Living on the road - Travelling for work


#1

I currently have a job that keeps me on the road a lot - and I mean a lot. I usually call it “weeks at a time for months at a time”. I’ve been living in hotels since April, only able to return home every other weekend, with an occasional full week at home. Fortunately, I travel to the same town for several months at a time, not a new city every time. After spending all summer/fall in Brampton, Ontario (3 hours from home), I now expect to spend most of winter/spring in Belvidere, Illinois (6 hours from home).

Before this job started to involve intense travel, I had been very active in my parish, mostly with the youth ministry program. However, because my time at home is so limited, I find it impossible to help as I had before. On the other hand, because I go home every other weekend (and because my boss doesn’t really provide a long term forecast of where I’ll be), I find my time in the new town so fragmented that I’m not sure how to participate in anything besides Sunday masses.

Coworkers like to point out “At least you’re single and don’t have kids!” but I usually have to reply that my situation basically isolates me from having a serious relationship, much less forming a family. The diversions that most of my coworkers enjoy most - drinking and televised sports - don’t appeal to me. Sightseeing and sampling local restaurants loses it’s appeal quickly. Movies, TV, and websurfing get monotonous. Working out at the gym isn’t my bag. I’m not a very outgoing person, so I don’t find it easy to meet locals.

One thing I do recognize out of all of this is that the best thing to come of this situation has been that I really recognize and cherish the value of time. I still absolutely treasure even the limited time I get with friends and family at home.

Does anyone have any advice on how (as a Catholic, of course) to adapt to a situation like this?


#2

Yes.

Let others adapt to you, rather you trying to adapt.

I’m in the opposite situation. I lost a good job as senior engineer in Bell Labs, and am now “disabled” mentally and unemployed. I have taken this time to perfect the relationships between the members of the family on a four year “forced sabbatical.” Now, strangely, I feel the home is now “secure” so that I can go out and leave them … after bankruptcy, house fire, murders next door, etc … and go forth to do my vocation whatever it may become.

I envy those parts about time management that you briefly mentioned. It seems to me not that you have to adapt yourself, but allow the situation to adapt you to itself. That way you can go with the flow.

What I found it there is a huge difference between thinking about what the future may be, and having expectations of it. Go into every plan fully expecting it may fail, and then it doesn’t have to in order to “prove” that you can’t double-dog-dare the Holy Spirit and predict the future.

Alan


#3

find someway to give order and structure to your days and weeks, since they are so disrupted in other ways. LOTH is perfect for this, and when done faithfully consecrates your workdays, and helps you feel part of something larger, no matter where you are.

since you spend time in the same area, find out about churches there and the possibility of daily Mass, so you can “adopt a parish” in your temp homes. Perhaps they might have a weeknight bible study or other group you could attend when you are in town

the big dangers in travelling for work are to your health, overeating or eating wrong and lack of excersise, attend to that as well.

also recall that by you undertaking this job, a married person is freed to stay closer to their family. this is a real challenge for anyone but especially a parent, we lived through this scenario for years with DH’s job.


#4

You just reminded me of Harry Chapin, the singer/songwriter who singularly among “pop” singers, stole my own father’s heart.

He sang a lot about family and teacher relationships, and often left it ambiguous whether he himself was happily married unless you went to his concerts and watched tv about him after he was killed.

Harry, anyway, was known for being available to the crowd selling “Harry, It Sucks” t-shirts (at first he disagreed with marketing folks but this is a joke about his song “30,000 pounds of bananas”) which said on the back, “every year is world hunger year.” He was an amazing weapon such that congressmen actually used him as a weapon to pass social legislation – “I’m going to get Harry on your case.”

Anyway, I found out that Harry had one thing I didn’t know about until after he died. During breaks or when he was offstage with his brother or others on stage, he would call his wife. He called her before and after each trip, and he called her during breaks if only to hear her voice before performing the next set. This was before cell phones, too.

I was truly impressed with Harry, and still am with his works. Those who may have heard of his songs, he is famous for such songs as “Taxi,” “Cat’s in the Cradle,” and many more.

Alan


#5

Thank you both for your advice.

I had thought about doing either the Hours or daily Mass, but I have never been very good about keeping daily scheduled events (particularly mornings! All the local daily masses are in the morning). Perhaps that is something I should develop, though. In any case, I have been checking out bulletins at some of the local churches, looking particularly for young adult ministries and evanglization groups.

As far as letting others adapt instead of me adapting… I’m not sure exactly what you meant by this, Alan. If you meant not letting the situation or the people around me to change me, I really don’t, at least in as much as I try to be faithful to God and the church. On the other hand, I also am trying to be very open to letting the situation change me, in that I want to be open to the Holy Spirit moving me in directions I wouldn’t have thought to push myself. However, simply going with the flow hasn’t really worked for me out here, since I really don’t feel the flow in this environment, which I am not yet a part of. All that I am absolutely sure of is that God is faithful and he wouldn’t have allowed me to be in this situation without giving me a way to live faithfully in it.

[quote=puzzleannie]also recall that by you undertaking this job, a married person is freed to stay closer to their family. this is a real challenge for anyone but especially a parent, we lived through this scenario for years with DH’s job.
[/quote]

This is actually the only reason I seriously haven’t gone to my boss and begged or demanded more time at home. The other two of my coworkers on this project are both married with children (one with a new-born and the other with a bit of a rocky marriage), so part of me knows that as long as I keep this job, my suffering in my separation from my friends and family is to be offered to God to help them with their families.


