment

Why I Refuse To Participate In Movember

It’s November 6th and the Movember has begun. People all over the office, the city, and likely the world, are taking the month of November to raise awareness regarding prostate cancer. For guys who participate, they are encouraged to grow a mustache/beard/facial hair during the month and collect donations to the Movember charity. It’s going on at my work and I’ve started seeing the posts on Facebook. I however am not participating and here’s why.

As of today, I have received 11 requests either via email, Facebook, or via someone directly asking me, to participate in Movember. Not one or two. 11. ELEVEN! I have never been asked to donate to any other charity as much as I am asked to donate to Movember. For me, 11 times counts as harassment. I feel like I am bombarded everywhere to participate in this one charity fundraiser. Yet there are thousands of them that go on every year and I am never nagged to death about them. But when Movember rolls along, I get nagged and nagged and nagged about participating. Last year I had an employee corner me in the office and nag me about joining and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to participate. This year the nagging has been worse.

I understand that people are passionate about their cause and they want people to participate. But ELEVEN TIMES?!?!?! Seriously? Enough is enough. As long as I continue to be nagged about this, I will never participate. If I got asked once or twice, maybe I would consider it. But 11 times to me is harassment. I will be steering clear.

If you want people to join in your cause, understand that nagging the hell out of them is not going to be an effective way to get them to join your cause. If the cause is worthy, and a person is so inclined, they will join up on their own. A nudge on something you are passionate about is fine but don’t go too far.

And lastly, remember that not everyone is interested in advertising to the whole world that they donated to charity X. For me, donations are something that I do rarely because there are so many out there and it’s hard to pick one. So when I do, it has a special meaning to me and I’m not really keen on telling the whole world and asking them to do the same.

 

 

Categories: Rants | Leave a comment

Egypt, You Finicky Little Bitch

In case you hadn’t heard, me and Tamara were supposed to go Egypt this November. But given all of the political crap that’s been going on there, we were a bit unsure as to how things were going to play out.

I had booked us a tour to see most of Egypt. We were going to finish our trip with a jaunt over to Jordan to see the Dead Sea and Petra. But when the political situation over there got bad, I started hearing that the tours in Egypt by GAdventures were being cancelled.

Several calls later and they still haven’t cancelled November’s tours but everything up to the end of October has been cancelled. They basically said I will know one way or the other within the next week or so.

Me and Tamara had sort of decided that if they cancelled the tour, we might simply extend our stays in some of the places we would be connecting through. Cairo would actually be one of those spots so we thought maybe we could just spend a night there, go see the pyramids the following day, then fly out again. This was what we were planning until last night.

Last night, I did my daily search of Egyptian news and came across this article. It indicated that police had raided a village beside the pyramids. This was basically a giant huge sign in the sky to me and Tamara that basically said, “You need to stay the hell away from here and figure out something else to do”.

I have been literally waiting 30 years to see the pyramids. It’s actually a lifelong dream I have had since I was in grade school. It’s one of those things that has been on my mind for three decades and I was really looking forward to finally being able to go. Oddly enough, I have sort of settled with the fact this isn’t going to happen this year and for some reason, it’s not as bad as I thought.

I think the worst part is I haven’t been sleeping well and I think this trip and the stress of knowing that it’s kind of a mess is seriously playing games with my head. I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep and felt good the next day and I’m pretty sure all of this thinking about my trip is a big part of my problem.

So, I am now somewhat expecting that GAdventures will be calling/emailing me within a week or so to let me know this tour has been cancelled and want to know if I want to switch tours, or take a refund. They offer Jordan tours but unfortunately the tour they have that I would like to take is actually full the week we are supposed to be in that area.

Thankfully, after doing enough digging, I found this tour which I think pretty much covers all the great stuff about Jordan. Dead Sea, Red Sea, Petra, and plenty of other cool stuff.

I could opt to simply go somewhere else but our flights to that area are already paid for and cancelling them to book somewhere else would result in about $1,000 worth of penalties. A change in schedule is a lot cheaper so I think the option to do Jordan alone is our best and most economical option.

I haven’t completely lost hope that the Egypt part may still happen but after reading what I read last night, I’m pretty sure it’s a goner.

