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Taking The Long Way

March 1, 2017

But I’ve always found my way somehow

By taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

– “The Long Way Around” by the Dixie Chicks

Which is better? The shortest route or the quickest? Suppose the question was “What’s the best way to get down off the roof of a building?” Not sure I want to go shortest or quickest. Sometimes, the long way is preferable. I drive about 45 minutes to work most days. It’s about 40 miles, but much of it is at 70-80 MPH freeway speeds. At the very end of my commute, I have to get off the freeway. The shortest route is to get off at Bangerter Highway. There’s a light at the exit, of course. Then, a half mile down Bangerter there’s another light to turn left. And then it’s city streets to my building.

I don’t go that way. Instead, I drive another mile down the 201 freeway to the 15600 West exit. The exit ramp turns into a no-stop right turn. A half mile down the road, there’s a right-turn-only lane that never has traffic. And the city streets coming from the “back” side of the building are deserted. It’s a longer drive.

Is it shorter time? I have no idea. I don’t care.

I get to work at about 7:00AM, Salt Lake City traffic isn’t as bad as many cities. At 7:00AM there are a couple of slow spots that I mostly avoid by buying a ticket to the car pool lane.

Going home is another matter. The roads start filling up about 3:00pm and are pretty slow until after 6:00pm. Most of the time I avoid the freeway and take a series of backroads that take me through wheat fields and skirt the mountains. It’s a longer drive.

Is it shorter time? Nope. Not even close. At the best of times it’s 30 minutes longer. When the freeways are jammed, it’s still a little longer. I take it anyway.

I’ve decided that driving, while being about getting me from point A to point B, is also about the journey. I’d rather spend the more time driving in the shadow of the mountains driving around grain trucks, than save a half hour poking along in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Business is about results. One of my favorite movies is Mannequin starring Andrew McCarthy. He goes through a series of failed jobs, one of which is being a mannequin maker.

What do you think? I think she turned out pretty good. I figure I can knock out three or four of these per week.

Per week? You’re supposed to be doing three or four per day! You’re fired!

So, it might seem strange to consider “take the long way” as having an application in business. But, I absolutely think it does. My job requires that I travel. Sometimes I travel a lot (eight of the first ten weeks in 2016.) It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting packed, getting to the airport, getting through security, getting to the gate, getting off the plane, getting your luggage, getting your rental car, getting to the hotel, getting to bed, getting up to go to your meeting, getting back to the hotel, getting ready to go home.

Honestly, it can be exhausting. I try to make sure that as much as possible, I enjoy the journey. I had a jam packed trip to the Middle East and Southern Europe a few years ago. I intentionally booked an extra day in Athens because. . .ATHENS! I made sure to hit a crawdad place when I was in Shreveport, LA.

One of my job responsibilities is to coordinate phone calls when there’s an outage at one of my call centers. These calls can be high stress, but mostly they feature long periods of dead space. They can be very boring and very stressful at the same time. I’m often on the calls with the same group of people. I “take the long road.” How? By realizing that while we all are working on this problem, we are also all people with lives and kids (or not) and pets (or not.) It’s amazing how much it relieves the tension during a lull in the troubleshooting to offer up a,

So Mary, whatever happened with your dog’s surgery?

Joe, how’d your son do in his tournament. Was that last week?

Do these type questions help us get to resolution on our technical issue faster? Are they part of the “shortest path?” Nope. They are the long way.

But, if you have to be on a long trip/call, at least try to make it more enjoyable.

Take the long way.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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