With the holidays coming up, my friends are all talking about their travel plans. Me, I’m staying put for various reasons, but I keep thinking about the time I wanted to see my father for his sixtieth birthday. Now, I don’t drive, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, and I live in a fairly rural area without mass transit or a train station. My father lives a couple of hours away near a Major Metropolis, too far away for a taxi. So what is a little blind girl to do?
Well, hey, there’s this bus that runs from our town to a neighboring town that has a train station. Would I be able to take this bus to that town and catch a train to somewhere near my dad? From what I heard, the train only hit that town about once a month. I’d have better luck riding there on a cow. Plenty of those around. But wait! The train was leaving in the middle of the afternoon on the actual day my father turned sixty; perfect! So I’ve got it all planned out: taxi ride to the bus stop, bus to the train station, train to Major Metropolis, mass transit to a stop near my father’s house, and then my stepmother can pick me up and give me a 5-minute ride to surprise my father for his birthday. And it will only take four hours! That’s only twice the amount of time it would take to get there if I could drive! It’s the little things in life.
Now, I really should have seen this next part coming. The day came; I took off work and was waiting for the train, for which I had already purchased a ticket. Clutching said ticket and two forms of identification, I waited, waited, waited…checked on the train status…the train was expected to be an hour late. Sigh, call stepmother, let her know. I waited, waited, waited…checked on the train status again…the train was expected to be three hours late. Panic, call stepmother, eat lots of junk food. This is what I do when I’m upset. By rights, I should weigh four hundred pounds. Finally, three and a half hours late, the train pulled into the station. I threw myself on board before anyone had a chance to leave me behind, curled up in my seat, and thumped my head softly against the window. There’s probably a scientific explanation for why that seems to help with stress. Maybe to give you a physical explanation for the pounding in your head? But I was on my way.
Glitch #2: Fare cards were required for mass transit. Crap. What, seriously? You don’t take credit cards? Detour to ATM for cash withdrawal and fare card purchase. Pounding in head near critical levels.
I arrived at Major Metropolis a mere six hours after leaving home, exhausted, wrinkled, and thoroughly fed up with my fellow human beings, especially the ones in the travel industry. My stepmother had been delaying dinner and attempting to keep my father from getting suspicious, but even stepmothers can only be so devious. She snuck out on a pretext, snatched me up, and bundled me back to the house driving at what seemed significantly higher than the speed limit, but I couldn’t be sure because it had gotten dark out by then, despite my having left before noon.
By the time I showed up on my father’s doorstep that night, I’d taken a taxi, a bus, a train, mass transit, and bummed a ride from family. I felt like I should have thrown in a canoe trip somewhere, just to complete the list. You know the stress most people get from traveling? Yeah. Multiply that by about fifty thousand. So I rummaged through my bag, pulled out my father’s slightly squashed present, walked through the door, and said “Surprise!” to my darling dad. And you know what? He was really surprised and really happy, and it all became worth it right then. It wasn’t until I smelled dinner that I remembered that I’d only eaten a banana, a muffin, and five pounds of sugar over the course of the day. In retrospect, maybe not the best diet while traveling.
So remember me when you travel during the holidays, you lucky b*stards. When you’re in your comfortable cars and planes and going straight from point A to point B, think of me. And all you guys who have to travel from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles to eventually get to Atlanta, I feel you. And bring painkillers, because it’s going to start hurting after a while when you’re banging your head against the window. Oh, and go easy on the sugar. Trust me on this.