I am sort of feeling a little confused about the fact that something I wanted for so long slipping away from me doesn’t seem to be bothering me as much as I thought it would. Perhaps its the fact that I still will get to go somewhere cool, and I get to share it with Tamara who is probably the best travel companion ever.

Let’s see what the next two weeks bring.

Categories: Travel | Leave a comment

Apple has lost their mojo

The first smartphone I ever owned as an Apple iPhone 3G. This came out at a time when smartphones were still pretty ugly and basically useless. Apple had really taken the smartphone market and turned it upside down with what it was doing. The first time I saw the phone I was completely blown away by how it looked and the way it worked. I became a fan of the product very quickly.

As time passed, I got more and more used to working with my iPhone and really came to like it. I upgraded to the iPhone 4 and it was like night and day as far as usability. The speed difference was awesome and I was quite happy with it. It was also around that same time that Android was starting to get better and become somewhatr useful. The early iterations of that OS were horrid but by the time the iPhone 4 came out things were looking better.

Earlier this year I upgraded to an iPhone 5 and was less than impressed. The truth is, it seemed pretty much like my iPhone 5 with a slightly bigger screen and Siri. Big deal. Then this week, Apple announced their latest phone, the iPhone 5S and the only big thing I see with it is a fingerprint scanner on the home button. Really?

I’ve written before about the Apple vs Android thing so I won’t get into the debate again but I will say that I have become less and less impressed with the “new” items coming from Apple. I mean, I really like and enjoy my iPhone, but it would be nice to experience some of that “holy crap” excitement from a new product again. Instead, it seems that Apple has decided that more of the same is now the norm. Instead of trying to find innovative ways to use technology, they really do seem content to milk the customers with the same tech they already have.

This isn’t going to instantly make me switch to an Android phone. I’m on my iPhone 5 for at least another year, but it does make me consider, at least a little bit, about what else is out there. I have a lot of money invested in my apps, but I’m no longer razzled and dazzled by their tech. Instead, I shrug my shoulders and figure it’s just easier for me to keep what I have and wait until something really amazing comes out.

However, I do suspect that in the world of phones, that is unlikely to happen. I think phones have been pushed as far as they can go as far as new and cool features. Until I see something that makes me go “holy crap” again, I’ll likely just stick with what I have and shake my head at the lack of creativity from a company who was once so innovative.

Categories: Computer Stuff | Leave a comment

Enough with the bilingualism signage BS

I read an article this morning about how apparently some French people are upset at the new Starbucks because their menu is almost entirely in English. You can find the original article here. The article goes on to say that the Green party is suggesting the government should step in and force bilingual signage in our city because we are supposed to be “bilingual”. I read these kinds of statements and honestly, it makes my blood boil in anger.

This entire thing happened awhile ago in Dieppe. Now there are literally language police who’s responsibility is to make sure signs are done right so that French is first and English is second. If you don’t have a sign done the correct way, you’re fined $140 in violation of the bylaw. Dieppe is primarily French so if they want to promote that identity, I get it. I may not like it or agree with it, but I get it.

Now a political party is suggesting that signage and menus and whatever other things in private businesses should be in both official languages. Is this really what the government wants to spend their time on? With a mass exodus of people leaving here, crappy health care with long lines and major job losses, unemployment higher than it’s been in a long time, and countless other issues, THIS is what the government wants to work on? Are you f*cking kidding me?

When Dieppe made this proposal before, I started thinking about the consequences of multi-language signs, menus, ads, and other types of print media. If this same sort of thing were to happen in Moncton, let’s take a look at some of the other cultures who choose to live here and do so just fine.

Imagine for a moment that you have a man who was born and raised in South Korea. There he’s spent a good portion of his life preparing and serving food to his locals in his own Korean restaurant for years. He then decides after living there for long enough to move his entire family to Canada, specifically to Moncton. Now, the only thing he’s known how to do for most of his life is make Korean food. So he decides to open up an authentic Korean restaurant in Moncton. Now, he is fluent in his native tongue, but speaks very poor English but he manages to get by. In wanting to keep his restaurant authentic, he puts all the signs and menus in Korean with English on the menus for the locals to understand.

