My previous blog post reminded me that I have plenty to say on the subject of business travel, and I suspect it's a theme I'll revisit from time to time. Like now, for example.
I often travel with a friend and colleague who lives not too far from me. She is obviously a bad influence. It was only mid-afternoon, and we were in the bar at Edinburgh airport. Then, ringing out across the entire departure lounge, the following message: "Would passengers Nam and Colleague please proceed to gate 7, your flight is ready to depart. Last call for Nam and Colleague." Her name isn't Colleague, of course. That'd be silly. I'm sure you get the idea. Will you stop interrupting me, I'm trying to tell a story.
So we quickly necked our drinks (it would be bad manners not to) and rushed to our plane. That's the worst part. Every last soul on that plane stared at us with stone cold contempt. How dare we delay their trip home? The captain made it worse, pointedly announcing that he was in discussion with air traffic control to seek a later departure slot. The on board undercurrent of loathing was visceral; you could almost touch it, roll it around, strap it into an emergency life jacket.
The thing was, the plane was trying to leave early. This wasn't really our fault; all the other goody-goody passengers had got to the gate as soon as the flight was announced and made it onto the plane almost immediately. We had not anticipated this and quite reasonably and traditionally gone for a swift livener instead. Not really our fault.
Still, a month or so later, there we were back in Edinburgh again. Another tough meeting and I'm pretty certain we were determined to get our post-meeting pint. But my colleague needed to visit the shops first (she's a girl, it's an airport departure lounge, instinct just kicked in). So I mulled the cameras and calculators and pads and pods while she was off somewhere restocking with Molton Brown (I don't know why she didn't just steal it from her hotel room).
Then the dreaded announcement came: "Would passengers Nam and Colleague please proceed to gate 7, your flight is ready to depart. Last call for Nam and Colleague." Oh no. Similarly humiliated and once again the villains, we got on the plane as quietly as possible and sat nicely, hoping that no one had noticed our tardiness. Once again everyone had. We were half an hour late landing in London, and we had been forced to rely on trolley service for our alcohol fix, served with a charmless near-smile by a frustrated flight attendant.
If you've been inconvenienced by my friend and I, please accept my apologies. We didn't mean to do this to you. We'll try harder in future, I promise. Oh, and to make up for it I'll buy you a pint.