From the hotel’s safety instructions.
From the hotel’s safety instructions.
Even though I really like visiting other places, and I enjoy meeting up with colleagues from different posts, and it’s fun to be in a new environment, business travel is a different experience from leisure travel.
I my previous career in academia, I traveled a lot for work. Academic conferences are held in different places around the country, so I went to a lot of big and small cities around America (and a couple of times in Canada). But when I was there, I usually saw the inside of hotel conference rooms more than the local sites. I’ve been to most US states, but have probably missed out on what each state has to offer. Business travel is for business, not pleasure.
My recent trip to Thailand was an eye-opener. I spent four days in Bangkok, and this was about all of the city that I saw:
Don’t misunderstand: the trip was valuable. I learned a lot. The government got very good value for the cost of sending me in the trip. The trip was great for me, professionally. In addition to exchanges with colleagues about our respective experiences and activities at posts, we got some valuable guidance from higher up the hierarchy.
Personally, though, it was disappointing. We spent a lot of time in a dark conference room looking at a screen:
Not only did I not have time to enjoy the city, but I had to leave a little early in order to get back to Vietnam and prepare for my next trip.
This is not the right way to live. If I’m going to have to put up with the nonsense and inconvenience of travel, I should take some time on one side or the other of the trip, and do some touristy stuff.
So here’s my resolution: from now on, I’m going to carve out some time for myself every time I travel for business. I’ll pay for my own hotel room, pay the additional air fare as needed. Since I’ve endured the journey, I might as well get some enjoyment out of it. Life’s too short. It’s time to mix in some pleasure to the business. I did that a few times in the past. My wife and I enjoyed a great afternoon scootering around British Columbia while there for a conference several years ago. I’m going to try to do something like that on every trip from now on.
“I don’t really care if you cry”
Whiskey and books.
“Chief of Child Department”
There is a new Shingles vaccine, that is recommended for people who are over 50 years old (ahem). The health unit at post HIGHLY recommended the shot to those of us who have reached that milestone. So last Wednesday, we were all scheduled for the shot.
My first warning sign should have been when the nurse told me I had to wait in the office for 15 minutes after getting the shot. Actually there was an earlier warning sign. Getting the shot HURT. I’m a wimp when it comes to needles, but I’ve developed some coping strategies. Still, that stuff was really painful when it went in. It’s been four days now, and my arm is still sore.
Some people get dizzy right after getting the shot, the nurse said, and some people faint. That’s why we have to wait in the office after, so the nurse can monitor our condition. I didn’t feel anything right away, so she let me go back to work.
About 30 minutes later, when I was back in the consular section, interviewing visa applicants, the dizziness hit me hard. I couldn’t focus, and felt a little fuzzy mentally. I felt that in that condition, deciding if a person could enter the United States would be counter to our nation’s national security interests, so I took myself off the line and sat down. About an hour later, I was back to normal.
Later that night, the fever and ache kicked in. It felt like I was coming down with the flu. I went to bed as early as I could, hoping to sleep it off. The next morning, I woke up with a splitting headache, stuffy nose, and aches. I called in sick (I hate to do that) and rested up.
This was the worst side-effect of an immunization that I’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately, that was only one of a series of two shots that are required for the vaccine to be effective. So another round of this torture is waiting for me in two months.
I feel justified in making this demand of the universe: this vaccine had better work! If after enduring this, I still get Shingles, I will be entitled to a refund for the pain and suffering. I will demand that the universe refund those two days to me.
At the very least, I will be entitled to a popsicle.
And of course, because it’s me, this happened at the beginning of the work day, not at the end. A quick trip to the men’s room with a stapler patched me up so I could get through the day.
Good thing I was wearing black underwear today, and not tighty-whities.
I’ve heard a lot about the great tailors in Vietnam. Maybe this was the universe’s way of suggesting that I visit one of them.