Travelling Man in the back of a van…

Ok so there is no van, no car, no trains only planes in this edition of A mind of its own… In this week’s installment we discuss life on the road as I travel for work. You’ll get to see the confusion, boredom and often harrowing events many people experience who have to travel for work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The costs involved and the time it often takes to get from one place to another despite using air travel to get there.

So where to and why you ask? Good bloody question not sure how I drew the short straw in the work pool of resources who could travel. Well I actually have a fairly good idea when the bosses in the ivory tower ask questions like, Do you have kids? A dog or cat? Anything that would preclude you from travelling once a month? And my answer is no,while my mind is thinking yeah my lack of will and pay. It’s almost as though they just handover the short straw with cheshire cat grins strewn across their faces. As to where that would be our Nation’s capital and the city of churches for starters.

Two visually stunning landscapes steeped in European design and architecture but lacking in terms of things to do once the working day has finished and are about as interesting as a documentary on watching paint dry. So we’ll start with Canberra, before any of you get upset, I spent a lot of time growing up there so I am entitled to my opinion when i say it was a lot more fun when you could buy fireworks without a license, porn was on sale on every corner and the politicians were all over each other like a rampant Red faced Barnaby Joyce.

To start with unless you are flying from Sydney or Melbourne there are no and I mean no direct flights unless you have your own private jet, which unfortunately this aspiring writer has not managed to finish his book let alone sell a copy of it although, I have at least a couple of sales confirmed thanks to the family and close friends I’ve instructed to buy it whether its any good or not. They can always use is as a doorstop or the old regift come Christmas time. Now back to A mind of its own and our work travel segment.

For a Northern Rivers resident the fact that travel means I am on the same time zone each day that I am away is a complete thrill, heading into a different time zone just to head back to the time zone you came from is quite a funny experience. When you leave for the gym at 6am and arrive there at 5:30am it has people going hah?? And then there are the times your wife asks you what time you need to be at the airport for your trip and then finishes her sentence with “Our time or Qld time” it can often feel like you are in a time warp.

The good thing about flying out of Coolangatta or the Gold Coast Airport as it is better known during daylight savings is the hour up my sleeve. 6:00am flight, sure no problems I’ll actually be at the airport at 6am despite the fact that I’ve already been awake for 2 odd hours and it’s 7am literally a 5 minute drive down the road while my plane is taxiing down the runaway. It gets confusing, trust me on that one.

I am one of those people who likes to be early, I hate being late and I hate having to rush, a complete control freak when it’s my time. It often frustrates my wife as I rush her out of the house so we aren’t late to events or work. I think it started as a kid as my mother is always late and it frustrates the hell out of me. So arriving at the airport with plenty of time allows me to get a coffee and browse all the shops but let’s be honest Gold Coast airport does not have a great variety of stores to peruse while waiting for your early morning flight. What it does have though is a heap of tables and chairs which makes it ideal for someone like me who can use the time to work on their book or write the next installment of their blog.

Getting on the plane is always like playing a game of Russian roulette, will I or won’t I get a spare seat next to me, will they move me to an exit row? Will the person beside me leave me in peace to stream inflight entertainment or will that chat away incessantly for the duration of the flight not realising that I am not paying attention and in some cases have drifted off from boredom over hearing how they’ve adopted there tenth cat named Whiskers.

Or will i end up between two people who’s lack of thought for hygiene creates a fear of hippies and a want to provide the world with organic deodorant at prices so low you could barter for it with a leaf. I wouldn’t be the first traveller to have this fear and if I could afford it i’d be sitting myself up front clinking complimentary champagne with all the pollies instead of being stuck in cattle class with Arthur and Martha who run the local commune out the back of Byron Bay and haven’t showered since the revolution in the 70’s.

Sometimes I get my wish and I’m left to watch reruns of some tv show whilst snacking on my complimentary biscuit and water as we make our way towards Sydney or left to read the latest installment by Cussler, Clancy, Flynn, McNab or Ryan from my large selection of paperbacks waiting for a bookshelf at home that I have been to lazy to go out and buy.

