So that title up there, “The Cost of Constant Traveling,” is inspired from a song by a singer/songwriter I’m currently obsessed with named Chris Trapper. It’s been playing nearly constantly on my ipod but I was initially drawn to it by its title alone. Being on the road is a subject that Chris often writes about and there is probably no subject I know better than being On The Road.
I love that phrase: the cost of constant traveling. I know it intimately. The song makes me feel less alone about the pain of being On The Road. There are other people out there, silently suffering the Cost of Constant Traveling.
Silently indeed. These past few years On The Road have robbed me of my extroverted-ness… I’m almost positive of it. Years and years ago, I’d jump at the chance to talk to a stranger. In the line at the grocery store, I’d keep my head up, ready and willing to make eye contact with whomever was around me, hoping to chat about the weather or the awesome sale price on bell peppers or to playfully commiserate about check-writers. When I was on an airplane, most likely going home to visit my family, because really, that was the only travel I did, I’d be all about chatting with my seatmates discussing jobs and homelife and where we went to school once upon a time. In elevators, I’d look at my fellow ascenders (or descenders) and smile and comment on the wonderful service at the hotel reception desk.
Not now. I realized that in the past few years, my willingness to reach out to strangers and make personal connections, however deep or shallow, is almost gone. I think that’s what living in airports, rental cars and hotels will do to you. Or, at least, that’s what it’s done to me.
People who don’t quite “get” social networking often say to me, “I just don’t know how you have the time to be on twitter or facebook! I certainly don’t!”
It’s easy. You can find the time when you’re in an elevator with a matronly woman, her Vera Bradley slung over her shoulder and a grandmotherly smile plastered on her face. In my experience On The Road, I’ve learned this is exactly the type of woman who will strike up a convo in nearly any setting and when you’re the only other person in a painfully slooooow elevator, you are going to have to talk about mundane shit….. unless you have a pissed off look on your face and are staring at your iPhone as if the world’s very existence is dependent on your attention to your smartphone and looking away for even a second will result in the deaths of millions of kittens and boy scouts. She doesn’t know that you’re actually just checking your twitter feed for the twenty-seventh time that day, not even reading any new updates really cause you just checked it sixty seconds ago while waiting for the elevator, all in an effort to avoid conversing with a stranger. To her, you’re some sort of high powered executive doing a Very Important Job and it would be terrible to disturb, so she just keeps smiling. Smiling. SMILING until the elevator finally reaches the ninth floor and she gets out, confused about which way to turn to find her hotel room while the doors close and you release a quiet sigh as you put your phone back in your purse, proud that you successfully avoided The Strangers once again.
This is my life On The Road. My cost of constant traveling. This is me on the airplanes and in the lines at the airport and alone at the hotel bars. Doing anything to avoid human interaction. Put a screwed up, pissed-off grimace on your face and a smartphone in your hand and you’re suddenly invisible. It kind of makes me sad, though, that I do this. I haven’t always been that person. I used to be friendly, willing to make new friends and meet new people. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to meet new people. I just want to be with the people I already have at home but I can’t be because this is my job. To be On The Road.
My friendly disposition… It’s the cost of constant traveling.