Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
I wish I knew how to type the sound of laughing out loud. “LOL” just doesn’t cut it. When I first saw the movie Lost in Translation, I must have been the only frequent business traveler in the theater. Let’s just say that I LOL-ed more than anyone. Between jet lag, strange hotel room features, clashes with colleagues, and trying to explain your surroundings to your family while they are a million miles away, frequent business travelers might feel that their past experiences were chronicled to make this movie.
The moment in the movie where “Charlotte” (Scarlett Johansen) perches in the window frame looking down at the Tokyo cityscape, is a common vantage point for the business traveler. Sometimes, that’s all you see of the city you are visiting. There’s no time to enjoy it from the streets. But the view from the top makes you feel that you’ve actually been somewhere other than in an airplane, a cab, an office, a conference room and the airport. Same with the scenes of city lights reflecting in the windows of a cab hailed at night. Sometimes that is the only reflection a city leaves on you while on the run. Yet there is a sense while looking up at those tall buildings from the back seat that makes you feel like a visitor and not just someone blowing through a city to get to your next appointment.
The scenes in the hospital where the kindness of strangers in an unfamiliar town makes the experience less uncomfortable is probably something to which some of us can relate. I once had to call a hotel physician while traveling out of state. What a scary experience. But it is amazing how nice people are when they sense the desperation in your ill voice while thousands of miles from home.
Have you ever called home like Bill Murray’s character did to share a good feeling or experience on your trip at a moment when your spouse is in the middle of the drudgery of domestic life? Makes you think you should have called some other time, or not at all. This movie will make you feel that someone understands the isolation that business travel and wrote a script based on your life. Ah, the bitter and the sweet of spending so much time on the road. Although you get to see it all, the job of traveling is in addition to the job you are performing while traveling. Sometimes it’s hard for our loved ones on the home front to understand that.
Of course, then there is the recurring experience of waking up in your hotel room and not knowing where you are. Add to that a strange hotel “amenity” like curtains that open automatically letting the sun pour in all over your jetlagged body first thing in the morning. I choked on my popcorn laughing in the movie theater when this happened to Bill Murray’s character. It has actually happened to me. Or, what about the wake-up call that shocks you from sleep, especially if you didn’t request one? Such a simple detail, but such a unique comical experience…when it’s over of course. Bill Murray played that moment as if it were real, sleepy and stunned at the same time.
As in the movie, it helps to have terrific travel companions. Having delightful co-workers with whom you can travel often makes even the most hectic of trips enjoyable. With them you can share some of the occupational hazards that stem from business travel. It makes the journey that much easier, especially when visiting somewhere for the first time. The line in the movie: “Let’s never come here again, because it would never be as much fun” rings true each time I visit a new city and am fortunate enough to travel with the gems I call my colleagues. There is always a moment over a drink or a dinner where the end of the day laughter sets in and it becomes so clear how fortunate it is to have the life of a business traveler. It is a gift. There are exceptions, but mostly, it’s a gift.
Although I recommend the movie, I do not recommend re-enacting certain scenes, such as singing karaoke in a strange town with your collegues after so many cocktails. Even if you do it in Vegas, it's still business travel, so you will likely have to see these people again. Trust my advice on this one.
If you missed Lost In Translation in the theater, you can revisit it here.