Nuts

Nothing beats accidentally eating a nut (for a nut-allergy person) to give an exciting kick to a vacation.

I write this at 35 thousand feet above the Pacific Ocean, where blue and clouds stretch as far as the eye can see, warily sipping my coffee and hoping the remediation I put into place for said nut, worked. Because there is no wifi on the plane, if you read this, it worked.

As part of our trip we were given first class seats by my newly minted father-in-law (thank you Gary!!), and not only is there fancy breakfast on the plane in first class, there is fancy two-course breakfast. I opted for only course one: fruit plate and a pastry. The pastry that arrived on my fruit plate did not have immediate visible nuts; it looked like a bran muffin. I eyeballed the male person and boychild’s pastry, which looked like a pastry (complete with icing and almond slivers), and then eyeballed the innocuous-looking bran muffin. I asked the cabin steward if it had nuts and he said, “Hm, let me check”, wandered off into the kitchen, wandered back and said, “No, it doesn’t have nuts.” I asked the male person to take a bite out of the muffin to test it, and he said he didn’t taste any, and the lady on his other side chimed in that it was “just a bran muffin”. I cut the muffin into four pieces, saw no nuts, and proceeded to throw caution to the wind.

You think I’d learn.

About six minutes later I had eaten most of the muffin when the telltale “crunch” happened. Leveraging a couple of napkins, I declined to swallow, and then sat back in my chair wondering if, in the earlier bites, I had gotten one. I sat and wondered if I was being silly, if I was imagining things, if the itchiness in my throat really was because we slept all night with the AC on (after all, it was itchy when we drove to the airport). I gave up and decided to settle the matter once and for all.

The first class loo has orchids on the little table, and is infinitely cleaner than the economy class loo.

Aside from this, the flight has been an absolute treat. Coffee is served in real mugs, juice and water are in real glasses. The seat width accommodates me and should I so choose, my bag; the legroom is luxuriant. When we had got to the airport we were the beneficiaries of Microsoft’s dedicated check-in line (in the first-class section but leveragable even if you are not flying first class) and expedited security. I can complain about the lack of wifi I suppose, but I just don’t think that can happen in trans-oceanic flights. Besides, this is the first vacation I have taken in 11+ years where I do not have my work laptop, nor do I have work email on my phone (I disconnected Exchange from my iPhone). I had planned, right up to the end, to bring my work laptop “just in case”… but the unfortunate reality is my laptop bag can carry either two laptops, or one laptop plus necessities. The decision was made for me.

Which brings me to some real introspection as to why I (and many of my compatriots) feel the need to bring a laptop with me and/or stay connected to work when on holiday. My father had an interesting point: the kind of people who need that connectivity usually do so because they either “live” their work, or they feel they “have” to in order to make up in quantity what they lack in quality. (If you’re under the impression that my father is an extremely frank talker, you’re right). He has a point: I’m guilty of both. In the case of the former, I usually take a job with the view that someone is paying me to do something, and it is a reflection of my name and reputation the work I put out. So I get emotionally invested in work, at least to a degree, which I am certain has shown itself in one or more meetings or email missives. Alternately, I have enjoyed extremely flexible schedules at these positions, which leads me to wanting to demonstrate accessibility in return for those flexible schedules. I’ve had people marvel at email response at 3am and 7am and 11pm; that is a combination of drive, excitement about the product/project, and raging insomnia.

What does it mean, then, that I can blithely leave my work behind for nearly ten days? A certain degree of comfort: I am working in a company where they trust me to be on deck when I’m on deck, and they seem to actually want me to unplug when I ought. If they really, really need to get ahold of me, it’s not to build a PowerPoint deck or fix a TFS ticket or build a spreadsheet, it’s going to be so they can rent by brain (which they can do via cell phone, in an emergency). This has not always been the case and I’m both excited and nervous at the prospect.

Or maybe that’s the nut.

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