I once got into a heated discussion with an advertising executive, who told me that if
by David High
I’m constantly filled with wonder at the number of people who travel with such obvious ease and confidence.
I am confident enough to admit to being good at a number of things, but living in the world of travel and travelers isn’t one of them.
In short, I don’t travel well. No matter the type of conveyance I choose, I continually have catastrophes of one sort or another.
Many of the dwindling number of my friends who still have the courage to travel with me will testify that I am similar in scope, but on a smaller scale, to John Candy in the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
Back in the day when I was confident enough to fly, my specialty was to lean over to tie a shoelace just before the person in the seat in front of me throws his seat back in full recline, and I would find myself trapped helplessly in the crash position.
More than just a few hotel and motel clerks have put up the “back in an hour” sign up after I had made the third or fourth request of the day for a spare room key after losing or locking the original one in my room.
Of all the modes of transportation I have used, traveling on a train is my favorite. There’s nothing like looking out the window of the Southwest Chief at people hard at work while you drink a chilled glass of beer.
That reminds me of another catastrophic occasion while sharing a table in a dining car of a train that was headed to Chicago. I knocked a soft drink onto the lap of the sweet little lady of the cloth seated next to me. The attendant came and cleaned her up and brought me a replacement drink, which within a few seconds I knocked onto the woman again. Thinking back on it, I have no idea how I could have done it. I just remember reaching out for the new drink and watching in horror as my arm, like a prop in a grade B movie with a name like “Attack of the Zombie Limb,” violently swept the glass from in front of me onto her still-damp lap.
The lady looked at me in the same manner my parents looked at me when I told them after college that I wanted to become a ventriloquist. She followed by blurting out “Oh, my,” and words I never heard said before, especially by a nun.
The worst experience, however, was the time, while waiting to rent a car, I confidently struck up a long conversation with a nice looking lady – to I’m sure her unending amusement – about the odd people you meet while on the road. The entire time I had been thoughtfully sucking on my pen as I always do. Upon retiring to the restroom I discovered that the end of the pen had leaked and that my lips, tongue, gums and teeth were now a brilliant scrub-resistant blue.
You will be in complete sympathy with me when I tell you that, just once, I would treasure being able to wear light-colored pants without discovering at days end that I have sat in chewing gum, cough syrup and ketchup.
Now when I travel, I never bend over to tie my shoelaces, eat or, for God’s sake, order a drink, and I always write with a pencil.
Now then I travel, I just sit on my hands to keep them from mischief.
It limits the distance of my wanderlust, though. I can never go that long without eating. On the positive side it saves me big money on dry-cleaning bills.