Sunday, September 04, 2011


I'm coming off a vacation, which has left me more tired than work leaves me. This wasn't one of our relatively famous "if it's Tuesday, we must be in Ripon, Wisconsin" vacations. Instead, it included a number of smaller missions.

The week started in the air, literally. I headed down to Florida on some personal business for a couple of days. It was a quick trip by myself. When I travel alone, I find I pay even more attention to the surroundings than normal.

I have concluded that there are two types of travelers. Some like to bring their lives with them on the airplane, and some like to pack them up and forget about them for a few hours. I prefer to be with the second group.

The first group, you see, is in too much of a hurry for my tastes. I'm sure there are some business travelers in that category, but it's not exclusive to them. It's gotten very easy to stay in touch on the road these days, with cell phones, laptops, iPads, etc.

But mostly, those people come across as nervous. They are on their laptops just before boarding, and on the phone until the doors close. I once saw a guy who was ordered by the flight attendant to turn off his cell phone and end a call NOW! three times before he finally got the hint. These personalities prefer to sit in the very front of the plane, of course, so they can get out faster. Those three minutes of a head start in getting to the baggage claim are crucial, I guess. And often they bring large carry-ons into the plane, hammering the luggage into the bins above their seats. Hey, pal, it's free on Southwest -- check it and save us all the congestion. Once the plane stops, these people are on the phone and ready to dash out the door.

Me, I kind of like that feeling of being in a cocoon. I try to give myself more than adequate time to handle any unforeseen difficulties in flying. I usually don't use the cell phone much beforehand, and don't carry a laptop on trips (although I can see that day coming, if only for logistical help). I get some overpriced, less-than-nutritious food, buy a newspaper and/or magazine I usually don't see, have a book at the ready, climb into a chair and relax. From there, I'll head to the back of the plane, continue the book or publication, and wait for the plane to clear 10,000 feet. That's when the bell sounds, the iPod comes on, and I can be in my own little bubble. I'll stay there until we get ready to land. In this case, I got two books read by the time I got back.

It doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me.

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