My mother, who has never traveled for work, is fascinated by the places my job takes me. Mom: “Where are you off to this time?” Me: “DC.” Mom: “Ooo! That should be fun!” Me: “Not really mom, it’s a day trip. All I will see is the airport and the inside of a cab and the office.”
As any of us who travel for work know, it is not fun. For me the worst aspects are, 1) listening to Mr. Draper complain about my having to travel and the inevitable text messages while I’m gone, “everything’s great here (read sarcasm). This is f’n ridiculous. I can’t do this anymore.” and 2) traveling alone.
For the first one, I pick my timing very carefully when dropping the travel bomb. It cannot be when the kids are awake. You do not remind someone of something painful happening again later while they are living it in that moment. During a root canal, your dentist does not say, “Oh, and remember… you have another one in two weeks.” It must be after he has had a good workout. Ideally, we will have had a) sex or b) a glass of wine during date night – or even better yet, both. It never goes over well no matter how strategic the timing. It makes it so much easier on me because I love to do it and be away from them all (read sarcasm again).
For the second one, if you’ve ever sat alone at an airport bar with drink and iPhone in hand aimlessly scrolling through your Facebook news feed and commenting/liking all of your friends’ posts and pics just to feel connected to someone – you know how isolating and depressing it can be.
My most recent trip was to our corporate office outside of Philadelphia. (Which just screams “glamorous“, doesn’t it?) I woke up at 3:45 to make a 6:00 flight. The humidity in PA was so thick stepping out of air conditioning felt like walking in to a wall. After finally getting my rental car, picking up my new hire in Center City, and making it to the office after getting lost in West Philly (which I do not recommend), I had nonstop meetings. Fast forward six hours and we are back to the airport only to be delayed 2.5 hours due to weather. I made it to bed by 1:00a.m. a mere 2 hours and 45 mins short of being up for 24 hours straight. Ugh. Luckily, Mr. Draper appreciated the short duration of the trip and had a sense of humor when Ms. Independent bathed herself in applesauce. He did however text that if I was delayed overnight he would not be there in the morning.
For once though, I was also not traveling alone! My new hire, let’s call her Barbie, and I were on the same return flight. We found a spot at a wine bar, had some appetizers, a few glasses of wine, and a chance to get to know each other. A mother herself, she shared that she took the job because it is a challenge for her and something she can be proud of. Also that she is looking forward to learning from me and admires the way I handle myself in meetings. “The way you were speaking today… I want to be like that.”
While the almost 24 hour stint left me exhausted and sweaty – having a travel companion, and one I have the opportunity to mentor – made it all worth it. Misery may love company, but a traveling mother loves a wine drinking partner and another driven, working mother even more.
*Image courtesy of http://www.rubyshoeswine.com