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I was walking to work yesterday at about nine in the morning and got a text message from a client asking when I was going to arrive. In Spokane. After all, I was presenting at 3:30 and had a lunch meeting before that. Apparently he took my, "Let me see if I can make it" as a "I'll be there." Simple mistake, but it changed my Monday...
I was about a mile and a half from the office, with just my cell phone. No laptop, no aircard, nothing to give me that "office on the go." So I jogged a bit and got to my computer, booked the 11:15 flight from Portland to Spokane, got a ride home to grab my briefcase (and change my shirt -- that jogging wasn't great for my professional appearance, or smell) then on to the airport, just enough time to grab a latte once I was near the gate, and I was on the ground in Spokane by 12:15.
It's one of those mundane miracles that never ceases to amaze me -- without planning for it I can be over 350 miles away in three hours. I could have been there in six hours by car, with no stops for clean shirts or lattes. And while I was rushed, it still didn't seem to be that hurried as I stood in the slow security line or waited at the gate to board.
My seating luck held on this trip -- although it was a small turbo-prop, I had the luxury of no one sitting next to me... both ways. I was able write some emails, read a little, and stretch out enough that the hour or so in the air wasn't any less comfortable than an hour at my desk at the office.
One of the things I forget about traveling at this time of year is that the weather can be really different 350 miles away. The snow was falling as we touched down, and I forgot to bring a coat. Not that it matters much on a trip like this -- less than a minute on the tarmac then a covered heated area waiting for the shuttle, and then the timeless, seasonless environment of the nondescript hotel conference center.
A couple meetings, a little lunch, a shot of some local whiskey (Dry Fly Wheat, very nice, very smooth), then back to the airport and the flight home.
The thing I hate about modern air travel is how disassociated you are from actually flying, but when you fly out of a small airport on a small plane, there are those moments that are reminiscent of traveling in the 1930s when this was a sport reserved for the rich.
Again, no one sitting next to me, and against any logic of modern airline hospitality, complimentary wine for the whole cabin. The clouds outside my window were burning with the reds, pinks and oranges of the setting sun, and because the turbo-prop wasn't at 40,000, the light had that dreamy quality you'd see in a movie, where air travel is always romantic and ethereal.
The fact I was reading pulp science fiction from the 1930s (on the Kindle), probably added to that feeling -- but I hope I never get deadened to the magic of flying 20,000 feet in the air, hoping from Spring to Winter and back to Spring again in just a few hours. Sudden meetings may be drudgery, but they're made a lot more enjoyable when you see the miracles along the way.
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