It’s 4.45pm Sunday afternoon and the sun is so bright through the window at 35,000 feet. The air is thick with smell of noodles, coffee, musty underarms and I’m sure there’s some McDonalds french fries on the plane somewhere too. The sensible ones onboard have already fallen asleep and the rest of us are busily trying to be busy to avoid boredom in the hours ahead.
As much as my blogs tend to have a business theme, this one will probably read more like an ode to melancholy for the weary business traveller (apologies to Keats).
During my high school years, my father was only home every second weekend. He worked often many hours’ drive from our house and a daily commute was simply out of the question. His work was hard, no cushy office job, working as a foreman laying telecommunications cables between remote country towns. I lost count of the number of injuries he had either from his time in the Army in WWII, or working outside in harsh conditions many miles from home. But the ones I can count included bullet wounds and one eye that he could barely see out of (thanks to a dynamite blast); he had scars scattered over most of his body even though his skin was a tough as cow hide.
Such things harden a person physically and one would assume emotionally as well. But I learned a lesson from my father who, despite his tough demeanour and old school approach to discipline, would cry quietly (after a few beers) at being away from his family day after day, for years on end.
When we think of those who travel (and live away from home) for their work, we usually don’t think of people like my father; or the millions of domestic helpers, site workers, engineers or care givers scattered across the world who see their families perhaps once a year, leaving their children to be raised by grandparents or their siblings. We immediately think of the traditional business traveller jet setting the world, staying in countless hotels and coming home to the family bearing gifts from foreign airport souvenir shops.
Okay, admit, with the latter I have just described myself but I think I fit the stereotype quite well. While I don’t really drink beer as my father did, give me a couple of vodkas and I will likely get emotional about having to spend so much time away from my loved ones as he did - homesick...
But the point of this blog is not about the stereotypical business traveller. It is, instead, to honour those whose commitment to family takes them away from home not for weeks at a time like mine, but rather months and sometimes years. It is a selfless and lonely life that these weary travellers choose to make a better life for their families at home. And I see them and speak to them every day of my life. And I hear their stories. And I see the same pain my father felt.
Homesick doesn’t even begin to describe it. I am not even talking about the millions of military men and women who live this life for years under extreme conditions and deserve all the praise and respect we can give. I am talking about the ordinary men and women who live in cramped dormitories or cheap budget rooms and hotels, whose sacrifice goes mostly unnoticed by the vast majority of us who lead more normal or dare I say privileged lives.
It’s 5.45pm and the sun is still shining bright and strong through the window at 35,000 feet. Looking around at other passengers, I know that everyone on this plane has a story to tell. Perhaps some of them are heading home, just like me, weary from the road and homesick, wanting to see their family. I am sure that they too have someone in their family who, just like my father, sacrificed time with family so that their loved ones could have a better life. We all have someone close to us like that who has chosen this path. We will likely have people who work with us or for us just like that.
Globalisation has made the world a smaller place for sure. But that’s little comfort to the millions who choose to live away from home, and are perpetually homesick. My heart goes out to them.
Source Link http://richardgwatson.com/blog/homesick