Life Choices of a Road Warrior
Running full-tilt through the airport, bags swinging, water bottle leaking, searching for the gate with only minutes to spare, I slide into line as the last couple of passengers are passing through the door (rendering my ‘elite status’ and early boarding privileges completely moot!). Sweating and tired, I slide into my seat, only to find that the overhead light doesn’t work. The pilot forewarns us of a bumpy ride with no beverage service…
Sitting in the little boardroom, crammed with awards and prototypes, I wait for Tom to arrive. I think back to our first meeting, when he was surly, nervous and certain that I was just another consultant there to take his money and expose his faults. The door bursts open, I stand up and Tom shouts a big hello. He pushes my outstretched hand aside for a bear-hug. “We did it! With your help, we did it! We now have a great team and I have a future. God, I am so glad you knocked on my door!”
The rain is hitting my windshield so hard that it feels like it will crack. I savor the moments when I drive through an underpass, for the millisecond of relief from the pounding noise. Up since dawn, gulping quickly cooling coffee and hoping that the 4-hour drive into the whop-whops of the deep south will produce more than just rain, I scan the horizon for something other than a cheap burger joint and a clean bathroom.
Handsome, clean-shaven and perfectly dressed, he rubs his hands across his young and still unlined face. With shining eyes and tears just waiting for permission to form, he leans forward. “There is no way that I would be in this place in my life if it hadn’t been for you. Thank you.”
Sitting on a bus, on a tarmac, the time ticks by, assuring me that there is no way that I will make my connection and I didn’t bring enough underwear or toothpaste to last past this day. The rivulets of rain are inching down my back and I see that the contents of my briefcase didn’t escape the shower that covered us as we ran from the terminal to the bus and soon, I hope, to the plane. I’ll miss the family dinner tonight, the chance to sleep in my own bed for the first time in a week and the trip to the vet in the morning.
She looks up, hopeful and smiling. “I didn’t think we’d be able to make this work. I never thought my brother and I would be on the same page. You taught us how to talk… to listen and to learn. You changed our life.”
I climbed on the bus, heading to the rental car facility, juggling a heavy bag, and a small grocery sack with a smashed sandwich and browning banana. People pile in, until every inch of standing room is full and the combination of hot weather and close bodies creates a noxious brew. Next to me sits a burly man in a checkered sport coat with a wide, bright smile and a booming voice. “Long day?” “Yep”. He asks what I do and while fishing out my sandwich, I try to explain. “A consultant eh!? Wow, you just gotta love the money!” Giving up on my sandwich, I stuff it back into the sodden little bag…I look at him for a moment and think I might try to explain, but instead, I quietly say, “Yeah, sure, it’s about the money.” I look out the window. Some things just don’t lend themselves to words.