The Last Traveler


I wrote this on the plane Thursday…just now posting it!

I’m typing this blog from the plane as I travel from Chicago (originally Oklahoma City) back to Knoxville after my last trip there to cover for another Marketing Director on maternity leave.

Over the last six to eight weeks, I’ve been flying every other week from Monday (usually a 5am flight with a 3am wake up call) through Thursday (arriving home around 10:30pm). It’s been great as far as work experiences go. The staff I worked with was really nice…welcoming…grateful even for my being there. The mall manager there is a long-time veteran with the company having been there before then taking a hiatus of sorts and coming back. He’s worked at a bunch of malls and with almost everyone in the company. He is super knowledgable and supportive. I learned over my weeks there that his mantra was, “Do good. Do right. Keep having fun.” A great mantra for life, but an interesting one to hear in the workplace, but I watched it in action several times. The way he treated tenants, customers (of all kinds…alternative, hippie, traditional upscale mall shopper, mall walker, angry, happy, etc.) was interesting to watch. If they popped in unannounced with problems or concerns, he stopped what he was doing and visited with them. No matter the issue and what the cause, he listened intently and endeavored to do right by whomever was in his office.

I must say it was refreshing. I know that when times are like these are (though there is rumor things are turning around) it’s hard to keep your head up and worry about others. We all trudge along, whether we love our jobs or hate them, trying to get from day to day hoping for things to just get better. We forget that it’s important to love what you do and enjoy who you do it with. I know sometimes those terms are idealistic (and wholly out of reach for some), but the time I’ve spent in Oklahoma City, I’ve seen what a positive attitude, even on the shittiest day, can do. What I’m saying is I’m going to try to take the lessons I learned and try, more often than not, to put them into practice.

Now, those of you who follow me on Facebook have probably just seen the following sequential posts (paraphrased here because I’m 35,000 feet in the air) during my time in the airport and boarding the plane:
– If you have a dip in your mouth so big it looks like you have a goiter, maybe it’s time to rethink the habit.
– Also, they aren’t going to take off without you if you’re already through the door. Chill out and step out of my personal space.
– Also, the safety pamphlet is the same one that was on your last (and every) flight. Stop digging in that pocket and kicking my seat. She’s going over it up front!

Trust, there would have been more snarky posts, but I was in search of a whole wheat bagel for dinner and rocking out on my iPod. “Wait,” you say, “Didn’t you just say you learned some great lessons about doing right and good…that you’re going to carry them with you and try to put them to practice.” Well, yes, I did. Baby steps, I guess. Let’s be realistic.

There is nothing quite like airline travel that makes me appreciate working in a mall. I mean, sometimes it’s trying, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones that actually, truly, loves what I do for my job. I love vacations and time off, but I also, not so secretly, love going to work. Some days more than others, but I do, definitely love it. Airline workers on the other hand, have to…most of the time…feel one step above telemarketers as they are almost always being yelled at, dealing with screaming kids and grumpy travelers. I know this because I (shamefully) have yelled at an airline person or two….some deserving and some not so deserving…but that’s beside the point.

Just making observations here…

Also, all this solo travel has certainly helped me to see that I much prefer traveling with my husband. I mean, sure, I spend my time on these trips (after work) devouring trilogies on my Kindle and eating warmed up meals from the Whole Foods deli…and maybe eating ice cream in bed while watching “bad” (read: awesome) television. I’ve even gone for drinks with the mall staff, but I do certainly miss my Bub when I’m traveling alone.

Bub is a pretty good travel partner…he lets me sit in the aisle seat…watches my purse so I don’t have to carry it to the potty…plays Scrabble on the iPad with me…let’s me take over the game he’s playing on his iPhone even if he is playing it…shares his snacks and sodas…puts up with the delicate ecosystem that is my digestive system–a problem that typically only rears its ugly head during travel–but doesn’t scold when I eat like I’m three (“No breakfast…I don’t feel good…can I have a bite of your breakfast sandwich?…I’m hungry…Can I have a candy bar and some gummy snacks?”)

I also can’t deny how supportive he has been through all of this. Encouraging me to put myself out there, travel and gain the experiences I want within this job. After being gone for four days on my first trip, he encouraged me to take another one that just sort of popped up last minute, even though it meant not seeing him for a few days more. He constantly reminds me that the reason I work so hard at this job I love is so I can do things I love to do outside of work…with him and our friends and family. He keeps me grounded, but also pushes me. Basically, he’s a pretty great husband and I’m so ready for this freaking plane to land so I can get home to my tiny family.

I should have paced myself better with the Shades of Grey trilogy…literally, I read all three books between Monday at 5am and today at 5:30pm…so I had something else to do on the plane besides fret over turbulence. Over 1,600 pages in all three books…give or take a couple hundred. I seriously could not put them down…last trip it was The Hunger Games (yes, I jumped on the bandwagon)…but in all honesty…lady readers, you want to check out Shades of Grey.It will not disappoint…trust…or should I say blush? A little awkward at parts when I was reading on my flight to OKC stuck in the middle seat between two large men. If you’ve read it, who would play your Christian on the big screen? Your Ana? Mrs. Robinson?

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