Nothing To Do But Write
It’s 1:45 in the afternoon and here I sit, in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport, American Airlines Terminal B, to be specific. Back in the days when I was a regular business traveler, I was a member of the Admirals Club, a private lounge for American Airlines travelers willing to pay a hefty fee … in dollars or miles. The Club has comfortable seating, private working areas, and snacks … plus sandwiches and drinks for a price. If I was stuck with a three hour layover … like I have today … it was better than sitting at the gate. Quieter, for one, at least until business travelers starting bringing their kids along. Today, I am sitting at a counter with USB ports in the Gate B5 waiting area. I have no special attachment to gate B5 but there are no flight scheduled for the next several hours so it is relatively quiet. For about ten minutes, the alarm on an employees-only door kept going off, a high pitched squeal that leaves my teeth vibrating. Desperate for power for my laptop, I waited it out. A speaker on the ceiling over my head is prattling on about the madhouse that has become our national government. It is only slightly less annoying than the alarm. Terminal B mostly serves American Airlines secondary routes … like those to Huntsville, where I’m headed, so in front of me passengers trickle by in ones and twos, hunting for their departure gates or talking quietly. Even with occasional gate change announcements, it’s not a bad place to write, especially when there’s nothing else to do. It’s not the Admirals Club, for sure, but it’s better than the madhouse in terminal A, where I arrived from Socal.
It was not my choice to have a three-hour-plus layover, or at least my conscious choice. My business partner and I had agreed on a flight with a nice one hour layover, but when I reserved the flight online, I apparently touched the wrong flight on the my monitor. By the time I realized my mistake, the flight my partner is on was full … so here I sit. Things like that seem to happen more often as I become an older and older engineering consultant. As I was printing out my travel documents last night, I realized I hadn’t made my reservations at the Huntsville Airport Sheraton for our final night before catching an early morning flight home. Fortunately, that oversight was correctable. Perhaps being one’s own travel agent isn’t the best idea at 72.
But perhaps the heart of the matter is not being my own travel agent at 72 … its being a business traveler at 72. There was a time, I thrived on the direct dealings with the movers and shakers in my field. But the spark isn’t there any more and, truthfully, I’d be happy to let my business partner do it. The rigors of air travel in the new millennium wear on me even with my wife, Muri, by my side … traveling alone, or even with associates, leaves me feeling empty. Muri and I miss each other almost before I leave for the airport. I won’t deny … the money is good and it is good to feel useful … but sitting here, with Nothing To Do But Write, I wonder if it’s time to call it a career.
POST SCRIPT: My business partner, with the nice one hour layover, missed the flight to Huntsville. I’ll be picking him up later. Go figure.