Last year for a business trip instead of traveling by plane, I took the train round trip to my destination. Instead of spending 10 hours each way to travel, I spent 40 hours and learned a lot in the process of taking time to smell the roses as the saying goes.
For those of us that have had to travel by plane the past few years, you know it is not a treat anymore to be jammed into a fully packed plane let alone the service experience on the ground and in the air is not what it used to be. Factor in a decision to stop the Space Shuttle program at NASA, my wife and I decided that if we were ever going to take a trip on the train it better be soon before that mode of transportation is gone forever.
Going from Southern California to Chicago is a two night trip on the train so we decided to book a sleeper accommodation that even included our meals in the dinning car. We had a large picture window to watch the world go by as we traveled 78 miles per hour most of the time. We saw deserts, mountains, farms and crossed a few rivers. We packed a bunch of things to do on the trip (so we wouldn’t be bored) and found ourselves taking in the view most of the time, and talking with each other for hours.
We arrived at our destination rested, and thanks to the continual movement of the train, surprisingly relaxed as every knotted muscle had been shaken loose in the past 40 hours. The return trip went by quicker than expected and when we returned to work; it was like we had been on vacation instead of a business conference.
Although we took nearly four times as long to travel, the train left on time and arrived on time. The level of service was delivered by long-term employees, that genuinely loved their job and train travel themselves, so it translated into superior service to the passengers. We saw more of the country than a bunch of clouds, and met new people over meals sharing in our joint experiences on the train, and learning about the differences in where we were headed. Each stop caused us to both gain new passengers while others left the train giving our world a diversity of people not found in other forms of transportation.
As I got back to work after I got home, I was struck with how much we focus on today and the future in trends and technologies. We strive for the latest gadget, or solution that will bring us in line with what everyone else is doing. From my experience that week I learned that although the future is fascinating, I kind of enjoyed a chance to experience a slower pace. Slowing down is not bad if we learn new things, meet new people, and get to know each other better in the end.