**]They say laughter is the best medicine …well…. actually Viagra works pretty damn good for men, and in the morning, there is no better medicine than caffeine to cure the morning groggies, and then there is brandy, for….well.. I digress. But, alas, I can’t sell you drugs or alcohol. I am not a doctor, a dealer or have a liquor license. But I can prescribe a good dose of Intermittent Spontaneous Laughter when life is sucking. ISL has been prescribed by authors for decades to treat life’s most shittiest of days. Did career climbing Tom kiss ass his way to edge you out of that promotion? Did your Ahole boss give you some crystal clear passive-aggressive motivation, again? Is your crazy-train neighbor in your assigned parking spot for the third time this week? ISL can help. Side effects do not include diarrhea, nausea, rashes, or death. In fact, ISL is helping Americans laugh off hard times more than ever before. Ask your author if LAFFTA® is right for you.
29. FIRST AND LAST TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO
In this book, I will be sharing with you stories of the most hilarious, everything-that-could-go-wrong-did when traveling from point A to point B. So, for less than the price of a half-caff mocha with extra foam, you are going to get a hefty dose of laughter and live vicariously through others as they endure really bad, but funny, road trip and travel fails. You get to sit back comfortably and be glad it wasn’t you, all while enjoying yourself at others expense. Everybody needs to laugh, and hear is your daily dose! Enjoy!!
GRANDPA VS. WALMART
Meet me, I’m Jimmy. I was 15 in 1988, and living in California. I was a budding young Goth kid, but in those days we were called New Waver’s. I wrote my favorite bands on my backpack, hated jocks and snuck out of every spirit rally we had so I could sit under the bleachers to talk shit on everybody and everything. That summer, I tried to dye my hair from brown to platinum blond but got red- a fake looking red, like red plastic, or tickle-me-Elmo red fur. My clothes were mostly black, and my hair was teased out like Robert Smith’s from the Cure. Most assuredly, it was my awkward teen phase.
Meet Grandpa. Grandpa Archie was a silver haired grizzled old mechanic and farmhand who lived in Pierre, South Dakota in the same house since 1930. Most of the small town just built up around him. He still spoke using the slang from his youth, such as “This Mickey Mouse contraption is kaput, see” when referring to something mechanical that stopped working. He hated the US Government because they built the Oahe dam in 1948 which flooded his huge ranch. His ranch was his legacy, and the US Government only paid him pennies on the dollar for the land, effectively stealing it from him – and he was powerless to stop them. He stayed angry about this until the day he passed. Even his gravestone reads “The Lord giveth, and the Government takes it away.” He stopped caring what anybody thought of him somewhere in the 1970’s, and had an abrasive but lovable “Just tellin’ it like it is” candor about him. I had an older cousin named Tim who stayed with Grandpa in the years prior to me, which is why he always called me Timmy instead of Jimmy. He really did not understand that times had changed, and lived his life as if it was the late 1940’s.
It was the summer of 1988. This was the summer my Mom wanted me to go visit my Grandpa in Pierre, South Dakota. This was the town my Mom had been raised in the 1950’s, and the house my Grandpa had lived in since the 1930’s. Pierre is a very, very small town. Think of Mayberry, almost literally. Combine this town, with an awkward Goth teen and a cantankerous senior citizen in his late 70’s, and you get some pretty strange, yet funny happenstances.
Funny happenstance #1
Many years ago, my Great Grandpa, Grandpa, and my Great Uncles owned massive amounts of land in South Dakota, no doubt left over from the days when settlers and pioneers could purchase huge areas of land for almost nothing. We were driving from Pierre to a huge, semi-famous roadside attraction called Wall Drug- the closest thing to Disneyland in South Dakota. It was about 5 hours from Pierre, and I swear to you on the entire 5 hour trip on the long highway, I only saw about six cars. Six! I remember being so shocked at the lack of people in South Dakota, but I guess most parts of the US seem sparse compared to California. After about 4 hours on the road, I spotted a rusted out old Model T style truck on the side of a hill. I said, “Grandpa, have you ever wondered how those old cars get stuck on a hill way out here? I mean, who owned them? Why was it left there? I always wonder..” Grandpa replied, almost nonchalantly “You mean that old truck there? I drove that sombitch up there bout ’36 when she broke down. I had to walk back to the ranch, took all day. She couldn’t be repaired, so there she sits.” My jaw hit my chest. You mean my Grandpa was the man who abandoned that old truck way out in the middle of nowhere 50 years ago? That was just crazy.
Funny happenstance #2
Grandpa Archie was used buying things from Main Street Mom and Pop shops. So when a new Walmart opened up in the next town, it took a lot for him to try them out. But one day he wanted to see what all the “hubbub” was about Walmart. I accompanied him to the hunting, fishing, and camping department of this massive store. Grandpa wanted to buy some fishing gear. He set 4 fishing lures and a bail of fishing line on the counter in front of a 17-year-old, pimply faced cashier in a blue Walmart smock with name tag that read Tyler.
Grandpa said, “If I buy these 4 fishing lures, will you throw in this line with it?” The poor kid looked confused for a second, then realized Grandpa was trying to get the line for free. He replied “I can’t do that sir” in a crackly, timid voice.
“Well, ta HELL with you then! Come on Timmy, let’s get out of this Mickey Mouse outfit” You see, Grandpa was used to negotiating deals with small shop owners. If the kid agreed, he probably would have spit on his palm and held out his hand to shake on the deal. He took great offense that Tyler would not negotiate with him. “Grandpa?!” I said, embarrassingly, “You can’t negotiate with Walmart! He is just some kid, he can’t give you free line he could get fired!” Grandpa replied, “If he was half a man he would, I can’t deal with a kid who’s balls haven’t dropped, see.” That is what it was like trying to reason with Grandpa Archie.
Funny happenstance #3
One day we went fishing. As we drove through the mountains, Grandpa would drive on the wrong side of the road to cut the corner. It was terrifying! The wide, sweeping turns had a cliff wall to our left, you could not see down the road. At any time, a big rig or oncoming car could have appeared and smacked us head on. After a few turns, I could not take it anymore. “Grandpa!” I yelled, “You can’t cut the blind corner like that, somebody might me coming and hit us head on!” “Oh Jesus, you’re like a woman Timmy. There ain’t nobody out here to hit us, see.” He continued to cut the corner for the next hour of driving. We never did see another car, Grandpa was right.
I kept forgetting, this place is not like California. Nobody lives here. Then we finally got the boat in the water and went fishing, I will say the scenery in South Dakota is stunning. We were on the middle of this huge lake in a small aluminum boat, catching fish. Then one time Grandpa stood up, unzipped his pants and started taking a leak off the side of the boat. “Jesus Grandpa, that’s disgusting! What if somebody in another boat sees you?” “Then they’re gonna to see a big ole’ prick swinging off the side of the boat” he said. Nobody saw Grandpa taking a piss. Again, no people live in South Dakota.
Then, and I will never forget this, way on the horizon Grandpa spotted some almost imperceptible fluffy clouds. “We better head back in there is a thunderstorm on the horizon. I thought he was senile, I didn’t see anything. But his boat, his terms. We went to shore, loaded the boat, and drove 4 hours home on the wrong side of the road. At the exact moment we pulled into the house, I heard thunder, and within 20 min after that it was a torrential downpour with almost tornado speed winds. I was stunned, how could he predict the weather so accurately? But he knew the land and the weather, it was uncanny.
Grandpa passed only about a year after my visit. We still miss him very much, but his anti-government angst will never be forgotten.
THE PUKES OF HAZZARD
Once I had to make a long road trip from Kansas to Florida. We were going to Orlando to Disneyworld on a family vacation. I was a single mother at the time and took my best friend with me who was pregnant. She had 1 daughter and I had 3 boys. The very long, hot and boring ride made everybody a bit cranky. We were out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Alabama if I remember right when we came upon a cute little roadside fruit stand.
The kids needed a break and wanted some fruit to snack on. I pulled over and bought each of them their own bag of big, delicious looking blueberries. We hit the road again and had been driving for about 30 minutes when we discovered there must have been something wrong with the berries. Almost simultaneously, all four kids vomited up the blueberries in an audible “yaaaaak” sound.
And I don’t mean a normal vomit, this was a violent projectile vomit that sprayed the back of the front seats, the floor and the door panels with the force of a garden hose set to “stream”.
I noticed a couple of the kids tried to stop the vomit from leaving their mouths, which sprayed the puke in all different directions as it forced its way through their fingers.
They had blueberry chunks on their hands, in their hair, on their pants… it was just everywhere and was so disgusting. I pulled the car over recklessly, sliding sideways a bit on the loose gravel on the side of the road. We all bailed out of it like it was on fire, making grunt sounds like “uggggh” or “omigod! omigod!” The kids puked up a few more times out of the car but felt perfectly fine once the toxic blueberries were expelled from their system. After the commotion, we stood at the side of the road. We were out in the middle of nowhere. We were out in the country with no water, no paper towels or napkins, essentially no way to clean up this sickening mess.
“How are we going to clean the mother of all disgusting messes up?” I asked myself. First we threw the floor mats to the side of the road – they were goners and would stay there to the end of time. But that was only a small help, there was so much left – it was horrible. It took me some time to work up the courage, but ultimately I took action and I literally had to scrape the puke off of the door panels and back of the seat with my BARE HANDS. I yelled at the kids and Jeanie “Help me God Damn it!”
“No way!” said my oldest, but I gave her the mom death stare. She knew this meant she could either help me or die. So everybody started to help scoop out the puke with their hands when Jeanie, the pregnant friend, finally succumbed to the rancid smell and puked herself – inside the car! It was an instant reflex, she could not hold it in. Years of being a Mom and smelling poop, farts, bad socks and who knows what on a daily basis made me nose-blind to bad smells I guess, so I was able to hold down my cookies.
Eventually, we had to get on the road again. There were still plenty of fully formed blueberries in the car that were puked up. “I swear, don’t these kids even chew?” I thought. So The Pukes of Hazzard and had to drive another 2 hours in the worst smelling, dry heaving, puke car ever until we got to a rest area to clean it all up. Worst road trip ever!
TO PEE OR NOT TO PEE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
It was the 70’s, and many times in my childhood we drove down from Seattle to the Bay Area to visit my aunt and cousins. My mom and her sister were very close. My dad, who I love dearly and is the best dad on the planet, had one very unlovable flaw. During long trips, he would work himself into nearly a frenzy preparing for the trip. In a Jekyll and Hyde fashion, His inner Type A would rear its ugly head and make everybody miserable during the trip.
You see, he saw every trip as a challenge to beat the drive time from the previous trip. He had the family trained at loading the vehicle with precision as he would diligently follow the checklist. By the time I was 12, I was so skilled at speedy vehicle preparation I could have easily worked on a Nascar pit crew. Dad made us wake up at godawful early times to start the trip. He would not allow anything to slow us down increase our travel time. We also couldn’t drink hardly anything in the morning because that would make us pee, which would make us stop at rest areas and slow us down.
On the day of this trip, dad woke us up at a horrible 2:30 am to start our drive. His was determined to beat any traffic that might slow us down.
As we sat in the driveway, he put his hand on his digital wristwatch, set the timer and said,“Annnnd, begin!” The clock was ticking now.
After filling up, we hit the road. I remember being fascinated that there were virtually no cars on the road, something that is rare in Seattle. As the miles went by, there was a rustling in the back of the hatchback. It was our ice chest, and dad was frustrated by how the ice chest “sounded” as it rubbed back and forth against the side panels. We pulled over quickly and tossed a perfectly good ice chest into a dumpster, then sped off again. For a man who wouldn’t even let us pee because it would waste time, I couldn’t understand why he would waste time throwing out a perfectly good ice chest. As I said, he was not right in the mind during road trip time.
Then things go really interesting. Even though dad had instructed us not to drink any liquids in the morning, I snuck in a large glass of Sunny D before we left. So, naturally, two hours into our trip I had to pee really bad. I held it in as long as possible so as not to anger my crazed time-saving dad, but I could not any longer. “Dad, I have to pee,” I said.“Awww Come On!” dad said, “I told you to pee before we left and to not drink any liquids! Now you are putting us behind.” I waited for 10 seconds, then I responded, “I still have to pee.”
Dad went silent for about a minute, fuming. Then he responded “Well we aren’t stopping. Here.” He picked up an old Slurpee cup from the front seat and threw it at me. “Use this.” “What, that is gross! No way!” I said to dad. “Don’t argue with me. This is how truckers do it.”
I could hardly believe I was doing this, but I had to go bad! I unzipped my fly and aimed for the cup. “Don’t look” I yelled at my parents. How degrading was this? OK, I had to focus. I was able to hit the cup but got some on my hand and pants, which made me smell like I peed my pants.
“Well, I peed in the cup, what do you want me to do with it??” Mom said “Give it here” I carefully passed the warm cup of Sunny D pee to the front of the seat. Mom took it from me with a look of disgust, rolled down the window and tried to throw it out the window. Well, as you can imagine when going 60 miles per hour, that the wind hit it and blew some of it back in her face and into the back seat into my face. I screamed a little at the sheer shock of having urine sprayed in my face “Gross!!!” I said, spitting some out. I even dry heaved once or twice. Dad stayed focused and kept the pedal to the metal.
About 95% of the Sunny D pee went out the window which was good. What was bad was that the wind simply blew it back into the car, and coated all of the side windows of the station wagon. We could see the wind spread the Sunny D pee slowly across the windows from front to back.
I still didn’t understand why Dad would not stop to let me pee or to wash off the windows coated with pee, but I was not going to argue with him in his crazed state. Unbelievably, we made it all the way to my aunts without stopping.
My mom never did get to pee on the trip, and as we pulled in she sprinted into my aunt’s house to use the bathroom without even saying hi. My cousins came out to the car to say hi to me, and noticed that the car smelled like piss. “Dude, your car smells like piss, what is it?” I was too embarrassed to admit that it was my pee spread all the way down the side of the station wagon. “Well, I…” I was bad at lying and could not think of anything to say. They were waiting for a response.
By now, we set a new record and Dad had transformed back to normal lovable dad. Then he came to my rescue. “Well we were sprayed with urine by a cow as we passed a semi transporting cattle, is that disgusting or what?” “Ewwwww” my cousins said in unison as they slowly backed away from our car.
Dad grabbed the garden hose and sprayed my Sunny D pee off the car, and gave me a wink. I was infuriated with him for making me pee in a cup, but somehow this became a charming, cherished childhood memory. Love you dad.
POLYWOG WEARS FUZZY BLUE SLIPPERS TO THE MALL
So when I was a kid growing up in the 70’s, I was blessed with a small but close family. This family unit consisted of my Mom and myself and my older sister by six years. I was a portly mid-kid about the age of 10, who was already developing an inferiority complex from constantly being bullied because of my weight. In fact, one day a particularly successful insult thrown my way stuck amidst surrounding laughter. Somebody said “You look like a little Pollywog”, and the name stuck for the rest of the year.
Needless to say, I had no desire to hang out with kids from school as I felt they were all a-holes, so staying home with my family on weekends was just fine by me. At that age, my free time was always planned by my Mom, and what Mom wanted to do was go for what she called a “drive” almost every weekend. A “drive” meant the family would drive to a nearby point of interest, like a scenic area or a big shopping mall. Many times, we would go for one of these “Drives” and never even get out of the car, it would be like a driving sight-seeing tour for a few hours and we would return home.
One hot summer in the early eighties, Mom wanted us to go on one of our weekend “Drives”. The usual routine ensued, she would get ready before anybody else, then scream at my Dad to come down stairs and get in the car – he was always the last to get ready. Now I don’t remember exactly what I was doing, I think I had a Coleco Pack Man or a Mad-Libs in my hand, but it was getting my full attention. When Mom screamed “Let’s Go!”, I followed my sister, head down, as we all piled in our ‘78 Buick Regal car in the usual routine.
As we got on the freeway, I was still engrossed in what I was doing for quite some time, when I suddenly heard my Mom say “We’re here, get out kids” I looked up and noticed that had arrived the new Super Mall about 45 min away – and I had not worn any shoes! So many times we never got out of the car and I would not bring any shoes because it was more comfortable to go barefoot. But today was the wrong time to not bring any shoes.
