Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I am leaving the office because................

I will soon be leaving my current office because I am tired of travel.

I am tired of 5am taxis, I am tired of airports, of security checks, of planes, of middle seats on aircraft, of forced small talk with foreign finance directors, of feigning interest in what they have to say, of bad hotels, of good hotels, of bad restaurants, of good restaurants. But most of all I am tired of separation for days or weeks from those who I love and care for. This blog is only about me, my thoughts and my experiences at work, but to understand me in this regard, I should say that I miss by beautiful wife, who I married this year.

I am no use to anyone but my company when I am sitting in a foreign field.

I sometimes deny where I am, shown by my watch that always shows Greenwich Mean Time or British Summer Time regardless of whether I am in the US, Europe or Arabia. I can calculate the local time in my head but my watch, at least, will be forever England.

Counting the hours away is never a healthy condition. Life is too short and precious to wish away yet I know all too well that 5 days is 120 hours, 4 days is 96 hours and so on. On my foreign trips that last a week I know that Wednesday afternoon always marks the second half (the beginning of the end?).

Even my colleague, Latino Lothario, jokes, “almost Tuesday”, when we arrive at lunchtime on Monday in some Polish industrial horror town.

With LL and the Prophet I have travelled around Europe often landing in forgotten corners.

There have been good times, funny moments and interesting characters along the way. But it is time to stop travelling for me. I will soon be going to a new office where they don’t expect me to jump on a plane all the time.

The return journey always shows me my real attitude and it is not always pleasant.

Quite understandably we are all keen to get to the airport on time. Taxi drivers are measured by one criteria- fast ones are good, slow ones are bad. At the airport we check in as fast as possible. Those in front of the queue who ask the check in girl too many questions automatically class themselves as “awkward squad” in my eyes. More “awkward squad” are encountered at security, taking ages to empty their pockets, setting off the alarm (sometimes deliberately in the case of letches in Scandinavia who take advantage of the opportunity to be frisked by a 6 foot blonde).

Then the gate rituals commence. Some airlines are efficient. Others are awful and still fail to realise how long it takes to board a plane with 120, sometimes awkward, passengers. Bottom place goes to SAS who routinely overbook their London bound flights, leading to unseemly auctions for passengers to take a later flight for a certain quantity of Euros in compensation. They then start boarding 5 minutes from take-off and claim to be surprised or disappointed when they miss their take-off slot.

On the plane the single most infuriating feature of aircraft travel is those passengers who hog the aisle putting baggage and coats away at a leisurely pace, while 50 other passengers queue behind them waiting to take their seats. Latecomers are another menace. I am sure we would all appreciate a plane waiting for us. However when you have made the effort to be their on time, it is annoying to wait while the shambolic few hold up the many who just want to go home.

Then the flight itself. If it is full there is a high risk of getting a centre seat. The other week I was between one sleeper who periodically tried to put his head on my shoulder and an obese man complete with laptop. This makes any flight unpleasant. Aisle or window seats are obviously better.

Heathrow on Fridays is a place of suffering. First the plane must often circle round various parts of London. Foreign airlines fare worst being forced to wait longer than BA. Sometimes you just want to tell the pilot to force his way down. “Land anyway- they’ll have to let you down rather than cause a crash”. It’s madness of course. On the ground anything can still happen. Plane jams, broken air bridges or just unexplained delays can all happen. The only form of protest available is to turn on your mobile phone earlier than permitted. “Don’t turn on my phone? Well- you get here on time, then I won’t!”. Such protests are futile and unseen.

At last the plane is open. Awkward squad members get bags stuck or just dawdle. Then it is every man for himself in a speed walk to passport control. Alarm bells ring if immigration officers are in pairs. This signifies a trainee and therefore slow inspections. I get in a queue where the immigration officer appears to be experienced. All this can be to no avail if the luggage is delayed. What do they do with luggage? Sometimes the belt starts and no luggage appears. Sometimes a few bags are sent through alone almost as if to tease the waiting passengers. I just want to call through the rubber curtain telling them to hurry up.
Lastly I pass through customs. That has never been a problem so far. I have nothing to hide but just don’t want to delay. I try to emit positive karma and so far it has worked. I’ve never been asked anything more than where I’m travelling from.

Then I normally get a cab and we slug through the Friday night traffic in London. This is a lottery but the worst is over.
At last I’m home. I am with my angel and it is good-bye to factories, hotels, planes and taxis.

That is why I am leaving my office. There is someone in London calling me home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very much so! and hope you will not miss it L. Anonimous