Zen and the Art of Business Travel


Please allow me to make a huge understatement: I am extremely judgmental.  It is not something of which I am proud, but it is very true, and I own it.

Yes, I judge others.  Complete strangers, even.  Complete strangers especially.  I love to eavesdrop.  It feeds my compulsion to judge.  The other day, while sitting in the Wolfgang Puck Express in the Providence Airport, I overheard not one but three people order drinks.  When asked if they wanted a fourteen or twenty-two ounce beer, all three chose the fourteen-ounce option.  And I was all like ‘what the hell?  Who chooses the smaller alcoholic beverage?  We’re in an airport.  It’s not like anyone is driving anywhere any time soon.  Lightweights.’  And then I continued to sip my double gin and tonic. (I, uh, may also drink too much.  But that’s a topic for another post.)


That would be me eating a corn dog. While walking. And wearing a bright pink fleece. Sigh….

I have a very strict set of rules in my head.  Rules for how-life-should-be-lived.  And I expect everyone to follow them.  Except of course no one does.  They are all rather shallow and include but are not limited to:

  • Showers are required for life.  Shower before leaving the house or hotel room every day, no matter what.
  • Real pants are required for life.  Stretch pants, yoga pants, and (shudder) pj pants are not appropriate for public viewing.
  • No one over the age of 12 should wear bright colors.  Ever.  Black, gray, dark brown, and navy are the only acceptable wardrobe colors (though this season of Downton Abbey has convinced me that perhaps plum is an option as well).
  • Sneakers are for exercise only.  No self-respecting woman should ever be seen in public wearing sneakers unless she is going to or from the gym or the track.  Shoes matter.
  • Eating is a civilized act that should only be done in a proper location–at a table.  Eating should never occur on a moving vehicle or in a crowded non-restaurant area.  I should never be done while walking.  Ever.

All of the above rules are especially important while traveling.  For years, I’ve judged sneaker-and-lime-green-fleece-pant-clad adults chowing down on sausage McMuffins at airport gates.  There’s just no reason for it, I’d argue.

And then I started traveling for work.  Often daily.  According to Tripit, in the month of January alone, I traveled 22,341 miles over the course of 25 days to 17 cities (that same graphic now tells me that by February 10th, my mileage is at 26,259 and honestly, I feel that’s kind of low.)  Also in the month of January, I:

  • Walked all over Washington, DC in skinny jeans and (shudder) sneakers.  I did this while wearing a bright pink fleece.
  • Consumed a corn dog while walking towards the ferry dock on Catalina Island.
  • Wore stretch-pants-as-pants on a cross country flight.
  • Stretched out across three seats at gate F8 in the Philadelphia airport, covered my head with my scarf, and went to sleep.
  • Went to the grocery store (on a brief trip home) both without a shower and while wearing pj pants tucked into my Uggs.  I did this while also wearing that same bright pink fleece from my DC sneaker jaunt.
  • Drove to Subway to pick up a quick dinner (on the same day the story about Subway sandwiches sharing ingredients with yoga mats broke on social media).  Ate it in my hotel room while watching Chopped Canada.

These are just a few of my rules-for-life that I’ve broken in the last two weeks.  Trust me, there are more.  I’d argue that I broke these rules because I had to.  But really, I didn’t.  I could have taken the time to get showered before shopping (but I was hungry and I had only mayo and pickles in my fridge).  I could have worn my cowboy boots to schlep about DC (but I’d been wearing them all across the country for weeks, and my feet hurt).  I could have foregone the corn dog (yeah, no real excuse for that one.  But it was a really freaking good corn dog).

I’d like to say that this has made me a better person; I’d like to say that I’ve seen the light, and that I will stop judging others.  I’d like to say that I had a zen-like realization that we are all just doing the best we can to get by in a world that is challenging at the best of times.

But that would be a lie.

I have not found acceptance.  I still judge.  I just do it while unshowered, poorly dressed, travel-weary and sitting in a Wendy’s drive through.

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