'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
OVER-PACKING ON OVERNIGHT TRIPS
When traveling on a business trip, I know itís much better to pack light. This way you donít have to deal with checked luggage at the airport, which now costs an extra $15 to $25 per suitcase, and inevitably leads to one of two frustrating situations: waiting and waiting at the airport Baggage Claim carousel for your luggage finally to appear on the conveyor belt; or the much more maddening scenario when all the bags from the plane finally appear on the conveyor belt but yours is not among them. While standing in the Detroit airport with a puzzled look on your face, you slowly begin to realize your precious suitcases are at that very moment inside the cargo hold of a different airplane, winging their way to, say, Denver. Ugh!
Also, packing light means you wonít have to participate in the Businessman Triathalon, a strenuous competition that consists of dragging hundreds of pounds of luggage over three different obstacle courses: through airports, into taxicabs, and onto hotel elevators. The businessman who reaches his hotel room first without being drenched in sweat wins a prize. (Often the prize is the honor of not experiencing a heart attack while in a strange city where you know nothing about the local medical facilities. So thereís no actual trophy, but the no-heart attack prize is nonetheless quite a cherished award.)
I used to pack very light when I traveled. But about ten years ago I had to drive to Boston for a sales meeting. It was a simple trip: drive up and have dinner with the boss, spend one night in a hotel, and the next day go to some meetings then drive home. I packed a change of underwear, socks, and a clean shirt in a small gym bag. Since I wasnít scheduled to do anything strenuous, I figured I would wear the same pair of slacks both days. This way I wouldnít have to bring a real suitcase.
Well, just before I reached Boston, my carís radiator overheated. I pulled over, got out and looked under the hood. (By the way, when I look under the hood of a car, I understand what Iím looking at in about the same way a hamster understands what itís looking at while gazing at the inner workings of a computer.) Although completely baffled, I dutifully leaned forward toward the engine, pointed at various mechanical items, nodded knowingly, and said, ďAh ha, I see.Ē
After a few minutes of this self-delusional charade, I called Triple-A for help. The radiator was repaired (boy, those garage mechanics treat stranded, out-of-state motorists gently, donít they?), and then I checked into my hotel to get ready for dinner. Thatís when I noticed my slacks were streaked with grease and grime from leaning against the front of the car. I had a change of clean underwear with me, but no extra slacks. I was pretty sure the restaurant would be less than cordial toward pants-less patrons. So I went to dinner with my boss looking like a slob.
Ever since that embarrassing trip, I over-pack whenever I travel. If Iím going away for two days, I bring enough clothes for three. (Weeks, that is.)
Lugging all those suitcases, I have yet to be victorious in the Businessman Triathalon competition, and I suspect itís only a matter of time before Iím hauled away to the cardiac ward of an unfamiliar hospital. But at least Iíll be able to choose from a dozen different outfits to wear for my ride in the ambulance.
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