Do you remember when you were in college and during winter break you went to a bar where actual grownups were? While you stood in your group of college buddies arguing over the best drink names, do you remember overhearing the table of business people next to yours talking about how they were looking forward to the conference in Orlando next week? One guy would say how he hoped he wouldn’t sit next to a fat guy on the plane and the others would just crack up laughing. Another would say they’re staying at the Embassy Suites, which had an awesome breakfast buffet. Do you remember that twinge of jealously you felt for them? How you could not WAIT to travel somewhere on business someday?
That memory danced across my mind the other day at about 6 am as I stood in the interior hallway of a Super 8 hotel next to a kindly older couple in their underwear. We had all just been roused from our beds by the hotel alarm, which told us to go to the central hallway because there was a funnel cloud spotted nearby. The skinny long-haired guy wearing a Van Halen 1984 t-shirt on the other side of me was clearly worried and, fortunately for me, was puffing away on a cigarette and blowing smoke all over the hallway.
I suppose there was a time when I really enjoyed travelling on business. Visiting new cities and having adventures used to be quite a hobby for me and I was always up for it. In a given month, it was fairly normal for me to drive a convertible in Malibu, watch the fountains at the Bellagio, and help sail a boat in Boston harbor. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably forgotten more travel adventures than many people have experienced in their entire lives, and I am very grateful for that.
Somewhere along the way, the excitement of the journey begin to wear a little thin. I don’t remember specifically – maybe it was the time I flew to Seattle having forgotten my drivers license. Outbound, the Charlotte airport let me through by verifying my identity. Coming back, the Seattle airport waited until I had checked my bag to tell me that I had to wait in a special “this guy looks suspicious” line* until long after my plane had left. And that was just the beginning of that story. Or maybe it was the time that my plane landed in Charlotte after a 5 hour flight and the pilot could not get an answer from the tower for over an hour.
Regardless, the shiny penny of travel has dulled and tarnished over the years.
On my way to the Van Halen chain-smoking guy Super 8 my silver Suburban, which has over 220,000 miles on it, decided to turn on me once again. My heater became stuck on the hottest setting and began relentlessly blowing out piping hot air. I couldn’t stop it and the hot hair was literally burning my leg hair off. So I drove four hours with the windows down and a towel wrapped around my legs. Luckily, it was 72 degrees outside and so inside my car it was only 125 degrees – 145 degrees under the towel.
Actually, the heater situation was probably a hair worse than what my car did to me the previous business trip, which was to completely lose all power in the middle of a turn. By all power, I mean the car turned off, the clock died, the power steering stopped – ALL power. That one only cost me a tow to the local repair guy, who literally fixed the car by sliding the battery over 2 inches and pretty much laughed at me as he was doing it. I would have been insulted, but honestly I was too curious to know why the 6 teeth he had didn’t tear into his gums every time he ate a piece of chicken.
I’ve renamed my car Satan’s Anus. It only seems appropriate.
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*If you’d like to read my entire account of that disastrous Seattle trip in all of its’ 3 part glory, start here.