Reader, I’m in Pittsburgh. I’ve written about the fact that I work remotely, but I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned where my company is based. As of November: Pittsburgh. So I’m here once or twice a month. In honor of this trip to the Burgh, some observations on traveling for work.
>> Three hour layover with the family: five trips to the bathroom, eating the end of someone else’s bagel, twenty questions about how the plane works, fifty questions about how much longer. Lost crayons, smashed goldfish, missing books and who knows what else. Three hour layover for business: I finished Ann Packer’s lovely collection of stories, Swim Back to Me, and got halfway through the next book. Also checked email and started a couple of work projects that I’ve been meaning to get to. And got all the snacks to myself.
>> Matt and I always watch T.V. with Tivo, so been years since I just flipped around, but I find myself doing that when I’m on my own at a hotel. I can’t believe what’s still on — in a good way (Seinfeld! Horray!) and in a bad way (Wheel of Fortune). Really? Wheel of Fortune? I looked it up and Vanna White has been doing that show since 1982. My grandparents loved that show. How in the heck is it still on tv?
>> I often eat a quick sandwich for dinner in the downstairs of my hotel. Sometimes, I have interesting conversations with people who either work at the hotel or are also traveling. Just tonight I learned a story about how a town called The Woodlands, in Texas, came out of initial conversations with Walt Disney. Other times, the people drinking in the so-called bar (really just the left side of the lobby) are creepy and invasive. Dear sad men in bars: just quit it. You’re depressing.
>> I talk talk talk with my friends when I’m out of town. At home, I spend my evenings getting John to bed and then hanging out with Matt for the only free hour we have during the week. On the road, I’ve got this loonng stretch of evening and a fully charged cell phone. It’s such a nice way to catch up with people that I don’t often have enough time with.
>> For some reason, when I’m at home, I’m not likely to go to a play or to hear a concert by myself. I’ll either go with a friend or with Matt or I just won’t go. Not so on the road. I always check theater listings before I come and if I can, I’ll go see just about anything that’s within walking distance, and I’m happy to do it on my own. Why the difference, I wonder?
>> I’m very focused on staying connected with home. I leave John a note for each night that I’ll be away (he thinks it’s Mommy Magic that gets them onto his pillow at bedtime) and I call every evening and every morning. However, I’ve learned that five-year-olds do not give two hoots about speaking to their loving moms on the phone. So I don’t drag things out. I just ask John how his day was, tell him I love him, and get off the phone. I know this is smarter than trying to drag information out of him like he’s a sullen teenager, but it hurts my feelings, just a tiny bit, every time.
>> I miss the Jennings men. Including Michael, the giant striped cat. But reader, when I’m away, I sleep through the night. I wake up in the same position that I fell asleep in. A solid eight hours. That never, never happens at home. And there’s something to be said for it.
So there’s some good and some bad about being away. I try to make the most of the time, but I’m always, always happy to go home.