It might be my impending trip to Shanghai for dinner with four red eye flights in five nights. I want to believe this will be tolerable. So I find myself thinking of some of the humorous things I have experienced or witnessed in a career full of travel.
I was inspired on this topic the other day by a train conductor on the airport train from Philadelphia Airport to downtown Philadelphia, approximately a 20 minute ride. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a more thorough conductor in terms of explaining over the p.a. system everything about the train, its stops, and a variety of available fare discounts. As we approach 30th Street Station where many people were going to depart the train, however, it became obvious that the conductor hadn’t left any time to collect the fares from the passengers. This situation repeated a few minutes later at Suburban Station when just about everyone else departed the train without having paid. As I was leaving the train I heard the conductor say to someone “I didn’t have a moment to breathe.” Maybe less talking and more fare collecting would have provided adequate time for oxygen intake.
Earlier this year, I boarded a plane with some sushi to eat before departure. A few minutes later a woman arrived and sat immediately across the aisle. She announced that she had a comfort dog with her and that her dog was immaculately well behaved and had never done anything to anyone. I took her at her word and started arranging my reading materials from my briefcase. Naturally, in the 5 seconds I paid more attention to my briefcase than to my sushi, the dog jumped from the woman’s lap and attacked my sushi. After defending myself against the dog I then had to fend off the intensely apologetic woman’s efforts to pay for my sushi from time to time throughout the flight. My main thought was: it’s true – the food on the plane really has gone to the dogs.
Even after 25 years, one memory of travel gone awry is fixed in my mind. During the craziness of October/November 1988 when Carnival was trying to buy Royal Caribbean, several Royal Caribbean executives were in London meeting with lawyers, bankers, etc. At one point we realized we needed to fly to Oslo in a hurry. For some reason we left for Heathrow in separate cars not exactly sure of our flight arrangements. In the time before cell phones and PDAs, such uncertainty was not unusual. In the event, I went to one of the terminals and decided it was the wrong one. There wasn’t much time, so I went to the underground tunnels and ran as fast as I could towards another terminal. After a while, two equally panicked executives came towards me, also running as fast as they could in the opposite direction. Of course, they were my colleagues. I cannot remember which way we then decided to run, but I do believe we made the flight.
These are just three of many stories from 30 years of relentless travel including crossing an international border approximately once every ten days. I’m always up for hearing about someone else’s strange travel experiences, so the readers are encouraged to volunteer such stories as they’re willing to confess.