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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

November 15, 2009

Recently I made a business trip to Washington, D.C. On this trip I drove to the airport, flew on a plane, took a train and a taxi. Just to get to the office. I know that many people do this, probably on a daily basis. For me though, this is not a normal routine. My routine, now that I’ve thought about it is very isolated. I get my kids ready for school and walk one to the bus, then I either work from my home office or I travel to work in my car. I may meet a few people on the walk to work and perhaps have some interaction with co-workers or with business colleagues. After my trip to D.C. I realized how little time I spend with masses of un-known people.
On the plane I met a couple from Vermont who were traveling to Florida for a mini-vacation. We found out that the husband and I are related to Grandma Moses. On the train I sat next to a woman who worked with Native American’s. She was beautiful and kind, her name was Irina. On the bus I saw a man in his business suit, who I then saw again while waiting for a taxi. On my way to the taxi stand I spotted a poor soul struggling with his pants, as he urinated on a nearby statue. The taxi driver has lived in D.C. for nearly 20 years. On my way to the hotel, I then took a subway and stood between several people all seeming to avoid eye contact. I walked about 6 blocks to the hotel and passed at least a hundred people, jogging, walking, walking their dogs, listening to their i-pods, talking on the phone, doing something. I looked at their faces and wondered where were they were going, what were they thinking? At the restaurant, as I sat by myself at a table in the middle of the room surrounded by others eating and talking. I couldn’t help but to eavesdrop on their conversations. Trouble at work, family discussions, a trip planned to the Bahamas. All talking, mingling. On my way home I took another taxi, then the train, then a shuttle bus. On the shuttle bus I stood squished between 4 men, with every bump and turn I found myself placing a hand on a shoulder (apologizing) or bracing myself on a leg. So personal, yet so impersonal. We step out and go on to our lives, our next destination.

On the plane ride back home, I sat next to a woman who talked the entire way (yes, I’m sure I talked too) I enjoy talking and listening to people on plane rides, it takes my mind off the fact that we are flying in the air. This woman, who’s name was Michal, lived in Virginia but also lived in Vermont for many years, she actually knew one of the business associates I know. And we had a connection to Rachel Ray. She was on her way to Vermont to help her daughter spread some ashes of their baby who died pre-maturely. She was very direct about it but eventually I saw her tears.

I never knew how isolated I was before until I took this short trip, only 2 days. And that’s okay. Because as I found myself traveling with strangers I wanted more than anything to be home with my family.

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