Saturday, March 8, 2008

Road Warriors

This time of year is conference season in the newspaper industry, and at the behest of my lords and masters, I have been asked to participate in some of these gatherings. As well as providing me with a much needed opportunity to improve the status of my imperfect and outdated knowledge of my industry, these sessions have granted me a new level of respect for those who lead the life that I used to, THE ROAD WARRIOR. While few if any bear any resemblance to Mel Gibson, and only a few drive with the same speed and reckless insanity of that movie character, all are constantly fighting battles in the trackless wasteland more commonly known as the real world.

For those of you, who have never lived out of a suitcase for any length of time, let me tell you that this is no pleasure cruise. Not even the worst vacation that you have ever been on can prepare you for the life that has to be led. So let me try and share some of the facts:

1. Yes you will get to eat out a great deal, but only the few meals with customers will probably be anything special. The rest will need to fit within the budget constraints of you bosses, and will normally be eaten alone.

2. Yes you will stay in hotels, but again, good ones only when customers are present. The rest will need to be in the best place that you can manage, again within company policies, and they will hopefully be critter and bug free. They will need to be, since you will be spending every waking hour in them. (Imagine going home from work at the end of the day and spending the rest of the evening in your bedroom, with nowhere else to go.)

3. Clothes will be hoarded carefully, as you never know when a trip will be extended and you don’t want to get caught short. Most evenings (in those lovely hotel rooms) will be spent sitting in your underwear to prevent wrinkling them any more than you have to.

4. Yes you may get to fly a good bit, which means endless TSA checks, delayed flights, bumped reservations, and lost luggage. You will soon find that you can sleep sitting in the chairs at the gate, on the plane, and sometimes standing in line outside of the security screening. You will also grow myriad aches and pains from too much time spent in a chair never designed for it.

5. And then there are the hours of course. Bored with the offerings of cable television and the design of the wallpaper in the room, you will find yourself working well into the wee hours of the morning. You will never be able to make up for the days and weeks of your life lost to traveling; but you will try, banging away at it until exhaustion takes you each evening.

Having served some 27 years on the front lines, and now suffering from what I can only believe to be a form of battle fatigue and post traumatic stress disorder(among my other quirks, defects, and shortcomings), I can only salute those of you who manage to continue. I convey my respect and my condolences for the battles you have fought and those that you will fight. You may never be granted the rewards nor the gratitude that you truly deserve for your sacrifice, but you will at least have the airline and hotel points.
(Which you can use for more travel. whoo hoo!)


Hooda Thunkit said...


Sounds like a dream career. . .

Where do I sigh up?


Tim Higgins said...


This is a dream job, of course it's one that makes you wake up screaming...