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7:22 p.m. - 2002-01-27

BUSINESS TRIPS ARE NOT VACATIONS

Greetings from Eugene, Oregon.

You know...I've got one thing to say ... business trips are NOT vacations.

That's the mistake I made when I planned out this business trip.

Y'see ... I thought flying 13 hours to the other side of the country was going to be a rip roaring great time, full of mystique and ... hmmmm ... whatever is something like "mystique".

Mystery?

Is that anything like mystique?

Anyway ... lemme tell ya ... it SUCKS, Pancho.

I had a long, tiring day of flying across the country yesterday, which I have documented in what the literary world now refers to as "The Uncle Bob Cross Country Diaries". These diaries have yet to be published, because I haven't gotten around to finishing them.

But I'll spoil the ending for you.

I had a mini breakdown last night.

After flying all day and arriving in Eugene at 1 a.m., I became the last person to leave the airport. Literally, the last customer in the joint to leave. Lights were being turned off as I exited. Everyone else had gone home.

The last one to leave.

It's snowing outside. It's cold. I'm not really dressed for the cold weather. My bags are heavy, I'm freezing, the wind is howling, there's nobody around.

...And I can't find my freakin' car.

I am practically walking down the runways of the airport, trying to find my car. I'm so damned tired I'd throw my bags on the ground and take a nap right there if I knew I wouldn't freeze into a Bobsicle.

Finally, after ten minutes of stumbling around in this storm, I find my little Ford Focus station wagon. I open the door and the stale cigarette smoke does its best to slide me some second hand lung cancer. I put the key in the ignition and am blasted out of my seat by some speed metal music whose lyrics are bragging about having Satan perform oral sex on the lead singer. I make a mental note to pick up the CD while in this fair city.

I start my drive to the hotel. The girl at the rental car center (moments before hauling ass out of the airport before my bags were picked up) gave me some directions on how to get to my hotel, using the words "left" and "right" about 300 times apiece.

If you've never driven from the Eugene airport into the city at 1:45 a.m. on a Saturday night on a snowy, winter's night ... buddy...THANK YOUR G-DAMNED LUCKY STARS!!

It is by FAR the most depressing sight imaginable. Unless you find farming equipment businesses exciting. If that's the case, you'd have an f'n field day making the jaunt.

I got lost.

Then I got lost some more.

Then I thought I'd gone too far, turned around and drove three miles before realizing I hadn't driven far enough.

I arrived at my hotel at 2:15 a.m.

The hotel has those nifty little electronic locks that use a credit card-like "key" to enter with.

You know...those keys that NEVER EVER EVER let you in your room at 2:30 a.m. after being up for 24 hours and being cranky and depressed and tired.

Yeah...THOSE keys...

So I get in the room. It's a nice room.

I unpack my clothes and put everything away neatly.

I hook up the computer and it stays online for about 0.3 seconds before crashing like Robert Downey Jr. with five bucks in his pocket.

I turn on the TV. Nothing of interest on.

And I start realizing ... this is my life for the next week.

And then I did something really stupid. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have never done it.

I looked at pics of my boy on the computer. All 130 of them.

And I cried.

And I cried.

And then my nose got all stuffed up and I thought "This is so goddamned stupid. I'm crying because I'm away from my wife and my son for six days and now I can't fucking breathe because I can't stop crying."

So I shut off the computer and crawled back into bed.

And I made a promise to myself. On my next business trip, I will squeeze as many damned appointments as possible into as few days as possible.

Because when you love your wife and son as much as I do, when they mean everything to you like mine do, you do NOT want to be away from them for more than eight hours at a time.

I realize that now.

And I'd give anything in this great green world to hear my son's cries at 4:30 tomorrow morning.

I thought this would be a vacation from all that.

And now I realize that was the furthest thing from the truth.

It's true ... you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

Even when it's only temporary.

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