When things go wrong and more wrong

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Life doesn’t always go the way you’d hoped. The good holds hands with the bad. One day, you’re eating at a wonderful place named Big Al’s and the next day you’re eating curly fries.

When I travel, I expect things to go well. It’s Gullible’s Travels.

I landed in Frankfort, Germany, anxious to get on with the adventure of working there.

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There was just one thing. There is always just one thing. Apparently, the airlines and my suitcase had gotten into a scrap. My bag had lost. The suitcase handle had been fully extended and then bent at a 90-degree angle. My suitcase had been run over by some kind of angry machinery. The bottom of the bag had been ripped open and the contents set free.

I watched with everything but joy as my bag struggled down the carousel. I had duct tape in my backpack and patched the gaping hole. I jumped up and down on the telescoping handle a number of times until it fit back into its slides.

Some of my property was missing. It was nowhere to be seen. I didn’t have time to wait. I had dirt to scratch and eggs to lay.

I found a harried customer service representative. She spoke English, but not Minnesotan. We were still able to converse. She understood everything I said except “Uffda!”

I explained my plight. She seemed to care or was skilled at pretending.

She apologized for the unwarranted assault on my suitcase. The crew that normally ruined bags was on vacation, so they had to use a machine. It wasn’t a professional job.

I gave her the address of the hotel where I was staying. She said she’d see to it that any survivors amongst my belongings found their way to my hotel room.

A few days later, there was a message on my phone, asking me to report to the front desk.

I did as told. Doing as you’re told saves having to make decisions.

The hotel clerk had my missing items, including underwear, which although clean, had been placed into a clear plastic bag. She handed it and my other stuff to me with a relieved smile and a hint of disgust.

It was a proud moment for me as I walked away holding my briefs in a bag. It’s impossible to be a true fool when you’re alone. It takes a crowd to make a fool all that he can be. The lobby was filled with people who watched with looks of amusement, bewilderment, and revulsion. Several snapped photos.

Another day and I’m headed home from another airport. I love going and I love going home. Traffic was heavy. There was a tractor-trailer rig in front of me, an SUV in the next lane and a beer truck behind me. I was blissfully contemplating being in my own bed, when it happened. The semi hit a deer. I’m not sure if it was a live one or roadkill. All I know is that a deer came flopping towards me. The vehicle in the other lane prevented me from going left and I didn’t want to swerve too far right and chance going into the ditch. I didn’t want to hit the brakes and be run over by the truck behind me. I couldn’t veer and I couldn’t stop. It was the first deer I’d ever hit. I missed everything except the antlers. One of the tines went into my tire. When able to pull to the side of the road, I attempted to change the tire. Not a fun thing to do when the tire is on the traffic side of a busy freeway. I didn’t feel as sorry for the buck as I should have.

I’d spoken in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The fall weather had been nearly perfect and the sun was hot.

Sadly, a dead humpback whale had washed ashore near Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to get close to see the evidence of sharks feeding on the carcass as it had floated towards land.

I wanted to get close, but the smell discouraged that.

I love my job. I love to travel, even with the inherent difficulties. It’s as a friend, whose kids had been nagging him to lose weight by giving up his favorite foods, told me, “They want me to give up the things I love, so that I can live a bit longer while not eating the things I love.”

Demolished bags and flat tires are nothing compared to being a beached whale.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.