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A Pushover Or A Corporate Jerk?

October 30, 2017

It’s my own fault. As I write this, it is 3:12AM. I’m up this early waiting for my shuttle ride to the airport. My flight to Shreveport, LA leaves Salt Lake Airport at 6:00AM. This early flight will put me into Shreveport just after noon.

The thing is, today is a travel day. I don’t need to be at meetings until tomorrow. So, why am I up in the middle of the night to catch an 0’dark-thirty flight?

Because I don’t want to be a jerk.

At least that’s the way I saw it last week when my flight information came through. Like many business travellers, I don’t book my own travel. We have, not so much a department, but a designated “travel booker.” I fill out a travel request form, get it approved by my manager and the travel booker takes it from there. The travel request form asks for “preferred departure time?” The default is ANYTIME. I took the default.

Why? Because it literally doesn’t matter what time I leave.

A few months ago I was taking a trip to Port St Lucie in Florida. My boss was flying in from the East coast and we decided to share a car. The nearest airport to Port St Lucie is West Palm beach, about an hour away. I knew what time my boss was arriving and told the travel booker I needed to arrive in Flordia prior to his flight. It ended up the only way to do that was to leave at 12:30AM out of Salt Lake. It’s a lot longer to travel from Utah to Florida than it is from Virginia to Florida.

Afterwards, my boss gave me some sage advice,

Rodney, next time just put in for a car rental.

I know the reason I’m on the 6:00 AM flight. It’s cheaper. And saving money for the company is everyone’s responsibility. But, there’s being smart about saving money and being dumb about it. The account I’m working on is a multi-million dollar account. Many, many multi-millions. The difference between a 6:00 AM flight and a 9:00 AM flight is probably a few hundred dollars.

But, I worry about being the complainer. I have at times changed my flights. Or, rather made travel change my flights. Once, I needed to be back on a Saturday by 3:00 PM. Originally, even after I specified an “Arrival Time” of 3:00 PM or earlier, I found myself scheduled to arrive in SLC at 5:00 PM. At first, I just accepted it. But, again a senior manager said, “Just tell them to change it.” It cost the company money for me to arrive Saturday afternoon instead of Saturday evening.

The reason I needed to be back? My granddaughter was going to be in the Mutton Busting competition at the Pleasant Grove Strawberry Days Rodeo. My initial thought was “Really, I’m going to spend corporate money to see a rodeo?” My friend reminded me that I was already giving up most of a Saturday to travel after a full week of work away from my family.

Today’s trip may have finally tipped me over the edge. I lay in bed, several hours early last night trying unsuccessfully to convince my body to go to sleep. (I’ll sleep on the plane.) I tip-toed around this morning trying to make sure not to wake any of the babies, kids or adults in my house. And for what? So, I could have the cheapest flight.

It’s not really being a jerk, I realize. But, it’s still hard for me to spend company money. Still, the memory of my granddaughter in a vest and a helmet riding a sheep is one that I’ll treasure.

She lasted about 3 seconds. But, it was totally worth it.

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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