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Woe Be to the Husband on Business Travel - A Guest Blog

Posted on Oct 02, 2005. 0 comments

Today's Blog Entry was written by the Husband, who approaches day 15 away from home.
More than two weeks have gone by, and the crew on-travel is dog tired. We have dodged hurricanes, hotels booked to capacity, marginally competent flight liaisons, sleep, and a very demanding schedule, all with reasonable success. Unfortunately, other matters have befallen us with lesser fortune: marginal system performance, meddlesome customers, an imminent test deadline, people who promise aircraft on dates that don't deliver, and immense physical, emotional and mental fatigue. Worst of all, all the married men on the crew feel the ever-increasing sensation that the Wives are gearing up to depart for their Second Choice. Perhaps I take a small, albeit perverse, comfort that Barak Obama is already married. Or gay. Or both.
And, oh, are the Wives pissed. Every last man on the crew has a story, and a corresponding pennance to offer up to his womanfolk upon return. For some, it is a working vacation abroad. For the more anniversary-challenged among us, granite kitchen countertops: many of the crew have asked the person in question for the number of his contractor. For me, I know it will be yarn, whether procured by the Wife or not is immaterial, perhaps enough to knit the much-needed house cozy. The cost is the same for all men (except for the anniversary-challenged, which is much higher); the means dependent on the individual. $2000 in yarn is the same as $2000 in vacation.
Let all Husbands who follow our footsteps learn and heed what this humble Servant of Science deems the Laws of Penitent Business Travel. Any physicist or engineer who had a competent thermodynamics professor will find that the Laws dovetail surprisingly well with the Laws of Thermodynamics (although, perhaps with the exception of the Third Law, the lay person should be able to follow without need to read Kittel). The First Law is what we have learned to refer to as "conservation of marginal revenue":
The amount of overtime dollars earned for work away from home is offset exactly by the penitent offering to the Wife in exchange for the time spent away from home in the first place.
That is to say, money is neither created nor lost in the process of business travel. He who thinks he will have $1000 more to add to the nest egg at the end of his travel will soon find that he has no more or less than he did when he started in the first place. Example: the Husband's two-week trip to a test in Nevada away from home last year resulted in a windfall that was offset exactly by the Las Vegas vacation that followed it.
The Second Law deals with the concept of "Increase of Familial Entropy", and is stated thusly:
The accumulation of overtime dollars earned for work away from home results in a small, but non-negligible, increase in familial disorder that cannot be recovered completely by exchanging said dollars for penitent offering to the Wife.
That is to say, the yard doesn't get straightened out, the dog and kids don't get as much play time, and the wife doesn't get as much sex home cooking as she's used to having. In the limit of constant travel, the disorderly outcome is usually along the lines of the Wife leaving the Husband for her Second Choice (I'm watching you, Obama).
Except for the anniversary-challenged amongst the crew, most of us are comparatively safe in that domain; most Husbands learn the amount of travel away (and perhaps most importantly, which lock-out dates to avoid) from home per year they can reasonably expect to get away with, and most wives accept begrudgingly the range of travel time that the Husband imposes on the family. Most Husbands aware of the first two laws strive accordingly to minimize their travel so as not to strain the limits of Familial Entropy. However, most fail to recognize and accept what this humble Servant of Science refers to as the Third Law of Penitent Business Travel, stated as follows:
As the amount of work performed away from home (and the associated overtime dollars earned therein) approaches zero linearly, the amount of associated familial disorder approaches zero logarithmically.
Example: Husband goes on travel for ten days. Assume for this instance the Wife's "anger factor" is 1.0 (where 0.0 is "morning nookie" and 2.0 is "cut off"). Husband instead learns that he goes on travel for two days. Wife's "anger factor" has only reduced to 0.8, not the hoped-for 0.2. Because some amount of business travel is inevitable, the Husband is always screwed, "morning nookie" reference notwithstanding.
So to summarize, we have encapsulated the three Laws of Penitent Business Travel in a simple nutshell:
1. You can't win.
2. You must lose.
3. You can't quit.
And that, fellow Husband, is a true lesson learned.

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