Nighttime. United Flight 250. Somewhere between Denver and Washington’s Dulles Airport.

Ignore dinner. Pull out laptop and start work on new communications plan for client. Beeper goes off (well, vibrates actually, which is what beepers do instead of beep these days).

Reach for airphone. Call in. Client with an emergency (so what else is new)?

Listen. Take notes on laptop. Hang up.

Think about client’s problem. Write reasonably long memo recommending ways to fix problem. Hook laptop to modem plug on airphone.

Send memo.

Problem solved.

Minutes go by. Beeper vibrates again. Call client. He’s happy. All’s right with world.

More minutes go by. Seatmate jumps. Her beeper vibrates. She reaches for airphone. Spends 30 minutes telling client to get off butt and make decision.

He does. She hangs up. Shakes her head.

“Didn’t we used to look forward to trips like this because we got away from phones, clients and problems.”

Nod agreement. So much for downtime.

Next morning. Washington rush hour. Five miles in 30 minutes. On the car phone, returning calls to numbers that showed up on beeper during last hour.

Drop the car at office. Grab cab to breakfast meeting. Use handheld cell phone to return three or four more calls.

Breakfast. Can you be in Manila by end of week? Nod agreement. Think about dozen or so projects delayed because of last-minute trip. Oh well.

Time for three more calls in cab back to office. More messages waiting.

More clients. More problems.

Lunch at desk. Conference call to client in Montana. Unions acting up. Can you be there next week? Change flight schedule again. Route through Montana on way back from Manila.

Close office door. Write communications plan. Write marketing plan. Write checks to American Express.

Dinner. Potential client. Can we enhance visibility in Texas? Sure.

Head home. Return calls to clients on West Coast. Suggest driver that just cut me off commit unnatural act.

Home. Den. Computer. Update web site. Write four stories for Capitol Hill Blue. Edit half dozen more.

Midnight. All right, a few minutes after. Finish last email message. Head for bed.

Before sleep, congratulate self for taking doctor’s advice and slowing down.

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC