Every frequent traveler sooner or later experiences Groundhog Day.
I’m not talking about the pseudo holiday when a toothy little mammal forecasts the weather for the next six weeks with all the accuracy of a farmers almanac. Instead I’m talking about that Bill Murray movie. The one with the tagline “He’s having the day of his life…over and over again.”
Spoiler alert… he wakes up day after day on February 2 in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania doomed to relive the past. No offense to the fine people of Punxatawney (and yes, I’ve visited more than once), but the idea is pure living hell.
And yet, no matter where we are, some business travel days can feel just like Groundhog Day.
Let’s start with the wake up. First, a jarring iPhone alarm in a non-descript mid-market chain hotel. I rested my head on a never quite comfortable pillow. I fumbled my way to the thermostat and/or bathroom at least once in the middle of the night. And then I drove somewhere in a nondescript rental car reeking vaguely of disinfectant. Chances are it was a Chevy Malibu or Toyota Camry or an equally bland sedan that I might eventually find myself eating lunch in. Thus my day often starts again and again, no matter which city I was in.
Then there are nights like recently where I was once again flying American Airlines to California. I had the same problem trying to get an Uber to the airport. Then I dealt with the same frustration in the security line. I found myself staring at the same grey piece of steak with soggy asparagus that I’d seen three nights before. The inflight wifi was just poor enough to minimize my productivity. And then I got to my non-descript mid-market chain hotel and texted home to say goodnight to Jim.
When I wake up, who knows where I might be. It doesn’t matter and it might as well be Punxatawney if it is going to be Groundhog Day all over again.
I can only hope that when I wake up I don’t see my own shadow and can finally return to normal life at home for a bit.