Planes, Trains and Automobiles: More Idiot Travel — Part 2

Trains
On the same trip I’ve referenced a million times (because it was the only overseas trip I’ve ever gone on), we took the train only a handful of times. For the majority of our trip, we had a car, but we weren’t crazy enough to drive in London, so we took the train to and from Oxford when we didn’t have our car.
The train trip to Oxford from London was so pleasant. Idyllic even. The train was barely at half capacity, and we were seated across from a friendly couple from Denmark. We had a great time chatting and it made the trip really quick and painless.
The train from Oxford to London was a whole other story.
The train station in Oxford was balls to the walls insanity. It was packed. There wasn’t one seat to sit in and if I’m remembering correctly, you had to pay to use the restrooms. It was not my favorite.
When we finally got onto the train, we saw that, just like the station, it was packed.
I had booked our seats in advance and upon seeing the Mad Max situation that was our train, I was pretty grateful for my forward thinking.
However, when we had finally clawed our way to our seats, dragging our bags with us as there was no more room in the baggage compartment, we saw that an older couple was in our seats.
They were adorable. I mean, gray hair perfectly coiffed, matching linty sweaters, and they totally had Kleenex up their sleeves for later. They were the epitome of what every loving grandparent has ever looked like since the beginning of time. Well, ever since easy wear sweaters came into fashion.
We were in a real conundrum. We had two choices: Kindly ask the couple to move or schlepp ourselves and our bags all over the train looking for two empty seats that didn’t exist.
Even worse, there were people behind us trying to get by and there was nowhere to sidle over to as we discussed our game plan. It was act or be eaten by the angry, over-it people lining up behind us.
“OMG. What do we do?” I asked with a deer-in-headlights look on my face.
“I don’t know! What do we do?” Answered Friend, looking pretty freaked himself.
I don’t know. What should we do?” I repeated with more desperation in my voice.
From somewhere nearby came a voice that said, “If there are people in your seats, bloody well tell them to get out of them!”
We both looked at each other like, “OH GAWD”.
“OK. Go tell them. It’s your turn to do something embarrassing, ” I asserted (It was me who had to ask the cop in Blackpool for directions).
“No way. You’re closer and I don’t want to be an asshole. Look at them. They are Mr. and, the less well known, Mrs. Rogers!” He exclaimed.
“But, I was the one who had to go out of my way to reserve seats so that we would be sure to have seats. It’s your turn.” I proclaimed.
Another phantom voice rang out, “OMG. Sit or MOVE!”
“I’ll just go sit on my luggage by the door,” decided Friend.
Out of nowhere, a voice again, “You can’t do that. You’ll get caught and told to find a seat.”
The people behind us were, at this point, ready to murder us.
It looked like we really had no other viable option as we were blocking the aisle and the man to my left had had enough of having the side of his face smashed into the ten-days-not-washed ass of my jeans.
Just like always I had to be the adult in the situation.
I sheepishly cleared my throat and tapped the woman, who looked just like my grandmother, on her shoulder, prepared to be forever cursed by karma.
They ended up being really sweet, which only made things TEN MILLION TIMES WORSE.
I still, to this day, think of them and hope they found a seat or someone who wasn’t as big of a cunt as my friend and I offered their seats to them.
DON’T HATE ME. I WAS A TRAIN VIRGIN UNDER PRESSURE.
While I was majorly feeling the effects of being a terrible person, my friend seemed pretty lost in his thoughts, too.
Once we were situated, the only place left to put our bags was right next to the exit as this was as close to the baggage compartment as physically possible.
Instead of worrying about what an asshole he was for making me kick grandma and grandpa out of their seats, he was more concerned for our luggage.
“Look at our luggage. The next time the door opens, they’ll all go tumbling out. Just watch.” He ruminated.
“Mmmhmm,” I was too wrapped up in silently chastising myself.
“OK. I’m going to go stand by our luggage. I can’t take the stress anymore,” Friend said, throughly wrought with worry.
I didn’t even care about my luggage, because kicks-old-people-out-of-train-seats people don’t deserve luggage.
“I’m gonna do it,” he said again.
“You’ll get in trouble by the train police, but have at it, dude,” I said totally not caring.
For the first time in my life EVER, I was not the one who was worrying and obsessing.
It felt amazing.
I didn’t give two shits if my luggage full of dirty underwear got kicked out of the train or stolen by someone who would be very, very disappointed by my Target-special clothing.
My friend piled up our luggage, biggest to smallest and leaned on them the whole way to London. If someone walked by, he’d hug his body closer to the tower of American Tourister like he was guarding the secret to the afterlife in between his barf-stained jeans (hang tight for that post) and his questionably clean socks.
When we were nearing Paddington Station, he sidled up to me as I was peacefully resting my eyes (I’d finally accepted my dishonorable deed as a necessary evil of train travel, because the mean train people made me), and whispered in my ear, “I have an idea.”
I almost jumped clean out of my stretched-from-too-many-Magnum-bars-and-cheese-and-tomato-sandwiches skin.
“WTF is wrong with you? Only creeps whisper in people’s ears while they’re resting on trains minding their own business,” I hissed.
My comment didn’t faze him.
“I know how we can both get ourselves and our luggage off the train in one piece.”
“Kinda like how we got on?” I didn’t understand why he thought this needed a game plan. We’d trip over our luggage and our feet like we had getting on like total tourists. Duh.
“No. It’s genius. First, I’ll take my big bag-that’s the size of your small bag, by the way, and your big bag-the one I vehemently swore I’d never help you carry, because you just keep cramming new stuff into it and it already weighs more than a standard-sized car. Then, you’ll grab my small bag and your small-not really small, though, bag and we will all get off this god-forsaken train together,” he said resolutely, but with a noticeably twitching eye.
The rest of the ten or so minutes of the train ride, he kept pantomiming, with overly expressive eyes and wild arm movements, how this “genius” plan of his was going to look. He legit looked like that crazy person every train has.

