Archive for February, 2010

Guilt By Association…

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I feel guilty… almost, like I was cheating on a friend. I should have checked in Friday night or, certainly, some time on Saturday: Maybe, even this morning. But, I definitely feel like I should have checked in…

What does that feel like? Well, it kind of feels like ‘playing hookie.’ (Does anyone still call it that? Has that expression been lost somehow, like so many of the other expressions I grew up with: A victim of “generational context?”). Whatever it is: it feels like you really should be somewhere else, doing something else… that you’re not!

Now, the entire weekend has gotten away from me and I feel as if I’ve been untrue somehow. Trying to rationalize it all, I know I shouldn’t feel this way. After all, it’s not like I spent the weekend in bed or sprawled out on the couch. I didn’t! I swear it!

In fact, I didn’t even get to watch the whole Super Bowl: just the first Quarter – which I watched while visiting my Mother; and, then the last two Quarters and the end of the game, at home. I was driving home while the Second Quarter – Perhaps, the best Quarter, if you are a Saints fan – was being played.

To some degree, at least: that’s the heart of the problem! I’m always running somewhere to do something: something, it seems, I absolutely must do – and, generally, for someone else and not me!

Do I have to tell you how frustrating that can be? I didn’t think so! Especially, when you start off exhausted most Friday nights. That exhaustion is almost always the result of a fifty-five or sixty hour work week: and, that’s just the hours spent at work Monday through Friday. It doesn’t count all the ‘stuff’ you have to… Or, at least, I have to do on the weekends in order to stay current. I think that’s what makes it so hard. You come home completely “torched” Friday after work and then you find yourself desperately trying to cram five quarts of everything into a one gallon container for the rest of the weekend.

The cold hard truth is; it won’t fit… At least, not without making a mess!

So, it was off to the shop Saturday morning for at least a couple of ‘quiet’ hours: productive hours. Home for some errands… Swimming at the “Y” for me!

Did I mention that I started swimming. I wanted to say: Did I mention that I started swimming again, but the fact of the matter is… what I was doing before wasn’t really swimming. It was more like not drowning than it was like swimming! Now, I’m actually trying to teach myself how to move through the water as effectively (and, gracefully) as I can while expending as little energy as possible. That means learning how to breathe as well as the other, more technical elements of swimming like proper kicking, arm movements, body position, et al. And, Saturday was the best time in the water I’ve had so far!

I didn’t get as tired as fast as I have in the past. I was able to keep my heart from exploding. I did more laps with more different strokes – I wonder if that’s where the expression came from? And, I wasn’t as sore this morning. Consequently, I’ll be there again tomorrow morning before the sun gets up!

After the pool, it was off to volunteer at an event where my wife works. And, then, out with some of the other volunteers afterward.

I know there was other stuff… But, to tell you the truth, there was so much of it I can’t remember what it was!

Today was more of the same. Only we managed to visit my mother some fifteen or twenty miles away, ran some more errands, got some more work done, watched a little football, and did some more work.

Now, I’m finally checking in again.

Outside of going to the “Y,” I can honestly say that nothing I did was for me. At least, not in the sense that it was only for me. In fact, just about everything I did was done for some other person or organization.

I’d like to make the argument that it shouldn’t be that way, but I can’t. Although, I’m not sure how much rest I really allowed myself, everything I did felt ‘right’ somehow. Everything I did, albeit, for someone or something else – needed to be done. So, I guess it’s a good kind of exhaustion: the kind that helps heal the world… And, that really does make it OK. At least, it does for me.

And, if I am guilty of trying to do too much, it’s a kind of guilt by association, I suppose. Guilty of doing too much of the right kind of things, things that really do need to get done… And, guilty of associating with the right kind of people, the kind of people who do the right kinds of things because they are the right things to do.

Now, it’s off to bed… and, finally, some rest!

ARRRRGGGGGHHHH!

