"noun, informal: a person who travels, often as part of their job, and does work at the same time."
I've been on the road for the last seven days. One flight, three trains, a road-trip, four hotel rooms, many Uber rides, and a glitch in Google Maps that kept putting me on the wrong side of a highway. The eeriest of all are hotel rooms in the middle of the night - they look the same with the green light from the clock breaking the monotony of an otherwise pitch-dark cave. It takes me a bit of time to recognize my digs, check the time, and go back to sleep. When I am not working or sleeping, I spend a LOT of time just waiting.
Yes, road warrior is one who travels. Doing work at the same time is wrong in my case. I blog, read, catch up with family and friends, and sleep while I travel. When I work, I trust others to take care of home and when I am at home, I try my best to leave work at the door. In between, I have fun.
What comes before getting on the road occasionally leaves me breathless. Going away from a 98-year old for several days requires coordination for the day, for the night, and everything in between. I am lucky to be able to flex my schedule to make quick stops at home as I crisscross. I am amazingly blessed with a partner-in-crime who supports me unconditionally. We have a diligent caregiver who keeps mother safe and comfortable when we are gone. And we have incredibly kind children who drop everything to help us when the tug-and-pull of work and life leaves us stranded with little choice. This "village" keeps us afloat and keeps me sane.
During my travels, the hardest part is going to a public restroom. Nothing even comes close in terms of a challenge.
Researchers recently studied four bathrooms in San Diego State University. They bleached these spaces and then observed the growth of microbes over a period of time. What they found makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Here is a snippet from this study at npr.org.
Encountering a clean public restroom is like winning the lottery. My OCD kicks into full gear as I spin, roll, don't-touch, and oh-my-god my way through tragic restrooms. The DC Union Station's restroom has got to be THE worst. It takes herculean effort to use that one. And let me not even get started on the exacting toll on womanhood from unkempt restrooms in rocking trains and lurching airplanes. Epic failure of human design contributes in untold ways to the psychological damage.
And when I am on the move, hanging on to the important stuff is not easy. Here comes the confession...
I've left my laptop in an airplane twice in 21 years. That is about once in a decade, which isn't all that bad, is it? On both occasions, I knew it was missing the next morning and I was able to retrieve it from the labyrinth called Dulles airport. I've almost left my cell phone on the plane seat, except for kind co-passengers with keen eyes.
Left charger on plane? Check. Left food in train? Yup. Left favorite book in the seat back pocket? Yes. Lost wallet....not yet, touch wood, cross fingers, eyes, and toes. Gave up aisle seat for lady with a ginormous service dog, had little kids cry incessantly, met lots of interesting people - check on all that and more. One time I had the audacity to ask a flight attendant to help me get my bag into the overhead bin because I had thrown out my back. She responded, "Honey, if I did that every time someone asked me, I wouldn't have a back left!" OK, then.
The biggest thrill of being a road warrior is seeing Tarun's smiling face when he picks me up or as I walk in through the door. That alone makes my troubles fade.
To the young women in my life who desire to achieve professionally and personally but fret the tensions of work and life: lean in as you must, travel when you have to, pack like a goddess, and plan your visits to the restroom. But first, choose your mate with utmost care. Mine gives me air cover when I can't find balance elsewhere and puts this warrior back on the road.