“Whaaat?” My Mom said, “Why the hell did you not wear any shoes?” I said “I didn’t think we would get out, we don’t always get out”. “You Son a Bitch, now what are we going to do now??” I never understood why she called me a son of a bitch when she was mad at me, because she was effectively calling herself a bitch. But that’s my mom. “Well we are going to have to get you some damn shoes, you can’t walk from the parking lot and through the mall barefoot, their might be glass or something”. Mom was right, you can’t walk on asphalt for more than a few seconds barefoot in the Central Valley CA because of the heat. 106 is very common temperature and more like 150 on the asphalt.
“John, (My Dad) let’s go somewhere and get him some flip-flops or something” Mom said. My Dad, a stressed out IBM executive, grunted and started the car back up, and drove away from the mall in search of some shoes for me. He was clearly pissed and stopped into the first convenience store to see if he could find me a pair of flip flops. In a few minutes, he comes out, sits in the car the throws a plastic bag in my Mom’s lap.
“That’s all they had”. My mom took them out of the bag, and they were a pair of fuzzy blue bathroom slippers, like the kind 90 year old women wear in the convalescent home. “Put these on!” Mom said forcefully. She must have seen the look of sheer terror on my face. “Mom, I’m not going to wear these inside the mall, no way!” Then I remember as if it was yesterday her saying “Nobody cares what is on your feet, and even if they do notice they will just think you got out of the hospital or something”. That did not make me feel much better, I was already self-conscious and at that age scared shitless about what anybody might think of me. But I know when my Dad turned around and gave me evil eye, that was it. I had to comply. I was about to endure the most humiliating ours of my life, and there was no getting out of it. I put the horrible blue fuzzy slippers on and we drove back to the mall. I mentally prepared myself for the walk of shame.
With clearly now care for my feelings, we walked through the entire mall for several hours. I was so degraded. In my imagination, everybody would look point and laugh at me. But as it turned out, my Mom was right.
Nobody really noticed my feet, but there were a few people that gave me a very perplexed look. Thank God nobody my age, or worse, somebody I know saw me wearing fuzzy blue slippers as I walked for hours through the Super Mall. To this day, it is one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
HAIRCUT HOUSE OF HORRORS: A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE
I am an American who was travelling to France on business. My wife, fortunately is fluent in French, and was acting as my interpreter for most of my stay here so far. I speak only in very broken French, so when I ask for a “3 on the sides and blended on the top”, It sounds like “Shrivel me softly Armageddon”.
Afraid of giving the wrong haircut directions, I asked my wife to write the description of my desired haircut on a note card, in perfect French.
Not knowing where to get a haircut, I tried the Turkish barber around the corner form my hotel, which was not in the best part of town. This barber shop was full of burly Turkish men who were sitting around socializing more than getting their hair cut. As soon as I walked in, they stopped whatever it was they were doing and all eyes were on me. You can imagine the blank stares I got as I walked up to one of the hairdressers and handed him the note from my wife perfectly describing my haircut.
Chuckles emanated from the patrons, though I still don’t know what was funny. The Turkish Barber nodded in understanding and tried to say in English “3 on the sides” in an almost sarcastic tone, and gestured for me to have a seat.
What happened next was a pure butchery hodgepodge mix of American English, French and Turkish. If you were to translate everything into English, the conversation would have gone something like this:
Turkish Barber: “So, where are you from?” As he proceeded to attach an extension to his electric razor. I got the distinct feeling he did NOT like Americans. As I eyed all the sharp instruments on his table, I was sure he was going to peel my scalp like an early frontier pioneer.
Me: “I come from the USA, umm, you know, America… Seattle, Washington. It is sort of up high in the US, in the Pacific Northwest, you know?” As I gestured up and to the left with my hands in the air.
Turkish Barber: With a very thick Turkish accent and a healthy dose of sarcasm “Ahhh, so you Mr. America, huh?”
By now, he had the sides and back my head shaved, and attached a smaller extension to clean up my hairline. Suddenly he pulled a straight razor from the drawer in front of the chair. It was perfectly polished and looked like it could easily cut through concrete. OK I’ll admit it, I was scared. I did not want that blade anywhere near my neck or head. My heart pumped faster a bit, as my fight or flight instincts kicked in. Here I was, a foreigner they called Mr. America inside a Turkish Barber Shop filled with men form the middle-east. No escape now. I closed my eyes and remembered my loved ones.
Then a voice in my head told me to stay cool and not panic. I continued to try to have a calm conversation with the Barber.
Me: “So, umm… where do you come from?”
The Turkish Barber gestured around the room, pointing at the other Turkish men and said “I come from him” and everyone started laughing for some reason, or maybe they were just laughing at me I don’t know.
Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand….I mean, I do not understand what you said”
Turkish Barber: “Turkey.”
It was just then that the hairdresser picked up the straight razor, I swear it made that “schwinnng” sound of a sword being pulled from its sheath . I gulped, trying to not smell of fear, and said “Sir, hold on a second, is this absolutely necessary?”
Turkish Barber: “Don’t move, okay” he said with a sinister smile.
ME: “Ha ha, I get it, OK he he” I was not scared totally shitless, but not calm either.
At this point, the Turkish Barber began to shave around the perimeter of my hairline with masterful skill. The entire time, I was imagining him cutting my jugular vein or taking out my eye with surgical dexterity, or how he might slice my neck and drain me like a sacrificial lamb.
Turkish Barber: “Sooo, which president are you go for, George Bush or Barrack Obama?”
I quickly thought to myself, I better choose wisely as my life may depend upon it. I began to rack my brain, trying to remember which president F*cked over Turkey the least during their presidency. I had a 50/50 chance to live at least, but man how I wished I did not go through that period of a self-imposed news blackout a few years back because I was sick of it all. Oh well, here goes….
Me: “Ummm, Barrack Obama”
Turkish Barber: “YOU M*&^%R F%$#@R!!!” He shouted.
I closed my eyes and gulped “Holy shit, am I going to die in this Turkish Barber Shop?” I thought, “What, wait, I’m not sure, who do you like??” [_ please please put down the razor gulp _]
I quickly deduced that of the two, however, he really did prefer George Bush.
Turkish Barber: “So, then you would say ‘Fuck Bush’, eh Mr. Ahmeeerica” He said in a snarky tone.
Me: “I…I really don’t know, seriously, I haven’t followed the news closely lately, I did not mean to..” But I was thinking, why in the hell would anybody from Turkey support George Bush?
The rest of the haircut proceeded with an uncomfortable silence, and there was no way to find comfort. Finally he showed me the back my head with a mirror, and the haircut was flawless. I had never felt such relief.
I was going to live! And I got a great haircut. With a smile and a big sigh of relief, I nodded in approval and we met at the cash register.
Turkish Barber: “That will be 30 euros, Mr. America”
Okay, I thought, that is waaaay more expensive than I thought it would be. But I did not get my throat I considered myself luck. Still, I paused..
Turkish Barber: “Ahahaha, I kid you Mr. America! For you, it is 8 euros” He said with a huge smile, and hit me in the arm with a forceful slap.
Me: “Ok, 8 euros it is”. Now that is much cheaper than I thought it would be.
So I quickly paid the man, gave him a nice tip, and got the hell out of there. After I got home, I checked out my haircut in the mirror and without a doubt it was the best haircut I had since being relocated to France.
SALES GUY FAIL: BAD FIRST IMPRESSION – REAL BAD.
Years ago I tried my hand at being a salesman as I heard the money was good. I got pretty lucky in getting my first sales job as a junior sales representative for a large manufacturer of home goods. I was a total noob and the newest salesman on the team.
My very first major task on the job was to travel to Los Angeles for a trade show and represent the company at our exhibit there. I was very nervous on this assignment. I had to fly LA, rent a car, and pick up two very important VIP’s executives from the airport and bring them to the hotel. The VIP passengers were the National Sales Manager and Regional Sales Manager, two important men I really wanted to impress. As the first to land in Los Angeles, it was my job to secure the hotel rooms and rent a car.
Things were going fine until I went to the car rental agency. They didn’t have the car I wanted and I had to substitute the large SUV with a small economy car. Sorting out the change at the car rental agency took longer than expected, and once I finally hit the road I ran into nightmarish Los Angeles traffic. If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles you know there is not one back alley, street or freeway, that isn’t a friggin’ traffic jam.
As I crawled through traffic from the hotel to the airport, I began to stress hard. I was definitely behind schedule and did not want to be late, not even for one minute! Then I noticed my car was running very low on gas, but I couldn’t take the time to fill up or I might be late. I decided to go forward to the airport without stopping to refuel.
Thanking the gods, I arrived at the airport just in time. I recognized the VIP’s based on the description I was given over the phone and pulled over. I got out to exchange the usual sales-guy niceties, introduce myself and helped the men get their luggage into the trunk, all the while apologizing for the compact I drove instead of the expected SUV. They were cool with it, and more sales banter ensued mixed in with a little bit of laughter as we talked about their flight. Everything was going as planned and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I survived LA traffic, and got to the airport on time. Mission accomplished! We were conversing pleasantly when I went to start the car. I turned the key. Nothing. It wouldn’t start. “Oh Noooooo” I thought. With a nervous laugh I turned the key off and turn it on again same thing-nothing. The gas gauge was on E – I ran the thing out of gas. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!!” as thought as I slapping my forehead over and over again.
Eventually the guys said “Is something wrong?” and I had to fess up.
“Guys I think we’re out of gas.” They all laughed, thinking I was joking. Then when I did not laugh with them, they realized I was serious,
One said “Your messing with us, right??”
“Awww shit” I thought. This is it, what an idiot they must think I am. Talk about a horrible first impression. I hadn’t ran a car out of gas since high school. They must think I’m the stupidest ass ever to join the company.
I did my best to fix this epic misfire. I called the rental company, explained the situation and they told me they had a roadside assistance program on the way. I explained to the dispatch I was in an airport loading zone and they had to hurry, they said “Will do our best sir.”
I sat there squirming in my seat impatiently as my fear of being towed mounted. Sure enough,
whatever you focus on becomes reality, right? I spotted a police officer walking towards me, then he knocked on the window motioning me to roll it down.
“Sir, you can’t park here and need to move along. Now” he said assertively.
“I’m really sorry officer but I believe I’m out of gas, I have roadside assistance on the way” I said
“If your vehicle is not operational, you must be towed. You can’t be stopped here for security reasons, this area is for loading and unloading only. I’ll give you 5 minutes to move this vehicle or we’re going to have tow it” Said officer friendly.
“Oh. My. God.” This is as bad as it gets. I had beads of sweat on my forehead and a death grip on the steering wheel. The wait for roadside assistance was excruciating!
Meanwhile, my VIP passengers were fidgeting in their seats, scowling. They were done laughing this off, it was not funny any longer. They were in danger of running late to their important meeting, they were scheduled to speak to hundreds of people. Every minute we waited seemed like an hour!
“There he is!” I thought as I saw yellow emergency lights in my mirrors, but it was not roadside assistance. It was airport security with a tow truck here to impound my vehicle! I closed my eyes and rocked back and forth This isn’t happening, man, this isn’t happening! I thought, as if somehow my imagination could transport me out of this nightmare.
But it was happening. The police officer motioned the tow truck to back up in front of our vehicle and told us we had to get out. My VIP’s said they were going to hail a cab, and were clearly very pissed off.
Just then, a roadside assistance van pulled up beside us. A man of Indian descent named Mukesh jumped out with a red gas can in hand. It was blind luck that he happened to be very close by on another call, which would explain how he got there so fast.
“Hello hello! Please don’t tow this car, please officer, I have gas in my hand. I can get the car out of the loading zone quicker by refueling it than you can by towing, may I give it a try?” Mukesh pleaded. The officer agreed.
Mukesh was amazing! He was calm under pressure and his reasoning skill and friendly communications with the officer we’re exceptional. He got fuel in my car and started it. I had never seen a man so calm under pressure and effective as this man, he was like the Wolf in Pulp fiction. No doubt the VIP’s were more impressed with Mukesh than me.
I gave Mukesh a $40 tip for saving my ass, and we peeled out of there.
The sales managers were in pretty good spirits after we got on the road when they knew they would not miss the meeting. Everybody laughed it off, and joked that they wanted to have Mukesh fill my position (which I did not laugh very hard at). Now I look back and laugh, but at the time it had to be one of the most stressful moments of my life. I guess the moral of the story is, always put gas in your car stupid.
FLYING SYAMESE FREAKOUT
Around 2006 my wife, teenage son and I decided to move from California to Seattle, WA. The apartment were going to move into did not allow pets, which meant my best animal friend, a Siamese cat named Cash, could not move with us. I was really getting desperate to find Cash a new home, but luckily my Mom was willing to let him live the back yard of her house in Cali – the house I grew up in.
For 4 long years, Cash lived in the back yard of my Mom and Dad’s place. Up in Seattle, we were finally at a house that allowed pets. Now I knew that there was no easy way to move Cash three states, he hated to be moved and this move was going to be a bitch, but I was determined to have him with us, his original adopted family.
FLY DAY! The next day I picked up Cash at 7 in the morning, got his tranquilizers from the vet, and started getting ready for my flight. I carried him to the car in the cat carrier, so far so good. When we got in the car, Cash started stressing out. As we started driving, the howling began. “Mrrrrooooooowwwwwww” “Mrrrrroooooooowwwwwwwww” I felt terrible for him, but there was no going back now.
The 1 hour drive to airport had begun, and the tranquilizers didn’t do shit. He howled over and over. I count 396 howls on the 1 hour drive to the airport.
We had finally arrived. My Mom and Dad let me out at the Airport loading/drop off area. I approached security and removed my shoes under the scrutiny of a formidably looking TSA Agent. He instructed me to remove Cash from the carrier, hold him in my arms, and walk through the metal detector. I thought “Are you shitting me? Granny dogs are cool with being held but not cats, especially in a big, noisy airport!” But you don’t argue with the TSA, I wasn’t about to get tazed and detained for not cooperating.
I removed Cash him from his the carrier and he remained calm. So far, so good. Maybe the tranquilizers kicked in? He slowly gazed upward, utterly in awe of the view before him. His eyes grew large as he saw concert hall high ceilings, neon lights, huge hanging lights and massive windows with jetliners outside. Still, he remained calm. I held him in my arms, comforting him, and walked through the metal detector with no trouble. “Whew” I thought, “Now let me get him back in the carrier and get to the gate.” “Hold it” the TSA said. He wiped some papers on my hand, I was told later it was to detect drug residue.
The TSA guard had just finished wiping my hands when it happened. Cash completely freaked out.
“Mrrrraaaaaaayyww!” he howled and contorted violently, like a spasmodic rag doll. He dug his claws deep into my arms try. “AAAhhh, Mother Fucker!” I yelled, drawing an intense gaze from the TSA agent and other passengers. I could not stand in formation any longer and still hold Cash. It felt like the first three layers of my skin were going through a cheese grater—I let go of my grip. My cat was loose in the God Damn airport!
He hit the floor and went full speed towards the food court and likely would have ended up in dark hole between the Cinnibon and the newsstand, never to be seen again. Right about now, everything went into slow motion for me. I could see in extreme detail his feet slipping on the glossy tile floor, and the muscles ripple in his legs as he tried so hard to escape me. I fixated on the loop end of his leash and lunged forward in a baseball dive slide, arms outreached, grabbing for the loop end of the leash.
“Gotchaa” I said as I just hooked a finger in the loop at the end of the leash. I looked up, realizing I was at the feet of the TSA agent and was half expecting to see 5 more TSA agents with Tasers pulled, pointing at my face. But, it was just the one TSA agent looking down at me, trying to not laugh. He said, “Are you Okay? Stay there…” He went to his podium and returned with a big adhesive bandage for the holes Cash ripped into my arm.