Crazy person*
Someone even asked, “Who the fuck is that idiot gesturing to? Do you think he’s dangerous? Should we be worried?”
I just sat back and reveled in not being the worried, crazy one for once.
We did get ourselves and our luggage off the train, but I almost didn’t “mind the gap” and our attempt to not look too much like tourists, was wrecked by yours truly.

Looking a lot less psycho-on-a-train

Looking like someone who is happy to not be on a train with a psycho

*I’m not some asshole who posts embarrassing photos of others for my own selfish gain. I was given express permission** to share any photo and/or embarrassing story, because friend-in-story would “probably find it funny too”. That’s a pretty solid assurance if I ever heard one.
**For real, I really have permission!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: More Idiot Travel — Part 1

On my first trip to the British Isles, we literally pulled a Neal Page and Del Griffith. We took a plane, then a train, and then an automobile (actually, three automobiles) to travel all over the British Isles.
(If you’ve never seen the classic Planes, Trains and Automobiles, you’ve really missed out on life. Check out the clip below to get an idea of what I mean.)

It was eye-opening, exhilarating and gray-hair-inducing all in one crazy, no-not-that-way-that’s-on-coming-traffic-OMG-we’re-gonna-die ball of fun.
I didn’t subject anyone to my foot odor on the plane, but I did wear slip on shoes that had zero tread, so walking down the slick, strangely hilly terminals in Heathrow was more like sliding and slipping every which way (while my boyfriend pretended he wasn’t with me). This was the first impression I made on England.
I didn’t catch the arms of my jacket on the seat while driving, but I did get Magnum bar all over the seat belt.