Now, he knows that most of the people in Moncton do not understand Korean, but that there are Korean locals who do. He also wants to preserve the authenticity of his restaurant by doing as much as he can in his own native language. His staff is comprised of mostly his family. When you see this restaurant on the street, it looks very nice and very authentic because he’s replicated what he had back home to the exact detail.

Then the government steps in and says, well, you’re in a bilingual province which means all of your menus and signs need to have French in them. First of all, no one in his family understands French at all. Secondly, and this is the one that bugs me the most, by placing French on the menus and signs, it implies that people can be served in French at the restaurant. No one there will know how to speak it, but people will think they can because the signs are in French.

All this guy wants to do is have his authentic restaurant for people to enjoy, but because the government is stepping in and telling him how to write his menus and put up his signs, he cannot afford to make the changes, or hire bilingual staff, so he goes out of business, collects welfare/unemployment, and becomes another statistic to add to our mass unemployment problem.

This is a simple example of how a business owner should be able to decide for themselves how they want to conduct business. If that person knows that they may be excluding a certain portion of the population because of the way their menus are made, or signs are displayed, then that is at the discretion of the owner, not the government. What’s next, telling the same guy that he has to put fried chicken or steak on the menu because his food items aren’t appealing to everyone? It’s like the lady who complained about the fact that McDonald’s didn’t have enough “healthy” food items. Uhm, hello? If you want healthy food, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!!

At the end of the day, if you don’t like what you see in a business, or don’t agree with their practices, THEN DON’T GO THERE! How is that a problem? You walk into a Korean restaurant and no one speaks French so you’re going to throw a fit at them? You walk into a Starbucks and there’s no French but it’s in the middle of a city which is primarily English and somehow you’re shocked? This exact same thing happened when the Casino opened. There wasn’t enough French staff so certain French people threw a fit about it.

When I am in Dieppe, I expect that most things will be in French because Dieppe is primarily a French city. I know that and expect that. I don’t like it because I don’t understand French, but I respect the fact that they have chosen to make their majority their highest priority. It’s the exact same way in many other cities around the world. I can be in the middle of Mexico where everything is in Spanish with a little English here and there. I need to accept the conditions of where I am. In doing so, it leaves me feeling a bit excluded, which is I’m sure what the French customer at Starbucks felt. The difference is that they were in Moncton, not Dieppe, and Moncotn’s primary language is English, not French.

I believe that if you own a business, you should have the right to operate and execute that business in whatever language you choose. It is not for the government to decide how you should print your signs, your menus, your advertisements. It should be up to the business owner.

Seriously folks, the government needs to stay the hell out of private businesses and let us run them, legally, the way we want.

 

Categories: Rants | Leave a comment

Enough With The Autism Propoganda

There’s an article currently circulating across Facebook regarding how a court has “confirmed” that vaccinations cause Autism. I’ve seen several people post it and assume everything they are reading is true. Honestly, I read it and it pisses me off to no end.

Andrew Wakefield is the guy at the center of all this. He was the one who supposedly made the link between the MMR vaccine and Autism. Since then however it seems that everything this guy did was questionable and no one has been able to definitively prove that his results were in fact correct. All of his research has been disproven time and time again but once the cat is out of the bag, that’s sort of it isn’t it?

Whether he was right or wrong doesn’t matter now. It seems that with the proliferation of the internet, and celebrities like Jenny McCarthy who insist that these things are real, people go ahead and blindingly believe whatever they read and hear on TV. Oh well Jenny McCarthy’s famous and she was on Oprah so what she says must be true. I read an article online that says if I drink apple juice while standing on my head, I’ll gain X-Ray vision. It was written by a guy named Dr. Von Dorstick so it must be true. Seriously people, stop and think about what you are doing.

You are perpetuating a myth which has never been confirmed or reproduced by anyone and yet people consistently believe this crap because of the over hype it gets from others. But the reality is, this happens all the time with plenty of other things. Does any intelligent and rational person actually think that some guy built a giant boat, put every animal from the entire planet on it, then sailed for 40 days? Despite the fact that there’s absolutely no trace of any word flood having ever happened, people believe this story to be factually accurate. And this was LONG before the age of the internet.