The very nice TSA agent put the bandage on my arm and waited patiently for me to put Cash back into the carrier. I sat down to put my shoes and belt back on and thought “Holy Shit, that was crazy!” But alas, it seemed the worse was over. He was not howling, we survived the road trip here and now all that was left was to go to the gate.
“Not much longer now” I thought. Then, my phone rang. It was an 800 number. “What the heck?” It was an automated message from the airline telling me the flight was delayed. This went on until the plane was 3 hours delayed! I had never experienced such a flight delay in my life, and of course it happened the first and only time I will ever transport a cat by air.
Ultimately, the plane arrived. I boarded normally. Cash had calmed down and did not howl any more, and. People thought he was adorable. I sat next to the nicest cat lady ever who was in love with him. I learned I could unzip the top just enough so he could put his head out, and we both scratched his ears all the way home. Cash never pooped or peed in all that time! That’s proof he still loved me. Cash defied a TSA agent, flew with the birds and lived to meow about it.
ANT IT A BITCH
It was the late eighties and I was a college student who had recently graduated. I had saved up my money from working as a waitress for one year and wanted to travel to a few exotic places before I joined corporate America and started working 40 hours a week. I always wanted to travel to places people normally don’t visit, like the Middle East, Manila or deep in South America.
My first trip was to go to South America for six months. It was my hippie phase, and I was determined to not travel like a privileged American. I wanted to hike, walk or take public transportation so I could truly submerse myself in the local way of life. So young and naïve I was. In any event, the die was cast and my trip started in the summer of 1993. After having a great time seeing the main countries like Chile and Argentina, it was time to travel deep south to some of the less developed countries. The hippie code of ethics required me to reject conventional values and decreed that I go deeper south to see the “real” people of South America.
I went to a local Bus company to make the trip to La Paz, which is something like 10,000 feet up the Andes, in about 48 hours. I was given a flip book filled with nice pictures that looked like new buses, so I bought the last available seat. When I boarded the newly painted bus, however, I quickly realized that the interior was not near as nice as the exterior. Windows were cracked or did not open; there was no air conditioning, and the seats were worn out with the backrests immovable or often entirely broken. This thing was a serious POS with a nice paint job. However, we already had purchased the tickets, and after watching our backpacks being strapped onto the roof rack and covered with a large tarp, we embarked on our South American journey.
And a journey it was, or rather more like an Odyssey. The bus experienced numerous breakdowns and delays, and the trip took four days instead of two. The road up the Andes to La Paz often narrowed to a one-lane dirt road, and the many hairpin turns made it impossible to spot oncoming traffic. The bus would veer insanely close to the edge to let oncoming traffic pass, and you could look out your window down into mountainside, no guard rail, and swear you could see death smiling at you from the jungle below, just hoping your bus would slide off the side and into his cold embrace. Just the trip alone was enough to terrify the average American or European to death. At one point we wound our way out of the perilous mountains and came to an old-world village in a flat spot in the hills.
Finally some local culture! There was a convenience store there and I was dying to have some sort of American junk food snacks. I looked at their wares, and of course they were pretty slim pickings. I got a bag of Doritos and they had some sort of soda pop that was a brand I never heard before. I’m guessing it was probably left over from the last shipment from the outside world way back in the 1970’s. After driving again through the mountains, the road turned muddy. The bus slipped around a bit, then got stuck in the sludge and mud.
After several attempts to get the truck out of the mud, we had no luck. The driver said it was too dangerous to drive during the night, and I thought if it got any more dangerous than it already was that would surely mean certain death. It didn’t take much for me to agree to stay the night there. For some reason the driver would not let us stay on the bus and was very insistent about it, and said we must spend the night outside under the stars.
At this point the weather was good and the scenery picturesque, so I didn’t mind. It was a long day and we were tired, and we all fell fast asleep on our makeshift outside beds. It must have been 3 or 4 a.m. I don’t know, I had been sleeping like a rock and was in one of those deep coma sleeps when I woke up to the sound of terrorizing screams of pain and fear! I looked up to see my fellow passengers hopping around like they were on fire! They were swatting themselves, slapping themselves in the face and cursing in Spanish.
Still half asleep myself, I tried to make sense of what was going on when I felt my skin burning! It felt like there were a million ants on my body – and that is exactly what it was! I began to slap myself and tried to squish and smear the ants off my body! I was covered with ants from head to toe, and I don’t mean just a few. My white skin looked almost black, it was truly that bad. The worst part was that there was no way to wash the ants away. There was not a stream or running water in the vicinity, and we could not just pour our drinking water on us as we needed to conserve it.
Just about now the sun was coming up, and we noticed the bus was parked nearby a huge ant hill,
like the kind you see in a rain forest, it was 5-6 feet high! And here is the worst part- before I went to sleep, I tried the soda pop from the convenience store and found it was the most nauseating, stale sweet flavor I ever had the displeasure of tasted. I poured it on the ground beside me. This concentrated sugar puddle no doubt attracted the ant swarm to us!
I was wise to keep this little tidbit to myself, as I am certain if I said something stupid like “Oh, it must have been my soda pop” I would have been beaten to death and thrown over the mountain side. I kept my mouth SHUT. For the rest of the trip, and even after I returned back to the states, I found little ant bodies in my hippie dreads, clothes and even my passport for weeks. I even found one in my Virginia!
BEING DRUNK AND STUBBORN ALMOST KILLED ME
Combine -20C temperatures, a freak snow storm, some casual drinking and surly stubbornness and you get a very dumb decision on my part. In the early 2000’s, I was an exchange student and living in Germany with my host family. After a year or so, I made a few friends who invited me to a party in about 4 kilometers away from my host family residence. During this particular day, it was warm enough that I only had to wear light clothing, but later that night but a freak snowstorm set into the town.
Eventually the party wound down, leaving me a pretty tipsy and little surly. The party was over and it was time to go home. I left the party and tried to hail a cab, but by now it was snowing and I was having a real hard time getting on to stop! Finally a couple of them pulled over, but they were asking exorbitant prices, claiming their price went up in bad weather. That was total BS – they just thought I had no choice but to pay them more. Like I said, I was already surly and there was no way in hell I was going to pay 10 times and almost normal rate!
I told him you are crazy to charge that much and he said “OK, you’re choice” and sped off. I was thinking, “F you dude” and was determined to walk the 4 kilometers home out of complete stubbornness. I was just in a button up shirt and some jeans and it was fragging’ cold, I thought I was cold-tough because I was from Waukesha, Wisconsin, a part of the frozen tundra area of Midwest America. After about mile I was fine, but into kilometer 2 I realized I was in serious trouble. The town changed completely. Everybody disappeared off the streets. There were no cars, no people, not even a stray dog! Everything living creature was inside taking shelter from this freak snowstorm, except me!
Walking was getting increasingly difficult as my legs were sinking into the snow. My canvas shoes were soaked, by toes started going numb and ached terribly. I held up my purse to the side of my head to block the wind – I was seriously struggling at this point. I kept wandering off the sidewalk because I could not tell where the street ended and the ditch began. I pushed on, slowly. I was only 1 kilometer away from home now, and totally spent. I was seriously worried, I needed help right now. Everything hurt, my body was failing. At this point I was seriously scared I might actually die out here tonight! I was so incredibly weak, there was nobody around to hear my calls for help. I collapsed into the grass of a snow covered park. For a few seconds I felt the comfort of not having to move, it was almost peaceful. I drifted off to sleep, it was only a few seconds but my mind went straight into a deep dreamlike state.
Snap my eyes opened! I came to reality real quick, the severity of the situation slapping me in the face. I rose to my feet with a yell of determination. My body truly went into flight or fight mode, and switched on that last amount of reserved energy and strength you hear about when people almost die. That last bit of adrenaline powered my legs and I conquered that last .5 kilometers, alive! I barely remember knocking on the door, just the Mother of the host family opening the door. I literally fell into the house on the floor. It was just like a movie or something. Somebody screamed. They said “My God, are you OK?” My face was like a solid block of ice, and hanging from my nose were solid snoticles. My hair was frozen, filled with ice crystals. Even my eyelashes had icicles hanging. I couldn't feel my fingertips and couldn't feel my toes, if I was out for much longer I’m sure I would have had frostbite, real frostbite where your fingers and toes die and turn black. With the heat of the house and something warm to drink, I recovered quickly and was able tell them my story. I said “I thought I was going to die out there, truly!” To which my host mother replied “Why didn’t you take the metro? You walked by three stations on the way here?” So not only was I drunk, surly, cheap stubborn, but I was also very stupid as well. I almost died from natural selection.
BEST TURNED WORSE NEW YEARS EVE EVER
It was 1999 and approaching New Year’s Eve. I was single at the time and ran with a bunch of other single guys and we were always on the prowl to meet girls. It was turning it 2000, and our pack of single dudes were going to drive from Sacramento to San Francisco to see the Reverend Horton Heat play at the Maritime Hall. We were all into the Rockabilly scene back then, (Rockabilly was a big scene of people who dressed and talked like they were form the 1950’s, go figure) In this scene, the Rev was man to see! One of my friends, Wolfe (that is real name, it is short for Wolfrano) had a cousin, Miguel, who lived in the Presidio- that’s in San Francisco but it’s way on the outskirts.
In our most epic anti-Einstein decision of all time, we thought it would be way smarter to park our cars at Miguel’s apartment in the Presidio and take 2 cabs to Maritime Hall. This way we wouldn’t have any problems parking our car at the concert location with the added benefit of getting drunk without driving –brilliant, right?
We started drinking early and called cabs to pick us up. When we arrived, I observed that there was a vacant lot right across the street from the Hall with only a few cars in it and tons of parking. We could have totally parked there and had easy access to our cars after the concert. No worries I thought, a cab will work just as well.
“Three, two, one!” everybody chanted the countdown in unison, it was the new year! Thousands of balloons dropped, people cheered, the Rev played Auld Lang Syne. It was still great fun!
We left the Hall, ears still ringing, and sobering up a bit. The bouncers hurriedly ushered everybody outside and when the last person was out, closed and locked the doors. Hundreds of concert goers were now outside of the hall and guess what they were doing? Bingo! – all trying to hail a cab.
The battle to nab a cab was frantic! After 20 minutes I was ready to jump on the hood of a cab and scream “Stop” through the windshield, just to make myself noticed. We were tired, hoarse, sobering up and ready to crash. I didn’t hook up with a girl, so I was already pissed and done with this night – so done.
20 min, 40 min, 1 hour goes by and still NO CAB. They were everywhere, but full and not stopping. Then a big realization kicked in….this sucked. Big time. And it was going to suck even harder. I was really pissed because had I parked my car in the vacant lot, where there were plenty of spaces, I would almost be home right now.
But I wasn’t home. I was abandoned in San Francisco at 2 am, New Year’s Eve, with 5 other drunken idiots I called friends and no transportation. As I sobered up, my stress began to evolve to anger! I wanted to go home – now! The annoying thing is, I was the only one stressing. The other guys were still acting stupid and drunk, seemingly oblivious to our predicament. How dare they have fun when I wasn’t?
“OK keep calm” I thought. Even though my friends were acting the fool, I thought we should stay in a group for safety. I became the informal leader of the drunken group and suggested we should move away from this huge crowd of pompadours and poodle skirts if we had any chance of getting a cab.
So we started walking, in a direction we thought might be the Presidio. Now that was stupid notion to begin with as that it would have taken a full day to walk that distance, if we even made it at all! But at least we were away from the crowd, perhaps we could get a cab now.
We walked, and walked, and walked, and still had no luck getting a cab. We walked into seriously scary neighborhoods. We walked by some menacing looking project crawlers sitting on their front stoop. “I knew it” I thought as they started talking shit to us, trying to start a fight. Of course, the rockabilly code required us to respond to any challenge, because that’s what Fonzie would do. Then a pushing match started between Wolfe and one of the sketchy dudes.
This could have gone bad, there was NO police protection that night, all busy with a million other calls. Any of us could have gotten stabbed or beat severely and the cops likely wouldn’t even have responded, but luckily things broke up and we went our way, with Wolfe yelling “Pussies” and grabbing his crotch and throwing the middle finger as we shuffled down the street.
Walking, walking, walking….. still NO available cabs!
I was starting to pray for a cab, and I am an atheist! Even worse, I had to go No. 2 real bad. It must have been 4 am by now, and everything was closed. If I had to, I would go No. 2 behind a staircase. This was San Francisco, after all, no one would hardly notice.
Walking, walking, crawling…. By now everybody sobered up and was exhausted, this was bad. Real bad. We walked down a street that was almost like a tunnel, it was covered by a wide main thoroughfare. There was a very dubious character leaning against the wall eyeballing us as we got closer.
This shady person threw their cigarette down and approached us, eyes locked onto our group. I was bracing for a confrontation, then I heard a “Hey ya’ll, are you lost?” This was a man in full drag. He dressed like a prostitute with a short mini skirt, fishnet stockings, and puffy salt-n-peppa style jacket. He had a long blond, ill fitted wig, and was black “Is that your natural color?” I thought sarcastically. He also sported a Miami Vice style 5 o’clock shadow. “If ya’ll need directions, or anything else *wink* I can help you out if you can spare some cash. I know ere’ body ‘round here, you know?” Umm, no thanks I said. “OK sweetie, your loss. Have fun getting home” and gave me a talk-to-the-hand gesture.
I should have took his/her offer. We walked some more, feet swollen, exhausted – finally, hope on the horizon! Somehow we staggered upon a MUNI bus station! Hallelujah, praise Jesus and all that, we had transportation! We piled on an outgoing bus and it was packed to the max. I had never seen a bus packed like this except from photos of busses in the third world. Everybody was drunk, and ranged from giggly to surly in their drunkenness – but I didn’t care, I was sitting again!
I quickly talked to the bus driver and found out that the closest stop to the Presidio was the last stop on the route. The bus started moving, but every 2 blocks it would slow, stop, and let people on or off. At this rate, we wouldn’t be at the last stop for hours! Not to mention the last stop was still not very close to Miguel’s, and we would still have to walk a long ways.
We had a quick group discussion, and we decided to pool all of our money and try to bribe the bus driver, bus full with other people, to drop us off at our cars. I approached her in my nicest, most charming way I knew how to. “Hi, we are abandoned without vehicles and miles from home. Your standard route will not stop anywhere near our house. If we give you $100, will you take us home?”
It was no real surprise she said “I can’t do that sir.” “but I will call you cabs with radio” THANK GOD!! At the next stop, we saw two cabs waiting to pick us up. “Was our nightmare over?” I questioned myself..
Well, yes and no. We were so happy to see the cabs, and I shouldn’t be surprised that BOTH cabbies, one Hispanic and one Indian, I think, told us they were “New” on the job and we would have to give them exact directions. Our BS meter went off, but we were desperate, and they could smell it. We tried to give them exact directions, but without GPS we really had no idea where to go. Every wrong turn brought a smile to the cabbies face as the meter ran up higher and higher.
Wolfe, the surly one, started getting hostile with the cabby, saying “We know what the fuck you are doing, stop driving all over hell and take us to the Presidio!” To which the cabby said “Don’t curse me, or you walk!” The cabby drove, I swear, to every corner of SF before figuring we could not cover the fair if it went any higher. Then, now imaging this, he took us right to the front door of Miguel’s place.
Each cabby wanted $65 a piece! Wolfe was ready to punch the guy, but I was the “responsible” one and encouraged him to calm down and pitch in the cash to cover it.
One more insane thing, one of our friends, Travis, rented a brand new Chevy Malibu as he was visiting from out of state. He parked in on the street near Miguel’s. When the cabs dropped us off, his rental was demolished! I mean obliterated, it looked like a Monster Truck drove over it! We walked up to it saying “Oooooh Shiiiit!”
There was a note on the driver’s seat, sitting atop a pile of glass, that read.. “Sorry about your car, I hit it. Everybody who saw this thinks I am giving you my insurance info, but I have none. Sorry again”
Travis fell to his knees, “Thank God!” we looked puzzled “Thank God I got the full coverage, just in case, it being New Year’s Eve and all.” What a night. I went into Miguel’s blew up the bathroom, depositing what I had been holding in for 8 hours, said “Later dudes” before anybody realized it was me that smelled up the bathroom, left the apartment and drove home. Best, yet worst, New Year’s Eve ever!!