The ride itself is mostly smooth as the gravity defying tin cans rattle through the sky at close to 1000 km per hour but when the weather hits it’s like being on a roller coaster at Movie World as the taste of your last meal hits the back of your throat and you frantically reach for the barf bag only to realise they haven’t replaced them. Then that awkward moment hits, your brain catches up to your body and you realise you have two options…

Either you become that awkward passenger that vomits everywhere or you swallow. For me dignity will always win over pride. Time to suck it up princess and swallow your own spew. I would love to say that i have never had to do this but sadly I have and as I sat there waiting for my flight back to Brisbane to leave the runaway swallowing my stomachs own fireball concoction somewhere in the skies over NSW someone I know was suffering the same fate.

I’ve often questioned if heaven is real and the more time I spend at airport I start to feel it might be. Not being remotely religious I imagine that waiting to get into the pearly gates is a lot like waiting an hour or two and in some cases a whole day for your connecting flight. The patient people are allowed access and the frustrated and infuriated people who are anxious to get home or to wherever they are going are denied access and sent below to the fiery depths of hell or in this case to fly with Tiger Air and take there luck on whether the flight will actually leave or not and if it does will it be on time.

Second flight in and I suffer the same issues, people on planes annoy me… Just take your seat, sit down and be quiet for the duration of the flight. Take a nap, relax but do whatever it is that you need to do not to annoy me as I try to enjoy my trip. Oh and if I could have the window seat that would be greatly appreciated I’m sick of the cabin crew hitting me with the drinks cart as they hurtle down the aisles passing out light snacks with the captain speaking in the background about how long our journey will be and what time he or she will have us disembarking at the gate.

Another thump into the tarmac and we are on the ground. A short taxi later and we’ve arrived at our destination. The wing bridge is moved into place for passengers to disembark through to the terminal. For those that have baggage they head to the carousel and wait, wait, wait and some more waiting for the flashing light to come on and the thing start to spinning around like an appealing ride with bags as obstacles to hurdle. I tend to just stand around watching people, some refreshed as they start their adventure others exhausted from the 40 minute flight.

To the cab line I march with self importance, all suited and booted looking sharp as a tack I must say. Wheelie bag in tow looking like a real professional who knows what he’s doing. Fake it till you make it they say well I guess you could say that’s me in a suit. Having to wear them is not exciting it does not make me feel important or special but I do it as first impressions last. Suits are not the ideal travelling attire just FYI, give me a pair of trackies and a t-shirt anyday.

It’s the cab trips I really love, I’ve always been interested in a Cabbies story particularly our friends from overseas and what brought them to Australia. Dishing out nicknames like Trent and Wok a cab ride can be as fun as you want to make it. A lot of them are quite happy to have a chat and surprisingly my attitude towards conversation is completely different to the one i take when I step onto an airplane. My favourite question of “do you use Uber?” in recent years often sparks an interesting conversation and to my surprise after a little encouragement 90% admit they use Uber rather than grabbing a cab. Why because they don’t have to wait for a random cab driver to drive past or call the cab company and order one only to be told there is a wait and have to call back in 20 minutes and ask where there cab is.

Once at work the fun of meetings begins, I’d love to say it’s all boozy lunches and dinners with clients but sadly it not, usually it’s sitting around in a conference room giving or going through a presentation or sitting in a secure room pouring over documents that you can’t make copies of but can write out by hand if you so choose to. These are usually followed by more meetings and just to add on we have a few more meetings about the meetings.

By the time the day is done we have a little time for going through the million emails that have piled up through the day and returning a few phone calls of the people who have called more than once. A quick flick through instagram to see if anyone has posted anything more interesting than photos of lunch and breakfast and it’s usually out to dinner where if work is paying you know I’m hitting the bar for a few beers.