As far as I am concerned, if you have a concern about your health, your children’s health, or someone you love’s health, don’t go online and look something up and assume everything you read is accurate. It’s fine to do a little research, but don’t just blindingly assume people have all the facts when it comes to your health. THAT’S WHAT A DOCTOR IS FOR! Go see an actual physician with all of your questions and get real answers. Do not rely on the internet to provide you everything you need to know.

Categories: Rants | Leave a comment

Changing Yourself

Tonite I am in Miami Beach, Florida. It’s our yearly user’s conference and tonite was the final night with the big party blowout. Lots of people drinking, dancing, and having a good time. I found myself yet again, sitting at a table, watching people, and doing very little. In fact, I was kind of bored.

It got me thinking. At one time, I used to go parties, have fun, laugh, and enjoy myself a lot more than I seemed to tonite. The party started actually with a “mixer” of folks standing outside the main ballroom, drinking and talking. You know where people introduce themselves to new people and mix and mingle and “network” to make new connections. All something I am horribly bad at.

I can’t seem to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know, or even get up and dance with someone when I’m invited to. Why is it that I sit at a table, staring at my phone, or a glass, or simply watching everyone else have a good time while I’m counting the minutes before I think it’s ok for me to leave.

I want to be that guy who has a good time and gets out and dances and acts silly and enjoys himself. Didn’t I do that years ago? How many times did I get dragged to a club and ended up dancing on stage. Spushing at countless parties, or making an ass of myself doing just the dumbest or funniest things around. Where’s that Matt?

Sadly enough, part of me thinks that if I was drinking alcohol, maybe it would be better. Maybe somehow those things that hold me back would be let free and I’d be able to enjoy myself a bit better. But yet I sort of have stuck to this no alcohol thing and at this point in my life I’m not even sure why.

The funny thing is, for my job, I have to be a bit more outgoing than I am in social situations. Everytime I have to deliver a new class, I have to meet new people, introduce myself, start conversations and be friendly. But as soon as it turns social, I become this very awkward and shy person. I mean even tonite, I’m still thinking about how a co-worker was inviting me to go out and dance and I just shook my head and said no, and then sat in my chair wishing I had gone out. But instead of doing anything, I sat there and did nothing.

In reading up on Introversion, it would seem that indeed this is what I am. I think perhaps I have always been this way but when I was younger I just went to the excess to try and cover that up.

I don’t like it. Tonite I’m sitting in a hotel room when I could be downstairs partying with people and enjoying myself but I have no idea how to do that. The psychological analyst part of me starts thinking that perhaps all of that bullying and teasing as a kid made me feel like an outsider and hence it’s stuck with me my whole life. When you spend almost 30 years acting and behaving a certain way, is it even possible to change that?

Do I need to go out and get hammered?

After tonite, I’ll go to sleep, get on a plane and come home tomorrow, and return to my normal life. A life I love, but I do wish I could find a way to change the things about myself that I’m not too fond of. I just don’t know where to start.

Categories: Boredom, Flashbacks | 1 Comment

Road Warrior Blues

It’s 7:23 on a Thursday night and right now I feel like the worst father in the world.

20130620-192434.jpg

The photo above was taken on Dylan’s last day of kindergarten and guess where I was? On the road, again. Not only was on the road, but on the road for the third week in a row. I’m currently sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my flight so I can come home, be home for two days, and then leave again. For the month of June, I will have been at home for a total of about 100 hours. That’s it.

It’s extremely rare that this sort of heavy travel comes to me but this is the first time in my entire career I have had to spend this much time away from home and when I saw that picture, I just felt like I should have been there.

I mean, I know I am not a bad dad. In fact, I know I am a good dad. But right now I feel like I’m turning into my own dad in that I’m never around. I should be in that photo with my wife and kids and not stuck in a classroom for the third week in a row.

I know that my work has me traveling and I also know that there are times when there is no travel so I have a lot of time at home, but right now, despite knowing these things, I still feel quite bad. I’m very anxious to get home, hug my kids, and enjoy every moment I have before I have to go again. Thankfully after next week, I finally get a little break from the road warrior status.

