Sometimes you lose your mind when you’re on the road. You either develop a highly inappropriate sense of entitlement (this is my seat on my plane) or decide that nothing matters, giving you a blank check to behave like an asshole. The combination of professional pressures – in my day, it was the collapse of the dotcom bubble … a bump in the road compared to the 2008 financial crisis – personal travails and frustration of being perpetually in transit sometimes make you snap.
Nobody is impervious to the factors that drive business travelers to idiocy, and those who think they are tend to be the worst afflicted. I remember running into my boss at LaGuardia‘s Marine Air Terminal – I was on a Boston-to-New York run for a few months and flew the Delta Shuttle several times a week . We were delayed, not an unusual occurrence at the time. He spotted me in the lone dining facility in the terminal, walked over and sat down, took a call on his cell and proceeded to help himself to my fries without even giving it a second thought.
But, that’s mild.I encountered plenty of business traveler stupidity when I flew with the white collar set … some of it I saw in the mirror. When you find yourself behaving in this manner, it’s usually time to get a new gig. Some of what I saw remains unshakably glue to my memory.
I’ll never forget one run down south.
One of the joys of extended-stay hotels was the so-called “General Manager’s Reception.” At least, I was told it was. Since I was on a project that closely resembled hell, I could never get back to the hotel (which was across the parking lot) in time to down some free beer.
How did I learn of this phenomenon? I ran into my boss’s boss in the hallway, just outside our client’s offices. He was in town for a meeting and was not a part of our weekly grind. In his hand, he held a plastic cup with piss-colored liquid, the cheap beer that even a hotel can see isn’t worth marking up.
Me: “Uh, maybe you’ll want to throw that out before going inside?”
Him, chuckling: “Yeah, probably not a bad idea.”
In another part of the country, I saw first-hand what poor mixological decision-making can do. If you’re unsure of whether to have alcohol, always err on the side of caution. Always. Your client will understand … especially if medicine is involved. I will never forget being on one project where my boss mused aloud about her boss’s insecurities and the reasons for them. Apparently, mixing her cold medicine with red wine had two side effects: (1) saying really stupid stuff about her boss and (2) doing it loudly.
Moral of the story: If you’re on meds, exhausted or inches from not giving a damn about your career, drink club soda. It looks like alcohol and is often mixed with alcohol … but it won’t lead to the same results.
So, I’ve kicked in two, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’ seen idiocy on the road. Any other white collar travelers want to chime in? I’d love to hear what you’ve seen (or done!).
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