CUTE, BUT GROSS
In the 1970’s, my son Gregory was about 5 years old. Back then, I would let him stand up on the back seat and look out of the windshield between the front two seats, he liked the view from there and pretended to drive the car. Can you believe that? No seat belt, and standing up! If I hit something he would go right through the windshield. I cringe at the thought today, not by brightest moment, but I was it was the 1970’s and I was a young mother, and nobody buckled up their kids back then.
Anyway, Gregory was adorable as a kid. He had big blue eyes and gorgeous blond hair but – he always picked his nose. Every time I caught him he had his finger up there, and would eat it too! I would say “Sweetie, don’t do that. It’s disgusting!“ “OK Mommy” he would reply. His adorableness overcame his grossness every time and warmed my heart.
One day we were driving around town doing errands, and he was standing on the back seat again. I thought we should get lunch. “Sweetie, do you want to run through a ‘Donalds or something for lunch?”
“No Mommy” he said “I’m eating boogers”.
COME ALONG FOR A VANTASTIC VOYAGE
It was about 2002 and my wife and I had a small side business selling t-shirts at rod and custom shows. As sales increased, we went to more shows each summer. Then we heard about a very large hot rod and tattoo show in LA, and apparently vendors made a ton of money there. We really thought we could cash in, so I printed a big inventory to prepare. Only problem was we did not have a large transport vehicle to carry all the merchandise.
That’s when we decided to buy a van for the trip, but we wanted to spend as little money as possible. We searched Craigslist list and found a prospect, and went to check it out. It was a Vantastic Chevy Vandura, a relic left over the 70’s Custom Van craze. But like a former beautiful disco queen that smoked, drank and partied a bit too hard, this one was not aging gracefully. Every body panel seemed to be a different color, except on the sides that had faded metal flake graphics in fat hockey stick shaped striped patterns. There was a Pegasus mural on the back door/gate that was half covered in Bondo. It had an oversized CB antenna on top that attached to nothing.
The enveloping leather velour captain’s seats in front were damn comfortable, though, and they swiveled! It had two bumper stickers, one read “Equipped with Radio Shack two-way CB radio”, and the other read “Keep on Trukin’” in 70’s bubble font. There was also a faded metal-flake, cracked decal on the rear window that read “Grass, Gas or Ass, nobody rides for Free”. The headliner was gone, exposing the metal roof. This thing was FUGLY, but it could do the job, so we bought it for $500. Like a retired boxer returning to the ring for one last fight, we took Vandura on what might be her last Vantastic voyage to LA and back.
We hit the road the next morning. When we got on the freeway, the van started whistling, LOUDLY. We tried to ignore the shrill sound, but it was maddening! Perhaps Vandura was in pain, can a Van have arthritis? Likely every rubber seal in this van was rotted away. We were driving down the freeway in this whistling piece of Disco history. People were passing us, staring with expressions ranging from amusement to “oooh god, what trash” Granted it may have been the ugliest whistling van on the planet, but somehow we were starting to love our Vandura! She was like family, and when people mess with family-watch out. I began to stare hard back at people with a “What the F you looking at” expression. Don’t gawk at my ugly kid, Bitch!
After a few miles of not being able to hear ourselves think, however, I was about to crack. No way could I take this for the 6 hour trip. Realizing I had to find a solution, I formulated a plan. I swiveled my seat to face the rear of the van, and walked (I could stand almost upright) to the back and dug a hefty roll of masking tape out of our vendor supplies. I started taping up the seals around all the windows and doors-THE NOISE STOPPED. Our sanity slowly returned.
We began to realize, though, that NOTHING electronic appeared to work on this van. No gas gauge, temp gauge, oil pressure – nuthin’. Vandura could be overheating and we would not know it until she blew up, killing us both.
On hour three, something strange happened. Just when we were sure none of the electronics worked, the 8-track radio turned on! It was on a lonely part of the freeway near Bakersfield (creepy in its own right), and the song was “Hotel California” by the Eagles, followed by “Highway to Hell”, both iconic 70’s songs. This would be funny if not downright worrisome. What sort of Stephen King’s “Christine” shit was going on here? Was this some Twilight Zone meets that 70’s show thing where this van actually takes us back in time to Carter-era Bakersfield? Or was the van haunted with the ghosts of all the hippie hitchhiking girls who had to put out because the driver always said “Gas, Grass or Ass, nobody rides for Free?” Maybe we’re we going to get stuck in Hotel California, where you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!?”
Arrrrgh! Just as my fears were peaking, the radio went silent. So creepy.
On hour 5, another strange occurrence…ummm..occurred. It started raining! Unusual for this time of year, but it was really coming down. And, of course, the wipers did not work. My wife was driving and tried to see through the drop covered windshield, but finally said “Honey, I can’t see a damn thing, I have to pull over!” “Hang on” I replied.
I rolled down the masking tape sealed window, and the tape made this loud ripping, un-taping sound and began to whistle loudly again. I looked at my wife, as if it would be the last time I would see her, and said “I’ll fix the wipers, I.. I love you!”
I leaned out of the passenger window, my upper body exposed to the freeway speed wind, bugs and rain drops. I reached across the windshield to grab the wipers and MANUALLY move them from left to right! It was working! After about 20 minutes of this, the rain stopped. I pulled my bug splattered, drenched head into the car and picked leaves and stuff out of my hair. I re-taped up the whistling seals.
This is our exit! We arrived at the car show, Vandura made it!! She was still running strong. No doubt we had some 70’s Aquarius supernatural power helping us get to our destination.
The next day we headed back, said a few Hail Mary’s and crossed our toes that Vandura had just enough life left in her to make the trip home. In what stated to become routine, I taped up the inside of the windows as we hit freeway speeds.
For about 3 hours, everything was fine. She ran great, and the trip was almost peaceful. As the sun went down, we were in one of the most desolate areas of the trip. At a lonely stoplight on a side road, a fellow driver pulled up next to us and honked. As I looked over, he pointed to the back and said “Your taillights are not working, I almost hit you, just a heads up!”
Crap. Driving with no tail lights is very dangerous, especially when there streetlights or moonlight. Anybody could rear end us so easily. We had to think of something. We went off the beaten path in to a small forgotten town in the middle of California, and stopped a grocery store that looked like it had not been remodeled since ’62. Somewhere inside this store was something that could give us taillights.
We went to the light section only to find household lightbulbs. This was going to be tough. Then we saw a small kiosk called “As seen on TV”, and in the display were click lights. They were those lights that stick to any surface, and you just press the dome down and they turn on. You were supposed to put them in your closet and such.
These just might work, but how to make them red? Then, in my proudest McGyver moment, it dawned on me. We have all have our moments of pure genius, and this was mine. I found some red plastic party bowls that, when turned upside down, capped the ClickLight perfectly. When turned on they looked exactly like round red taillights! Along with tons of tape, we bought these items and taped them over the existing reflectors on the van. It took A LOT of tape, but they were on there good.
Once secure, we “clicked” on one side, then “clicked” on the other side, and we had taillights!! They were beautiful. From there, we made it home without incident. As we pulled into the driveway around midnight, we simultaneously laughed at our adventure, and let out the biggest sigh of relief of our lives that we did not break down somewhere in the near desert between Sacramento and LA.
The next day, I tried to move Vandura, but she would not start. She used her last bit of strength for one last epic road trip, and kept her passengers safe, and passed quietly into the night. It was the last dance of a once great Disco Queen. With the cost of repair far exceeding the value of the van, we had the junk yard pick her up for $50. We will never forget our trip with Vandura, and to this day have a photo of her with us standing in front framed and placed amongst our most treasured family photos. We will never forget our Vantastic voyage!
SAMOAN TORTURE IN PARADISE
As I entered the almost hidden, unremarkable massage parlor on the big island in Hawaii, I had no idea what to expect. I was greeted by a charming, petite young lady who said “Welcome, massage today sir?”
I paid for the massage up front, and waited in a dark back room for my masseuse. Corny new age music played in the background, and the dimly lit room was adorned with plastic plants and photos of Hawaii.
My masseuse entered the room, and introduced herself as Masina. Her dark eyes examined me closely, wrinkles forming in her sun browned face. Masina was a large Samoan woman, and looked quite strong. She visually inspected me prior to my massage. I am 6’ 4” and a bit over weight. She patted my belly and said “You a big boy- lot to work on. I think you need two hour for proper massage.”
“One hour is just fine” I replied, thanking her for the suggestion.
“OoohhKayyyy” She said, disagreeably as if to imply I would regret by poor decision.
She motioned for me to lie prone on the table. I had gone over the menu on the wall. It was made of plastic letters pressed into a felt board. Of the various types of massages available, and I had selected “Hawaiian Paradise (relaxation)” This place was recommended by my co-workers, and it was known for being painful. Many of my co-workers were complaining about being sore for days after their massage. It was almost a challenge they gave me, daring to see if I could handle it.
But, I did not come here to be tortured. I was interested in being massaged into a state of pure relaxation, not wrung out like a wet towel.
I became more and more apprehensive as she began pressing her hands against my feet while applying her full weight. This was not feeling like a relaxation massage, more like medieval torture.
It was just like my co-workers had warned me, but I could not wimp out and let them give me the business. I decided to tough it out.
I quickly regretted my decision. Suddenly I felt an unbelievable force and the pain of an elbow plunging into my hamstring muscle. I winced in pain as I looked at the floor through a hole in the massage table. “Is this too hard?” she asked.
“I’m fine” I replied. But I was not fine. That hurt like a MF. But I was determined to not let her know I was in pain.
She seemed disappointed that she could not hurt me. I think she saw me as a challenge. With Her next series of moves, I would feel the full force of all of her strength, body weight and technique.
I refused to utter a sound. The question now was, would my determination to not look like a wimp surpass my maximum threshold of pain? We would see.
We were now in a battle of willpower. Masina was clearly no longer trying to relax me, but get me to react. Maybe she felt she was not doing a good job if I was in pain, or maybe she just was and angry divorced woman who hated men. I still don’t know for sure, but I had imagined I would get a soothing, scented massage to the sounds of ocean waves and new age pan flute piped through the speakers. I thought my muscles would be unbound and months of stress would be released as I drifted off into a dreamlike state.
But most assuredly, I was not getting that. I was getting an elderly vindictive islander who received some sadistic payoff from pinching and contorting my muscles with unnatural skill. She was angry about something, and my grimacing pain was her payment.
But I would not pay up. Somehow she sensed my reluctance to submit to her wants, so she increased the intensity. OK now this really, really hurt, but I was taking it like a man. Is this all you got!!? I thought, grimacing in pain.
No, it wasn’t all she got. She had tricks in those fingers she rarely used, but cherished the moments when she could. Suddenly, it felt machinery was pushing on my lower back. How she created such force I’ll never know, as my face was buried in the table and eyes closed with a face of agony. This went on for a few minutes. Somehow, I did not call out or submit. I took it. I was resolute in the idea that if I ever worked for the CIA and was captured by the enemy, classified secrets would be safe with me. If I would not crack under this pain, I could handle anything. I truly believed the worst was over.
Wrong, stupid man! Again, the feeling of machinery pressing down on me returned. I imagined those robotic arms that build cars on the Detroit assembly line pushing into my body. But this time, somehow, the machinery pressed on two parts of my body at once. One robotic arm pressed on my shoulder, and the other on my pelvis.. “No pain?” she asked in a challenge.
“Nope. I’m good!” I grunted. I felt a jolt of snap, crackle, pop rippling through my body.
“You okay?” She asked, almost to say “Stay down if you know what is good for you”
With all my strength, I tried to reply with no strain in my voice “Fine, just fine”
I think I insulted her.
In medieval times, this is when the torturer would progress a stubborn suspect from the thumbscrews to the rack. She jumped onto the table, and started walking on me, trying to break down the connective tissue in my muscles like a meat tenderizer.
I thought it was as bad as it could get, but…
We were about to enter DEFCON 1. For her next trick, she sat on the massage table between my legs. She pushed the soles of her feet against my inner thighs, spreading my legs apart to Van Dam level splits. Her toes dug into the spaces between my muscles like surgical instruments. She was a virtuoso, and I was her instrument.
She was winning, I think, but it was hard to tell. My determination to hold on through the pain transported me to a surreal place where it was hard to tell reality from delusion. In a brief moment of clarity, I began deep breathing exercises to handle the pain, but nearly lost it when she dug her toes into the space between my leg and groin. WFT? This seemed a bit close to the family jewels, and I had shorts on, but she stopped short of touching the goods. It was routine, I guess.
She asked me to roll over, had I won?? But the expression on her face told me she was not through with me yet. I closed my eyes and tried to not give her a reaction. Now I don’t know how she did it, but somehow she got here bony fingers between my ribs and massaged me from the inside out. This was almost my breaking point. “Are you okaaaay?” she asked, almost wanting me to ask her to be gentle.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Too painful for you?”
“No, that feels great. Proceed” I replied. I had found another level of resilience, but surely this is all I could take.
I believe I had survived the worst, but next she did something more disturbing than painful. She got a death grip on the fatty parts of my body, like by belly and love handles, and squeezed and kneaded them like pizza dough, all the while muttering blessings in either Hawaiian or Samoan. At least I think they were blessings, they may have been curses.
After trying to make pizza crust from my body fat, she put my legs in a figure for position and tried to dislocate my hips.
She worked her way back to my feet and tried to pull each toe from its socket. She would not leave the toe until she heard an audible pop! My big right toe was being especially stubborn, and she pulled with more force than the others, and with a bit of a twist, she got what she wanted – “Pop!” went my toe. “Ah ha!” she expressed, pleased in her victory over my last toe.
I think the toes were the last painful trick she had. Perhaps it was time to move to humiliation tactics. She instructed to sit up. She sat behind me and put a pillow in her lap, and lovingly placed in her lap. She lightly caressed my forehead, and tugged on my ears. Finally, she started lightly slapping me all over my head.
I could not help but start laughing, it was just too ridiculous!
After getting slapped upside the head in one last humiliation tactic, my “Hawaiian Paradise (relaxation) Massage ” was done. When I stood up, I was told to shake it out. I almost fell over, my legs felt like rubber bands, but was able to remain upright.
Later that day, my body was still recovering from being turned inside out. The day after I was sore in places that have never been sore before, and at any rate I did not feel as good as during the few hours after the massage. Was it worth it? I’m still not sure. Let’s just say it was not exactly “Hawaiian Paradise (relaxation)”, but the unravelling of my connective tissue is something I would do again, even if only twice in a lifetime.
SCENIC BOAT TOUR WITH A CORPSE
“If you go to Thailand, you must take a local slow boat river tour along the Mekong River! It will be one of most peaceful, tranquil experiences of your entire life!”
That is what everybody told me I had to do while in Thailand.
I had only 12 days to explore Thailand and Laos, and I really had to think about this one. Should I spend 2 precious days out of 12 sitting on a boat? I had commitment issues.
I was concerned about wasting my time, and spending the entire day on a slow moving boat down a river sounded, well, kind of boring.
Indecisive, I contacted some good friends who had taken the same trip, who cajoled me into action by voicing “It will be amazing! You haaave to do it!”
And it was amazing, for the first day.
As I climbed onto the boat with one of my travelling companions, Annie, Chris and Jason, we were pleasantly surprised that the seats were padded and quite comfortable, a sharp contrast to the wooden benches other boats had.
Just as it was described to me, our first day was great. We chatted while playing card games, drinking beer, listened to music, wrote in my journal, took naps and took in the stunning scenery of Asia from inside the boat.
It was paradise. At this point, I thought it would be the best decision of the trip.
After about 8 hours, the boat arrived at a town along the river. As part of the tour, we would be staying in an overnight hostel for $1 a night. Now I was trying to be open minded, I was traveling in another country and things would be different. Still, I was stunned at what I saw. The room was filthy. The thin, torn curtains had strange brown stains on them. There were bugs on everything- not a few, tons of them. The bathroom was utterly disgusting, stained with you know what. Even if the owner was poor, that is not excuse for not cleaning the room.