Categories: Friends & Family, Rants | Leave a comment

Confessions of a Business Traveler

I’m sitting here in a little hotel about a five minute walk from the Tower of London in London, England. I went out for a walk earlier and found myself a bit depressed as I wasn’t even sure where to go. This is the fifth time I have been to London in a year and I find myself wondering what I should go see or do. I also realized that in seven years of working for Whitehill, this is the most repeat travel I have had to the same destination. But here I am, in a city of amazing history, and I find myself bored. Many folks who wonder how that’s even possible.

Although I love to share stories of travel, I do find myself in recent times being a little less willing to open up about my travels. Mostly because I don’t want to come off as being some sort of douche who shows off about the places I’ve traveled to. I’ve been very fortunate that my work has taken me to some nice places but a lot of people don’t get to travel at all so talking about it can sound a bit egotistical. If I talk about how I was in London for a week to someone who’s never left Moncton before, it can sound a bit douche-ey.

However, when the topic does come up, people are always asking me what it’s like to travel all the time with my work. People always seem to say things like “Oh it must be cool to get to see all these different places”. Yes, it is cool. I do enjoy it, but for all the places I get to see as part of my job, there’s a side to business travel that folks probably know nothing about. Today, I’m opting to share what it’s like to be in a job like mine. There are some nice perks but there are also some things you might not have thought of. Let’s break it down into pros and cons.

Pros

Seeing The World

Let’s get this right out of the way. I get to see the world. I have travelled all over the United States from Los Angeles, to New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, St. Louis, Tampa, Boston, Portland, Chicago, and Dallas. I’ve also traveled to London now several times (along with a trip to Cardiff, Wales), and got a rare chance to go to Sydney & Brisbane Australia last year. I’ve even had a couple of trips to Toronto and one to Vancouver. So all in all, I do get to see some pretty nice places as part of the travel. Make no mistake, being able to see these places is an amazing opportunity and I soak in as much as I can when I go somewhere new. I took extra time in Australia to see Cairns, and did the famous Sydney Bridge Climb as well. I’ll take any chance I can to see and do something cool.

Points To Freedom

Secondly, I get to keep my points. The company I work for is very gracious enough to allow us folks who travel to keep the frequent flyer points we earn when we fly. As a result, I can use my points to fly other places when I have vacation time. I went to LA, Seattle, & Las Vegas on points and even took Tamara with me to Vegas and Tampa. I even flew my mother-in-law to London with me for a week as a Christmas gift. I’m also racking my points up currently to take the whole family on a trip next year. Having the points helps cut the costs for flights and even hotels. I stayed in a Halifax Hilton for a night a couple months ago at no charge using points.

Making Connections

In a world that is far more connected than it ever was, I’m now making friends around the world the old fashion way. Putting faces to names and actually getting to interact with people instead of seeing their names on a computer screen. We spend so much time interacting online that sometimes IRL interaction seems antiquated. As socially awkward as I can be meeting new people, my job forces me to be a bit more outgoing and meet these people I train so I have met quite a few interesting individuals in my travels.

Misc

There are plenty of other minor little perks/pros to traveling for my job but those are the ones that stick out the most.

 

Cons

Missing The Family

There are a lot of cons to traveling for your job. Let me start with a big one. I’m not at home with my family. I am fortunate enough to have a wife who supports my career and me in any way she can. But that doesn’t change the fact that when I am gone half of the month, she’s the one taking care of the kids. Speaking of kids, the kids miss me and I miss them. Thankfully technology makes it easier for me to stay in touch (when wifi works that is) and my trips are usually only a week at a time, but it can be hard to be away. I am very lucky to have a wife that is able to handle my travel as I know a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to deal with it. But still, being away from home for extended periods of time can be difficult.

When Do I Get To See Anything?

The whole “getting to see the world” thing is actually not quite what people think it is. A lot of people seem to think those of us who travel in our job are on vacation when we are in these other places. There’s no sight- seeing like there is when you don’t have work obligations. I spend my entire day standing in front of a class of students who are paying attention (usually) to every little word I say. My days usually run anywhere from 9am to 5:30pm depending on the client. By the time I am done, I am exhausted, my feet hurt, and many times I’ve got a sore throat from talking so much. A lot of times the last thing I feel like doing is going out and seeing anything. I mean how do you feel at the end of a long hard work day when you get home? Do you feel like going out? Not likely. But, many times I feel I should go out and try to see something because I am often in new places I’ve never been before so I should go see something shouldn’t I?

