hey you. yeah, you. relax.

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above the mountains

Open door, climb up, buckle up, stare up, directly at the vast Nothing in front of me. Time ticks, hard to tell how much, minutes maybe, seconds? I hear a sound, disappointment mixed with defeat and realize it’s just me; I had been holding my breath and that was my exhale. My other senses start to stir. That’s not Nothing I am seeing, those are my eyelids.

It doesn’t matter. I know what’s behind the darkness. The same thing that’s been there for a decade: familiar concrete slabs, housing stacks upon rows of unfamiliar parked cars, silently perched, waiting to connect Life on the Road with Life at Home.

Also known as Dane County Regional Airport parking ramp, Madison, WI.

Hooooooowww?? How did I get here?! 

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On second thought, I don’t really mind being here…Goleta Beach, California

No, seriouslyhow did I get there? Had my eyes been closed this whole time? At what point did I start operating on auto-pilot? When I drove to the airport on Sunday? Somewhere in the middle of the week? I don’t remember getting off the plane, much less getting on or making my connections. Nooooo. Not this again! I sighed and bowed my head in one of those dejected shakes I image the Devil doing after Johnny beat him when he Went Down to Georgia looking for a soul to steal, only this time, the Devil won. Cheeky bastard. I couldn’t bring myself to turn the key expectantly waiting in the ignition. The Toyota knew the routine. Unfortunately, so did I.

It was 11:30 PM, Thursday. I would drive home, collect the mail from the overflowing bin, unlock the door to two slightly attention starved cats who are incapable of rationing their food, and grossly inept at using the water bowl as a water source, preferring to immediately scoop as much onto the floor as they possibly can (before you get all PETA on me, they have a nanny, so, meow), unpack, unwind, pass out, bluuuuurrrrrr, wake up on Sunday, drive car to its concrete home and head back to Life on the Road.

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The Good Life, on the Road (in Wisconsin)

Everything was a little too familiar, too easy to resume, too exactly the way it always was.

Ack. F. Really, Tosha? Did you learn nothing? Had nothing changed?

Five months on the Appalachian Trail felt like a distant memory. And Finland? Psssh, historical fiction. I had to think hard, pull deep, reread posts, scroll through photos to remember, to fully believe I had spent the past two years walking across the country, up and down mountains, into strange towns, meeting unfamiliar faces, zig-zagging around the world, living with foreign families, doing random jobs in exchange for housing, eating local foreign cuisine, navigating alone through unknown street signs I couldn’t read. Unemployed, happy and homeless, totally free of the modern cares of society.

So…how? How did I end up right back in the middle of everything that drove me to leave in the first place?

Meh. It’s less complicated than you might think.

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It’s hard to be disappointed when you work in a place like this. Santa Barbara, California

As you may have heard, money does in fact, not grow on trees. And I’m here to upgrade this rumor to a Truth. During my 146 day walk in the woods/field study, not one single tree had money attached to it. And booooy, did I look. Trees were dangling with food, soda, water, navigational beacons, discarded shoes, lost articles of clothing, weird notes, white blazes, you name it. But alas, no dinero. (Admittedly, I forgot to count the trees involved in this sample study, but for the sake of this conversation, we’ll just say it was a lot. Like, 2,189.2 miles worth of a lot.)

I know, mind blown, right?

You may have heard of another rumor, “If you don’t use it, you lose it?” Well, I had been away from my mortgage-paying skills for almost two years. And frankly, after being hit with the whole money not growing on trees thing, I was hesitant to put this second rumor to the test. So. Here I am. Using it. So I don’t lose it.

That being said, I’m a wee bit skeptical of this particular rumor. Two months in, my findings are as follows: Same Hamster, Different Wheel. Do with that, what you may.

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No money on this tree. Lights, but no money.

So yeah, here I am, back at a similar job, residing in the same house (on the weekends), living a similar lifestyle.

But, I am not the same.

When I began to reintegrate with the Real World, it was almost disappointing how ‘same as it ever was,’ it all really was. It was like I had walked through the wardrobe into Narnia and spent months in a magical land. And when I stumbled back out, only minutes had passed. But after the transitional phase, I started noticing…stuff. Especially during the last step of reintegration: Employment.

For example. I now have this superpower to observe my previous life as a business traveler from an outsider’s perspective, as an apprentice who doesn’t want the job. And it’s ugly.

