Not the Paper Towels You’re Looking For

I love visiting bathrooms with automatic paper towel machines, where you just wave your hand at the machine. Hey, I’m a Jedi! (At least for the moment.)

With all the travel I’ve been doing, I’ve really been honing my skill at appreciating the little things in life. I travel up to three weeks a month, every month. And that can get exhausting. So anything that can give me a smile is well worth it.

I’ve learned a bunch of other things to appreciate, like hotels that offer you a bottle of water in your room. I don’t mind drinking tap water, but a bottle is so much easier to carry around the room — and I’m less likely to spill it when I am working on my computer.

I love watching people notice my suitcase. I have a bright blue Delsey carry-on, and I’ve tied an obnoxiously orange ribbon around the handle (to make sure I know my suitcase from all the other bright blue ones I see).

Almost every time I fly, someone makes a comment on the suitcase, the ribbon, or how the two colors actually seem to work well together. (And occasionally someone asks me if I’m a fan of Syracuse University, since those are their colors. I’m not, but it can open up conversations.)

If I don’t want to listen to my iPod, I love the fact that I can almost always find a classic rock station on the radio in any part of the country.

I don’t watch TV at home, so I kind of enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching it in my room at night after a hard day. Not to mention that if I’m really pooped, I can take a bath in a tub that I never have to scrub.

It’s fun to learn to chat with people in different areas and jobs. I meet fascinating people in my travels. I taught one person who managed an ice cream factory — and went to a special ice cream training course at Pennsylvania State University — which has a great creamery on campus.

I also recently talked with a couple of portrait photographers who told me about how painful it was for them to switch from film to digital; they had some very expensive and very good lenses that they had to sell, since they couldn’t be used on their digital cameras.

Airports, when you’re not freaking out about missing a flight or worried about parking, are fantastic places to people-watch.

The differences in how people dress and how they prepare for flights fascinate me. Just by observing, you can not only separate the frequent fliers from new ones, but you can also see huge variations in how people deal with problems. Every time an announcement is made that a plane is going to be delayed, you get people freaking out, calling family, worried about connections, and even trying to berate the poor airline desk agents.

But you also get people like me who shrug, pull out something to do, or begin talking to those waiting around them. I’ve actually found that when you offer someone a wry smile (as in, doesn’t that just figure?), they’ll open up to you about where they’re going, what for, and often you can begin discussing interesting things.

And maybe someday I’ll meet another Jedi!

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