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The travails of travel

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.

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