You can imagine that as soon as we checked in we were counting down the hours until we could check out. To make things even more uncomfortable, somebody in the room next door was having night terrors or something. They would scream and then wake up, and go back to sleep. The only reason I deduced there was not a murder taking place next door was because the screams of terror were punctuated by some of the loudest snoring I had ever heard. As you might conclude, I had virtually no sleep that night.
When we left on the slow boat in the morning, I was already exhausted. Our group was a bit late to board the boat, and had to sit all the way on the back of the boat. It seemed fine, though, there was more leg room here than the other seats. The gentle rocking of the boat, along with the warm air and calming music, put me to sleep about as fast as any anesthesia I could remember.
Due to the horrible hostel owner trying to offer us happy shakes and happy cornflakes and happy toast and happy sausages, we were late onto the boat and the only seats available were the ones on the back row. We were excited to have a little extra legroom and didn’t think for a minute that this could possibly be the worst place to be located.
I went quickly into a deep coma sleep for about 40 minutes, when Annie started shaking me to wake up. I was rudely wrenched out of one of the most peaceful, deep sleeps in recent memory and with blurry eyes I saw Annie in my face, slowly coming into focus.
“OmiGod! A woman has died on our boat!”
“Whaaaaa??” I groggily responded. Finally, I was fully awake and came to my senses. I noticed a commotion on the boat, and noticed an expression of horror on the faces of the other passengers.
Then, my eyes were drawn to a human-sized object wrapped in blankets on the walkway in the middle of the boat. Two men picked it up, and carried it to the back of the boat and walked closer and closer to us. We started to nervously squirm in our seats as they approached, and exchanged glances of horror and concern.
The two men carried the object to the area of storage on the boat, which was just behind our seats! I could not help to inspect the object more, and the blankets fell back revealing an old, dead woman!
The boat was filled with people murmuring and speaking softly, with an occasional outburst of a yell or sobbing from people arguing with the captain and deck hands, likely telling them to pull to the side and let them off. I could only think of one thing.
I was sitting next to a dead woman. I WAS SITTING NEXT TO A DEAD WOMAN.
For some unexplainable reason, I kept looking at her face. Her skin was a sickly yellow color, and she had one lone tear streaming down her cheek.
I gagged, and threw up a little in my mouth. There was a woman stumbling down the aisle, I heard it was her sister. She had her face buried in her hands and was sobbing uncontrollably. The murmuring went silent as everybody watched her kneel down beside her, holding her hand and muttering unintelligible words as she sobbed.
This was utterly heartbreaking, that poor lady.
There was six hours left until we were due to arrive in the next town, and I was desperate to get off this floating mausoleum. Nobody was getting out of their seats, and I had the unlucky position on the boat of sitting right next to the rear storage compartment, and same place they were going to store this woman the remainder of the trip. It was obvious now that I was going to be sitting next to the dead woman and her sobbing sister the entire trip back.
“I’m not sure if I can do this…” I thought to myself.
We managed to deduce that the poor woman died of malaria. I was terrified.
I am a known hypochondriac, and news of this this sent my germophobia into hyper drive. Was I bitten too? Was my insect repellent working? Seriously, I just had to get away from this situation, I was starting to panic.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to keep it together for the next six hours.
The boat docked, and I felt a huge anxiety leave my body. I stood up and went to get my bag, but realized that the dead woman was blocking the entrance to the luggage compartment. This meant that every passenger would have to step over the body to get their luggage, which they did.
Realizing that there was no other way to get my bag, I climbed over her body well. I did so as quickly as I could and let out a resounding “Ugggh” while wearing a look of horror on my face. At least I was now on dry land and off that boat.
For the next week, I tried to wrap my head around what had happened. It was bizarre, I mean the odds of that happening were one in a million. I could not unwind for days. Finally I returned to semi-normal, but continued to soak my skin with bug repellent and check myself for early signs of malaria.
WALKING OVER SOMEONES GRAVE
I am an artist, and years ago I used to do gallery shows. Once I was in LA at a big group show, where I was one of 12 or so other artists. My girlfriend and I drove from Northern California to attend this show and stayed at an old hotel in downtown LA. On the night of the reception, we had to walk several blocks from the hotel to the gallery. We were dressed up in our best and walked through a strip of old shops like barbershops, tattoo parlors, boutiques etc.
We were almost to the gallery when there was a homeless man sleeping on the street. He was lying down, but leaned up against the wall in a sitting position. The sidewalks were narrow, and his legs stretched out across the entire sidewalk. The street was blocked with a delivery van, so we had no choice but to step over his legs to get to our destination. We were careful not to wake him.
The exhibition started and there was lots of complementary alcohol and snacks. We were somewhat inebriated and hanging out front having a smoke when we saw an ambulance and a cop car parked just about the exact same spot the homeless guy was sleeping. There were a lot of people out front and we heard from the crowd that somebody died on the sidewalk. After a second of putting two and two together, my girlfriend and I looked at each other and our eyes opened wide as we came to the same realization. The sleeping homeless man was not sleeping at all, but dead! We had stepped over a corpse!
I was in South America while volunteering for the peace core in the 1970’s. One evening, I noticed a sore growing on my cheek right under my left eye, towards my nose. It seemed like just an ingrown hair or pimple, so I did not think much about it. For about 10 days the sore did not heal, in fact it seemed to grow in size and tenderness. There wasn’t a doctor in the village I was volunteering at, so I really did not have much choice but to let the sore heal on its own.
About 15 days went by and this sore was now quite large and was clearly not going to heal. At this time, I thought I really should have people take a look at it. I sat at a table and had my fellow peace core volunteers as well as some residents of the village who had some medical skill examine the sore. As everybody peered closer at the lesion and pushed on it, a black and white insect that looked like a fly but round and fat like a bumble bee, simply wriggled out of the boil, crawled along my cheek, beat its wings and flew off! As my friends from America almost puked, the local villagers laughed.
I had a Bot fly living in my cheek! Bot flies are large hairy flies that resemble a bumblebee. The botfly egg is deposited by a mosquito, and then forms into a maggot. The maggot was growing in my cheek for all this time, living off of my flesh, until it mutated into a large fly! Once the maggot turns into a fly, they simply crawl out of your skin and fly away.
It turns out that once they leave the host body, your flesh typically heals up normally. To this day it is the grossest, nastiest thing I have ever experienced!
BATGIRLS GONE WILD
Years ago I was vacationing in the pacific islands. As I watched the beautiful sunset from my poolside deck chair, I noticed some large birdlike creatures circle around the pool water. I realized quickly that they were not birds, but large bats with a 2 to 3 feet wingspan! At first I thought they looked very cool, but then they stared darting at my face and that really freaked me out. I started to run, not walk, to my hotel room! I could hear one or two of them flapping behind me, I screamed and my heart raced in fear of this prehistoric monster!
Sure enough, the very instant I bolted into my room and slammed the door, one of those demons had swooped inside of my room and started doing figure eights in my 10×10 room.
I had never seen a bat this close before, and never know I had such a primal fear of them! I screamed like a little girl, and that phrase you hear about the hairs standing up on your neck? That is real! And this comes from a woman who proclaims to be braver than nearly any man.
The logic center of my brain told me I was safe, but my instincts told me I was about to die! Was he more afraid of me that I was of him? I doubt it! I threw the covers over my head and screamed some more, then extended one arm from under the covers to call the front desk for help.
I was horrified, but the clerk at the front desk sounded amused! He said, with a chuckle in his voice “help was on the way.” After 5 minutes of enduring the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced, a smiling bell hop arrived with a key and let himself in. In a matter of 30 seconds, he calmly threw a pillow case over the bat and let it go harmlessly outside.
Afterward, we were told that this happens quite frequently and they had lots of practice in removing bats from the rooms. They also said that they had never heard somebody so terrified when they reported the bat. I had never been so embarrassed.
AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT IN PARIS
When I was 25 years old, I took my dog Jake on a road trip to a shadowy town called Paris, Tennessee. I was picking a piece of antique furniture for my mother. This was quite a long drive at 12-hours one way. To get a head start, I left very early in the morning and planned to make the trip with almost no stopping. Now, Paris, Tenn. is a small, quaint, almost cute place. But to be sure, it’s not the Paris for France, obviously, and don’t think it is beautiful as the real Paris because it’s called Paris – just saying.
I should clarify that the place I was headed was not exactly in Paris, but nearby on the outskirts, which I was told was a strange, ramshackle, haunting locale. And I should also clarify that this was 12 years ago and at the time it had a dilapidated, abandoned Detroit meets cute southern small town in the south look going. It had very old buildings that had not been painted in decades, rough roads, vacant lots with a few Slurpee cups littered inside the chain link perimeter, and a few boarded up houses.
Shortly after arriving I was all too happy to get the F out of there. I planned to stay at a motel in nearby Paris for the night, then start the long drive home in the morning. When I arrived at the Motel, however, it was a very old, run down nasty shit-hole that had optional hourly rates and some seriously dodgy characters mingling about. No way was I staying here. I thought I might try Knoxville to get a room for the night, so I headed off in that direction thinking I would run along to the main highway.
Jake slept soundly as I crossed mile after mile along the freeway. After driving about an hour or so, I could not recognize the area any more – and this was before GPS. Did I pass that small collection of junked out cars on the way in? Wasn’t there a Mom and Pop convenience store and gas station on this road about here? Jesus, Where on God’s Earth am I???
The sun was going down, and I did not want to be lost off the grid in backwoods Tennessee. I increased my speed, not really knowing if I was getting closer to my destination faster or going deeper into the middle of nowhere faster. By now I’m flying down this desolate two-lane road, tearing around corners, driving like a maniac, and working myself into a total panic. The sun’s was going down, and I have no idea where I am. Everything I see is desolate woods and ramshackle farms.
This was bad. Finally, I spotted a faint, flickering red neon sign that read “open” in the window of a small, trailer style diner or bar, whatever it was. I slid into the parking lot, sprung out of the car, and barged into this shadowy, ghostly run-down establishment. I was greeted by a gruff, almost skeletal old man behind the bar. There was a single customer, an equally skeletal but tough looking old woman. She was seated on a bar stool, facing the barkeep, and they just sat there in silence, looking at each other.
I approached the pair, and they turned their leathery faces towards me “Hi, can you possibly give me directions that will get back to the interstate?”
They looked at me with vacant black eyes. After a good few seconds of trying to process my request, the man said
“ … interstate?”
“Yeah. You know, it’s a big wide road that connects state to state, and leaves Tennessee?”
They gave me blank stares, and I deduced that they had never heard of it. How the hell can you live in America and never hear of an interstate? You know, like I-5, I-44, I-69? How could they NOT know what an interstate is? But they hadn’t.
Throughout the conversation, or lack of, my eyes were darting around the room as I spotted back doors, mirrors and dark corners. I had it in my mind that any second now somebody would knock me out and turned me in the Gimp from Pulp Fiction.
Finally, after some deep, introspective thought, the old man said “I think you might run into a road like that if you keep going the direction you are headed.” He said, pointed a crooked bony finger.
That is all I needed to hear. “Thank you much” I said as I got out of there with a quickness.
I got in my car and screeched out of there. After some more time on the road, I found that scarecrows at the diner were right! I finally came upon a faded old road sign that must have been from the 1950’s. It pointed the way to my path to salvation, US-40. It was a few hours into night, but once I was on US-40 I came to Knoxville.
I was able to spend the night in a Hotel there in peace and safety and return home the next day. You better believe I bought a GPS when they came out.
THE HITCHER’S GUIDE TO SUPIDITY
When I was a younger man in my early twenties, I did a lot of things that were pretty stupid. This is an account of one of those times. A group of us friends decided to go to a concert in Eastern Washington at the Gorge Amphitheater. About half way from Oregon to Washington, my car broke down. After a brief attempt to fix it, we realized it was toast. We were somewhere in Oregon, I think. Luckily I had triple AAA, but I was out of the coverage zone. They would still tow the car and bring it back to my house, or to the closest repair shop, for an extra charge.
The problem was time. We had to keep going or we would miss the concert. We paid a ton of money for these tickets and it was a once and a life time chance to see a band we were super-fans for. We all agreed we would get to that concert by any means necessary. It was going to cost me a lot, but I wanted AAA to tow my car back home. My Dad was an expert mechanic, and he would fix it for free. I gambled the free repair would offset the tow and save me money.
So, in our genius we decided to call a cab. We only had an hour drive left, so a cab ride wouldn’t be too bad if we split it 4 ways. We waited, and waited, and waited and the cab never showed up. We were running out of time! We started to panic. As I said, I was not too bright when I was younger, and that would explain my next asinine decision. We decided to hitch-hike the rest of the route. I had heard horror stories from Hollywood, my parents, the news, you name it, about all of the people who get kidnapped and murdered when hitchhiking . I was definitely nervous about hitchhiking, but I just got over it as we were determined to see this concert!
About 30 minutes of hitchhiking, and a rusty old Jeep Wrangler pulls over in front of us, kicking up a dust cloud. Motioning us over was an older gentleman wearing a mesh truckers cap, a long beard and a plaid shirt. He had a very creepy, buffalo bill from Silence of the Lambs look about him – I was already unsettled. “Hop in” he said, and feeling like we had no choice, we proceeded to do so. The creep factor continued to level up, as he kept asking us very personal questions and quoting bible verses, real revelations shit to which he would punctuate by yelling “Hallelujah!” or “Amen brother.” I was beginning to freak out, like a lot. We were really stressed about time, so I asked him if how much longer it might be. Then my freak-out peaked when the creepy dude said…
“Don’t worry, I know a shortcut”
Those must be the words every person ever murdered while hitchhiking heard at some point. But, I did not want to over react just yet, we still needed a ride. Then, suddenly after only a mile or two, he glances in the rear view mirror as if to check if he was being followed, then makes a sudden right turn down a desolate, hidden dirt road.
OK we were all starting to freak, and we were on HIGH alert! Didn’t I see this scene was in Hostel 3? We all are able to silently motion to ourselves to be prepared to attack this guy at the first sign of danger. I had a pen in my hand, ready to stab him in the neck, and my brother was in the front seat and had his hand on the handle, ready to spring from the vehicle at a moment’s notice. Joey found a screwdriver in the back of the Jeep and gave me a “I’m ready” silent nod.
About 30 of the most fear-provoking minutes of my life later, going over bumps, spitting out dust from the road and ducking low hanging tree limbs, the Jeep suddenly veered onto a street that was wide and nicely paved. And sure as shit, there was a sign right in front of us that read “Gorge Amphitheater Ahead.” This creepy dirt road detour was indeed a shortcut! We all let out a sigh of relief, and exchanged looks of “Holy shit” to each other.
Then we chuckled, partly in the joy of not being murdered and partly out of embarrassment for suspecting this nice man was going to kill us and hide the bodies. He got us to the show 30 minutes early, and it was mind blowing. What an adventure!
THE FROZEN ROAD LESS TRAVELED
It was the craziest, scariest and most dangerous family adventure of my child hood. We called it our Frozen Road adventure. It all started when a large rock was hurled from a Semi and took a quarter sized chunk out of our windshield. Little did we know what this would lead to later in the day.
It was the day after Christmas, and I was tucked in the back of our minivan playing Zelda on my brand new Nintendo DS. We were traveling to Wisconsin to pick up an antique hutch. It was part of my Mom’s inheritance and was wasting away in a storage unit that contained the last few items belonging to my Grandma who passed away the year before. My dad was in the Marines, and had an unmissable deadline- he to be home in Scottsdale, Arizona so he could catch a plane back to Philippines, where he was stationed at the time.
There was a blizzard foretasted, and we had planned to let it pass before we headed out. But if we were going to get that hutch, we couldn't wait any longer. So with an impending blizzard on the horizon, we headed up to Wisconsin to pick up that hutch. Shortly into the trip, the sky was getting darker and darker, even though it was only afternoon. For once, the weather man was right- there was a blizzard straight ahead, and we were driving right into it. Even cars coming towards us were blinking there lights, signaling us to “turn back!” But, we drove on. My mother loved that hutch, and even though my Dad was a bad ass Marine, Mom wore the pants in the family. She wanted that hutch, and Dad complied.