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Narnia, aka Mount Washington, New Hampshire

I mean, is it just me, or do these boarding lines form way earlier than they used to? Relax, First Class. You are 100% guaranteed to board before every single passenger. Do you really have to stand in line to prove it? And yes, I get it man, you have elite status, we should bow down and recognize, but I just saw you nudge A KID ON CRUTCHES out of the way, because you got to the gate during general boarding *gasp*, but felt the need to fan your peacock feathers to the airline passengers of Delta Flight 1668 from LAX->MSP, and skip past the peasants. My apologies, Your Highness, perhaps we should have waited to board the stowage until First Class had been checked in full.

I recently read an article in Forbes about how business travelers are ruining travel for everyone, and I have the unfortunate privilege to witness this twice a week.

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My front yard in my second home, Santa Barbara, California

Last week, as I was about to board my flight from peaceful little Madison, WI -> Minneapolis -> LA, in Group Last, a man rushed by the Group Lasters to the Elite Red Carpet. No big deal, I travel, I get it. But that’s when the real trouble started. I tend to block out my surroundings, but his shrieking (yes, shrieking) pulled me out of my hibernation from humans:

Man: LISTEN LADY, I DO THIS ALL THE TIME!
Attendant: Calm response, using an indoor voice.

Angry Man: I AM A PLATINUM PREMIER MEMBER, I TRAVEL EV-ER-Y WEEK.
Attendant: Calm response, using an indoor voice.

Angrier Man: I HAD A DEATH IN THE FAMILY. AND THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT ME??
Attendant: Calm response, using an indoor voice.

Angriest Man: SERIOUSLY? DOES SOMEONE MANAGE YOU? LET ME TALK TO THE MANAGER.
Attendant: Calm response, using an indoor voice.

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A calming photo after reliving that scene

I eventually realized he was causing all this commotion because he had three pieces of carryon luggage when you are only allowed two, and of very specific dimensions. The attendant was simply trying to do her job.

So let’s replay this conversation, but with my thoughts on the matter.

LISTEN LADY, I DO THIS ALL THE TIME!

Mmmm, do you? Because it’s annoying how many times they literally state exactly, how many specific pieces of carryon items you can carry on. And if you have more than that, consolidate. If you do this all of the time, how can you NOT know that? Are you deliberately disobeying and seeing if you can get away with it?

I AM A PLATINUM PREMIER MEMBER, I TRAVEL EV-ER-Y WEEK.

Oh, never mind. I got it. You’re just better than the rest of us. So the rules don’t apply to you. That’s sort of like saying, dude, I’m a cop. I can rob a bank, because, hey, I’m a cop.

I HAD A DEATH IN THE FAMILY! AND THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT ME??

Honestly, when I heard this, I was like, LIAR!! You already made a scene and now you’re like, oh shit, how do I come out of this on top? The correct answer is: you don’t. The other answer is: Hail Mary! Dude, I’ve been there. But on the offshoot you were telling the truth, I am sorry for your loss, but I stand by this: that’s no excuse for being an asshole to people who don’t know/care/HAVE THEIR OWN F-ING ISSUES.

SERIOUSLY? DOES SOMEONE MANAGE YOU? LET ME TALK TO THE MANAGER.

Who do you think told them to stick to the rules, you dumbass? That’s like blaming the waitress for shitty food she didn’t cook.

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A place where conversations like that don’t exist

Full disclosure, I’ve been a frequent flier for almost a decade. I travel for a living. I’ve had elite status on Delta and United for most of those years. I’m a lifetime platinum premier member at Marriott. Even if I never stay at another Marriott again, they will be the first Christmas card I receive for the REST OF MY LIFE. I enjoy the perks as much as the next guy. And I understand the relationship. These companies become your family, your saviour after a long day of missed connections and mishaps.

But my sabbatical/reduction from business travel is directly correlated with my increase in logical human observations.

And here is my very scientific conclusion: Hey you. Yeah, you. RELAX.

5 Comments on “hey you. yeah, you. relax.

  1. Spending time with you at an airport bar on my way home. The hangouts are amazing.

    Like

  2. So, when the moron loudmouth was jerking the flight crew around about carry-on luggage, did that trigger memories of your thru and the “carry all the way” luggage? If he only had a bit of a clue.

    Like

  3. I loved this post. About to head out for a 3 week trip to Turkey and Greece and I desperately need to relax. Thanks for putting things into perspective and offering some calming photos, I liked those. 🙂

    If I may ask, what are you doing for your job at the moment?

    Like

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