Monday, December 20, 2010

Job Intersection

Like every artist, I have a day job. I try not to let it intersect with my real life, but on occasion, the two meet and that just happened to happen this weekend. 

What I do at my day job is to stuff people into little silver tubes and launch them up into the sky. Once they’re airborne, they often go to exotic places like Columbus (Ohio), Vienna (Austria), Wenzhou (China) or perhaps, Kabul (Afghanistan). No one ever says: send me someplace warm. Nope. My people are corporate wanderers and I get them where they need to go in efficient and economical ways. Usually it’s pretty routine, and it’s easy to fall into a rut where you are, in essence, asking, “Do you want fries with that?”

I happen take stuffing people into those little silver tubes and launching them into the sky very seriously. I worry about them, especially the ones I regularly send to exotic places where they do things that often make the difference between whether some people live or die. Really. They do. They enable some pretty major behind-the-scenes things to happen.  I rather like being a very tiny cog in this large machine because I can convince myself what I do ultimately matters.

And for the price of a postcard, you get a pin in the map over my desk AND your very own Jewish mother sitting in Minnesota not just worrying about you….but worrying with the ability to change your flights on a moment’s notice.

Alpine Hike - July 2011
No joke, I do get postcards: there’s the card from the two guys who decided (in the dead of winter) to fly to Barcelona, then drive cross the Pyrenees into France and on to Tarbes. (I asked if they ever heard of Hannibal.) There’s the postcard from Baghdad that everyone wanted to see, postcards from the backwaters of Africa, and from the world UNESCO World Heritage sites in China. Sometimes they send pictures.  I  mean, who wouldn't want to remember that day hike in the Alps? The snaps are great, and I am always glad to know a moment has been taken to appreciate being someplace else!

The Himalayas - April 2010

So on Sunday afternoon I had the unique privilege of actually meeting one of my intrepid road warriors. Afghan Man and his wife are here in Minnesota visiting family and we managed to get together for coffee. What a delight to meet the guy that I routinely send to terrible places! I wanted to apologize to his wife for aiding and abetting his constant foray into harm’s way.  We talked, we laughed, we learned a bit about each other. It occurred to me after the fact that maybe Mrs. Afghan Man worried a tad less because there was someone on the other end of the wire who worried with her. They were such a nice couple. And he is such a nice guy! This will definitely make working with him even more fun.

The Kabul rug merchant - look closely
2010 is drawing to an unceremonious close. This year, I have lost two of my favorite “problem kiddies” due to regime change, but their spots have already been filled with two other guys who were happy to be adopted under the SPP (Susan Postcard Plan.) So long as I have my “problem kiddies” to send to strange and exotic places, I think I’ll keep this job. It can, on good days, be fun.

The Wifely Person’s Tip o’ the Week
If you travel, do everyone a favor: make sure your IDs all have the same name.


  1. Given my track record, my next stop is likely to be Pyongyang. Or Cuidad Juarez. Business class only, please, aisle seat. Third floor room in upscale hotel with spa and 24-hour room service...and armed guards. But I need to be home by the 15th, so only a two day layover in the Seychelles, thanks. I promise to send a postcard.