We could see the blackness getting closer and closer to us. I found the swirling darkness fascinating and could not take my eyes off of it. Then we drove into the wall of fog and darkness. Huge fluffy snowflakes splattered onto the windshield, audibly. Visibility dropped dramatically, so we slowed way down. Our semi-new minivan had an Outside Temperature sensor, and my eyes got bigger as I watched the readout dive to near freezing temperatures. Even with the heater on Max I could feel the inside temperature drop. After some time, ice started forming inside windows! Mom was starting to panic a bit, and had a very distressed expression on her face. We were now driving at near zero visibility and the minivan was sliding around the road. We weren’t even sure if we were on the road anymore, it was that bad. We were forced to go slower, and slower, and slower until we were at walking speed.
Then things got even worse. Something went wrong with the minivan, it just stopped running. We coasted to the side of the road. Our minivan was dead, there was a severe blizzard outside, and night was approaching. This was bad, and we all knew it. My little sister started crying, but my mom told her to be quiet in a voice I’ve never heard her use before. She calmly said “Be strong, don’t panic and be quite while we think about how to get out of this”. My parents were arguing. They were trying to stay calm and not scare us, which scared me even more. I gathered they had a plan. About 2 miles ahead there was an exit. My Dad, being a Marine and in great shape, was sure he could run to the exit and find a gas station or restaurant or something and call for help. Mom was against it, she thought we could just wave down a passing car. The problem with Mom’s plan was he hadn’t seen another car in about 30 minutes. My Dad took the initiative, even though he was wearing only a thin jacket, no gloves or boots. After preparing himself mentally, Dad got out and started running in the deepening snow.
Without the minivan running we had no heat, and it was getting extremely cold in the van. We had stored some sleeping bags in the back of the minivan, all gifts from Christmas the day before. Mom told my sister and I to get out the sleeping bags and wrap ourselves in them. Mom wrapped herself in blankets from head to toe. Being small, I was able to tuck myself on the floor behind the driver’s seat, and was warm and toasty in my sleeping bag. At the time, I did not really grasp the reality of how much danger we were really in. After all, Dad was a Marine, a human machine, and unstoppable force, he wouldn’t let any harm befall his family, especially a wimpy old blizzard.
How wrong I was. Later, Dad told me that because the entire ground was white and visibility was low, he lost track of where the road was. He was running straight off the road into a field. Before he realized he was in a field and got back on the road, he had become utterly exhausted. Today I believe any average person could very well have died in that field that night. But he got back on the road and managed to run those 2 miles to the exit and by luck found a small cluster of houses. There was no gas station or lights anywhere. He banged on every door, shouting for help. Finally, an older gentleman opened up one of the doors. He had a friend with a tow truck and offered to help. He also gave my Dad a warm winter coat and told him to keep it. Dad kept that coat and has it to this day.
After a long and tense wait, a tow truck finally pulled in front of us. It had been nearly 2 hours since he had left, and that entire time Mom was worried sick. Only two other cars passed us in all that time, and they did not stop for us. The tow truck was big and strong and clearly outfitted for snow conditions. We cheered as it backed into position. It towed us back into the small town to the old man’s house where we spent the night on his floor, still in our sleeping bags.
The blizzard broke the next day and the roads were clear. The minivan was an easy fix, and we were on the road again. We got the hutch, turned around and started heading back. Remember the huge rock that hit our windshield and caused a small crater in it? Well, because of the cold outside and the heat inside, the small crack had spread all the way across the entire windshield. In all the chaos, I don’t think we noticed it until now. Later on the return trip, The interstate took us through a small town in Colorado. Like a scene right out of a movie, some small town cop pulled us over because one of the lights on our piece of crap trailer was out. Dad pleaded with the cop for leniency, but he was unfazed. Almost to make a point, he also cited my dad for having a damaged windshield.
On the road again, we were in the home stretch and about 100 miles from home now. Then it happened. We hit an enormous pothole, and the damaged windshield shattered into a million pieces. My sister screamed, I think I did too. There was a moment of silence as we all looked at each other, then we started laughing hysterically. We pulled over and tried to brush all the broken glass out of the front seat. My parents wrapped their heads in towels to block the wind from blowing in their faces, and we hit the road again.
Finally! We were home. My parents still had their heads wrapped in towels, broken glass was all over the inside of the car, and an antique hutch was in tow. As we pulled into hour house around 2am, we noticed something out of place. The door from the garage to the house was open, and we always close that door- always. "Dad, I think someone is in the house!” My Dad bolted into the house just in time to catch a burglar sprinting through the back door and over the fence. It was crazy, after being on the road for two weeks we arrive at the exact time a thief broke into our house? We called the cops and gave a report, and had to explain to them that the thief was not responsible for breaking our windshield. Even in the commotion, my sister and I were wiped out and went to our beds and fell fast asleep.
Three hours later our parents woke us up, we had to take Dad to the airport and say good bye to him for six months. He had only beat his unmissable deadline by 3 hours, and I have never seem him look so tired. I’m sure he slept like a rock on that plane.
EXTREME CHEAPSKATE PARENTS
This story is not about any particular road trip, but every road trip I can remember from my childhood. I love my parents dearly, but there was one single parental trait that reared its ugly head on every trip – they were extreme cheapskates! And they can’t blame it on low income either. We were solid middle class an never really struggled financially, even as a kid I could figure that out. It was just their mindset, it was literally straight out of post stock market crash 1930’s eras shit. People who lived through the depression, even when it was over, still bought dented cans, stole napkins and ketchup packets from restaurants and stashed their cash under the mattress. That’s the kind of cheap my parents were.
One particular trip did come to mind, though. One year, we took a family trip to the Grand Canyon. Along the way, there were lots of fun roadside attractions with all kinds of things to make a kid go “Ohh Ohhh, can we stop! Pleeeez!”. I remember going to this awesome place called Cameron trading Post, there were so many cool things in there! My brother and I wanted something sooooo bad it we could hardly stand it!
Mom, can I get a t-shirt, pleeeez!! NO.
Mom, check out this license plate keychain with my name on it, can I get one?? NO.
Dad, this is so cool! I found this authentic Indian peace pipe! Can I get it?? NO.
Mom, Dad, we found these really cool patches, they are 3 for a dollar. Can I get them?? NO.
Then we left, buying absolutely nothing but a road map! They shouldn’t have even stopped and tortured my brother and I with a bunch of stuff we couldn’t have, what sort of sadistic parents were these!
I also remember we stopped at a pizza parlor somewhere – it might have been in Flagstaff. Pizza parlors in the 80’s were just awesome. They were always dark, had plastic checkerboard table cloths, bench seats like picnic tables, and best of all, video games! It’s hard to describe the lure of a video game to a kid in the 80’s, they were as addictive as crack must be today. The music, the sounds, the super cool graphics on the side. Pac Man, Battle Zone, Defender – I wanted to play them soooo bad! This place had a secluded corner built just for video games, and then entire time I could not take my eyes off it.
My brother and I started immediately begging for a few quarters to play a game.
Mom, mom, can I get some quarters to play Defender, pleeeeez! NO.
Awww come on, they have Battle Zone, that is the bestest new game out, pleeeeeeeez!
Dad, Dad! Mom said you can give me some quarters! No she didn’t, and NO.
Mom can I get a fift… NO.
Mom – NO.
I should have sat out front begging, “change, spare change, anything helps” I bet I would have got more change doing that than my parents would have given me all year for fun stuff.
I mean come on! No games, no candy, no comics, no magazines! We made out pretty good during Christmas and birthdays, but for some reason on trips it was always no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! All we got was a lecture that those things were a “Waste of money.”
Then, finally, we arrived at the Grand Canyon. We were starting to finally have fun! The view was awesome. But then again, in the visitor’s center were more incredible souvenir’s and we wanted them all.
Ohh oohh Mom! Can I get an official Grand Canyon engraved pocket knife? No.
Dad, check out this map of the Grand Canyon, it would be sweet on my wall can I ge.. NO.
Mom, can I get just one penny to have it stretched out and have the Grand Canyon pressed into it? NO. Why would I pay a quarter to ruin a perfectly good penny?
What a waste of money. No.
Finally, I gave up. I surrender, yield, capitulate and lay down my arms. You win, my beloved cheapest cheapskate parents on the friggin’ planet! Just forget it then! I stormed out of the gift shop and sat on a bench with my arms folded, brooding. I did enjoy the Grand Canyon, but the trip was bitter sweet.
Years later when I was grown, married and had kids of my own, and most importantly, money of my own, we took a family trip to the Grand Canyon. My boys were about the same age I was in the 80’s on my trip, and I was going to spoil them with souvenir’s and knickknacks, by God. Anything they pointed at I bought. Scorpion paper weights, rain sticks, dream catchers, pocket knives, maps, – everything! It felt great, and I even bought myself a stretched penny with the Grand Canyon logo pressed into one side. I waited twenty years to see that contraption stretch a penny, and it was utterly fascinating.
Later when we returned home, I called my mom to tell her how the trip went. With a bit of sarcasm, and a bit of rubbing it in, I told her I bought my self and the boys everything they wanted from the gift shop.
Her response? “Well, it’s your money now, you can waste it if you want to.”
OVERHEATED ON BLOOD HIGHWAY
When I was a teenager in the 1980’s, my sister dated a guy who’s dad owned a frozen food distribution company. It was my first job ever and I was happy to have it, but the reality was that the building this place was in should have been condemned. It was a frozen food warehouse that was over 100 years old. The breakroom was crooked due to a sagging foundation, and severely worn everywhere. It looked like a telegraph room from a California ghost town. The grizzled old warehouse workers broke every safety code in the book – daily. I was raised up by forklift onto pallets about 30 feet high, with no harness, where I had to climb around rickety old racks to get 1 box of product from the top shelf. One time I almost had my foot crushed by a forklift. My body was covered with bruises from head to toe on a regular basis.
I hope it is clear to you now that everything in this place was dilapidated, unsafe and in desperate need of repair. The same went for their delivery trucks. On one horrible day, they asked me to take the complete piece of crap delivery truck to deliver some product to an account way out of town. It was off of Highway 12 near Vacaville, right in the middle of California. The truckers call this stretch Blood Highway because roadside fatalities are so high. If you have ever been to that area, you know it is pretty desolate in places.
What made this worse was that I had a phobia of getting lost when I was young, in fact when GPS came around my entire life changed as the phobia nearly disappeared. But back then, they didn’t have GPS and I had to go to these accounts by following nearly illegible, vague napkin sketch directions from one of the hardened old truck drivers. I was terrified from the moment I left the plant and hit the road.
Luckily, I had been on this route many times with my parents as Napa was one of their favorite weekend family retreats, and we lived only about an hour and a half away. It was just dumb luck, really, that I found my first two accounts in Vacaville without much trouble. Now to turn back and stop off of one last stop on the return trip.
This last stop was in a weird place. It was off of highway 12 way up in the foothills. I had to drive up this long, winding road until I came to an emergency gate. It was some sort of high security research center. I had to get out of the van and speak my name into an intercom box and state my business.
They buzzed me in, I made the delivery, but when I was getting back into the van I noticed that there was water pouring onto the ground. I suspected the van was overheating, but I was so nervous about the high security appearance of the place that I was too afraid to say anything or ask for a water hose – I just wanted to get in and out this Area 51 type place so I sped off.
The way out of the hills was all downhill, but it was there I noticed the temp gauge going higher and higher. I didn’t know what to do, I was in the middle of nowhere, cell phones did not exist, and I was terrified. So, being a stupid young kid I just keep driving. I finally wound my way out of the foot hills and got to the main highway, turned right and got up to speed.
At this point, the truck was completely overheating. A toxic steam filled the cab and the interior reeked of anti-freeze. I don’t even know how it is possible, but rusty, poisonous anti-freeze water was literally pouring out of the glove compartment. The needle was pegged on red, and I knew enough about cars to know if I kept going the engine would melt together or even catch on fire. If I let that happen, I would be a dead man back at work – or even just a dead man.
So, in the middle of nowhere on a hot summer day, I pulled the van off to the side of a lonely, country highway, turned off the engine, and got out. A poisonous radiator fluid steam cloud poured out of the windows. I turned pale white with worry as I walked away from the van and sat on the ground, head between my legs. I did not see any cars, and the only thing I could hear was the wind rustling through the tall grass. It was so quiet out there, for a second it almost peaceful. But the moment of peace quickly vanished as the severity of the situation set in. What was I supposed to do, walk back and die of exposure? Hitchhike and get murdered? My eyes welled up as I pondered my situation.
As I sat there in isolation, no cars in site, I tried to shake off my fear and told myself to not panic. “Stay frosty, maybe I can think my way out of this” I thought. Just then, I heard a very faint sound of trickling water. I walked towards it curiously. Amidst some very tall grass was an irrigation ditch with cool flowing water.
What luck! I stopped right by a source of water! Then I had an idea. If I could somehow get the water from the ditch to the radiator, I could fill it up and be home free! But I needed a container of some sort. I went back to the cab of the truck and searched through the toxic, disgusting sludge on the floor. It was a mix of rusty radiator fluid, dirt which had now turned to a mud, and soggy fast food litter discarded from the drivers. With a look of disgust, I scanned the cab and in that nasty muck my foundation was found- in a Slurpee cup! It was big enough to get at least some water in my radiator. I might not die out here after all!
I proceeded to make about 73 trips from the irrigation ditch to the radiator, filling it up one cup at a time. After what seemed like forever, the radiator was only half way full. The radiator in this thing was huge. I thought it might take the entire day to get this thing filled, and I was already petrified that my a-hole boss Mike would scream at me for being late when I returned. I thought that a half full radiator might get me back and I could fill up the rest later with a water hose.
I started the truck – success! It looked like it was staying mostly cool, initially. As I pushed onward about 10 miles, it started heating up some more. Crap, I needed more water. Just then, I spotted a cluster of about 10 creepy looking manufactured homes way off the side of the highway and down the end of an unpaved gravel road. I had no choice but to pull off and see if there was a garden hose I could use. This was some deliverance trailer park sh*t, for sure.
As I slowly approached this creepy community, abandoned cars, busted up rusty lawn furniture, and broken lawnmowers came into view. What was this place? Is it a hippy commune or some kidnappers murder hole? The creep factor was off the charts, but the truck was overheating again and had no choice but to try to get water. I slowly approached the community. There was one old, strange man sitting out front of his trailer, staring right through me with a look of “What the hell do you want” expression.
In my crackly, terrified, 17 year old voice I said “Excuse me sir, can I use your hose? My truck is overheating”. His mouth breathing blank stare expression never changed as he raised a crooked finger towards a hose hidden underneath some tall weeds. I pulled the van over there, topped off the radiator, said thanks and got the hell out of there before I showed up before my face showed on a milk carton.
Finally, I was on the road again. The van was running fine now and not overheating. It’s a damn miracle that the engine still ran considering how long I drove it with the temp gauge pegged on red. I watched that gauge like a hawk all the way back, but it got me back to the plant, right before closing time.
After one of the most terrifying, stressful days of my life, I had to endure one more level of degradation by Mike, the a-hole boss. Sure enough, as soon as he saw me he started yelling. And I don’t mean yelling in tone, but literally yelling. “Where the F*** were you! Did you go home for the day!” We could have used you here, and you just took your sweet time because you had a delivery to make, didn’t you?” “Mike, the truck overheated and I went through hell getting water in the thing, you have no..” “I don’t want to hear it. If it did overheat, which I doubt, it was your fault for not checking the water level before you left. Get your s#$# together! And the next time you pull a stunt like this your outta here!”
I cried after that, but I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of seeing it. Now that I look back at it, 20 years later, I should thank Mike. It was a holes like Mike that made me 100% certain I was going to go to college, work with professionals and never, ever, be in a situation where I am subservient to horrible people or work environments ever again. Thanks Mike and that piece of s*&^% delivery truck for making me who I am today!
