Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Traveling

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, my new super cool job involves a substantial amount of traveling. Since I officially started a month ago, I have been to Boston, Atlanta, Atlanta again, Ft. Lauderdale, and on Tuesday will be leaving for a week in Dallas. I think I spent a few days in Charlotte too, but it's hard to remember. While my previous positions with Brooks and Mizuno made me no stranger to life on the road, I can confidently say that I have traveled more by air in the past month than I did in an entire year at either of those jobs. (And, having just sketched out my travel schedule for the rest of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, I can tell you that things aren't about to change any time soon.) With that in mind, I'd like to share a brief list of travel pros and cons that I've taken note of in the past few weeks.

Pros

1. Running in new places. Ever since I started working in the running industry, one of my favorite perks of the gig has been running in new places and meeting new running friends. That's not to say that ideal venues always abound--I've done my share of boring out-and-back traffic dodging runs--but more often than not I can usually find a trail or a bike path or a park that gets the job done. This past week in Ft. Lauderdale I was fortunate enough to stay less than a mile away from a huge golf course. I'm fairly certain I was not supposed to be running on it, but for the most part I got there early enough and avoided eye contact with the landscapers and went about my business undeterred. Friday's run in particular was absolutely awesome, as I spent the better part of an hour charging up and down the perfectly manicured greens as the sun rose steadily in the background. It wasn't until I was a few meters from exiting the course that I was approached by an employee on a golf cart, who muttered "No jogging allowed" as he drove by. I stopped, turned around, put my hands on my hips and indignantly responded, "I am not jogging. I'm running." For a few seconds he was rendered speechless and I was afforded enough time to make my exit with dignity.

2. Lots of frequent flier miles and hotel points, for free. No explanation needed.

3. The opportunity to catch up on books and movies. There is no better time than when traveling to indulge in oft-neglected diversions. In the past month I've read several books and watched more movies than in the preceding six months combined. This is especially true when my hotel has HBO, a luxury not afforded to me at the good 'ol Franciscan Terrace condos. Just yesterday morning I watched the heartwarming family film The Blind Side, less than 24 hours after finishing the equally heartwarming and slightly less family friendly Baby Mama. I finished The Wives of Henry Oades for my book club and perused countless airline magazines. (By the way, the absolute best case scenario is when your first leg of your travel is at the end of the month and your return trip is at the beginning of the following month. This ensures two different Delta/US Airways/United magazines will be there to greet you upon boarding.) Currently I'm midway through At Home by my most favorite author, Bill Bryson, whose acerbic wit and sarcasm I aspire to imitate in blogging and in daily life.

Cons
1. Dealing with the hassles of flying. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I always check a bag. Always. (Overnight trips being the only exception.) However, for last week's trip to Florida I knew I would only be gone for four days, wouldn't need anything cute for going out and, most importantly, would be wearing minimal clothing in an attempt to combat the 90-degree heat, so I decided to fight my instincts and carry on. I quickly realized this was a mistake when I boarded my first flight from Charlotte to Atlanta and found the overhead bins nearly full before the plane was even close to reaching capacity. For starters, this is a problem that could be easily remedied if the airlines rescinded their policy of charging an arm and a leg for each checked bag. Then people like me wouldn't insist on trying to shove our suitcases into the already straining overhead bins even when we know they probably won't fit. Sure enough, a few minutes later a flight attendant came by and yanked my bag out, telling me she would have to check it to my final destination. (Which was fine with me, as I got my original wish--checking my bag--without having to pay the fee. Take that, suckas.) She took my bag and my boarding pass up front to write me up a baggage claim ticket, then returned a few minutes later with said ticket in hand. "You're all set," she said brightly. "You can pick up your bag in Las Vegas!" She was already turning on her heel to walk away as I quietly, but with audible alarm, whimpered, "But I'm going to Ft. Lauderdale?" "Oh, right," she responded briskly. "That's what I meant." Needless to say, I spent the next five hours in a near panic, firmly convinced that my bag would be off playing slot machines by the time I touched down in the other side of the country. (Fortunately, that didn't happen...this time.)

2. Dealing with all the other stupid people who are flying. In my wise old age I've gradually come to the ineluctable conclusion that the world is overwhelmingly made up of people who are, despite their best efforts, quite stupid. Worse than being stupid, however, are the people who are stupid and annoying. Yesterday while waiting for an eternity to deplane from seat 48Z or whatever row I was in, I found myself unwillingly eavesdropping on the cell phone conversation of another passenger. I say "unwillingly" because there was literally no way short of purchasing the Bose Noise Canceling headphones (did I mention I've also been reading Sky Mall?) that I would've been able to tune out his loud and obnoxious voice. From my perspective, the climax of the conversation was when he informed the poor friend or family member on the other end of the line that he needed to go to Target to procure some new jockeys because he was "completely out of clean underwear." Now friends, I ask you, was this necessary? Did I or 40 of my closest neighbors really need to know that this guy had apparently soiled all his previously worn briefs? Spare me.

3. Missing out on fun happenings at home. Jay's birthday dinner, Caitlin's marathon debut, the Queens cross-country meet, the LungStrong 15k, the CRC Halloween costume party (although, in my defense, Halloween is still two weeks away); these are just a few of the important events in my friends' lives that I've had to hear about second-hand due to being otherwise committed. Unfortunately, as I said before, this trend doesn't look to be reversing any time soon, which means there are likely many more festive occasions that I will not be able to attend in the near future. And that, it's safe to say, is the worst part of all.

This list is by no means comprehensive, and I imagine I will be adding to it (at least mentally) in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, it's time for a nap. The only thing more exhausting than traveling is recounting the roller coaster of emotions that is traveling.

3 comments:

All of those good and simple things... said...

hey! i actually live in dallas, so i am happy to let you know of cool places to run around here! my site is reprunning.blogspot.com so just comment back on there if you're interested and i'll fill you in! :)

All of those good and simple things... said...

haha, well that's convenient for you then!! white rock is great, the trinity trail is also a good spot for soft surfaces (though i'm not sure how it is since the flood a few weeks ago). basically, it runs along the trinity river and is just a dirt/ gravel path that goes from dallas towards ft worth.

mrn said...

i've run on it a million times in ft. worth but never in dallas...where can you access it?