I’m twenty-three, single, have no kids, and haven’t done much traveling. I am, therefore, in probably the only point of my life where I’ll be this excited about a business trip.
My first one was last week. I went to San Francisco for a conference, where I worked a booth talking to professors and trying to get them to fill out forms so we could send them books and hope they’d want to use them. I’d never been to San Francisco before, and I discovered that it’s a really nice city. Small and easy to walk like Boston, but a lot hillier. I went on one of those cable cars, had dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf, did some shopping (well, didn’t really buy anything, but I went in a lot of stores), went to a bar, and just walked around and enjoyed seeing things.
The thing is, though, I think I would have enjoyed the trip even if I never saw the outside of the hotel. As I’ve mentioned before, I never travel, so just taking a trip on a plane and staying in a hotel are events for me. I bought myself books specifically for the plane ride, which I’ll probably do another post about soon. Also, this was the first time I’d ever had a hotel room to myself. I was excited about sleeping in this king-sized bed with a million pillows and actually getting to take a bath—I love baths, but the water pressure in my apartment is too low for me to take them.
I feel like such a dork for getting so excited over this trip, but I’m a bit comforted in knowing that my feelings were pretty similar to those of some of my college friends, whose facebook statuses have demonstrated their own excitement at getting the opportunity to travel for work. One friend from college went to Houston, where she’d never been before, and she was telling me, “People were wearing cowboy hats! I thought that was a stereotype!”
Work is a big part of my life, but I don’t talk about it much here except in very general terms. You hear all these horror stories about people being fired for blogging about work, and I’m a bit paranoid. But I don’t have anything bad or revealing to say, so here goes. I am, for those of you who don’t know, an Assistant Editor for political science at a large textbook publishing company. When I tell people this, they usually think I’m either a copy editor (I’m not; we have freelancers who copyedit) or some kind of political science expert (I’ve actually never taken poli sci in my life). Basically what I do is manage the supplements for political science books—things like test banks, instructor’s manuals, study guides, companion websites, etc. I hire people to write them, make sure they’re of high quality, and put them into production. I also do random other things like make grids comparing us to the competition and sometimes helping the sales reps.
The thing with it is, it doesn’t sound very interesting, and a lot of people discover that it’s not for them, but for some reason, it’s interesting for me. I had originally planned on working in trade book publishing, so that I could learn a bit about it since I want to publish novels, but in the end, I liked educational publishing. There was a time when I considered teaching, but I don’t think I could handle it—I have so much respect for my friends, like Christina and Erin, who teach, because there are so many headaches that go along with it. So I kind of see my job as a way to be involved in education without teaching—it’s a different way of helping people learn. Of course, it’s a business, so it’s all about the bottom line, but it’s a business full of English majors instead of finance majors, so it works for me. Plus, I have a great boss and awesome co-workers, so at this point in my life, I don’t think I could ask for more.
I’m lucky that I got to this point. My first year out of college was extremely difficult and full of a lot of ups and downs, but despite some disappointments, what I got out of it was the knowledge that I did want to stay in publishing, specifically educational publishing. I mean, if I had my choice of doing anything for the rest of my life, I’d be able to make a living as a novelist, but that’s not exactly a stable career path. So while I’ll continue to pursue that dream, I think I could be happy making textbooks until I retire, as strange as that may sound. Maybe someday I’ll even get to the point where I’m sick of business trips.
But for now, it’s fun traveling for work, and it’s hard to imagine being used to it, let alone sick of it. On the plane last week, I’d see people on their laptops and think, “Huh, I wonder if they’re traveling on business.” Then I’d think, “Wait. So am I.”