From 1984 through 2005 I traveled nearly every week for work. At first, it was to train clinical staff and open ambulatory care centers (frequently called “Docs in a Box”) in eighteen states. Later, I began Centers of Excellence network development for the same company. Among other things, I contracted for marrow and solid organ transplant services. This position took me to even more destinations including a few times to Canada. In 1997, I incorporated a consulting company still working with transplant centers coast to coast until I reluctantly retired. I believe that I am finally over airport withdrawal but it did take a while.
During those years of planes, taxis, subways and airports, I made many observations of fellow travelers and others I encountered along the way. I will share some of those recollections that, for some reason, I recall after all these years. Some were intriguing, many more mundane. I’ll let you consider why these memories persisted when so many critical medical and technical facts from those years have evaporated.
While sitting in the airport in Tampa one Friday afternoon, I looked around and noted that almost without exception travelers were either holding or working with a similar small book. Some of these were wire bound, others looked like leather and they came in various sizes. How we loved our Day-Timers back in that day. They were badges of our busy lives and demanding careers. One could clearly see that we had a lot to keep up with, places to go and people with which to network. Perhaps few other 20th-century icons made a more important business statement. At that time some kids were using pagers, drug dealers even had mobile phones, but we were reluctant to transition to that digital age back in the 80s, so we proudly carried our Day-Timers everywhere, placed them lovingly into our briefcases and at intervals made critical notes. As I think back to that era, I wish I had saved at least one that recorded a year’s meetings, flights, and appointments. Today we use our smartphones to carry calendars, do banking, prepare and store documents, keep up with e-mail and social media, even monitor or control our homes, but I still recall the small paper pages that functioned on a much more limited basis but seemed equally important at the time.
A man sitting across from me in the waiting area had been dozing off and on. He was dressed in a very finely tailored suit, but the effect was minimized by his splayed legs and occasional snort. One hand was cupped over that bulge between his legs. Was he afraid that someone might steal it if it was not shielded in this manner? When he moved around for a more comfortable position, he changed hands but remained protective. Finally, the flight was called and he awakened, folded his Wall Street Journal and gathered up his leather attache. Standing, he straightened slowly and slightly shook one leg, then the other. Apparently unsuccessful,
he quickly removed the troubling wedgie with a snatch before proceeding down the jetway.After a transfer in Atlanta, I’m was finally on the way to Louisville in a much smaller commuter plane. The one busy flight attendant informed us that she was Columbia and judging from her accent, I assumed that she did not mean South Carolina. Her pre-takeoff instructions included the fact that in an emergency we were to “pull the red liver” to open the door. As we approached Standiford Field (currently Louisville International Airport) for landing the flight attendant’s voice over the speaker gave the following instruction: “If you are enjoying a beverage please pass it to a flight attendant at this time.” So, what do I do if I am not “enjoying” it, but I am simply thirsty, do I keep the cup? I am way too literal to follow instructions tonight.