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WHAT I WISH FOR YOU THIS SEASON
By Joe Brancatelli
December 9, 2010 -- Fifty-two weeks a year I am deliriously content to chronicle the realities of our lives on the road. It is my job, my passion, my duty and, I freely admit, a comforting crease in the fabric of my own life on the road.

But the year is almost over and, just this once, I want to write about what I wish business travel was about.

I wish we were all happier to be on the road. There was a time when we all looked forward to a business trip.

I wish you a chance encounter with your favorite flick while you are dispiritedly switching channels in some lonely hotel room on your third or 30th business trip of the year.

I wish we didn't have a Transportation Security Administration that is so oddly obsessed that it can ban snow globes in carry-on bags. And I wish that there was someone at the TSA who saw the Web site's wording--"snow globes and like decorations regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation"--and realized that maybe the agency was wasting time and alienating travelers.

I wish we could remember to say "Thanks!" more often to the flight crews. All of them have suffered humiliating personal setbacks in wages and benefits since 9/11.

I wish you five consecutive flights where you are the one who gets upgraded because coach is full and there's an empty seat in first class.

I wish you an upgrade to the Presidential Suite because the hotel is oversold.

I wish we never forget that we are the privileged. We're doing more than okay if the worst thing in our lives is that we don't get the upgrade.

I wish us the strength not to look away and do nothing when we see a homeless person huddled in a doorway next to the hotel where we're staying.

I wish you a rental car with a great sound system on the day you wander into a music shop on a whim and finally find that CD you've been searching for all your life.

I wish that your credit card company would call and say, "The billing error is all our fault and we'll correct it immediately without any more effort on your part."

I wish you a good cell-phone signal when you're talking to someone you love back home and you only have four minutes before your next flight.

I wish Ray Charles were still with us. I wish someone would find some unreleased Dusty Springfield. I wish you hear every single song Ella and Louis recorded together. I wish you come across a tune like A Comet Appears and realize there's a world of great music out there that you haven't heard yet.

I wish the journey were still part of the adventure.

I wish everyone still had a grandmother who was just over the river and through the woods so we wouldn't have to go to airports on the holidays.

I wish we all ate better on the road. I wish hotels especially would stop stocking their mini-bars with fatty snacks.

I wish you the sense of the moment to help some befuddled traveler who's gotten lost or needs some help at the airport.

I wish you find an app that makes your life on the road easier to manage.

I wish you fly somewhere some day just because you always wanted to see.

I wish you stroll into an gallery or museum during a spare moment on the road and find a piece of art that truly moves you.

I wish you a year without middle seats.

I wish you great powder on your ski vacation and fair skies and sunshine on your beach holiday. I wish you a warm day in Rome, April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom, a perfect dumpling in Shanghai, a crisp and sweet Fuji apple in Tokyo and a cold glass of frothy guarana in São Paulo.

I wish you find the perfect gift in an airport shop to bring back to your kid to make up for another missed ballgame or recital or birthday. I wish that you don't miss any of them because of a business trip.

I wish we would stop obsessing about why this is the holiday season and what we call it. If you are Christian, Merry Christmas. If you're Jewish, enjoy the last moments of Chanukah. If you're a pagan, have a great winter Solstice. If you celebrate Kwanza, have a great holiday. If you're Hindu or a Sikh, I hope your Diwali was bright and joyous. If you're Muslim, I hope Al-Hijra is the start of a better year.

I wish we'd remember that our strength has never lain in homogeneity, but in diversity. Celebrate what you celebrate. Believe what you believe. If we resolve to be men and women of good will, we can work this all out.

I wish we remember the reason for the season. I wish we all go to MileDonor and donate some.

I wish you tidings of comfort and joy. I wish you love in your life, beauty in your heart and strength in your body. I wish you 525,600 minutes of singing out loud.

I wish you a happy new year and, more than ever, I wish you peace.

I wish the news is good when we return to this little spot on the Web next week.

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.