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Another post from The Man —
Sometimes, a virtual meeting or conference call just won’t cut it. Although technology has advanced the abilities of the locationally-challenged, nothing beats direct human contact. Nothing prepares you for human interaction like a comfortable location that is as close to feeling like home as home would, if you had the time to clean, hire a personal concierge, and have someone volunteer to give you a lift if you need it.
There are a myriad of ways to describe what makes a quintessential travel-for-work type of person, but for anyone who does this on a regular basis, it’s not about fitting that niche, but about feeling human while doing it. Sure, there are the truly impressive extremists who define themselves by their airport codes and their massive collection of elite status cards (think Ryan Bingham in “Up in the Air”), but the vast majority of us are simply engaged in our careers, and by being committed to doing a good, thorough job, we are willing to be apart from family and the serenity of home for periods of time.
What defines us, then, is the ability to remain efficient, productive, deliberate, and sane when we are away. Those of us who are afforded the luxury of loyalty programs and rewards for travel will always appreciate, and be devoted to, the companies that recognize that we want to be as human as possible, despite being temporarily, and frequently, displaced.
Loyalty programs like the Hyatt Gold Passport allow us to give back to our families, by affording us the same luxuries when we take our spouses, our children, our parents, and our friends to destinations where these programs will benefit us. Free night stays, suite upgrades, free car rentals, early check-ins..… when all of these things are future considerations, checking in at 11:00 PM on a wet Tuesday night to a comfortable and functional Hyatt Place or into a gorgeous Andaz becomes a welcome routine.
I mention Hyatt specifically, because I’m seeking Diamond status the hard way, by stays. Okay, for the zealots, I could try to do it by nights, but I’m not that lugubrious. And when I say “seeking”, it’s more that I’m “strongly encouraged” to do hotel hopping by MP to obtain the status. She was far more keen on my Diamond attainment before she went on her SMD3 trip (I just can’t bring myself to say Mega DO) and received Diamond status as a result. But some people are born rich, while others earn it. 🙂 As I write this, I’m in the middle of a two night stay in San Antonio, about to check out of the Hyatt Place Airport, and staying in the Grand Hyatt this evening after my work day. If you are reading this, and it makes no sense to you, I don’t blame you. Essentially, I’m earning two “points/hits/tallies” toward an elite status with the Hyatt loyalty program, plus two nights toward their current Stay 3 Get 5,000 bonus points promotion.
All of that being said, parting from family for work just sucks. My father traveled when I was growing up, at times leaving for two to three weeks out of the month, and, as much as I loved having him return, it would have been better to have him not leave at all. Luckily, my stints away rarely exceed three nights, so I’m fortunate to return soon enough that Little C still knows who I am. Don’t get me wrong, there is a slight part of me that enjoys the quiet, the break in the routine, and the feeling that I am an adult, with adult thoughts, that can share those adult thoughts with others, without having to simplify my speech or expressions to be understood. But that is a very slight part of me. The other, more complete facet of myself is the father longing to be with his beautiful and engaging daughter, the husband eager to return to his, to quote a reader, “Hot Mommy Points” of a wife. And there is a part of me, the familial part, that desperately desires to return to the routine:
Morning: Being called to by my daughter at 6:48AM every morning, working on potty training, then new diaper, clothes for the day, and delivery to sleeping beauty (MP has it nice in the AM when I am home) in our bed to watch either A) Mickey, B) Dora, or C) Toy Story. Then scooping her up after 1 to 1.5 episodes, calming her down as she realizes that she’s headed for Day Care aka “School”. Driving the eight miles as we discuss “Big Truck!”, “Whassat?” and “FLAG!” (In Texas, we fly flags the size of Delaware). And finally, kissing her goodbye for the day as she dives into her breakfast at school.
Day: Work. Routine. Work.
Evening: Cook supper, clean supper. MP plays with Little C and keeps her from diving head first off of tall objects. Seven thirty is bath, so run the bath, set out night-time diaper, jammies, lotions, check bath temp, work on potty training again, retrieve Buzz and Woody figurines from the toilet, bathe Little C, apply lotion, diaper, jammies, brush hair/brush teeth (if you’ve never brushed someone else’s teeth, it’s a trip. It’s a cross between “Whack A Mole” getting it in there, and “Hungry Hungry Hippos” getting it out. Toddler toothpaste should taste good for 34 seconds, then taste really bad), then books and finally, bed. For Little C, that is. Our routine continues, as I pass out at my desk waiting to edit MP’s latest post. For those of you who have caught some of my recent editorial errors, my apologies. Sleep is reserved for the privileged.
This is the life of a new father, and ironically, I travel far more since C was born than I ever did prior to her arrival. It is always a struggle leaving, and always a blessing to return. The sanity of being able to give back to my family when we are able to travel together, even with little perks here and there, keeps me willing to work away, periodically. All of the miles and points I have earned on work trips have been used for family travel.
Would I have made a good distance worker as a single professional? Probably not. MP asked if I was excited for my flight yesterday, which baffled me. Excited to stand in line after line, sit in a seat made for pygmies (I’m not Points-Guy-height, but close), and check in to a room that is a forced Déjà vu? Not so much. Excited to earn two more stays toward Diamond? Oddly, very. Once I get Diamond, though, I may be very averse to any travel for quite a while. Hey. Once you’ve attained the pinnacle, it doesn’t hold your interest anymore, right?
If I stumble on Aladdin’s Lamp this evening, and Genie pops out, but instead of three wishes, he offers me this: “Choose one, the life of a farmer, always with your family, always producing and giving back to the land, or the life you have now”, I’d most likely pick farmer.
But I’d ask him, first, “As a farmer, would I have Diamond status?”