My job requires me to travel frequently enough for me to know that housekeeping doesn’t appreciate it when you 1) hang your suits from the sprinkler heads 2) drape wet towels over the curtain rods and 3) leave the tub filled with ice and unconscious victims of a complex black market kidney removal scheme, but not often enough for me to legitimately complain about it. Like anyone with kids though, the most difficult part of traveling for me is the separation anxiety that surfaces with each call home, with each child I see holding a father’s hand walking down the street, with each Lincoln Log jammed into the toe of my dress shoes.
There’s a line in the movie Fight club that goes, “Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo-conditioner combos, sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They’re single-serving friends.” As I tear the safety strip from my sample packaged mouthwash my “tiny life” right now is curled in his bed, sucking his thumb, threadbare dishtowel he’s had since before he could walk clutched in his hand, sleeping in the guardian shadows Van Gogh’s Starry Night and his classic King Kong and Godzilla posters. As I pilfer my seventh set of hotel shampoo-conditioner combos my “tiny life” right now is curled in his crib lulled to sleep by the ebb and flow of the cappuccino setting on the white noise maker.
As I stand at the window of my fifth floor hotel room watching the lolling ripples of the dark harbor and the empty office buildings across the water, random windows glowing they resemble elevator button panels indicating the approaching floors of my fellow single serving passengers, I’d rather be standing in the in the upstairs hallway of our house listening to the synchronized breathing of Jack and Adam, nodding my head to the nocturnal symphony of their two-piece band.
Have you ever seen those commercials in which they show the road warrior archetypal business traveler, accustomed to life on the road, habituated to a single-size lifestyle? These giants of the garment bag, these sultans of the suitcase. This is not me.
The hipster doofus falling asleep face down on the keyboard of a laptop wearing blue tooth ear piece while editing a power point presentation. This is not me. (Well, maybe the hipster doofus part.)
The road weary middle manager ironing blue oxfords while brushing his teeth and synching his laptop with his PDA. This is not me.
The career salesman in black socks and boxer shorts surviving on $9 half cans of Pringles and $14 splits of Corbet Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon from the mini bar. Closer, but still this is not me.
The guy who tries to wearily make himself a cup of coffee at 6:00 am with the single-serving size coffee maker and pours the contents of the first ½ and ½ container into the cup, but then inexplicably pours the contents of the second ½ and ½ container directly into the garbage can and drops the empty container into the cup. That’s me.
The guy who packs Listerine Whitening Pre-Rinse and Face Soap in identical single-serving size containers then proceeds to wash his face with the Listerine in the shower. That’s me.
The guy who wakes up disoriented in the confusing darkness of a strange place unable to remember where he is and why he’s there, desperate to find familiarity in the shadows ribboned across the bed, the ominous silhouettes of strange furniture or even the unrecognizable texture of the blankets he clung to during the night. That’s me.
The guy who paces the floor of his unremarkable hotel room at 2:00 in the morning holding a single piece of wood he found jammed into the toe of his dress shoes, unable to sleep counting every single minute until he returns home to his tiny life.