Admissions travel can be incredibly boring. Admissions folks like to say, “The faculty think we’re always traveling first class to tropical destinations where we spend our time in full-on tourist mode.” I don’t know if faculty actually think this, but, as with all stories, there is some truth and some fiction.
There are most definitely some perks that come with admissions travel. You do get to see some pretty cool sites that you may not have otherwise seen. You also rack up the frequent flier miles and hotel points. The downside is, there are far more Worcester, MA visits then there are week-long stays in the Bahamas.
More-often-than-not, travel consists of too-small rental cars, coach seats in the back of the plane, and solitary meals. It can be hard to keep your spirits up and to break out of the doldrums. To do so, you sometimes have to be willing to act on the mundane—the object that you might easily drive by, walk by, or completely ignore.
This has happened to me more than once as I’ve spent countless days on the road in my career in admissions. Once while driving down to Richmond, VA from D.C., I saw a little sign on the side of the highway that said Frank Lloyd-Wright house. I had some time and decided to pull off and see what I could see. It turned into a great solo tour of Wright’s Pope-Leighey House. Crysalis Vineyards is another found off the road gem that I would return to every year.
The latest mini-adventure started at a taco joint in Denver, CO. I happened to stop in there for lunch and saw a random postcard by the register. It had a squirrel and to pairs of cowboy boots and a phone number to call. I grabbed one, and read the back of it while I ate my two fantastic tacos.
I’m not sure if it was the squirrel, or the “Only $60 a pair!” that caught my eye, but I was definitely intrigued. I googled the phone number and didn’t come up with much except for a seldom updated, campy looking Facebook page. I put it aside, and then, finally, decided that I would be forever filled with regret if I didn’t call the number and embark upon this adventure clearly laid out in front of me.
I called the number at 9:00 a.m. having about an hour-and-a-half before I needed to head to airport to catch my flight back east. Of course, the guy who picked up was eating a taco at the same place where I saw his card. He gave me his address and said he would meet me there in an hour.
I arrived at a small Sears-Roebuck house that was decorated on the exterior in a style that is exactly what you would expect from a guy who’s primary form of advertisement is a postcard with a couple of pairs of boots, a squirrel and a phone number. George, the proprietor, was one the steps, smiling and welcoming my inside.
The inside was cramped, onside with used furniture that he was planing on selling, and the other with a shelves of boots—tons of them. I tried on a half-dozen pairs of them without success, my man, George, chatting away the entire time, )He was a talker) until I finally found a pair of gently used, handmade boots from Peru in my size. They fit great, looked a little different (in a good way), and were the right price. I walked away a happy man, and on time for my flight.
Is there a lesson here? Yes, I think there is. It is that when provided the opportunity to travel, wether it be 10,000 miles from home, or 10, you should do so with eyes (and mind) wide open.
You never know when a great pair of cowboy boots are just around the corner.