Have You Thanked Your Trip Planner Today?

While I have assembled copious notes on the PRISM/privacy/This-is-the-beginning-of-the-end debate, methinks the passions are a little too high right now for rational debate -- not that this is necessarily the place you come for a rational perspective, I confess. Instead, this week I would like to explore how I came to be downwind of tear gas shot by Turkish police at protesters in and around Taksim Square in Istanbul.

In every relationship, tasks seem to adhere to the person 1) most inclined to do them on a regular basis because they are basically a gender match (check tire pressure vs. reorganize closets); 2) who hates doing it, but realizes that in order to maintain that oh-so-delicate marital balance of power, they should just shut up and keep doing it; 3) who is really far better than the other person at getting it all done; or, perhaps most pervasively 4) is so compulsive and anxious about having it done right, they essentially absorb ownership of the task.

In a perfect world, all tasks are shared equally and no one complains to their friends at Pilates class that their spouse sits on his big fat ass watching football while the leaves still need to be raked. But since the beginning of time, it seems those of the male persuasion have lagged well behind their significant others in the delivery of child-rearing and household maintenance.  I believe there are several Old Testament references to back that up.



In our home the division seems to fall pretty clearly between "inside" the home and "outside" -- meaning that if it happens in the yard or to a car or on an athletic field, it is my responsibility. Still, there are plenty of inside-the home tasks that adhere to me, including fixing anything broken, paying the bills and yelling at the kids for still being up at midnight on a school night.

Thanks to item 4 in above paragraph 2, my wife is the family's default travel agent. Not that the rest of us aren't perfectly capable of searching Kayak and booking flights -- but we tend to do it about two hours before it is time to leave for the airport. My wife starts as soon as there is even a vague reference to the possibility of a trip at some point in the yet-to-be-determined future.

And unlike us, rather than click on the first hotel that meets our price point (or has a cool infinity pool), she gets on the phone for hours, grilling professional travel agents and friends who might have been to that city to assure that there are no roaches or nearby construction sites. The result is that, by and large, our family trips are pothole-free.

With a recent college graduate about to leave home and another spawn about to leave for college, my wife perceptively thought this might be the right year for a significant family trip. So off we went for a cruise from Athens to Istanbul, with exotic stops like Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes in between. While the kids grumbled that the average age of the others on our ship was "old retired people," they were just as dazzled by the sights along the way as we were. Although being "force-marched" by the old man across the ruins at Rhodes, Ephesus and Istanbul was deemed cruel and unusual punishment.

One can only hope that the kids at least appreciated the sights, people, meals and shopping involved in the trek -- because NONE of us fully appreciated the amount of forward planning that clearly had gone into the trip. Not everything was perfect (including being downwind of that Taksim Square tear gas), but enough was that I thought it more important to say thank you to our default in-house travel agent in a very public way, than debate PRISM, et al.

So, Cleary Simpson (wherever you are in Cannes today), thank you for doing all that grindingly frustrating advance planning, for those hours on the phone, for second-guessing every moment, all the while working your real job and managing the two graduation activities. Although they are still sleeping off that 11-hour flight back from Istanbul, I know the kids join me in profound gratitude for a trip well done.

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