A boondoggle is an activity that is pointless. In the military, I heard tales of boondoggles but never thought to experience one. As it turned out, I did. My first international trip was as a member of the United States Air Force. It was the only TDY (temporary duty) I experienced that could qualify as a boondoggle. Not the entire trip. Just one outstanding day. As luck would have it, I was traveling at the same time as CINC NORAD (NORAD’s four-star general) from Colorado to London, so I hitched a ride on his military flight. In London, I hopped on a train and went north toward Whitby where I spent a week testing software. When I wasn’t testing or sleeping, I enjoyed walking the town where Dracula landed in Bram Stoker’s book. It was my first experience with history on this scale, and I loved the ruins as much as the buildings. I also enjoyed the sheep in the fields and the green of the landscape. Testing complete, I returned to London. I had a stop over to change trains in York, the city where my father’s family originated. I only had time for a cursory look, but it was interesting.
In London, I checked in with the general’s aide to find out if I would fly back on the general’s plane or make reservations on a civilian flight. The general would be in town for a few more days, and the number crunchers decided it would be cheaper for me to wait. For the remainder of my stay in London, I rose each morning, dressed in my blues (suit and tie), checked in with the general’s aide, and learned what my schedule was for the day. I either attended meetings (interesting, but I wasn’t vital to the proceedings) or was told I had the day free (boondoggle). In the end, I had one glorious day (from mid-morning until dinner) to tour London.
I walked the streets, took the subway, and relished my first experience as a tourist outside of the USA. I enjoyed myself very much and think I made good use of my boondoggle.