The View of a Road Warrior from the other side: by Susan Lewin aka Mrs. Nick
I am very proud to present a guest blogger for this post!
Before Face Book we thought we were all alone. By “we” I refer to the significant others of entertainers who crisscross the globe on a daily basis. These brave road warriors are on the front lines and face global catastrophes, political unrest, war, tropical storms, earthquakes, airport strikes, lost luggage, and a multitude of potential hazards.
After we pull into the airport unloading zone, transfer the luggage to the curb, blow a couple of air kisses and pleasantly wave at each other, the adrenaline begins to ooze out of my system as I drive towards the airport exit, often in the wee hours of the morning or very late at night. I long to drive through In ’n’ Out Burger, or make a quick stop at a convenience store for a bag of Cheetos, but strive to make it to the market to purchase some nourishing snacks, all the time watching my iPhone making sure that the ringer is on full blast—waiting for “the call.”
“The call” can be anything from “I got through security in five minutes,” “Everything’s going smoothly,” to “My gate just changed,” to “I am delayed for an hour…two hours,” “The airplane’s toilet is broken and sending maintenance to fix it,” to “I am going to miss my connection,” “I think I left the cord to my computer on the table will you check?” “We are stuck on the tarmac,” and “Damn it I am not going to make it in time,” to “I have to spend the night,” etcetera etcetera.
After 40 years I have heard it all and we have progressed from pay phones, transatlantic ship to shore calls, phone cards, smartphones and Skype. If you are the support team you learn to be on hand 24/7 on travel day to field the calls of joy (a seat upgrade to first class) and distress (“My bag does not fit in the overhead on this newly designed plane.”).
Prior to travel day I access the flight information, but I have learned never to check too far in advance because everything changes day to day. Usually I begin about 48 hours prior to departure and check the connections, seat assignments and frequent flyer information. We have ascertained that the client has booked the flight correctly to the correct city, state or country, but mostly the issue is there is not enough time between flights, never enough time to clear customs with the upshot being there is too much time between flights.
The job, however, begins at home and is very specific. My road warrior never unpacks his clothing and is ready to travel at a moment’s notice. He is responsible for packing his suitcase, hence long ago we decided that monochromatic basic black a la Johnny Cash was the way to go. My only job with the clothing is to provide an adequate supply of black socks, tee shirts and black running shoes, and to run a batch of clothes through the washing machine prior to each gig.
The working case is something that I never touch, nor do I fully understand. It conveniently rolls on wheels with a collapsable handle. I know that it contains at least three hours worth of material. I am an expert at purchasing USA Todays (and I keep a hidden stash just in case) and buy lemons in large quantities. The computer bag is totally out of my element and holds so much “stuff” that the mind boggles. I have little idea of what any of it does, but I know that the passport and printed travel information remain safely inside along with wads of 20s from the ATM, and smaller bills for tipping.
Usually, it takes me about 24 hours to recover from travel day as my nerves are shot from the anticipation of all the things that might go wrong, but seldom do. This takes me right through to the pick-up when my road warrior is overly optimistic that his flight will arrive well before the scheduled time. I have been known to circle the airport at least 25 orbits, because by the time he hits the passenger loading and unloading zone his adrenaline is finally giving out as he loads up his baggage, eases into the passenger side of the car and gives me a quick kiss.
We have come 360 and I am now off my 24/7 monitoring duty on Face Book and smartphone because the road warrior is home. Three excited pups and a cat greet him at the door (“Daddy’s home!” we cry out in unison.), and slippers, flannel lounge pants, and tee shirt are laid out as I prepare an elegant meal of peanut butter with marmite on an Ezekiel bread muffin, a shot of premium tequila, an ice pack and Ibuprofen. In a few minutes I’ll find my road warrior asleep on the couch with our small, gray Chinese Crested pup on top of him in a mirrored position.
My job is now complete until the next gig, and we have a little time together to enjoy some domestic bliss.