I just finished watching the movie Up In The Air
with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga as two road warriors who meet on-the-road and become romantically involved. The story line has a lot more to it, but you'll have to watch it yourself to get the gist. I liked the film a lot, for the record.
In the movie, George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is acknowledged mid-air as a "million mile flyer" and the youngest of seven people ever to receive the award and priveleges that go with it. I know I never came close to logging that many miles when I traveled for business, but at one point I was "up in the air" for about two weeks each month. As a mom of a then 2 1/2 year old, I found that I just couldn't keep up the pace and ultimately chose a local media position here at The Saratogian offering more time with my family over the national custom media gig. Motherhood and parenting: it's all about personal choices.
I have to admit that I do miss the travel a little bit. I'm one of those rare individuals who loves airports and happily embraces air travel along with the sea of endless people that comes along with it. I'm an extrovert and feel at home in just about any city or country. On my very last trip to Chicago (the home base of Vera Farmiga's character, Alex, in the movie), I was bumped up to first class both ways. The first leg I was given a first class seat due to the fact that the airline double booked my coach class seat. On the way home I credit my crafty salesmanship for the upgrade. I made friends with the counter clerk and after talking for some time asked if she could possibly upgrade my seat. Sales 101: you don't get what you don't ask for. For the record, flying first class is definitley the way you want to end (for now, at least) your life as a road warrior.
You learn things about yourself on the road. I realized that I have a love/hate relationship with Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Of all the times I've experienced delays, flight cancellations and hassles in general I've been stuck at O'Hare. That's the 'hate' part of the relationship. What I love about O'Hare is that there are at a minimum FOUR Starbucks stores in the airport. It doesn't matter which terminal I was in, Starbucks was always right there with me. Starbucks for me is a travel equalizer. No matter what's happening or where I'm going or why I'm stuck, I can always count on a grande non-fat, no-whip, two pump mocha to settle me down or keep me going, whichever is needed. Depending on my mood, they'll also happily make it hot or iced. With all that can and does go wrong on a business trip, Starbucks always showed me the love.
One time during a layover in Chicago, a colleague and I watch in amazement and then disgust as a flight attendant in a full on flop sweat dripped all over the Starbuck's condiment counter for what seemed like twenty minutes straight. Thankfully we'd already had our coffee. Another time, our team got stuck in Chicago overnight after attending quarterly meetings at our Phoenix office. After a failed attempt to get us all out that evening, our VP of client services managed the next best thing and returned with fresh boarding passes that promised the first flight out the next morning - or so we thought. We were thrilled and relieved until we realized one-by-one that the boarding passes read 9:00 PM instead of AM. After one of us nearly cried (she was pregnant after all) and another laughed nervously, we eventually got it all sorted out. A night at the Hilton, flight out on yet another airline in the morning and a town car ride from NYC back to Saratoga and we were home in time for dinner - albeit a day late.
These days my travel is thankfully limited to the occasional visit to our corporate headquarters in Yardley, PA or a car ride up or down the Northway to see prospects and clients with sales reps. I've come to realize that although I miss the fancy dinners and freshly sheeted hotel rooms, the most important miles logged are those spent running in the backyard with our son.
Labels: business travel, Chicago, media, motherhood, movies, O'Hare, sales, Starbucks