Thursday, July 18, 2013

Smart, But Cranky, Traveler

I am a cranky traveler. I admit it. But I'm also a smart traveler. Traveling as frequently as I do, I've learned the steps to take to avoid unnecessary hassles.

I know what needs to be easily accessible in my appropriately-sized carry on bag. I know exactly when to board the plane so that I'm not sitting in the economy section longer than necessary. I calculate in advance when the meal will be served and bring my own snack to tide me over. I know just when to visit the bathroom one last time before the plane begins its descent. And I spent $100 for the Global Entry Trusted Traveler program to avoid the long lines at passport control in U.S. airports. I put a lot of thought and planning into making my travel as hassle-free as possible. So I resent hassles that are artificially imposed upon me by less thoughtful travelers.

I have no patience for someone who waits in the security line for 15 minutes only to scramble to find her cell phone in an oversized purse when it's finally her turn.*  I crankily decline whenever I'm asked to give up my pre-selected aisle seat for a middle seat so a honeymooning couple can sit together. I can't count how many times I've been whacked in the head by some idiot who insists on shoving an oversized suitcase into the overhead bin.

Perhaps if I didn't travel so often, I'd be nicer. But I do, so I'm not.

* Why don't airports put the x-ray machine bins at the beginning of the line so people can use the time they're waiting in line to put their belts, cell phones, lap tops, and watches in the bin? Why wait until the last second to give them a bin?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Telecommuting in Kabul

Until recently, I was able to get out quite a bit and visit my grantees and their project sites. Not anymore. The start of the summer fighting season, new embassy procedures (whereby Secretary Kerry himself needs to approve my attendance at a ribbon cutting ceremony at a school), and an understandably - but still frustratingly - skittish leadership have made getting out of the embassy much more difficult these days.

This makes me feel like I am not expected (or allowed) to do my job well. As long as the paperwork is in order. So why am I telecommuting in Kabul when I could be telecommuting from DC?