The month isn’t over yet the events of the past few weeks already make this a memorable year. My contract with a large insurance company that shall not be named ended. I was with the client for nearly ten years. When I tell people I’ve contracted with a single client for ten years mouths drop open. In the gig economy this is about as rare as rare gets. Who contracts with a single client for ten years? Friday January 10th was my last day. Two days later I was in Lynchburg Virginia. Sometimes life moves quickly. When you get to the same stage and age in life as me you’ll come to appreciate the memories more and more with each passing year. But this trip was special and I want to capture and share these memories before they fade away. For me every day is another opportunity to learn something. Here’s what I learned from five days in Lynchburg.
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Mark Twain
It’s Nice to Get Out of the House
I’ve been working from home since 2006. Seriously, I don’t get out much and when I do I try to practice my social skills. Working alone at home, or being face down in your smartphone (which makes you dumb), or severe anxiety where you need your benzos, all can erode what little you have left of social interaction skills. The Boss knows this all too well. The last business trip was over 2.5 years ago and placing me in a situation where I have to interact with others can be dicey.
“Be professional. Don’t be yourself.”
“The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.”
The Boss knows at the minimum I’ll try to behave. Hopefully I passed the audition.
Staying in a Nice Hotel and Eating Out is Pretty Awesome
I had an excellent stay at the Virginian. The hotel was a block away from my new client’s office and the room was stocked with bottled water from local springs and a Keurig coffee maker. I did what I always do when I arrive in a hotel room with a coffee maker. I check the coffee supply for correctness. As I suspected the K-cup selection was all wrong. I had four servings of DECAF. I immediately went down to the front desk with the K-cups in hand.
“Mr. Lee, is there a problem?”
I handed the coffee to the front desk employee and stated in a low firm voice,
“This is so wrong.”
The very nice young woman at the front desk agreed and allowed me to exchange my four K-cups of DECAF to the real caffeinated kind. I also left a note next to the brewer for housekeeping to restock with only real coffee NO DECAF. The rest of my stay went quite well. The room was comfortable, quiet, and I had plenty of coffee.
Eating Restaurant Food Causes Obesity
I arrived in Lynchburg late on a Sunday evening and the only food available at the hotel was at the rooftop bar. There was local craft beer on tap. I ate there three times during my stay. When you work from home you eat a lot of leftovers. Some days you eat leftover leftovers. By the time Saturday rolls around you simply have to go out to eat. Taking all of my meals outside of the house this week was awesome despite needing to loosen my belt a notch by Wednesday. The team treated me to dinner at The Depot Grille, a renovated old train stop that had nice local craft beer on tap. Before I left town I was introduced to The Water Dog which was more of a Millennial type establishment that had even more nice local beers on tap. After seeing the (beer) menus I thought to myself I could live here.
Despite the proximity of some fine eateries I took most of my meals at the company cafeteria. This company amenity should never be taken for granted. I had plenty of good food, freshly prepared at reasonable prices. When you’re on business expense this is kind of important to avoid any potential criticism of your spending habits when someone else is paying. So the accountants will be happy I found Benny’s.
I had forgotten how easy it is for me to put the weight back on. Over the years I’ve moved away from the standard American diet (SAD) because it was my diet that was the proximate cause for ballooning up to 370 pounds. It might have been more but I stopped weighing myself at 370 (for obvious reasons). For this trip I relaxed my dietary preferences and ate whatever I wanted to. I haven’t weighed myself since the trip ended but my belt fits again at its usual belt hole. I’m easing back into my usual dietary routine. And I have no regrets about passing on the fried tofu sandwich at The Depot Grille. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a vegan.
“Look for the human connection as you make your journey. Connect us to the people who connected with you.” William Zinsser
There are Really Nice People in Lynchburg
During my week in Lynchburg I met some very nice people. The people you work with are just as important to your happiness as the work itself. I ate lunch at the underwriter table in the company cafeteria all week. I figured I needed as many contacts as possible once I started work in the system and needed guidance. I may work by myself from home but no one ever works alone.
It’s just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.
The Boss has told me change is good and my new adventure will be good. I know she’s right. And I am thrilled with the opportunity.