“The Last Mile” is a phrase used in the telecommunications and technology industries to describe the final piece of the communication journey that connects the network to the end-user or customer. In more jargon-y tech circles, it’s often referred to as the “last-mile problem,” because the end link to consumer is too often disproportionately expensive or difficult to achieve. Even compared to the costs associated with rolling out broadband wire and hardware across the globe, last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues, infrastructure barriers, and high costs.
It’s so beguiling that there are many publicly traded companies focused exclusively on the “challenge” of facilitating this precarious one-on-one connection. Pursuit of this delicate alignment extends to transportation logistics, as well. From traditional heavy goods shipments to e-commerce-driven home deliveries, the last mile plays a critical role in the supply chain. It’s the ultimate destination – the final frontier. Get it wrong, and you risk customer alienation. Get it right, and you create a meaningful, high-value, and potentially lasting relationship.
That’s the connection. My wheels are turning—thinking about that ever-so-bumpy road that often characterizes “the last mile” in our most intimate relationships. A metaphor is born. You know the adage that those closest to us have the power to hurt us the most deeply. Well, here we go. I think the struggle of the last mile speaks to this. Yet, the sad part is that some us never let anyone down that barren stretch of highway into the inner sanctum of our hearts. Even if someone finds entrance ramp, there are often too many twists and turns, culverts and crevasses—too many dead-ends . . . or just too many barricades. Plus, there are all those the emergency vehicles that come out of nowhere—crimson lights blazing and sirens shrieking! Or, the bridges may be washed out due to years of emotional storms and deferred maintenance. There are a myriad of reasons. And this can be true in a variety of contexts—family, friends, romantic partners—even work. Your “last miles” can be very painful, even scary, but they are worth the trip.
Being more mindful and aware has definitely helped me enrich some of my “last mile” journeys recently — and I find that I am becoming more appreciative of noticing these attributes in my fellow travelers, as well. I feel the “last mile” in any relationship is best navigated as a two-way street. After all, it’s where the rubber truly meets the road, right?
You fish or you cut bait, as they say. Face it. “Last-mile connections have been plagued with technological issues”— especially when some of us have more baggage on the bus than others. So, to stay on track, unpack with care and compassion when necessary—and refuel when needed. Traveling light – and maximizing flow . . . here I go.
4 thoughts on “Taking the Last Mile to Heart”
Thanks for sharing this, Elaine. Deep, lasting relationships enrich our lives in so many ways. Building and sustaining such relationships, though, requires that “last mile” effort, an effort that requires the courage to be vulnerable, too.
Perfectly articulated, Richard! The courage to be vulnerable is essential – probably one of the most frightening aspects of the journey for many of us. Thank you so much for your thoughts!
Great article Elaine, and right on the money. Sometimes I need a trailer to carry all my baggage !
Me, too, Pat!