“What would we do without these?” the man in the elevator asked me, pointing to the smart phones in both of our hands.
I smiled politely. But instead of feeling grateful, as I usually do for my various devices, I was thinking back to my first business trip quite a few years ago.
It was probably 1998 – or possibly 1997 – when I was dispatched to Los Angeles on a four night trip with a senior coworker from another department who was leading the trip. He selected the Ritz in Pasadena (now the Langham Huntington). Okay then!
Our work commitments for this trip were to take place on that Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Otherwise I was free to do whatever. I didn’t have a personal laptop at this point and the practice of loaning them out wasn’t commonplace.
I had my first cell phone, but I remember using it judiciously. And not getting many calls. Most likely because my parents and a few close friends were the few, the lucky, to have the number.
When I wasn’t working, what did I do? I hung out by the hotel pool, of course. The only problem with that was running into my coworker, both of us nearly nude.
The coworker and I shared a rental car so when I had access to it, I’d sneak away to see friends, alternately thrilling in the sense of maturity and freedom I felt and stressing over “can I expense this?”
Looking back, this had to be one of the best business trips ever. It would be such a treat to go on a smartphone and laptop-free business trip to a beautiful place!