ABANDONED AT A FAST FOOD PLAYLAND
I was 9 years old and part of a big family. I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters, so you can imagine how family vacations were fun but also a logistical nightmare. One time we were taking a fairly long road trip to Disneyland, and this trip was even more challenging than usual because we were caravanning with my Aunt Judy and Uncle Ed and their 3 kids. On a hot summer day in the mid 90’s, 4 adults and 9 kids in two wood laminate panel min vans weighed down with luggage started the tristate road trip from New Mexico to California.
Half way through the 1 day road trip, there was trouble. Uncle Ed’s van was overheating somewhere in Arizona. Luckily, it was a good place to break down because we were not in the desert but in the city. Uncle Ed signaled to us to pull over and the minivan limped into a roadside Fast Food burger restaurant parking lot.
All four parents were visibly stressed. Uncle Ed did not know the severity of the mechanical failure and feared it might be a very expensive head gasket. In any event this repair would put us way behind schedule. But, as kids we didn’t really understand. The adults simply took us all inside, used the restroom, bought us all burgers and fries and released us to the enclosed Playland for a few hours. Back then parents could just leave their kids in places for a few hours without CPS taking the kids into custody. All the adults took the van that was running and looked for a repair ship in town.
We hung out in the Playland and was pretty fun for a while. It had colored plastic tubes to crawl through, slides to slide down, rope nets to play on, and a big pit of plastic balls to jump in. My cousins and I ran around like screaming banshees, punched each other, and the bigger cousins would give painful noogies to the littler cousins, you know – the usual inner family bullying.
While we were playing like wild animals, we noticed a commotion around the pit filled with hundreds of plastic balls.
Kids were laughing, playing then jumping into the pit when their expressions turned from smiles to looks of disgust. “What is that smell??” One of the kids said. The kids in the pit held their hands up like surgeons preparing to operate, and realized there was something really gross on their hands, in their hair and on their clothes. Some would put their fingers to their nose to confirm the bad smell, one kid even tasted it. Then all of a sudden you heard, “Gross!” and “Awww nasty” as they screamed and bailed out of the ball pit as fast as they could. A parent ran over there to investigate – it was puke! It turns out some fat, nasty kit puked in the bottom of the pit as a prank, and sat to the side laughing as all the kids jumped in and spread it all around.
People screamed, kids were crying, and a poor 17 year old employee was being blasted by an angry soccer mom saying “How could you let this happen! I am going to sue you!” They announced over the loudspeaker, “The Play area is now closed, please exit the play area, please exit the play area!” In a panic crying kids and infuriate parents fled the play area like it was on fire.
It just happens that at this exact time, my Uncle Ed was back with the van repaired, it was just a split radiator hose. “What the hell is going on here?” Everybody was running out of the Play Palace in such a panic, my Uncle Ed and my parents must have thought it was a bomb or gunman or something causing the panic. They pulled the minivans to the Playland with a screech, slid the side doors open and said yelled “Get in, move move move!”
My brothers, sisters and cousins piled into the two minivans. They slid the doors shut and speed off. All was good except one thing. During the van loading process, I was in the bathroom washing my hands and face off, terrified that I somehow had touched fat kid puke. I came out of the bathroom looking for everybody. I walked around and around the place, and did not see my cousins or siblings. For quite a while I thought they were hiding from me, so I walked around screaming everybody’s name. After about 30 minutes I realized they were gone. I knew that even on their cruelest day they would not hide from me this long as they would suffer the wrath of my parents. I walked down to the side street where the car was parked…and it was gone also.
Knowing for sure I was abandoned, I sat outside on the curb and cried. As I looked at the ground through watery eyes, a shadow came in from the left and covered my feet. I looked up to see a smiling, angelic grandma with hair haloed by the sun. “Are you OK sweetie?” she said. I replied “My family abandoned me I think, I can’t find them anywhere *sniff*.” A state trooper was there, perhaps responding to the Playland fiasco, and overheard our conversation. He knelt down and asked what was going on.
I told him I was lost. You should have seen his face when he asked me where I was from and I responded “Albuquerque, New Mexico”. I told him what had happened and he told the employees. The teenage employees were super nice to me and comforted me as I cried. Then the manager came up me and said “Is your name Jason Mays?” “Yessir, sniff” I replied.
“Your parents just called. In all of the ruckus at our Playland they left you behind. They are turning around to come back and pick you up.” While I waited, the employees gave me a bunch of happy meal toys, my very own employee’s hat, and pin. They also let me help make some burgers and make my own serve ice cream cone. My tears dried, it was actually a lot of fun. Now that I am a frazzled and exhausted soccer dad myself, I can see how easily you could miss one out of 9 kids if it is chaotic enough. What a trip that was.
In 1987 BI (Before the Internet) my wife and I wanted to visit the Big Bend National Park in Texas.
We thought it would be really nice to stay in a ranch like setting in the area, instead of the standard hotel. We began to collect brochures from the different ranch style lodgings in the area. Many seemed to offer the same amenities like, swimming, rooms with air conditioning, etc. But the most important feature we were looking for was horseback riding- we really wanted to do that.
From the several brochures we collected, we narrowed our search down to 2 places. These two places looked very similar, but one was $10 cheaper that the other one. We assumed that one was $10 cheaper because it was further out of town, which appealed to us even more. We both needed a break from the city. Unfortunately, neither brochure had detailed photos so it was very hard to what the place truly looked like. And of course in pre-internet America, we couldn’t even read any online reviews about the 2 places to help us decide. We really just had to guess at which would be the better experience. How we wish we could have read just one review comparing the two! But we did not, so we chose to stay farther out of town.
To get to the out of town ranch, we had to take a very rugged gravel road through the desert. It was 18 miles long, and filled with coarse, sharp rocks. Not surprisingly, we got a flat tire. It was the biggest blow out I had ever seen, a sharp rock jabbed itself into the sidewall of our rear tire and blew a huge hole in the side wall. It was very loud and jarring, it was like a cannonball hitting the side of our car.
We had to stop and put on a spare, and in the middle of the Texas desert it was very difficult. The ground was uneven and it was blistering hot. We got the spare on, but the hole in our tire was so huge it could not be patched. We had to get a brand new tire. There was a creepy small repair shop nearby who had a tire in stock to fit our car, but he wanted $175 for it. Now bear in mind this was in 1987, the price today would be about $370- for 1 tire!! This guy knew we had no choice but to buy it, and really screwed us over. Angrily we paid for the tire and went on our way again.
We finally arrived at the so called ranch hotel and were god smacked. We were hoping for a second that we were in the wrong place- but we were right where we were supposed to be. The brochure described this as a ranch hotel, which it wasn't at all. We saw three trailers sitting on top of a rocky hill, I’m serious here, trailers! These trailers had been lifted off the ground by a foot or so, and they were set on hills of hundreds of rocks. To get to the trailers, you actually had to climb over the rocks. This was not easy mind you, great care had to be taken or you might twist your ankle. I could not believe the owners did not even build stairs to go over the rocks to the doors of the trailers.
I could hardly believe this place was any sort of business at all. How the heck did they even get a business license? It looked more like two trailers out in the middle of nowhere that belonged to a prospector or hermit. I think in today’s world of the Internet, they would get so many 1 star reviews they would be out of business in no time.
Ohhh it gets better, or worse I should say. When we checked in, we were told that the horses were not out for the summer yet, and this is after we were told on the phone that horses would be available, without a doubt, on the date we were arriving.
Fuming, we tried to make the best of it. We ate dinner in the small dining room which really was just a part of a larger manufactured home structure at the bottom of the rock hill. After dinner we made our way up the rocky hill to our trailer, and sure enough my wife’s leg went right into a gap between two rocks and sprained her ankle. She could not finish the climb up to the room, much less have mobility to finish the rest of our vacation.
I stormed down to the front desk, and I use the term loosely, and asked for us to be moved to a trailer that was on the ground, of which I saw there were three. They just shrugged and said there was nothing they could do. I then asked if they could at least provide us for some ice to keep the swelling down, and they actually charged us for it!!
With great discomfort my wife and I navigated the treacherous rock hill to our trailer. She elevated her foot off the bed, and we both tried to just relax. We were both exhausted, hot, and filthy dirty, but thankful that at least this horrible day was nearly over. I turn on the TV, hoping to find something relaxing to watch.
The brochure stated they featured satellite TV, but we could only get one channel, and it was in Japanese! It was bizarre, why Japanese? We were in the middle of Texas, I could understand the channel being in Spanish, but Japanese? This was getting worse by the second.
Having no luck relaxing in front of the TV, we decided to just take showers and wash the desert dust and sweat off our beaten down bodies. I got in the shower, turned the knob and…. Drip, drip, drip, drizzle, drip.. Are you kidding me!! Not only that, the water was ice cold!
As we left the next day, I told the manager how unhappy we were with our experience. I went on to say that they had misrepresented nearly every aspect of the so-called ranch in their brochure, and we felt we were completely ripped off. It seemed like he couldn’t care less, and wasn’t about to give us a dime back.
We checked out of that dump and were happy to do so. As we left for the Big Bend area, we decided to check out the other ranch we had considered. We were sickened when we saw that the other place was picture perfect!
The bedrooms were adorable and decorated like little ranch cabins, the big comfy Texas style beds, horses were stabled out front, they had color TV that worked and HBO, The shower stalls were large, perfectly clean and plenty of water pressure. Not staying here was an grand mistake! It was a lesson in not being a cheapskate I will never forget, because I would gladly spend that extra $10 to stay here.
The big take away? Never, EVER, book a room in a place without seeing detailed pictures first. That seems like common sense today with the Internet, but back then you didn’t always have that option. I would say, thinking back, it was a lot of fun and even the horrible stay and the non-ranch ranch makes for good story telling – and I learned some very valuable life lessons.
We were traveling by plane to our annual Christmas trip from San Francisco to Austin. Our son was 3 years old at the time, and was potty training. The trip was a short 4 hours, but when you travel with toddlers, that can feel like decades, as this trip did. In preparation for the trip and our son’s bathroom needs, we packed 4 diapers and 2 change of clothes in our carry-on luggage. We had just settled into our seats and stowed down our carry-on luggage when my son erupts with a huge blast of diarrhea. This was not only very audible, but also had an incredibly strong odor, even for poop. The unstoppable poop tsunami spread up his back and down his legs.
I immediately bolted to the bathroom when we were supposed to be sitting down, and the flight attendant let me do it. No doubt this was not her first time dealing with exploding poop babies, and she knew the best thing for everybody would be to let me get to the lavatory asap. Before we even left the ground, we were down 1 diaper and 1 pair of clothes. I returned to my seat and he destroys another diaper with his shotgun diarrhea. We were down another diaper, and another trip to the lavatory. Finally we take off, but as soon as we get to cruising altitude, boom. He explodes again. This time he ruins not only another diaper, but our back up outfit as well. Within 1 hour, we are down to 1 diaper and no clothes left. He’s now sitting on my lap, in his last diaper with only a blanket over him. Until you have a 3 year old ticking diarrhea bomb on your lap, you don’t know fear – and there was 2 hours left in the flight.
I nervously kept checking the time, and my lap for poop evidence. By an amazing stroke of good luck, he made it the rest of the trip without blowing out his final diaper. But the ordeal was far from over. We still had to make the walk of shame as we disembarked the plane with very stinky poop filled clothes and a three year old dressed in only a diaper. People were holding their noses. I think I saw a kid dry gag as well.
We scanned the shops in the airport for a change of clothes and diapers. I ended up buying a him an extremely overpriced don’t mess with Texas sweatshirt and pants, and also found a package of 2 diapers (last ones available) in the small newsstand.
We had survived! We were pretty much humiliated, but at least we would never see those people again.
I have a Master’s degree in the biology and chemical engineering field. I used to work for a very large chicken processing company (you’d know the name if you heard it) as a quality control supervisor. This isn’t exactly what I wanted to do with my degree but it paid quite well and I have to admit I enjoyed testing chicken for any sort of health risk. It was good for the company and kept people healthy. In 2002, we had a potential contamination outbreak in one of our jumbo hot dog meat packing plants way across the country – we all went to battle stations to correct the problem. As you can imagine, any possibility of dangerous meat sets the entire company in a frenzy to correct the problem before the media gets a hold of the news, or worse, somebody gets sick or dies.
The fastest way at the time to get the contaminated sample for testing was to literally fly by commercial passenger plane to the contaminated meat packing plant, pick up a sample of hot dogs, and fly right back to our testing facilities. I was the man to do this. I took the red eye across the country, and picked up two packages of 9 inch in their store packaging.
I was returning back from the plant, and by now it was early morning. The airport was very crowded on this day. Because this was a 24 hour turn around trip, I was not carrying the standard travel stuff like extra clothes, toothpaste etc., EXCEPT my electric razor. I only had one black bag packed with 9 inch hot dogs and my razor with a long electrical cord.
As I went through security, I did the usual routine. I took my shoes off, put my bag in a plastic bin and set it on the rollers, and walked through the metal detector. I did not beep, but when I got through the other side a very stern security agent told me to “Hold it. DO. NOT. MOVE.” Something was wrong. I could hear a commotion around the x-ray machine. The agents were clearly on high alert, whispering to each other and darting glances my way. They were trying to not look nervous so they would not panic travelers. After holding still like a statue, two uniformed state police officers walked, briskly, my way and stared into my eyes with intensity.
I about pissed myself when I noticed that both of them had their holsters unsnapped, and their hands on their guns! Each one took an arm, on said softly in my ear “Come with me, sir.” Don’t make any sudden moves or we will shoot you. Do you understand?” Oh my God, I was terrified. But I tried to remain calm. I hadn’t done anything wrong right? Let them to their job and they will let you go. I was taken by armed escort to a security back room. I was grilled with questions about where I was going, what I was doing, etc. It was very, very unpleasant. My heart was pounding, I was sweating nervously. These guys DO NOT mess around.
Finally, security and I pieced everything together. I explained to them I was a food tester and my company was on high alert at reports of possible food contamination. My job was to collect possible contaminated samples of hot dogs and fly them back to our lab for testing.
Then they told me their side. When they x-rayed my bag, the overlapping electric razor and hot dogs looked exactly like a bomb!! The airport was secretly on the highest alert they have! I took just my razor because I grow beards really fast, but I had no extra clothes or toiletries. Moreover, I am Italian but look Middle Eastern. “Holy Shit!” I thought “All signs pointed to me being a suicide bomber! I almost got shot on the spot, Holy Shit!” Finally things calmed down and eventually they let me board a later flight and even keep my hot dogs. I have never had a feeling of fear like this in my entire life, it was very intense.
I was staying at a hotel with a balcony that overlooked Lake Tahoe. We had just arrived into our lovely new room and all three of us were on the balcony taking in the beautiful view. Then we noticed this persistent buzzing sound, like an electric toothbrush or something. It was very distracting. We walked around the room and could not locate the source, and figured it was something in the walls of the room. I called downstairs to the front desk, exclaimed there was a buzzing sound in our room and asked for another one. Confused, the man at the front desk and a maintenance man came to our room to investigate. We stood back as they did their job, and they concluded it was one of our suitcases. They handed the buzzing suitcase to us when one of my sisters said “Oh, that’s mine”.
She opened up the case and pulled out a vibrating dildo! She quickly stuffed it back into her case, horribly embarrassed and turning bright red. The two men’s eyes grew big and they could not help but smile. The desk clerk tried to stay professional without laughing his ass off, and said, clearing his throat and tugging on his vest “Uh hem. If you need anything else, let us know” and turned to exit the room. He paused to pull the arm of the maintenance man, who was still staring at my sister, and said “Let’s go Stanley”.
My sister said the dildo was packed for her vacation to Hawaii with her boyfriend last year. She had brought if for some fun in the bedroom but hid it in a secret compartment in the suitcase. They never used it and she forgot all about it. Something must have bumped the bag in the walk up and turned it on. We literally snuck around the hotel for the remainder of our stay to avoid eye contact with the desk clerk or maintenance man. If must have been very puzzling for the other guests to see us hiding behind corners and plastic plants while we checked to see if the coast was clear.
