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Remember your loved ones

Tired, lonely and on the job; Stuart White navigates the dangerous minefield of meeting women on the road


Unlike the fire-breathing Scottish Protestant pastor John Knox I’ve never found women monstrous either as a regiment or as individuals.

I happen to adore and respect them (in general; there have been some spectacular exceptions). But when it comes to business travel the opposite sex have to be listed under: “Females: Potential Hazards of.”

I know many business travellers are women too (and I’ll get to your problems later, ladies), but first let’s deal with that tricky issue for men of what to do about women when you’re on the road.

Like most of us I’ve travelled with female colleagues and stayed in the same hotels. Yes. Quite. There’s something about being in the same sleeping proximity as a female colleague that can, in the wrong circumstances (and that’s when you’re either married or attached) lead to big trouble. It’s been a long day and you and the perfumed colleague have dinner together. The wine flows, secrets are confessed, indiscretions aired. Her boyfriend/husband/partner doesn’t understand her. Your girlfriend/wife/housemate gives you a hard time.

The next thing you know you’re passing one of your bedroom doors, saying goodnight, and then it’s: “Fancy a quick Baileys from the mini-bar?”

Take a tip from one who knows: the face that looks so appealing next to the complimentary chocolate on the pillow tonight will appear excruciatingly embarrassing across a desk or conference room table tomorrow.

And before women reading this get up in arms, let me say I know you’ve got your own unique set of problems.

When you travel you’re being hit on constantly by your own colleagues and even complete strangers. Their chutzpah can be breathtakingly arrogant.

A close female colleague of mine, a mistress of the put-down, was once sitting reading in the foyer of the San Francisco Hyatt at the Embarcadero Centre when a rugged American walked up, gave her what he presumed was a seductive leer and growled: “Hi gorgeous.” She ignored him. Undeterred he sat down next to her and rasped, not sotto-voce, “I really want to make love to you.”

She lowered her Vogue. “Well if you do and I ever find out about it, I’m going to be extremely angry.”

The stud-muffin retired with a bruised ego.

But for us males there’s the thorny – (part pun intended) – problem of the ubiquitous working girl. And I don’t mean a female with a P45, gainfully employed and paying National Insurance.

The other kind exist the world over. A hotel in Manila with a bar full of good-time girls once banned Fed-Ex from collecting a parcel from my room, “to discourage prostitution.” More prosaically I was once propositioned in the lift at the Leeds (then) Dragonara.

In Hong Kong girls bribe desk clerks to let them know when a single male checks in. The guest then gets a telephone call suggesting someone comes up and sees him sometime.

It’s not sexy or wild or edgy; it’s downright risky. Always remember you’re there to work. Chance a brief encounter and you may go home with a souvenir you’ll be showing your GP and hopefully not sharing with your partner.

Here’s a tip. Take a picture of the loved one, the kids too. Put it on your bedside table and if ever you’re tempted, take a look. Is a stranger in the night moment really worth it?

But even highly-paid executives can be naïve when it comes to women. I was once entertained by a senior man in my company at the famous Beverly Wilshire of Pretty Woman fame (and that alone should have been a clue).

As we drank margaritas at the bar two 20 year old blonde girls came in wearing skirts the size of an England captain’s armband. I got a come hither smile from one. The other gave my boss the same treatment. He beamed back, then leaned over and whispered, “I think those girls fancy us Stu.”


“Ben,” I said (his name has been changed for the sake of his pride), “With great respect. You’re 63, I’m 52. If two gorgeous young girls like this give us the come on it can mean only two things. Either they’re mentally deranged or they’re hookers. Possibly both. Remember Monster, that film where psychopathic drug-addicted prostitute Charlize Theron shot her clients and ended up in the electric chair?”

Ben found an urgent reason to call his wife. You do the same.

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