I Would Rather Be Living in Philadelphia

Comedian W.C. Fields once quipped that his tombstone would read "Here lies W.C. Fields / I would rather be living in Philadelphia." (Also said of his place of birth: "I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.") I called this to mind when, earlier this week, a few of my co-workers came into my office and, noticing how stressed out I looked, asked what was wrong. When I said that, in the midst of a lot of work-related deadlines, I would have to go to the U.S. Virgin Islands for three days for a business trip, they howled in mock empathy.

I was quick to say that I was looking forward to the trip, that the gigs we have down there are interesting and my business partner there a dear friend, and that, yes, I suppose it was foul of me to complain about a trip to St. Thomas. I even took an unfair dig at Scranton by saying that I was relieved because had I not been booked for my Virgin Islands trip, I would have been pressed into service as a fill-in speaker at a conference in Scranton.

But invariably I would end our conversations with, "Well, all else equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." Travel is fun for me. I like a lot of aspects of it, it usually means an interesting assignment or speaking engagement, and I am always the better for it. But, with two small kids and a working wife and many to-do's on the work, home, and other fronts, taking even three days (I flew out first thing in the morning on Tuesday and returned after midnight on Thursday) can blow up an already messy schedule, and can pile weariness on top of my current weariness.

It was a mixed blessing that, while I was in St. Thomas, I didn't even get to sniff a beach or go for a dip in the water. I sure could have used the relaxation, but on the other hand I wanted to minimize my time away from home and therefore maximize my work productivity while I was away. Yes, it has come to this: I flew all the way to the Caribbean and didn't take a single moment to chill.

At any rate, I'm certainly not complaining about getting to make this trip. But, I agree with W.C. Fields: I'd rather be living in Philadelphia.

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