Spring is not in the air. However, it’s on our minds. It’s almost time for our annual spring break trip to Gulf Shores. For six years we’ve made the trip south with sisters, kids and dad in tow. And the caravan there has taught us a thing or two about business. Three cars all traveling a perfect 72 mph in unison for 1,200 miles? Impossible. Yet it’s the aim every year. Kind of like topping last year’s sales numbers; we hope we can make it around the first bend before the proverbial wheel comes off.
Whoever is leading the caravan is in a precarious position. As in business, he/she must foresee all problems and navigate all arguments. The first shake-up comes at noon. What to have for lunch? When? Where? And the dreaded: Stopping Already?
Here, the boss must take in all sides, consider each option, and declare a clear path, all without letting on that the decision was made 50 miles ago.
The trick is to appease all (mostly himself) just enough to keep this train on the tracks.
This is why it’s usually Dad’s job. He’s armed with a Garmin GPS (named “Wilma”) and the four decades of authority necessary to cow his three daughters. He will navigate the Southern states with a steady hand at a speed that produces the best gas mileage. And nary a word shall be said about when or where we have lunch.
The Pink Slip
We make it through Michigan, sometimes as far as Tennessee, before someone snaps. Usually it’s a son-in-law hell-bent on burning an extra tank of gas just to see the ocean and his own free will a few hours sooner. When the ex-pat makes his move, the boss becomes concerned. There is a phone call from one car to the next. Later, a text, a brief inquiry on what mile marker they are at. Finally, a concession. We will see you there. A small ripple goes through the caravan. A wheel has come off. As in business, you’ve gotta let some people go.
This freed family car is now a heady mix of exhilaration and teen-age daring. For the first 100 miles. About then, the guilt sets in. Perhaps it’s time to pull over and meet up for dinner? Get a hotel for the night together?
Texts and calls start. The wayward son-in-law sees that The Corporation is a force to be reckoned with. His small start-up is floundering.
Come Day 2, one way or another everyone in the company arrives in Gulf Shores. There is a small reunion, a scuffle for the best bedroom and a staff meeting… over what’s for dinner. No one wants to cook. Everyone is sick of take out. The boss announces (and is craving) brats and hot dogs on the grill. The crew bonds over a small barely controlled cooking fire. It’s a good team-building exercise to keep the fire alarms from going off. It’s just another day of business.
Here’s to one more year of the caravan and the company…