We didn’t catch the car on fire, but we did lose a hub cap on the motorway (oh, so, that’s why people zip tie their hubcaps on).
We may not have gone full on Neal and Del, but we did have quite a few traveling mishaps and adventures.
I am going to organize my retelling of some of my favorite transportation stories from my first trip to the British Isles as a three part series. It’ll be a far easier read that way, because ain’t no one got time to read 5,000 words in one sitting. You’re welcome.
Planes
Surprisingly, my favorite plane story does not involve the man picking his long brown nails the entire nine-plus hour flight to London, but it does involve flying out of London, delicious karma, and plane poop problems.
When we got to Heathrow after three glorious weeks spent all over the British Isles, my travel partner paid $100 to get onto the same flight I was on. His flight didn’t leave for a good five hours, so he felt it was an investment well spent to not have to sit in a packed airport for hours.
Had he known beforehand who his seat companions would be he probably would have taken the shoulder-to-shoulder seating areas, the overpowering perfumes from Heathrow Boutique, and the endless boarding announcements that were never for him over his Flight From Hell.
When we got onto the plane and found our respective seats, I was pretty pleased to find a nice-looking middle-aged British couple as my seat mates. This was pretty much the ideal situation as my last seat mate, as we all know, chose the crusties under his nails for his in-flight snack instead of the usual dry roasted peanuts.
My friend, however, hit the airplane lottery and appeared to have no seat mates.
Time and again, people would come down the aisle, pause a couple times to deduce whether or not their seats were nearby, and then keep going past his row.
I tried everything to get him to let me sit with him. I offered up my favorite souvenir- my Odd Irish Socks and in pure delirious desperation, I even offered to pay the $100 he forked over to get on my flight.
He flat-out refused as he rudely spread out and (likely) farted all over all three seats to mark his territory.
Finally, I gave up and returned to my squashed seat, but I kept looking back to give him my saddest puppy dog pout, but he just acted like he didn’t see me as he haughtily made a bed out of his jacket, backpack and more than his fair share of airplane blankets.
Right before the door was shut and locked, a harried woman and man and their screaming toddler made their way to the only remaining seats on the plane- the ones my friend had already set his stuff up in like he was some kind of Economy King.
When I looked back at him, his face was pure karma in action. He looked just like every last dream he ever had had been demolished.
Not only did his luck majorly run its course and he wouldn’t be able to stretch out the whole flight, he had to sit right next to a kid who was blowing snot bubbles out of his nose as he screamed.
Even better, SO MUCH BETTER, the toddler barfed the.whole.way to Toronto.
I guess that’s what you get when you don’t share. I more than enjoyed that prompt delivery of karma.


Later on during our travels home from London, we were diverted to an abandoned landing strip in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Colorado due to a severe thunderstorm in Denver.
I was quite disappointed, because I really, really, really needed to use the restroom.
Bad.
After the first hour of just sitting on an airstrip surrounded by cacti and tumbleweeds, I started to get desperate.
It was pretty dire because it was getting really close to go-time, but because they had to turn the AC off, I’d have to be that person who takes a huge, toxic shit on a plane with no AC or ventilation.
I kept lamenting, praying and cursing under my breath.
Finally, after mentioning I needed to poop about 87 times, my friend loudly declared, “OMG. I’m sick of hearing you have to poop. There is a bathroom right over there!”
As he so helpfully pointed, everyone on the plane looked to the bathroom and then to me.
Needless to say, I didn’t even get out of my seat. I thought murderous thoughts the remainder of the trip, and because I held it for too long, I got majorly constipated and didn’t even end up going until I was home.
I could have died.
After the hellish 17 hour trip from London, we finally landed in Reno at two in the morning, and I discovered that my bags had been lost. It was the proverbial cherry on top of the all-too familiar shit sundae.
This is how I ended up having to wear a pair of my mom’s war-torn Hanes (you can read more about that here).
Next time, we will explore train travel. Hint: it’s just as fun as air travel.
So, tell me about a memorable time you had in the air. I bet you’ll all have some doozies! I can’t wait.