#6

I used to travel a lot (for weeks and months at a time) in a previous job when I was single. My colleagues were mostly male, considerably older, and married. Many drank pretty heavily. I would go out to dinner with the team I was traveling with but never went to a bar with them afterward. Instead, I would return to my hotel room and read. (I was a very naive, strait-laced Catholic girl and never believed the rumors about colleagues that I later learned were quite true. But I saw no evil, because I avoided situations in which I would face it.)

My advice is to use your time productively. Get caught up on on a project that you can transport easily, write letters (or e-mail), learn or re-fresh a foreign language using CDs or books, research or plan a project. Also, make it a point to learn as much as you can in your free time about the place you are working. Get to know the history and the local sites of interest. Expand your mind with the time you have free. Getting out also has the advantage of meeting others. Several of my colleagues met their spouses when they were working out of town.


#7

This is an excellent way to describe your dilemma, as I can see exactly what you are conveying.

I have recently become converted in mind, and am taking a bit to adjust; my so-called mental illness makes a good cover for the transition. Then again, I always did like to take short cuts whenever I noticed them. I actually am being tested by some neurobiologists and others to find out what I am experiencing, because I was tested a few days ago as a psychic and found that I can do psychic stuff but really find it pathetically boring and cheap, so I’ve already turned down an offer to be a psychic counselor because I want to just be a normal person and raise my family and go to Church and play my music there.

The problem I find is that when you “try” to do something – including being moved by the Holy Spirit – that has a couple of effects that aren’t always expected. First, it is a test. When you “try” to do something, you set yourself up to test whether you will pass or fail. This also presents, mentally anyway, a subtle “double dog dare” for the universe to stop you because if you “try” to do something, rather than “just doing it” that presupposes a chance of failure.

Once I began to experience the transition, any attempt at doing anything against my immediate urges was difficult and practically ready to fail. It was even maddening at times, as everything I tried to do was blocked.

How do you flow into the future without predicting it or forcing it? For me it was thought exercises of letting my mind go places it’s always wanted but I’ve contained it because I was told not to think certain things, such as when I was in the mental ward and had a vision of how to work for the Kingdom, I was told I “must not” speak of it.

Of course, I took that as a double-dog dare to gain credibility. I can now say with certainty that I and several others have entered the Kingdom, and done so without taking away anything from Catholic teachings. One key here is that when Christ said do not believe someone who tries to point Him out, then He neither said everyone would see Him at the same time, nor that we cannot convey experientally.

I think a better way to describe was to let the situation mold you so that you are confident about it. Many seem to find that applying various cliches and metaphors to the past is a good way to deal with it, trying to figure out how it was good that it happened. That makes the present so easy that unless we fight it, assimilation is assured and resistance is futile.

Alan


#8

Boy, does this sound familiar!!!

One year I did my Christmas cards between Karachi and Frankfurt. Tried to get the flight attendants to mail them for me (I put U.S. stamps on the envelopes), but they declined… they were turning around in London instead of continuing on to NY. So I stopped at a U.S. Embassy somewhere and mailed them there.

My working associates and I set up a “travel library” and we would probably average a book a day each. By lending the books around, it cut the cost a lot. By walking a lot I found a lot of local bookstores (every country has book fanatics). *

Also bought one of those worldwide travel guides… 5 pages for each country… Did those things that confer “bragging rights”… Went to the Raffles Hotel and had a Singapore Sling, for example. Or to the Tallahassee restaurant favored by “lobbyists” just to say I had been there. Rented a small plane and flew over Niagara Falls and took pictures. Worth a raised eyebrow over coffee back at the home office.

Might as well have something to show for all that travel!

All that alternative cultural exposure also gives you a totally different “world view” and different “project orientation” from people who don’t travel.

;^)*


#9

Reading ReginaNova’s post brought back memories…. Years ago on one of my first trips for a new company, one of my co-workers (a Catholic one at that), spent some time and effort in trying to drag me to an “adult dancing” establishment under the mistaken because it was somehow humorous to try and drag someone with no interest in that kind of **** into one of those joints.

Usually when I travel, I check out Masstimes (Masstimes ) before I leave so that I know before I leave where I can attend Mass at. I agree with Al Masetti (and others) advice; I try to spend any “downtime” I can get on reading or personal projects. A PDA or PDA/Phone works great for this, since you can get a pretty good (and cheap) collection of books to read anywhere without lugging an extra 10lbs of dead tree with you :smiley: .


#10

I read your post out loud to my husband, since it sounds very much like what he’s describe his work life to be prior to getting laid off right before he met me.

When I asked him, "Well, what would you tell this person? How can he adjust?"
He said, “Tell him to find a new job.” (That’s why I love him: short & sweet, straight to the point! :slight_smile: ) You’re right: there’s really no way to be actively involved in either parish (home or visiting) unless it’s something that doesn’t require your actual presence (e.g., working on the parish website.)

He did say that the consulting industry’s standard is for home every weekend, however, not every other, as you mentioned. Just in case you were being pressured on this point.

By the way…we met through Ave Maria Singles (www.avemariasingles.com), as I already mentioned, about a month after he had been laid off from his travel job. If you’re hoping for a spouse, there’s one idea for a way to be pro-active about it while you’re on the road.


#11

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