Business Travellers Know
Boarding at 5:35 a.m., the business traveller knows she is among her peers. She joins the calm procession of solo professionals filing onto the plane, a “shuttle.” Dressed to take meetings two hours post-landing, in a sharp collar and shiny heels, she, like her fellow-passengers, is a portrait of an earlier, more glamorous era of air travel. Except, that is, for her cell phone. Cradled between her palms for the duration of the seventy-five-minute flight, it brightens at the business traveller’s every shift, begging for attention like a Tamagotchi as she sleeps with her mouth open.
The airport staff begins to recognize the business traveller’s face. Clear ambassadors say “Welcome back” with genuine feeling as they escort her to the front of the line. Once there, her T.S.A. buddy gives her a tight-lipped smile and rolls his eyes in the direction of her boarding pass.
Often, with just a structured tote bag in tow, the business traveller is afforded an excess of space in the overhead bin above her. She knows just what to bring when commuting via plane, there and back in one day. Buses in the sky.
Ride service, airline, seat type, hotel chain, flight attendant, plane model, seatmate, in-flight snack, in-flight magazine—the business traveller has strong preferences and Vibranium-Medallion-level status.
The business traveller always knows where the gate is, traces the way in her mind. She navigates around novice travellers, with their suitcases sticking out into walkways, as they study menus at airport restaurants whose never-changing “specials” she can recite.
Simulating the routines of home, the business traveller always sets up her hotel rooms the same way. She puts her makeup bag to the left and toothbrush to the right of a round, square, or oval sink. She places the luggage rack beside the mostly too-big, occasionally too-small closet. She unplugs the alarm clock to put her cell phone on the metal, teak, or concrete nightstand. Obviously, a preferred hotel has a plethora of plugs.
Jolting upright in her hotel bed, blinded by sunshine seeping in between blackout curtains, the business traveller knows what it is to wake and wonder, Why am I wherever I am, again?
The business traveller is an expert on the locations of quiet nooks in airports. She retreats to the North Satellite of SeaTac for a latte at its shiny Starbucks. She steps into LAX’s pet-relief area for some fresh-ish air.
The business traveller asks not “What’s the weather?” but, rather, “Is there weather?” She can estimate within thirty minutes how long a “there’s some weather in San Francisco” delay will last.
With the slightly numbing tingle of complimentary Chardonnay on her lips, the business traveller careens from the Esteemed Admirals’ Oasis to the Premier Pre-Boarding Pen, nearly missing her connection to the city where her flight crew is based.
The business traveller has mastered the proper length, frequency, and combination of droid-like tones and hums to convey polite interest in any comment made by an Uber or Lyft driver. She insures a five-star passenger rating without uttering a word in any known human language.
The business traveller returns home to find the dashed ambitions and curious choices of days or weeks prior behind her refrigerator door—hopelessly wilted vegetables, leftovers of questionable origin, and exactly one spoonful of ice cream. Still, the business traveller enjoys the journey taken on her own two feet, non-stop, from the freezer to the drawer for a spoon.