Well, it’s been almost a month since I last graced you with a new blog post, so I suppose it’s time… Been a busy boy since I last descended my soap box; 8 days in Germany, 28 hours in Paris, a round of layoffs at work and now I’m a bit tipsy sitting in the Lazy Dog Saloon located inside a Comfort Inn in Charleston, West Virginia. I’m strategically positioned at the corner of the bar, my back to the wall, my front to a free shot of Jim Beam and a free Stella Artois. The place is poorly lit at best and damn near empty; there are five guests that aren’t me, all in their twenties, all of whom work at the casino a half-mile down the road, and all of whom are discussing the death of Osama Bin Laden. I’m not gonna speak to that at the moment, just painting a picture.
Yes, I have stories to tell. The rest of my Germany trip was quite entertaining; both a shitload of astonishingly hard (and frankly dangerous) work and a guerilla road trip to Paris. Exactly the kind of trip that made me want to start a blog, but too busy of a trip to waste my time blogging. Those stories, intriguing as they are, will have to wait until the next time I’m bored and a drinking in front of my laptop. So probably tomorrow.
For now I want to discuss possibly the best part of my job: The Travel Day. I’d say about 80% of the time I have a job few men would envy. The other 20% is The Travel Day. Now, more than likely most of you shudder at the thought of spending a full day in airports and airplanes, dealing with check-ins and checkpoints, and sitting in overpriced restaurants and under-sized seats.
I, however, am not most of you. I got three things going for me that make The Travel Day the day that I look forward too:
- First and foremost a little thing they call ‘door to door’ pay. This means that for all intents and purposes, I clock in when I walk out the door of my apartment, and clock out when I walk in the door to my hotel room in whatever city they send me to. That means that a two hour delay due to mechanical issues is two extra hours on my paycheck. This is invaluable. It means the very shit that frustrates the normal traveler earns me an extra 60 bucks. Layovers are my friends and delayed flights my confederates. Pretty damn sweet.
- The open expense account. No per diems or company cards here. I spend what I need to on whatever: hotels, rental cars, meals, drinks, tools, shipping, you name it, and I get reimbursed for the expenses. Breakfast and lunch have to be ‘reasonable.’ Dinner has to be 50 bucks or less. And every expense I incur due to my travel is expensable. That means the 10 dollar burger and the 8 dollar bloody mary’s are free, so long as the entire check is 50 or less. So not only am I getting paid for my 3 hour layover, I get free food and drink while getting paid for my 3 hour layover. A smaller, but important, benefit, is that I get full ownership of my frequent flier miles (which have already sent me to Buenos Aires for free) and my hotel points (frequent flier miles for hotels, these have already bought me a sweet ipod touch and a few Christmas presents) and all the rewards for the thousands of dollars I put on credit cards each month.
- Premier Executive status with United Airlines. This translates to free baggage, economy plus seating (normal coach plus 6 inches of leg-room, I’m 6’5” tall, this is key) on every flight that gets an airplane big enough to have the seats (all but the puddle-jumpers), and I get a bump to first class if it’s available. I got bumped to first class today on the Denver to Chicago leg of my trip to beautiful Charleston. I’m also privy to my own counter when I check in, which never has a line, my own entrance to security check points, also never has lines, and the most comfortable seat available on my flight, which I get to board first. United takes good care of me. I figure I, by way of my employer, spend about $40K annually on their services, so they’d better.
So, remove all of the things that you hate about travel. The wasted time, the frustration, the lines, the expensive food, the whatever it is that pisses you off and replace it all with free drinks, free meals, preferential treatment and a cozy seat on the airplane and all of a sudden The Travel Day turns from a headache into a handy way to get paid to eat, drink and sleep. And people-watch. I’m a chronic people-watcher. This is by far my favorite aspect of The Travel Day (well, behind the money, meals and cocktails). But, the people I’ve had the pleasure of encountering are other stories for other days. Don’t touch that dial…