MEET: Andrew Hickey//Melbourne
Profession: Project Manager
Words to live by: Early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!
Recommended book: Escobar.
Currently listening: All Time High, The Holidays.
Travel has taught me: Perspective and that Melbourne's kick ass.
I am most inspired by: Tony Egan's book of ideas.
In my suitcase I always carry: Less than what I always seem to need.
Longest trip away from home: If Melbourne's home, 9 months.
If I could return anywhere: Eating gelati in Siena.
There is an inherent nature and expectation of meeting people, but it is the chance encounters with the unplanned that remains front of mind.
We map, snap and clap our way from city to city, and often fail to notice how much an impact the locals have on our trips.
I was always the headphone wearing, pretend duty-free camera shopping, wait till they call my name two times kind of passenger. The one you all hate, but I'm an OK guy. It was just my routine to keep a level of sanity in a sterile airport world.
A walk down the bridge, casually nodding at the awaiting hostess flashing but a glimpse of my boarding stub and straight to my window seat. Right hand side of plane. The only place I could sleep, pointy end or cattle class.
Earphones still in!
For me, that window was my window of opportunity. That window took me to places and people that I treasured, respected, despised and loathed. No longer living a life on the road, that window is more a mirror: a chance to not only look on myself, but the human element of the journey that was the past six years. I tried to be both types of traveller, but was far more vocational than vacational.
As an organizer of full scale televised golf tournaments throughout Asia, my job is regularly glamorous building temporary towns on golf courses for thousands to enjoy over a one week span. One town became a vivid fusion between the affluent and the humble. My town had billionaires, decision makers and limelight hoggers, problem makers and solution creators just as much as it had gardeners on $1 a day. Among the mix was everyday people - maybe I wasn't one of them when I thought I was.
One man was a Chinese electrician working for a marquee company who only spoke two words of English to every Westerner he met - “Me Sparky,” which was the nickname we'd given him. 'Sparky' ended up requesting to work on all events we did and became one of the event crew you can't wait to catch up with, despite not being able to have a conversation with. Or the Greenkeeper's mechanic on Jeju Isand - the who just wanted to say hello and was duped into learning different words which led him to tell me "I love you" five times daily in front of everyone present.
At a smaller event in Thailand a young man in his early 20’s from middle class Kyrgyzstan was heavily criticized for choosing not to wear a new pair of golf shoes gifted to each player, instead choosing his dusty, torn and worn Nike running shoes to play in. As it turned out, he gestured and struggled to communicate it was one of my own who formed the judgement he was not worthy of the new shoes. When a mate and I went shopping to sort him out with more than shoes, his look of gratitude amongst long-awkward language barrier conversations was more than enough in return.
And now it’s the people I hope to meet. The three kids that grew up without a father in rural South Korea, and lost their mother who passed away in a road accident at my event. And to which I ask could I have planned or implemented anything better?
I've learned to travel far and wide and meet the people. The person I reflect on most is the one I never met.
You can follow Andrew and a team of travelers at Rome2Rio, an organized platform of the world's transport information.