Written by mitch. Posted in Uncategorized

I hate to keep whining about traveling, but it’s been a while since I’ve found myself a prisoner of the airlines; my time and my life in the hands of a TSA agent who decided I appear to be more of a menace than the scowling, beady-eyed Mullah with no visible body hair going through the line just ahead of me. Maybe, I’ve lost it… Maybe, the blessed interval in between flying fifty to a hundred thousand miles a year and the more than a year and a half I took off was enough to dull the pain and allow the horrid memories to evaporate. But, it just seemed harder somehow this last trip.
Maybe, it was the early morning flight: one leaving, and this morning’s absurdly early flight home (Yes, I was the one who made the reservations so I really don’t have anyone else to blame.). Or, it could have been the different nature of the engagements altogether. Who knows…
Normally, I fly on Fridays to present a six or seven hour seminar on Saturday (during the day), have dinner and then head home early Sunday morning. I know – I spend more time on the road, at the airport and in the air than wherever it is I’m working and for the most part, I was OK with that. It was the compromise I decided I could live with between helping other shop owners avoid the same mistakes I’ve made over all these many years and “sticking close to the knitting” with regard to my own automotive service business. And, for a very long time it proved to be a good model.
This time I flew out early Monday morning to be in the Greater Philadelphia area for an hour-long presentation Tuesday evening; repeated again the following night, a couple of hours down (Or, was it ‘up?’) the Interstate, in another community; followed by a long drive to the airport; and, a ‘first flight’ out this morning.
Normally, I wouldn’t complain. Especially, since both presentations were received very well by capacity crowds of shop owners who were dialed in and right there with me both nights! I was happy… REALLY happy! My host was happy… The shop owners seemed happy… Everyone was happy…
But, right now, I’m sitting here at forty thousand feet, traveling at over five hundred miles an hour, wondering why I did it and whether or not I should even consider doing it again.
It could have been all the “stuff” I left on my desk in the rush to get out Monday morning, like the laptop’s charger and the USB tether for my Blackberry that I found myself searching for frantically Tuesday morning. All of which I had to replace almost instantly (Let’s hear it for the Best Buy just down the road from the hotel!)!
That was the bad news. The good news is that after purchasing a universal assortment of each accessory I can now charge any… And, I mean any… laptop computer made by any manufacturer in the known universe and connect to and transfer data to or from any phone or PDA made today – If we’re traveling together the next time you’re out and you need either, just let me know!
It could have been finding the only Starbucks I have ever patronized that DIDN’T have WiFi available and then struggling to find a location that did.
It could have been the long drive back to the airport hotel, followed by a mid-night treasure hunt for someplace to purchase fuel Wednesday night instead of frantically searching for a gas station at 0:Dark:Thirty in the morning (translate 0:Dark:Thirty as in before 5:00 A.M.) which somehow led me to the Sports Complex five times no matter where I went or where I tried to go!
After this experience I can tell you one thing for certain: there isn’t a hell of a lot going on at the Sports Complex at mid-night!
It could have been getting pulled out of the security line… again!
Whatever it was, it has gotten harder. It is more difficult. And, it isn’t as ‘pleasant:’ if pleasant is a term you could ever use to describe business travel, as it once was.
Nevertheless, despite all my bitching and moaning, I probably will do it again – maybe, not as much. And, maybe, not as often – but, I will find myself headed to the airport too early or coming home too late, or going back to work at the shop too tired, from a trip very much like this one because I love the teaching/sharing/interacting part of what I do. I love the shop owners I do it for as well. They are a very special group: another ‘endangered species’ on the verge of extinction that has no idea how much trouble they are in or the dangers they are facing.
What I really love and appreciate are the companies that host presentations like these regardless of who the presenters might be or what they might be presenting. They take profit dollars out of their own pocket to ensure their customers get the education and training they need even when those very same customers don’t necessarily understand how important it is or much they need it.   
I’ll probably do it again because I’m addicted to the sparkling moment of awareness that occurs every so often: the light that goes on in the eyes of someone sitting three rows in front of you on the right. Or, the guy on the left in the back that is struggling to get every word down on paper because he knows that there is something in there that has the potential to change his life. Or, the shop owner and his thirteen-year-old daughter who is desperately trying to figure out how to get the help he needs before he burns out, implodes or self-destructs.
How can you not go out when you feel you have something to offer?
Despite all the pain and inconvenience, I wouldn’t believe me if I said this was the last time. I know my wife won’t. 
So, I guess the real question is why should anyone else believe me?