Frequent traveller: Home sweet homeBack to Forum
Anonymous25 Aug 2011
In which our correspondent realises life on the road has not turned him into a domestic god…
Much has been written about the trials of life on the road – the missed flights, late nights, lost bags, jet lag, uncredited frequent flyer miles and eating room service alone. There’s a lot to moan about, and I’m not a stoic when it comes to discomfort, either physical or mental.
Business travel is a job like any other and, although I’m not fond of the American “road warrior” term, it sums up a little of the mentality that can help you through the tough times. You learn protective strategies – we all have them. Tender-hearted types don’t belong out there. Their place is at home, where things are so much easier. Or so I thought.
Recently, I had cause to spend four days at the family home on my own. No marital discord – the opposite, in fact. Mrs Discord wasn’t there. It was half-term, the chance for the children and wife to visit her parents, and the chance for me not to. I had another trip taking place only four days later, which was excuse enough. How bad could it be? I’m away from my loved ones for half the year, so a few days more isn’t going to make much difference. Besides, I figured I could catch up on my sleep, wash the necessaries, do a little ironing, work my way through all the recorded programmes on Sky Plus and then be ready for the next trip out.
The melancholy of returning to an empty house at dawn after another long-haul trip to Asia was jolted by the wrestle I had to open the front door, three days’ unsolicited post jammed beneath it. Still, the place was spotless. I had a dozen jobs to do, such as answering emails, taking some shoes to be re-soled and even a little light gardening.
Then, as planned, a quiet evening in with a takeaway (no food in the fridge), bottle of wine, TV and bed. The next morning, I went for a run, shower, out to meet friends, back, more jobs, another takeaway, early to bed for a long sleep (no children waking me up) then off to work. I didn’t get back until late that night after drinks with colleagues.
It was on the final day I noticed that, appropriately enough, given my job, I was living in a traveller’s encampment. Returning from work, the front door this time took five minutes of wrestling to open, the bills and flyers tangled up with the muddy training shoes I had kicked off at the weekend. The kitchen still had nothing edible in it, but also no clean surfaces, and as I didn’t know where the bin bags were, I couldn’t throw away the empty boxes. I went into the living room to flick on the TV, only to find the screen obscured by the ironing board still standing in the middle of the room.
Upstairs, why hadn’t anyone turned down my bed, left me a chocolate or hung up the towels from the previous night? Why weren’t my toiletries laid out on a clean face flannel by the side of the bathroom sink? I’ve been through this before, of course, but only when I have accidentally left the “do not disturb” sign on my hotel room door all day. I must admit it – I was despondent. There wasn’t even a Gideon’s Bible by the bedside from which to draw comfort.
And to whom could I turn for help? No one obvious came to mind. We have phones in our house, but not the sort that call through to reception, and the wife would be full of scorn (pretty understandably, I grant you) if I called her for sympathy.
As the light bulb above my head sputtered and died (and no, I didn’t know where the spares were), I reframed the sort of questions that often come to me in hotels. Why is there never room service when you want it most? Why do general managers absent themselves when you are having problems? Why was I paying all this money for such a lousy stay? The house isn’t cheap to run, you know. Add up the mortgage payments and the average room rate per night when calculated per diem from a per annum basis makes a lot of five-star hotels look cheap.
And still the problems stacked up. Why wouldn’t the washing machine door open? Where was the little jug for filling up the iron? Where were the toilet rolls? I began to wonder what would happen if I accidentally locked myself out of the house – I was always doing it in hotels but it never seemed to matter.
Looking at the house, knowing I had to leave the next morning, I realised it would take me hours to tidy. I did it because I enjoy being married, but never again (not much of a new man after all, I realise). The next time I’m due home and the family are away, I’m going to check into a hotel down the road. It’s easier for everyone.25 Aug 2011
I drive the other half nuts when I come home! No matter how long or how bad the flight then the 3 hour drive home I start my routine..
Unpack, sort out my washing, put my gadgets on charge, do an email run, startt doing the odd jobs that need doing. She sees it as a way of me coming back to normality after weeks of being pampered and my own personal bit of OCD. I just think I am weired26 Aug 2011
I usually get hit when I put the “please make up the room” sign on the bedroom door at home!
As for leaving the towels in the bath – last time my bag was repacked and I was shown the door.
There are of course other advantages of being at home…………:)26 Aug 2011
I remember one night she who must be obeyed was “on one” as they say. I had an early morning flight to HK and really wasnt in teh mood for another rant, so when she threw my bag at me and said go stay in a hotel, well, instead of the usual 1 hour of yes I am a pig blah blah I just said fine!, grabbed the bags, jumped in the car and headed to my local fleapit..at £100 a night!.
next day was talking to my daughter and she said…dad..you could have slept on my couch…for 50 quid. Bless, i have have tought her the value of money well 🙂26 Aug 2011