The last two or three years before I retired were a strange mix.
I traveled a lot. I hated the travel, but was quite intrigued with the places to which I traveled…when I (rarely) got to actually see them.
The buttes of Scottsdale, Arizona were novel to see…through the sliding panel of my hotel room as I marched from meeting to meeting. The stunted, green-deprived palette of the desert ditto…through the rental car windshield on my way to and from the airport.
The fierce mountains looming over Anchorage, Alaska didn’t intimidate me as much as navigating the dust and gravel-strewn intersections of sections of town where no taxis, salt trucks, nor cruise ships ever went.
Streaking between the hurricane-scraped concrete slabs of Biloxi and the white, featureless sands of the Gulf to get to the Mecca of the local casino for a conference was a mite disheartening.
Boston, a week after their two biggest snowstorms in 20 years was…white.
Edmonton, Alberta in February was……not……Biloxi.
And getting home was no picnic either.
- Days lost to never-ending red-eye flights from Seward’s Folly.
- Landing on less-than-the-prudent number of wheels in the midst of flashing red lights and sirens in Chicago after circling for two hours to consume our fuel.
- Flight returning to Atlanta after midnight because the runway in Lexington was considered a touch too short for the pilot’s liking that evening.
- Luggage too often scheduling an itinerary of its own…
…no, no picnic.
The assignments in various parts Kentucky were mostly delightful.
I enjoyed the city council meetings I attended in Danville and Bowling Green and Hurstbourne and, of course Louisville and Lexington. I found them to be mostly validating in their local expressions of democracy.
There were the odd exceptions.
One night, I found myself in an obviously expensive house in Louisville surrounded by dark suits and dead animals. Big game trophies jutted their deceased faces and horns from every wall. I did a quick check to be sure Marlin Perkins was not in attendance. He was not. One of our major political candidates running for re-election at the time was.
He looked pitiful and small. His handshake was pitiful and small.
I felt pitiful and small.
A year or so later, I was invited to an afternoon meeting with another of our major political candidates running for re-election at that time.
There were about 50 dark suits there, no dead animals, two suits were female. As for racial diversity there was none. And, except for me, everyone’s head bobbled…for real.
The candidate’s curly head cocked and bobbled as he pretended to be discovering for the first time the same outrageous and uncharitable talking points he had been making for two years. The dark suits’ heads bobbled in agreement.
He was sounding quietly crazy and reasonably mean, but the bobbling heads were pretty funny.
And the big eyes on the younger members of the throng…you know what I mean…those big rookie baseball player eyes that say; “Ah’m jes’ glad to be here an’ I hope I can help the team win some games.”
It was when the candidate had responded to a question with an implication that after a “welfare mother” had birthed two or three young’uns that maybe she shouldn’t be birthin’ any more…I surveyed the room to see all those dark suits still a’bobblin’ those heads.
…dead animals, dead handshakes, dead ideas…
We are flying in the dead of night, with less than optimum equipment, consuming our fuel, and I’m not bobblin’ or bubblin’ with confidence about our landing gear.
We can surely do better than this.