After six years of circling, I am coming in for a landing. I have flown nearly 800 flights, nearly 500,000 miles to over 150 airports around the world. And I have to say, it was not all bad! Things are about to change for me and though this leg has landed, a new exciting trip is right about to take off. In mid March I will leave my role as a healthcare consultant and join a fantastic team at a progressive hospital system with a presence across the East Coast. The ride so far has not been without bumps and delays, but it has also afforded some amazing views.I am sure what is around the corner is going to be one of the best destinations yet.
The air was already muggy and heavy when I left my apartment on the Boulevard for the Richmond airport over six years ago. It was one of those sticky mornings that was just a taste of what the rest of the day was going to be like. I do not exactly remember what I felt like, most likely tried and groggy. Old college habits were still lingering and the 4:00am alarm was closer to bedtime than breakfast in those days. What I do remember is an overwhelming sense of pride. I was 22 and on my way to Atlanta where I was starting a role occupied by people twice my age. Somewhere in Atlanta, someone must have been asleep at the wheel when they made that decision. I was also scared... to death. The Company wanted me to move to Atlanta and had gone as far as giving me a generous allowance to do so.
Three years later those early days seemed pretty green in my memory. I had engineered a way to stay in Richmond as a remote employee. I had moved up the ranks of the frequent flyer programs and had not seen a coach seat in at least a year. My weeks consisted of flying out to meet with the CIOs or Chief Nursing Officers of hospitals and working closely with their staff. I am not sure if my professional ego has ever been in check since. I was the youngest in my group by twenty years and was holding my own- as much a surprise to me as anyone. It was a good time. Meanwhile I was racking up frequent traveler perks faster than I could use them. It was nothing for Susan and I to visit Europe twice a year, always in First Class.
Now I am a senior traveler and ready to graduate. I have gleaned everything I can about the system. Flight number four digits long? Its a regional jet or code share. Want an upgrade at the hotel? Write to the general manager's assistant (it doesn't hurt to butter them up either). Looking for rental car perks? Forget it! But there was a lot of time to work between all those flights as well. Six years later I am not the green rookie I once was. In fact, I have done more in six years that many people squeeze into twice that time. I have lead teams and projects through many success, as well as some failures. There has been turbulence indeed.
No one can travel nearly half a million miles without a few bumps. The last year has been a hard one. At the risk of abusing my already tired metaphor, but if you can imagine being stranded in PHL for eight months waiting on a flight that is never going to leave, you have the general idea. It was a period I do not wish anyone to ever endure. I had an amazing support from Susan and my parents to my friends and coworkers. But when you are stranded there is only one thing you can do.
So it is, after 100 bland meals and 400 drinks in plastic cups that I am coming in for a landing. In mid-March I will start my next journey, and it's one I am looking forward to. I suppose, given time, I'll forget the flight numbers of planes I see passing over Richmond. By March of 2009 my status will be gone and I have had my super travel powers stripped to mere mortal status.
I am truly looking forward this next phase and hope to share more about it in the future. But first, this flight needs to taxi and I and I need to do something about the baggage (too much with the travel theme?, perhaps).