Travel Tales and Traverse Treasures  

January 13, 2017By Views

by Dave Wendland, as seen in HealthCare Distributor magazine, Out of the Box column

November/December 2016

Have you ever stopped to consider how un-glamourous travel has become following the horrific events of September 11, 2001? Well, for the road warriors among us — including myself — these realities will be relatable. For others who travel infrequently or not at all, you may consider these characterization fables. Let me assure you, they are all true.

You may find the tone of this column a bit more negative than my typical inspirational style, however this column is certainly not intended to make you more frustrated with your travels and traverses. Rather I’m hoping it makes you smile and reminds you that you are not alone.

Security. Although much improved, wait times have certainly become commonplace and TSE pre-check is preferred to winning the lottery. It is my belief that TSE was simply created to torment, challenge, and frustrate travelers. Perhaps TSE is actually an acronym for Totally Surreal Experience. Of course I applaud its focus on security and the goal of keeping travelers safe, it just seems there must be another way.

Arrival time. Arriving two-and-a-half hours prior to boarding time has become the new normal. Captive in a city unto itself, you purchase an over-priced sandwich and beverage, and then take time to observe your fellow travelers who are captivated by what’s coming through their ear buds and eager to board the flight. Time stands still as the passengers slowly board the plane — silent, isolated, and forlorn.

Gate check. There was a time when this was quite a nice benefit eliminating the need to wait at the baggage return by merely hoisting a roller bag into the overhead compartment. Today it’s nothing short of a nightmare. Not only does every Tom, Dick, and Harry have the same plan, but upon arrival there is generally an inordinately long delay and a mad dive for the nondescript, lookalike bags magically appearing in the jetway from some special hiding place.

Reroute. This is a fancy aeronautic term for “inconvenience.” Turns out the original direct flight has been mysteriously cancelled and the airline has conveniently scheduled you to now see two additional airports and arrive to your original destination sometime long after most of the airport staff have gone home for the night.

Oversold situation. Seldom are there light loads on today’s flights. Sure I want the airlines to fill the available seats, but nearly every one of mine are busting at the seams. There I am squeezed into a middle seat for three hours of a hellish ride with fidgety passengers and little-to-no arm room due to the unfriendly souls seated on either side of me.

Tray table. Not only will this flipped down, bacteria infested petri dish provide little space to work, but it will also become increasingly tiny as the passenger directly in front of you decides to recline their seat to the maximum. Honestly, the biggest benefit of the tray is that it often impedes access to the seat pocket in front of you … and you never know what is lurking in there.

Energizing. In this day and age when everyone is tethered to electronic devices anticipating the ping of an email or a lifechanging text message, we barely deplane for the brief layover before everyone is fumbling for power cords and the ever elusive power outlet. Once found, disappointment immediately envelops our body as the outlet is not producing juice that day.

Terminal. When you stop to think about the true definition of terminal, it means final or the end. Precisely. I have found that at any given moment, most terminals are in various stages of construction with low-hanging lights, unfinished drywall, and a deafening din that makes conversing difficult and fosters an ideal environment for an earth-shattering headache. Often, this indeed feels like the end.

As we all know, travel is an essential element in today’s workplace. But, trust me when I say, the glamour has been replaced by the grind. Perhaps video conferencing will continue to reduce the physical need to pack bags, head to the airport, and fly in a metal tube across the country to conduct business effectively. For now, you’ll continue to see me in that uncomfortable middle seat near the back of the plane struggling to position my laptop as I write my next Healthcare Distributor piece. Safe travels and keep smiling.