March 01, 2013
It had all begun when the doc said, “Turn and cough,” followed long seconds later by, “Hmmmm,” something he'd never said before. The diagnosis, alas: a hernia. Normally, it's no big deal and can be monitored for years, he said. But then again, things can go bad quickly, at which point it's 911 and sirens. I chose to be proactive. A grown-up. That was before. Now with less than 24 hr. to showtime, the kid in me was worried. How much will this hurt?
Fast forward to the following afternoon. I was back at my desk, checking email, sending files and answering the phone, a dutiful corporate soldier at his post. No one knew that I had just been cut, sewn, drugged and tossed; that there was a fresh zip line and staples in my gut; or that happy tabs of oxycodone were keeping the snarling beasts at bay.
The good part about ambulatory care is that you get to go home quickly. Turns out the bad part is the same, since there's no smiling candy striper with a tray of goo and a brownie, no Get Well cards and balloons, no visits from clucking friends and family. Meanwhile, the deadlines are unmoved.
The orders for my convalescence were simple: No heavy lifting, no driving, no strain — most definitely no shoveling no matter how deep the white stuff — and pop those pills as necessary. Easy enough. But after four days of internment in a snowbound house, I was going a bit bonkers. And that's in a place large enough to accommodate a pack of teenagers simultaneously. I couldn't wait to escape. I really was kind of desperate for open space, fresh air and sunshine.
Finally free, I got to thinking about confinement while baby stepping along Main Street. It seems to me that no matter how comfortable the circumstances, once told you can't leave the space it begins to close in. Thus, even a captain's chair on a business jet can get uncomfortably close, if that's where you must remain throughout a long flight.
Now apply that to the new generation of ultra-long-range uberjets from Gulfstream, Bombardier and others. These provide the ultimate in business travel by every measure of comfort, technology and performance, including range. Most particularly, range. These are true globetrotters, able to fly 7,000 nm nonstop and more. That's New York to Beijing; London to Jakarta; São Paulo to Moscow; Cape Cod to Cape Town, among an almost infinite number of distant city-pairs. Extraordinary reach.
Put another way, that's 14, 15, 16 hr. or more between takeoff and touchdown. A long time with not much to do, probably, since the systems on the super jets are highly automated and amazingly reliable.
Hopefully, the folks in back welcome visits from those up front, however briefly, just so they can stretch their legs. Still, even with a well-provisioned galley and a separate crew lav, quarters forward get tight by the end of a third watch.