All you need is one bag.
I’m constantly amazed at what people bring with them when traveling. I travel 300 days out of the year, and I’ve learned that all you need is one bag, preferably something you can sling over your shoulder, something that fits easily into every overheard compartment of every plane in the world. What do you really need when traveling, after all? A good suit, black and well cut. A change of underwear. Some climate-appropriate casual clothes. An extra pair of socks. Your tablet and cell phone, chargers for each. Bookmarks for hotels, restaurants, limousine services, museums. All your books and magazines on the tablet. You just don’t need anything else.
Arriving at George Bush Intercontinental, I walked past the throngs of people waiting for their baggage and sighed. I understood that families on vacation had concerns I didn’t, but still, people brought too much with them. Clothes they didn’t wear, all sorts of lotions and snacks they didn’t need. Or if they needed, they could buy just as easily on the other end. I breezed by, hungry and happy to be in Houston. I had business in Houston, of course, but I had big plans for Houston too. Houston is one of those cities that invites big plans. It might be all the oil. It was eighty degrees and sunny when I stepped into my hired limo. I don’t always rent a limousine when I arrive in a new city, but I didn’t have any meetings until the next morning, so I had a lot on my agenda and would need transportation all day.
I didn’t drive. Had never learned. There was always some way of getting where you needed to go.
My driver’s name was Sammy, and I requested him every time I rented a limo in Houston. He was a middle-aged, swarthy man of few smiles and fewer words. Getting Sam to smile was a side hobby of mine when in town, and so far I was running at about 15% success rate. We shook hands as he held the door for me, and I slipped into the air-conditioned back seat. I checked email while he settled himself and then glanced up.
“The St. Regis this time, Sam,” I said. “I’ll check in.”
I had Sam wait with the car idling on the gray stone driveway of the St. Regis Houston while I went inside and checked in. I took my room key but didn’t bother going up to the room just yet. I had an agenda and I was intent on the first item on my Houston list. Back in the limo, Sam waited silently for instructions. He knew my habits well enough to know he wouldn’t be able to predict our next move.
“10510 Beechnut Street,” I said with a sly grin.
Sam drove with his usual aplomb and care. What I liked about Sam was his complete calm in any situation, but he also had a sense of humor and adventure, he just didn’t like to show much to customers. Sam was a deep ocean. When we arrived at our location he cracked a smile and turned to look back at me.
“We are going to the Washateria?” he asked, gesturing at the laundromat at the head of the parking lot.
I shook my head, triumphant in having confounded Sam and gotten a smile out of him. “We’re getting lunch.” I pointed at the glorious goal: the Tacos Mayra taco truck, parked as usual in the lot. I ordered two pastor tacos with everything, waited patiently for it all to be prepared right there on the grill, and brought it back to the car. I handed one to Sam and leaned back against the hood to have my lunch. The best tacos in Houston, hands down. Perhaps the best in Texas, I hadn’t yet completed my survey. I scanned the blue, sun-bright sky and thought this was the best possible beginning for a business trip.