FIRST AND LAST TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO
About 10 years ago my wife had a business trip to San Francisco and invited me along. It was my first time to San Francisco and I was a bit excited about it. From the postcards and online photos, San Francisco looked to be a stunningly beautiful city. On this trip, though, I was about to see the real San Francisco, the side you won’t see on a postcard.
Our hotel was quite nice and we rented a car. We were very excited to go see our favorite comedian, Eddie Izzard, at a well-known theater in downtown SF. As a new visitor, I was stunned at the lack of parking in this city, but by a stroke of great luck we found street parking only about three blocks from the theater. The parking spot was nearby a small park. Did I say park? This looked more like a refugee camp, admittedly as a mid-west native the sight of this in America was a major shock to me.
There were people who looked like cave men and women lying around the grass and shuffling aimlessly about. There was trash everywhere. I saw an old woman squat pissin’ in plain view of everybody, right near the center fountain. I walked right by a couple who were both shooting up heroin right out in the open! But this was not the most shocking part of the story.
We were dressed to the nines and very nervous as we briskly walked past these people, but jumped back when, right in front of us, a manhole lid was pushed up and set aside from the inside. One of those cave people crawled out of the sewers, and with his body half way out of the hole, held his fingerless gloved hand out and said “I need a beer, can you help me out?” Jesus, was I in some sort of post-apocalyptic science fiction movie like The Road? This was just insane! But it didn’t end there.
We briskly walked around the mole-man and made our way to the theater. The entire way, we had to walk around homeless people, dodge what must have been piles and puddles of human waste, and avoid contact with some damn intimidating looking thugs drinking brown bagged alcohol and just loitering around. Even stranger was that there were other couple like us dressed very nice who were also walking through this rough crowd. The contrast was bizarre.
Before you think I am snooty or something, I have to tell you I am just a middle class guy who is very liberal. However, this opened up my eyes big time because to my estimation 90% of the homeless or thugs I saw were drunk or high, by their choice. I would not give them any money as I refuse to support the illegal drug trade or alcoholism.
We finally arrived at the theater, and just as we walked in, an overweight, toothless woman said to us “Yo, I gots yo ticket’s for cheapa..” I had to ask myself, how the hell could you possibly have Eddie Izzard tickets for cheaper than I got from Ticketmaster? I didn’t even respond. During the performance we made friends with two other couples and walked out together as a group for safety. Thank god we got to our car safely and to hour hotel.
That was my first, and LAST, time I will ever go to San Francisco.
BONUS CONTENT: 50 STUPID US STATE LAWS
OK fellow Roadtripper, if you are going to travel throughout ‘Merica on an extended road trip, you might want to make yourself aware of some of the most absolutely ridiculous laws still on the US law books! Many of the insane laws you hear about are things of urban legends, but many are absolutely legit. So before you fire up that metallic green wood paneled minivan and drive from Seattle to Orlando, take a read through this list of America’s most ludicrous laws!
Wait! You might want to reconsider training that bear with the intention of taking it head on in a wrestling match. According to Alabama law, if you purchase, possesses or train a bear for the purpose of bear wrestling you will be committing a Class B felony! The crime is punishable by a fine and confiscation of your bear. How the hell did like that ever get into the Alabama law books? Apparently, man vs. bear wrestling matches were common in the early 1800’s until bear activists groups got the sport outlawed.
A person cannot become intoxicated in a bar and remain on the premises. (Then what is the point of a bar?) The statute goes on to say a drunk person cannot “knowingly” enter a camp out where alcohol is sold. I suppose if you are drunk enough you might be able to argue you didn’t knowingly do it. If you think this is some law from 200 years ago that is never enforced, think again. In 2012, Police in Alaska started sending in plainclothes officers and arresting intoxicated people.
Before you pull off from your road trip to feed garbage to pigs, be aware that you cannot legally do so without a permit. And if you get said permit, you must renew it annually if you want to continue feeding garbage to pigs. Feeding slop to pigs is OK, just not garbage.
It is strictly forbidden for a pinball machine to give out more than 25 free games to a player who continues to win. Also, restaurant chains like Chuck E. Cheese are exempt from gambling statutes because the awards they give for their games are so cheap they are not considered “valuable things”
Ahh, Cali. Land of the Freak and Home of the Braid. It would seem that if a frog dies during a frog-jumping contest it cannot be eaten. Thank you for watching out for my health, California! Apparently this law is somehow related to the 80-year old Calaveras County Fair Frog Jumping Jubilee contest.
Before you stop off in Colorado to modify the weather, you better think twice. You can do it, but you need an official weather modifiers permit. And before you think this is bat shit insane because nobody can modify the weather, a person can indeed to so. By burning silver iodide and allowing the vapor to go into the clouds you can stimulate rain. Done professionally it can be a lucrative business.
Remember letting people copy your homework in school. Well in Connecticut you won’t only get detention, you could go to jail because it is actually illegal! The statute prohibits the selling of a term paper, essay, or dissertation and any education facility supervised by the state.
If you feel that you need to take the kids to church while passing through Delaware, be sure to tell them they can’t whisper because it is against the law! But if they want to scream their heads off, that’s OK.
When driving through the Sunshine State, don’t go into any bars or night clubs running dwarf-tossing Tuesday drink specials, because they might get raided and shut down. In 1989, Florida outlawed this Australian fad of tossing small people when it started getting popular in this state. Hopefully that didn’t put a lot of little people out of work.
If you plan on riding a llama in Georgia, be advised that you do so at your own risk. A Georgia statute states that those engaging in llama-related activities, such as riding, training, or goofing around at a county fair or performance are accountable for any and all personal injuries incurred. I guess you don’t see many “Have you been injured by a llama? The law firm of Slimy, Sneaky and Shifty can help.”
You just don’t see any billboards in paradise and that is because they are against the law – with very few exceptions. The genesis of the law comes from an all-white group of women who called themselves the Outdoor Circle Club, who lobbied hard for the ban in 1927. Today the group dedicates their lives to the suppression of jumbo sized advertisements. Get a life.
If you are in Idaho and plan on ordering the braised man-chop with rosemary potatoes, think again. It is illegal to eat other people in Idaho. According to the law, Cannibalism is strictly prohibited and punishable by up to 14 years of years in prison in Idaho. The ban was passed as a reaction to the spreading fear that people might start eating each other in satanic rituals.
Before you take a tour of a cheese factory, bake shop, confectionary or creamery in Illinois, you had better drink a cup of coffee first. It would seem that sleeping in these establishments is illegal in Illinois under the Illinois’ Sanitary Food Preparation Act.
Fishing in Indiana is no doubt a peaceful and relaxing, but don’t even think about trying to catch those fish with your bare hands. In Indiana, it is illegal to catch fish with your bare hands anywhere in Indiana.
By Iowa law, boxes containing hops must be exactly 36 inches long. If you plan on boxing hops in a 37 inch box, you might find yourself behind bars.
In Kansas, it looks like you can break the law just for being immoral. Take owning a gambling device for example, everybody knows how immoral it is to own a gambling device. Well Kansas took a stand by passing a law states that owning any “gambling device” is a crime of public morals. Thank you Kansas!
Be wary of any roadside cute animal coloring stands. It is illegal to dye a baby chick, duckling, or rabbit any color in Kentucky. Violators will be charged and fined $100 to $500. Oh, and if you thought of selling your colored cut animals you will get busted as well. One loophole in the law states that it is OK if they are deceased. Hopefully enterprising colored cute animal sellers don’t get the idea to kill them before they dye them to skirt around the law.
When travelling through Louisiana, you might be inclined to take in a boxing match. If you do so, be aware it is illegal to make “Insulting or abusive remarks” at any time during the match. If you even utter a “You’re a bumb!”, “Stay down” or “Get off the ropes you fool!” you might find yourself escorted out of the building by the cops.
While in Maine, make sure you get a license if you host a raffle for your non-profit organization. And if you do secure said permit, be aware that you cannot give away alcohol or a live animal as a prize. Dang it, there goes our Ostrich grand prize award for the neighborhood watch raffle.
If you had your heart set on scoring some non-latex condoms when in Maryland, you will be disappointed. There is a provision on the books banning any vending machine from selling non-latex condoms in vending machines. I wonder what kind of non-latex condom prompted them to make this law? Weird.
Say you were travelling through The Pilgrim State and you want play a round of golf. Well you may be very disappointed that you cannot use your exploding golf balls in MA. You see, exploding golf balls are strictly forbidden and carry a fin up to $500. And let’s say you are rich and don’t care about the fine. If you do it again, second offenders can go to jail over the offence.
Don’t have that extra glass of wine on the observation car when travelling by train in Michigan. According to Act 68 of 1913, it is agin’ the law to be inebriated on a train. Doesn’t this take all the fun out of a train ride? What else are you going to do for 12 hours?
Part of your interstate road trip plans include participating in a greased pig contest, but your kids will be sorely disappointed when they discover that greased pig contests are illegal in the state of Minnesota. Oh, and so are turkey scrambles.
So called illegitimate children are very common today. You see, women are going to get pregnant whether they have a marriage license or not, it’s called biology. However, it would seem residents of Mississippi have had enough unmarried sex and are taking a stand. In the state where they battle for golden eggs (look it up), they have passed a law that allows people to have one illegitimate child (first offenders?), but if they have another out of wedlock it’s a misdemeanor.
If you are driving the kids through Missouri and you see a bull or ram over the age of 1 year running rampant for more than three days, you are allowed by law to castrate the animal without assuming any liability for the damage. Castration, fun the whole family can play! However, be advised that three town residents must attest in writing that the animal was running loose and its owner must fail to reclaim or confine the beast after the notice is given.
Two short years ago, MT passed a law allowing the citizens to claim the roadkill for meat. Roadkill, the other white meat.
If you have ever caught an STD in your life, it is against the law to get married in Nebraska! That means 1 in 4 people in Nebraska can’t legally be married there. Wow, Nebraska must be the single capitol of the entire USA.
Got a teenage son who is ready to become a man? Well in Nevada prostitution is legal in most counties, so you can put your conscience at ease as you drop him off at the Lay of the Land ranch. But, if he takes a chairlift up the hillside and throws something off, he could get arrested for that. Throwing objects off a chairlift in Nevada is strictly prohibited.
If on your adventures with the family you decide it would be great family fun to collect seaweed from the seashore, be sure to follow New Hampshire’s strict seaweed gathering law. If one is found carrying seaweed “from seashore below high-water mark” after sundown then said individual is guilty of violating fish and game provisions. So much for your planned seaweed gathering outing after dark in New Hampshire!
Planning on committing murder during your interstate family adventure? If so, make sure you don’t wear a bullet proof vest while acting out the crime, because wearing one is illegal while committing murder in the state of ‘Juwsey. The cops need a fighting chance in a gun fight, after all.
Attending a baseball game with the family in New Mexico? You better know the National Anthem words by heart, and I mean every god damn word. You better stay focused too, no chit chat or ordering a beer. And swallow that bite of hot dog before the National Anthem is about to start, because it is literally against the law to not sing the anthem in its entirety!
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Unless you are “being masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration, loiters, remains or congregates in a public place with other persons so masked or disguised” to which you would be an illegal loiterer and can be arrested.
Does your family biodiesel Vanagon run on vegetable oil? Well don’t get any ideas about topping off the tank in North Carolina. It is illegal to steal very valuable used kitchen grease in North Carolina. It’s much better to let it go into the landfill, they figure.
As you travel through North Dakota, be sure not to accidentally clone or attempt to clone another human being, because that is illegal in old ND. You are so boring, North Dakota.
“Common man, just have one drink. All the fish are doing it, don’t be a square.” These are words you might not want to say in Ohio, because it is illegal to give fish alcohol in Ohio. Ohio takes fish peer pressure very seriously.
Cancel your plans to go to the bear wrestling and horse tripping event at the Oklahoma fair grounds during your road trip across ‘Merica, because both are strictly forbidden. Oklahoma, OK!
You and your kids might enjoy laughing at all the ridiculously outfitted hipsters in Oregon, but during your visit The Hipster State make sure you don’t let any hipster under the age of 18 ride on any part of your vehicle as that is strictly forbidden. Hipsters over the age of 19 can legally ride on the hood as long as they like.
Wondering why that downtown psychic did not try to sell a love potion or tell you where to dig for buried treasure? That’s because both are illegal Pennsylvania. So much for searching for pirate treasure, kids.
Intentionally biting off your friends arm is a punishable offence in Rhode Island. If you did it on accident though, you have nothing to worry about.
If your kids are planning to play pinball in SC and are under the age of 18, you can forget it. It is strictly forbidden. Known as the “Gateway Game” in SC, under age pinball has been known to lead to abuse of harder games like Halo or Minecraft. Way to watch out for the children, South Carolina.
In South Dakota, fireworks are totally legal and farmers are allowed to use them to scare away crows from their Sunflowers, just not for any other crops.
You had your heart set on playing Monopoly with the kids at grandpa’s grave as you passed through TN, but were disappointed to find out that it is illegal to partake in any “game or amusement” in any cemetery in the Volunteer State.
Tired from a long road trip and just need a beer? Well when drinking in Texas make sure you only take three sips of beer while standing up. More than that is breaking the law. Better to sit down and drink which seems to be perfectly legal.
If you got out to dinner I Utah, you might be wondering why the hell the bar is enclosed behind partitions. Well friends, that’s because the Utards passed a law stating that bars must install ‘Zion Curtains’ to block the between kids in the restaurant and the bottles of booze. I guess in their minds the very sight of a bottle of alcohol is enough to cause underage drinking
If you take the kids out hunting ducks in Vermont, make sure nobody laughs and has a very serious expression on their face, because “Shooting birds for amusement” is illegal in this state.
You may have to explain to your kids why Virginia is known for lovers, because apparently it is impossible to have sex in this state without getting fined for it. If you have sex and are not married, it is a class 4 misdemeanor and carries a fine of $250. If you pay for sex from a prostitute, there is also a fine. Fining people for having sex is clearly the most lucrative business ever ‘conceived’.
Be advised that alcohol abuse will not be tolerated in Washington State. If you are caught destroying another person’s beer cask, barrel, keg, or bottle is strictly forbidden, along with filling those things without the owners written consent.
If you plan to run for office in West Virginia, it should be known that it is illegal for anyone who had engaged in a duel, or has challenged someone, or acted as a second, to hold public office.
Who knew that Wisconsin had such a sophisticated palate. Under state law, no butter substitutes may be fed to students, patients, or inmates of any state institution unless prescribed by a doctor. Ask your doctor if I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter is right for you.
That’s it! Now as you drive through America you will be better prepared to not get thrown into jail because you violated some bat-shit insane law from 1829. Enjoy!
If you and the wife want to out for drinks in Wyoming, make sure she keeps her distance from the bar. In Wyoming, it is illegal for when to stand within five feet of a bar when drinking. I’d like to see the cops try to arrest my wife because she is standing too close to a bar. Good luck with that.
What makes us laugh at the misadventures of others? Who the heck knows, but we sure do! This is your opportunity to sit back comfortably and observe through the mind’s eye some of the most hilarious, everything-that-could-go-wrong-did adventures when traveling from point A to point B. It’s OK to smile, because it wasn’t you! So, for less than the price of a half-caff mocha with extra foam, you are going to get a hefty dose of laughter and live vicariously through others as they endure really bad, but funny, road trip and travel fails. Everybody needs to laugh, and here is your daily dose! But wait fellow Roadtrippers, there's more! if you are going to travel throughout ‘Merica on an extended road trip, you might want to make yourself aware of some of the most absolutely ridiculous laws still on the US law books! Many of the insane laws you hear about are things of urban legends, but many are absolutely legit. So before you fire up that metallic green wood paneled minivan and drive from Seattle to Orlando, take a read through this list of America’s most ludicrous laws! P.S. If you like this book, check out my other book about wild America called “FunnyBooks: Crazy Craigslist True Stories” and "Crazy Creepy Encounters" See you online!