I’m out of sorts. I’ve been out of sorts for much of the past three weeks, spending 15 of 20 nights apart from my wife. I was on the road traveling for much of two weeks, and now J is in Florida for a conference for six nights (coming home tomorrow!). My poor daughter has had horrible hair all week, forced to go to daycare each day with only two poorly-placed barrets in her hair . . . Can someone please offer a course for dads on how to do girl hair?
As tiring as temporary single-parenting is, this week has been a load of fun. The primary source of my out-of-sorts-ness is my car. As my three frequent readers know, I smacked into a deer two weeks ago. And the problem is this: I’m a traveling salesman. I live in my car for approximately 35,000 miles per year. I have a routine related to my car. And my routine was ruined by my run-in with Bambi.
Before you go accusing me of innane neurotic impulses, think of your routines related to your workplace. You show up to work. You turn on the computer. As it warms up, you go get your cup of coffee and check in with your office-crush down the hallway. Once you’re reminded that you have no chance with him/her, you return to your cube/office, go online, and plan your daily balance of getting work done and wasting time on the internet. Now, imagine that you have no office-crush, only decaf in the office coffee pot, and a computer with a dial-up connection. That’s what I’ve been going through since the poor deer met my fender.
In my car is everything I need for a good business trip. My prescription sunglasses have their spot in the car console, my cell phone earpiece rests on the passenger seat. I have AAA maps for the entire northeast United States in the door pocket, and detailed city/region book maps for about 8 major metropolitan areas in a crate behind the passenger seat. A rumpled box of tissues rests on top of those maps in the crate, along with a 6-page list of my customers’ contact information. The radio presets are tuned to NPR stations in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg and New York, and my satellite radio has baseball, ESPN, C-SPAN, and various music styles ready for me. In the glove box I have national directories for FedEx/Kinko’s Office Center locations and the Choice Hotel system and collection of napkins leftover from frequent fast food feasts. In a small space underneath my car radio sits an index card with the phone extension numbers of people I frequently call at corporate headquarters. In the trunck of my car you’ll find dozens of catalogs, numerous product brochures, several product samples, and a stash of surplus event supplies – from masking tape and an extension cord, to paper plates, napkins and cups.
When I rented a Buick LeSabre last week for my six day road trip, I wasn’t sure where to put my sunglasses, didn’t have a surplus supply of napkins nor a directory for Kinko’s, was short on samples, was missing a map, and otherwise didn’t know what I was doing for 6 days. Additoinally, I was surprised I didn’t need a new license to drive this boat, but at least it had satellite radio (allowing me to listen to Phillies games and Senate debates on marriage from Long Island to Hartford to Poughkeepsie).
This week I needed to take a quick business trip (with my 2 year old!) to central Pennsylvania for a product demonstration. I drove my wife’s car and survived about 7 hours (round trip) of driving without satellite radio. Can I tell you that regular radio is pretty bad? I listened to the John Tesh show on an FM station late at night in the Susquehanna Valley, and struggled to find anything without much static the next day on AM.
By tomorrow afternoon, all will be right with my world – I get my car back from the shop today, and my wife back from Florida tomorrow. I think I’ll pick her up from the airport in my car, just in case I need some napkins, maps, or a good Senate debate.