(Written during a series of flights from Scranton to Amarillo, Texas)
It wasn't always this way, for the record.
My first actual airplane flight was in 1989, and I was barely 25 years old. It was from Newark (NJ) to Boston, on company business. As I recall, that was shortly after smoking was banned from domestic flights. Ponder that one for a moment: Being stuck inside a pressurized tube, breathing cancer smog. Anyway, since then I've flone many more times, sometimes even for pleasure. Like many things over the past (nearly) 30 years, flying has gotten far more complicated and far less comfortable. At the moment, for example, I an stuck in a window seat that BARELY allows enough room for my lungs to expand and contract. I also have almost no room to move my arms, which translates to my very uncomfortably pecking out the beginning part of this posting.
Travel itself, in general, has gotten more complicated. I now possess one of those AM/PM pill holders, a fact that makes my wife hang her head in sheer, utter shame. Granted, some of what I pack isn't prescribed...a vitamin, joint health supplements (2 pills that are so big that I look like a stork downing a turtle when I swallow them), and a probiotic (that I take on the advice of the future Dr. Albert). The actual medical stuff is enough, though, numbering more than 1 but less than 37. Add in 2 asthma inhalers and you can see that this is something of a production. One of these days I will post about the physical toll that my 30's and 40's, especially in the area of stress, has taken on me.
I should also note that, as a general rule, I don't like touching or getting touched. Yet here I am, arm to arm with a 300 lb + seat-mate. At least he didn't object when I had to get up to go to the bathroom. That happens, by the way, all too often. When stressed I tend to do two things...bite my nails into bloody stumps and, well, pee often. As of this moment the finger next to my right thumb is crying out in surrender and, suffice to say, I'm trying hard to not think about my bladder. The latter is not helped by typing this...nor is the former...although pecking out posting at least helps to prevent more nail gnawing.
Probably the only good thing about flying is the fact that the view out the window...any window...is usually breathtaking. It also reminds me of just how big the real world actually is, and how small the things that irritate all of us in the daily grind actually are. I still wish I had more room though.
This is, by the way, the first business trip I am taking with my newer employer. My previous gig had a decent number of very specific travel policies. My new employer? I looked and found hardly any. I asked our Finance guy, and his response was basically along the lines of "...just don't be a jerk". Good thing I tend to be a cheap date. We don't have a corporate card, so if I was a jerk, well, the joke would be on me anyway.
Speaking of former employers, three leaders I used to work with recently lost their jobs, although this time they had to work through their 60 day WARN notice period. I confess that it brought back a few flashbacks for me. I won't get into the morality of layoffs, but I will note this: Rationale aside, how such things are executed matters, an awful lot. A leader can deliver that kind of news in a direct but empathetic way. My actual notice lacked that empathy, but I was treated very well by those who explained the financial details of my separation. I know I have mentioned that before, and I will likely mention it again, as it was equal parts trauma and life-changing. My hope for my 3 former colleagues is that their next chapter takes them places they otherwise never would have dreamed going.