The hotel, motel, holiday Inn, well thankfully i don’t have to stay at a motel or the holiday Inn. The accommodation or diggs are usually quite good, minimum queen size bed, little desk, fridge and bathroom what more could you want? Foxtel is usually hooked up and if you press your luck you might get work to splash out for a movie or two on your expenses. Very unlikely and rare that happens.

I’d like to say i venture out and see a little more of the Nation’s Capital as it continues to expand out and try and steal more of NSW’s land while I’m visiting but the truth is i tend to stay in my little bubble close to the office where i know an escape to the airport is only a cab ride 10 minutes and a stress relieving walk to beer is just across the road in the hotel bar.

So with the Nation’s Capital all stitched up as a place famous for scandal, penis statues, expensive ugly pieces of art besides its roads, porn, fireworks, politicians and public servants who have more flex time built up than a brick wall it’s on to the city of churches. Another thrilling plane ride dodging conversations and poor hygiene with the men and women who oversee the flights in there bright colours layered on lipstick and often over the top put on smiles. Really who wants to deal with the drunk guy in 3B who asks for a tinny of your best beer and winks like a creep everytime. I can guarantee there is one on every flight.

Founded in… well who really cares when it was founded. As always some stuff happened, the white man went there and treated the indigenous people poorly and a city was formed. Upon landing in Adelaide it feels like it was founded only yesterday. It’s a little backwards and like stepping back in time. I almost feel like i should be climbing out of an old twin prop and hailing down a horse and cart for the long journey into town. Where I’ll walk into my hotel and some child will call me governor and offer to shine my shoes for a penny.

Ok, ok it’s not that bad they have colour TV and all the mod cons and some new looking buildings in amongst all the churches and early european settler design and architecture. There cricket facilities are amazing and there love of Aussie rules is second to that of only Victoria. The mighty Crows and Power can be seen idolised throughout the city. They have an amazing array of homeless people who get up and down the main shopping precinct begging, busking and often running from the law as they nick something from a rack hanging close to the front of a store.

Like Canberra there is a little bar scene popping up with Whiskey bars and microbreweries. The problem is trying to find them, it would seem they are that trendy they don’t have signage or a door on the street. Head down the back alley worrying about whether you’ll be mugged and you just might find on of them. I just can’t help thinking that everything would look so much better with a lick of paint. It reminds me of a big country town whenever i am there.

No matter where i venture the people are friendly and there is always something interesting going on. If there isn’t I am sure I’ll attempt to make it interesting by imparting myself and my knowledge on the people around me whether it’s wanted or not. That’s one of the great things about being in Australia and being able to travel this great land, we meet so many people from all walks of life, who all have their own stories or stories from others they’ve met along their journey through this life.

It’s not the travel that kills me, I actually like flying and have always been amazed by the science and engineering that goes in to lifting those giant birds into the sky and keeping them there. It’s the things to do once my working day has ceased. Part of it is that travelling also throws my routine right out the window. Despite my best intentions of packing running gear, I can never seem to pull myself out of bed when I am away to do anything. It could also have something to do with trying to gain entry into the beer olympics with my coworkers and suffering the effects the next day but that’s a blog in itself.

At the end of the day my favourite part of any trip is the moment those wheels touch down and home is within a short ride home. I love the flexibility of being able to travel but i also love where i live and the person i share that house with. Work travel is good it breaks up the monotony of the Monday to Friday grind.

I can image with children travelling for work would be difficult not only would you be leaving your partner alone to look after the kids but you could also be missing out on key moments of their lives. So for me I’ll get the travel done before they arrive and no we aren’t pregnant I’m just pointing out that it would be and is easier to travel when you don’t have children, young children.

Whilst some weeks its a pain in the backside most of the time it’s easy and provides me with material for my book or this blog in which you can choose to laugh at or ignore my banter in which i poke fun at place and people I’ve met along the way. Until the next blog which i have no idea what it will be about but I’m sure it will have A Mind of it’s Own…

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