[Beware; there's absolutely no investment content below. If you're looking for something thought-provoking, look elsewhere . . .]
So here we are in the thick of the fall annual meeting season, which means I’ve got Seat 22E Palsy – again. I’ve often said that I accomplish 105% of my annual productivity while on the road, but it’s really hard to bang out an investment memo or board book report (or a blog post) from a middle seat on a tightly packed Southwest Seven-Three-Gee. The amount of sustained contortion necessary to do anything more than one-finger-peck a laptop would stress out even a seasoned Chinese acrobat; I sometimes wonder if I could expense the massage I invariably need after a long flight in a middle seat . . . it’s either that or some kind of workman’s comp claim (just kidding . . . anyhow, the workman’s comp cats probably would have a hoot about a milquetoast investor like me bellyaching about sore shoulders; the country has bigger problems).
But seriously, I find that the most effective way to tap-tap away is to scrunch up one’s shoulders, rotate the torso about 25 degrees and go cross-handed, with one hand taking the top half of the keyboard and the other the lower. Every now and again, you gotta switch it up and go southpaw, or else you can cramp up. I used to hate connecting flights, but now I relish the computer free climb-outs and descents offered by each stopover that give my aching back a break. It’s a hard knock life (said sarcastically . . . there are a million worse things I could be doing with my days and nights).
But if you’ll indulge me for a moment, dear reader, I’ve got a gripe that I need to get off my chest:
I've noticed that security lines now ask travelers to self-select into cohorts by traveling skill; there’s even a ski slope-like rating system. I fancy myself an expert traveler, so I look for the black diamond. I bet there’s even a double-black hidden away in a known-only-to-locals corner at Hartsfield-Atlanta or Orchard Field (that’s the old-school name for O’Hare, hence airport code ORD; I got your useless knowledge right here, pal!)
Anyhow, I really think there should be some sort of sanction if you screw up in an expert traveler line. Walking through the metal detector with your six-pound, all-steel “Don’t Mess with Texas” belt buckle? Three months probation. Left your boarding pass in your duffel bag that just went through the metal detector? Two hours community service. Forgot to remove your laptop? $1000 fine and five days in jail. Seriously. You’re in the expert traveler line and you don’t remove a laptop?!?
And I've noticed that Midway Airport is the worst . . . it’s as if people's brains are addled from having endured another Sisyphean season by their beloved Cubbies. But in the Southwest terminal, there's a Kafka-esque twist: the expert traveler line snakes around out of sight, so you have to commit to what might e a 30 minute wait while the rookies are breezing through. Sometimes you realize just as you've turned the corner that the posse from the senior center is taking its annual trip to Reno or the girls of I Tappa Kegga are spring breaking (Like Omigod! Like what do you mean I can’t like bring my like 48 ounce bottle of like aloe acai essence conditioner on the plane with me?!? Like Oh! My! Gawd!) Sorry, girls, you gotta remember the 3-1-1 rules. After all, violators will be prosecuted. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to sign off . . . my shoulders are starting to cramp up again.