Business travel. Sounds sexy, right? Seeing the world on the ‘company dime’.
In real life, perhaps a little less sexy than it sounds. Long, long days, early mornings, being away from routines, the need to catch up on your e-mail after the long, long day. Along with rental cars, hotels where you can’t open the windows, and so many industrial parks.
My early morning flight into Philly scheduled for Monday was cancelled. For unknown reasons – something going on at Toronto Pearson. Oh, well. Good news? Not needing to get up at 4AM. Bad news? It throws off my entire day of travel plans and meetings.
At 9PM, I finally arrive to Washington Dulles – the last leg before arriving at my final destination of Charlotte, NC. The flight is delayed until 12:45AM. At this point, I’m so exhausted I want to cry a little bit. I ponder whether I can reschedule my morning appointment, but after crunching all of the driving times, I realize I cannot. Looks it will be 3ish hours of sleep tonight.
I settle in on the benches, on a bank next to a young man I recently met on the flight there. He tells me has to be at work for 7AM. We laugh. And pull out our layers. It’s pretty cold in the terminal, and by 11PM, the only people left are those of us waiting for this flight, and the people required to get us on it.
So, the lows of business travel are pretty obvious.
The highs? Most definitely are the people.
On the flight into Dulles, I sat next to a young man who was just starting out his career. He had recently moved from New York to beautiful Asheville, NC for work, chilling and playing music. What I liked most about talking to him was being reminded of the battle of youth: on one hand, the desire to travel and learn from life, with the other conflicting desire of building a nest somewhere, starting his own business, ‘becoming someone’. This guy had such a positive and gentle vibe. I hope he follows his heart and his hopes.
After waking up from a light snooze, I look at the guy across from me. Who, remarkably, is still typing away at 11:30PM in the freezing airport. ‘My, you came prepared!’, he exclaims in reference to the number of layers I am now wearing. ‘Yes, I live in Canada – we definitely know how to come prepared’, I laugh back. We commiserate – he arrived at the Charlotte airport at 5:30 that morning, off to give a talk on investments in a neighboring state. He jokes that he’s now shooting for the full 24-hour experience. Yep, I’ve had those before too.
Later, when the flight finally arrives, I find myself sitting with the well-dressed investment banker, the kind young soul, and an ageless-looking woman from San Diego. We laugh and talk. This is what it’s all about for me – connections. The chance that I’ll see any of these people again is somewhere lower than 0.01%, and that’s kind of beautiful. Beautiful because we can choose to make connections with people all of the time, whether or not they’ll remain in our lives. It really is a choice.
I think I’ll take the lows for the highs. Feeling pretty grateful.