Why are most jobs so boring? Across from me sits a lady totally obsessed with horses, she’s 50 going on 800 and looks like she’s constantly losing a fight with life. I have never thought this sort of existence was for me, and yet I’ve ended up stuck in a monkey suit all week, looking forward to a drunken existence on the weekend. I find myself dreaming about freedom, discovering new places and meeting interesting people. My phone rings, it’s a client I usually deal with by pretending I’m not available or let my poor assistant look after. She’s at lunch, I push the ignore button and drift off again. I realise that the outlook of doing this for another 40 years makes me want to shout rude things and kick people…
There are several methods I use to help ease me through a long day in the office. A current favourite is hiding a realistic severed zombie head in the fridge.. hilarious. I often compare a corporate job to eating a Big Mac, When you’re hungry, it looks great from the outside, it smells good and the marketing’s wonderful at selling the Big Mac dream, but when youre face is full of greasy meat, plastic cheese and cheap bread, it’s not as fantastic as it first appeared. Polished, clinical and attractive from the outside the corporate life lacks substance and I’ve found largely leaves people tired, stressed and unfulfilled (as a side note it also makes you fat). Sitting at my desk trying to think of a few more interesting analogies to compare my job to the fast food industry, I drift off again and remember a previous misadventure in Southeast Asia. Jumping 8 metres off a set of rocks into a narrow patch of water surrounded by submerged rocks was just a little more exciting than going through my inbox. It was also the kind of situation that my parents (and my travel insurance) probably shouldn’t find out about.
I’m not a small fellow, standing about 190 cms tall, 80% of which seems to be leg, meaning that I’m pretty much double the average height of the population of Asia and look a bit like a giant white tree (so white that sometimes I have to wear sunglasses when I take a shower). I had also decided at this point of this trip to cut my hair into a badly bleached orange mohawk, just to help me further blend in with the local Asian people. Going for a swim was an interesting experience with words like ‘Moby Dick’ springing to mind. – And just as a side note, during this trip at no point was I harpooned by a local.
I’m a pretty easy going sort of guy, not prone to sensationalism or overreacting. In fact I’m probably too laid for my own good. Take a recent foray to Japan for example: The Japanese islands were hit with the 7th Worst earthquake in history with regular aftershocks, Tsunami’s and nuclear fallout. These events took place on a Friday, so quite clearly the ideal time to travel to Japan is on Saturday. Two flights later we wake up bleary eyed in Tokyo, strolling through a deserted Narita airport, half hoping the Zombie Apocalypse has finally happened and wondering if a Japanese zombie would politely ask to eat me before feasting on my face.
Suddenly I snap back into reality, sitting at my beige desk wondering where the past year’s disappeared to. Why is so much office furniture beige anyway? The colour beige makes my brain want to commit suicide. I need to get out before it’s too late, need to hit the road and experience some proper long term travel, vagabonding style.
First, I need a starting destination. Calmly I picked up the dart, weighed it in my hand, tested the point then turned, narrowed my left eye and hurled it across the office towards the nearest world map. The map turned out to be somewhat further from my desk than I had initially thought and since travelling into the outer atmosphere was probably going to stretch the budget a little I had to try again. ‘Thunk’ the point slammed into the middle of China. Done.
After talking with an old mate in Hong Kong I settled on starting in Shanghai then diving inland through the Anhui province into the heart of the rural China before heading north up towards Beijing. Three borrowed guidebooks, six hours of meticulous Google searching, several flight schedules, and enough coffee to bring Kim Jong ill back to life, I decide to completely ignore China and instead head to North America… I clenched my fist, bore my teeth and loudly screamed “Screw you fate!” at the sky, provoking a deer in the headlights sort of look from the guy sitting next to me. “I’m starting in New York!” How was throwing a dart at a map ever going to work!?” After attempting to avoid eye contact by hiding behind his monitor for a few moments he responded with an apathetic shrug, then went back to loudly hitting his keyboard; forcing me to again, pat myself metaphorically on the back for getting out of this mess before I was lost, too far down the rabbit hole of soul crushing corporate boredom to ever recover.
Next step: The lost art of ‘less is more’ long term travel planning