Add to that the fact that most museums, galleries, or other interesting places to see (typical tourist stuff) is all closed by the time my day is done. That means that the only real time I get to see anything is on the day I arrive after I have checked into a hotel. If I am lucky, I might book a vacation day or two ahead of or after my work trip but those meals and hotels are on me, not work. So the amount of time I actually get to “see” anything is very limited because I spend my days working. Yes, work is paying for me to be there, but they aren’t paying me to sight see. The only time I might get extra days that are covered by work is when it’s an overseas flight and extras nights are cheaper than flights. A single day can make a flight $1000 cheaper in some instances. It’s kind of crazy.

Airports, Delays, Crying Kids, and Cancellations

For folks who don’t travel by air often, there’s a novelty of being on an airplane. After having been on what I am sure is more than 100 flights, the novelty has worn off. Business travelers typically want to get to the airport, get through security, get on the plane, and to their seat as fast as they can because the sooner they get in that seat, the sooner they can relax while the flight is underway. The problem is, business travelers have to put up with everyone else.

This might sound a bit weird, but I’ve become a bit of an asshole when it comes to air travel. It drives me nuts standing behind the dumbass in security who has no clue about what to put on the belt to be screened, and sets the metal detector off, making me stand there and wait. It pisses me off to no end standing in the jetway waiting to get on the plane because some asshat on the plane is taking his good old time to take his jacket off, fold it nicely, and hold the entire line up because he forgot to take his phone out of the his bag and now has to do it. Put your shit away, sit down, and let everyone else pass first before you hold everyone up. Flights get delayed by hours because of people like this. Delays cause missed connections and can seriously muck up an entire day of travel. I just get to my seat and then I hear the screaming baby. I’ve had the screaming baby. I have two kids and know what it is like to deal with kids who won’t stop crying. I can’t get my headphones on fast enough.

Then there’s the constant fear of flights being delayed or cancelled. I’ve had plenty of flights cancelled and gotten stuck in airports waiting for the next flight. I even had to sleep in the terminal because all the hotels were full and my flight wasn’t until the next day. It’s even worse when you are on your way home, in your seat on the plane, with the plane on the runway about to take off, and the captain announces the flight has been cancelled due to bad weather. They turn the plane around and head back to the terminal. That’s when I want to look for a gun anywhere I can find one so I can shoot myself. I just want to come home.

Air travel is great in that we can go great distances in a relative short period of time, but dealing with airlines who won’t give you good reasons for delays or cancellations is very frustrating. I once had a flight delayed because the toilet was frozen. A colleague of mine had his flight cancelled because the flight attendant didn’t have the demo seat belt to do the safety walk through. My first flight on my Galapagos vacation was cancelled because the pilot couldn’t turn a knob counter-clockwise. I kid you not.

I average about 8-10 flights a month depending on how busy I am. For June, I will travel on 16 different flights, to four cities, in two countries, with two other cities being used for connections. Dealing with security lines, delays, cancellations, dumb travelers, and countless other air related follies is something that is both physically and mentally draining. The stress of flying is hard on the head, and running your ass off from one end of an airport to another is physically tiring. The last time I had to run for a flight, I ran all the way from the US connections portion of Pearson airport to the Canadian side in about 13 minutes. It was bad enough that when I got on the plane, I actually had the flight attendants a bit scared for my health as I did not look very good. I was definitely having a hard time breathing and the sweat was pouring off of me. Speaking of which, I really need to get in better shape. But, to add insult to injury, after running all that distance, the plane sat at the gate for about 45 minutes before it left. Talk about infuriate me.

Time Zones, Jetlag, & The Return

Currently it is 8:47pm where I am. But back home it’s 4:47. In exactly 7 days, it will be 3:47 and a week after that it will be 1:47, and the week after that, it will be 3:47. In the span of four weeks, I will have gone from Atlantic, to GMT, back to Atlantic, to Eastern, back to Atlantic, to Pacific, back to Atlantic, back to Eastern, and then back to Atlantic time. The general rule is it takes your body about a day per hour of time change to get back to normal. Looking at my schedule for June, when the hell will my body know when to sleep? Seriously, the time zone shifts mess with your sleeping habits and I’ve become semi-addicted to anything that can put me to sleep early because I’m always in another time zone. It can be hell. Maybe I should start reading blog posts like this one to put me to sleep.

