For anyone who has traveled for work, you know that you rarely have the time to truly see and visit the places you are working in. So for every deep-dish pizza suggestion I receive prior to Chicago trips, scenic hike recommendations in New England, and go-to music spots in New Orleans, once I explain that I have very limited hours for which to explore these new locations I’m met with a furrowed brow of pity.
Why is it still exciting then, you may ask? While I’m sure other business travelers can offer their own rebuttals, the work we do at Stories provides the unique opportunity to have very genuine interactions with individuals. When you talk to someone about their work, you get more than just the 9-5. They share stories. You learn their passions, their failures, their maybe-one-days. Their motivations at home, their secret hobbies. All colored by the lives they’ve lived and the places where they have chosen to live them.
At the end of one of our travel days, I can honestly say I’ve had at least 10 extremely genuine conversations with people from that new area. That’s a heck of a lot more than I can sometimes say for my weekend getaways with friends.
So when we got the opportunity to travel to Germany and Switzerland for filming, I was over the moon. We had longer evenings and a few extra days with which to explore the area.
Which is how we found ourselves in a bustling traditional Swiss restaurant. As we finished up a delicious meal of sandwiches, spätzli, and more cheese than we could eat, a few people passed our table on their way towards the back of the restaurant.
Suddenly, Scott says, “Is that Teresa?” in reference to a woman we interviewed for this organization a few weeks back at one of the U.S. locations.
After the obligatory, “not a chance” reaction, I look up and can’t believe my eyes – somehow, we had run into Teresa from Pennsylvania at a random little restaurant in Switzerland.
Now for some quick personal context, while I do consider myself a friendly person I have been known to pretend not to see someone in public if I do not have anything in particular to say to them. And what did I really have to say to Teresa, anyway? We interacted with her for a 20-minute interview, so what?
Without hesitation I raised my voice slightly, called out her name and waved her over. She turned around and, after the expected moment of confusion, a huge smile broke out over her face.
“Hey, you’re the camera people!” she exclaimed, and came over to say hello. It was no more than a three-minute conversation; she was genuinely excited that we were in Switzerland filming, too, and we wanted to hear about the project that brought her in town for the week. We were all still in awe at the serendipitous meeting in such a foreign place.
After we settled the bill and began to leave, I couldn’t keep a smile off my face for long. It hit me in that moment, how lucky I really was. Not only have I been able to work with a wide variety of incredible organizations, I’m creating relationships with individuals around the world.
What more could you ask from a ‘work trip,’ really?