Today’s post is brought to you by two unconnected items both of which were incidental conversations. The first conversation was around the complexities of working away from home and the fact that corporate governance limited this to 5 years. Apparently those of us that work away, it is not for all, should be limited to 5 years in order to minimise the risk to home life. The second was a conversation with a friend that alluded to the ‘secret’ life that I lead when working away, this friend had concluded that I had some second life that was kept isolated from home.
Before I embark on this post I would like to make it clear that I do not suffer from any conditions, neuroses or incapacities, well no more than is normal anyway. I am 40 years old and have worked all of my life, the majority of it working away from home. I have had some brief spells of returning home every day but they have been coupled with a minimum of 4 hours commuting just to take the edge off it.
Lets hit the ground running, there is no secret life. Rarely are two weeks the same and even if they were the ability to operate a Monday to Friday life is far beyond my talents. I am sure that there are cases of super lotharios who have kept a weekday partner secret but it really can’t be easy. Imagine a partner that never sees you at weekends? who only experiences the ‘school nights’ of late evenings and early rises, I can’t see that as a seller to be honest. So weekdays are filled with work, the ‘advantage’ of a hotel is that one can work late, work from ‘home’ and start early in the morning, this isn’t just work its immersion.
Hotel living, as I have explained before, is not like a holiday there is no luxury to it. With rare exceptions I don’t dine in hotels, the menu is something that would result in an athlete gaining weight and I am no athlete to start with. I always depart hotels before breakfast and am no fan of that particular meal anyway, evening meals are never more than a snack. A hotel room is, in reality, little more than a badly equipped bedsit; a bed and a bathroom is not the largest environment to live in. You know when you leave your house like a tip on the way to work? I don’t, that is simply not an option. I tidy the room because one thing you don’t want is an annoyed housekeeper. Those mornings when you can’t find your wallet and just leave it to hunt down later, not for me I am on my hands and knees looking for it. In short after I leave my ‘home’ in the morning several strangers will visit before I return, there is no privacy.
When you come home and get that eerie feeling that something has moved? I don’t get that because stuff moves all the time, it moves to where the housekeeping staff thinks it looks best. A change in housekeeper midweek is given away by a new location for my toothbrush or a different arrangement of shampoo bottles. In some hotels I get a fridge but in most every meal has to be a single shot and hot food doesn’t happen, well if you exclude powdered soup that is. I enter the hotel at night and say good evening to reception, the next human interaction I get is when I say good morning to the receptionist on the way to work.
Even when I was driving the risk of a sudden flight meant that my entire life was packed into a small rucksack, I don’t do hold luggage, everything. I am not a sportsman but hobbies, clubs and associations do not suit working away from home. I actually find it very difficult to fill my time when I am not working and am always grateful when the occasional quiet periods at work come to an end. If there is not enough work to fill the day and the evening then it all becomes a bit of a struggle, there is only so long you can spend in the shower after all. Currently I have Rachel’s story and a sketch pad full of the next tattoo to keep me entertained in the evening and fill in the gaps between work.
I don’t keep up with birthdays or other occasions and rarely attend leaving parties and the like. For me the whole world is a series of transient events, if you are not in front of me or involved with me today I wont chase and nurture that relationship why would I. We are all moving in different orbits and when they coincide we interact, when they don’t that doesn’t end it simply gets paused until the next time.
There is of course one major benefit to being a single man working away from home, yes that’s right I can’t have pets and so wont suffer from mad old lady syndrome that is apparently brought on by cats!