That being said, when I finally do get home and get to stay home, I usually am quite pissy. Usually because I’ve been on a plane for so long and am just tired. It puts me on edge and makes me grumpy. It’s very hard to actually catch myself from snapping at others but I do my best knowing that it’s just my body adjusting back to being home. Getting in at 3am and then going to sleep doesn’t help either.

Then when I finally get myself back to normal, I have a little while before it all starts again. It is exhausting.

So with reading those points, do you still think it’s so awesome to travel for your work? Ironically, given the cons shown on this post, I actually do love the travel. I don’t like the cons I have listed, but you only get to live once and I have been given an opportunity to see parts of the world I would never otherwise have seen. So, I tolerate screaming babies on planes, shake my head at the 192 year old woman at the airport security who thinks her teeth will set off the alarms, and I take in everything I can. I know that the annoyances are worth it because they help me be able to make dreams of mine come true. The job I have is the reason me and Tamara get to go to Egypt and Jordan in November. No, work isn’t paying for it, but I would not have been able to afford it if I hadn’t taken this job. So I take the bad with the good because the good will always be worth it.

The next time you hear someone say they travel for their job, try and remember that there are perks to it, but it’s not all long vacations in cool spots. I said I traveled to some cool locations but I left out places like Livingston  New Jersey, Omaha  Nebraska, Blue Bell Pennsylvania (where I spent several hours in a hospital passing a kidney stone), and Utica New York. Sometimes you get to go to cool places. Other times you wonder where the hell you are and why anyone would want to live there.

Categories: Rants, Travel | Leave a comment

1:29AM

It’s 1:29AM and I am awake. I’m awake because a couple of days ago I was in Los Angeles and fully adjusted to Pacific time. That’s four hours behind Moncton time which means in about 2.5 hours, I’ll be ready to fall asleep. Despite being home since Friday at noon, I still feel myself unable to get back into routine things here.

Today was the big Fundy geocaching event and as proud as I am of what we did for that event and for Fundy themselves, I am still tired and feeling a bit blah about the whole thing. I talked to Tamara a bit about my thoughts on things tonite and it kinda goes like this.

I’m not someone who is very ego-centric. I try to be more humble than anything although I do think I sometimes come off as a bit show-offy when it comes to my travel. But when it comes to the things I do for geocaching, I really do try to be a lot more reserved. That being said, I’m pretty proud of myself for the things I have accomplished through my work under Cache Up NB. I mean, it’s something _I_ started. I took it on and moved it forward and look where it is today. It’s kind of amazing really.

I think that’s why when the appreciation comes in on days like today, I really need to soak it in as much as I can because it’s only the large things that people tend to really appreciate. It seems that when it comes to geocaching, and the stuff CUNB does, most people have no idea what goes on outside of a little website. It seems everytime I turn around it’s something else that we’re doing for people, but not a lot of folks realize, or acknowledge it. That’s why on days like today, it’s nice to hear a thank you and people supporting the work we do.

That being said, there are also times when I’m kind of tired of it all. I really do like the things I am doing but there are times when it feels like all this geocaching stuff is like another job. I don’t have many hobbies so I tend to throw myself into the few I have and I think this is where my passion is right now. The problem is, there are days, like tonite, where I’m jetlagged and really beat, but just not able to sleep cuz my head is swimming in what feels like 100 different things to do. Add to that, I’m supposed to leave the house at 7:30AM to go back to Fundy for another event. It just feels like a lot going on for just having gotten home.

Which is another thing. When I travel, it usually takes me a day or so to get my mood back to normal. I’m kind of an ass when I first get home. Short tempered and not much patience for much of anything. That’s the reason why I usually try to keep a low key for a day or so until things are sane. I guess that will have to wait until Monday.

I’m starting to yawn and my eyes are getting sore, and my typing is becoming error prone so I think it’s time to try to go back to bed. Hopefully I can get a few hours sleep before the madness begins again.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment