After a few days of conferences, presentations, conversations, and dinners, we found ourselves having an hour at the airport at Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Being there was sort of an accident. It turned out that the only direct flight from Lisbon to Boston on Sata Air (a partner airline of TAP), made a stop here. During that stop, all continuing passengers were required to leave the plane (with all their stuff) and hang around in a waiting room while the plane was spiffed up and fueled. We then continued to Boston.
When we returned to our seats, it was clear that we had entirely missed the point of Ponta Delgada. The plane, that was mostly full for the two-hour hop from Lisbon to the Azores was barely a quarter full for the flight to Boston, Ponta Delgada was the place to be. Our stroll across the tarmac had confirmed temperatures of 20C/70F for this early December day. We were heading towards messy precipitation wandering across the freezing point in Boston. The smart money was staying in the Azores.
The moment provided another facet to the series of communities that occur when travelling. The conference (Felicidade e Sentido de Vida de Trabalho) in Lisbon brought together a vibrant community of workplace researchers on the Iberian peninsula to share ideas, to develop networks, and to confirm our work in diverse areas. A few days before in Zaragoza Spain, the university community launched a new research endeavor in partnership with area businesses to address psycho-social risks at work. And a few weeks previously in Italy a group with the University of Trento brought together people from around the world to build partnerships in understanding major demographic shifts in workforces around the world.
The pause in the Azores provided a transition point between these gatherings on understanding worklife and returning home to family and colleagues. It was an unexpected bubble between these worlds. It provided a pause to reflect on the fine experiences of recent weeks and to shift into the pace of things at home where much to be done awaited us.
When you’re not clever enough to orchestrate such moments, you have to take advantage of them if they fall in your lap.