Greetings weary travelers. To all of you who have taken their summer vacations, I salute you. The reason I’m saluting you, is after my own vacation, my right arm is about the only thing I can move. I’m exhausted. I did so much in the last six days, even my eyelids hurt. I could make the obvious joke saying I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. Or, going back to work will be a rest after the vacation I had, but I’m not going to say those things. Mostly because I just did.
I slipped those simple jokes in by saying I wasn’t going to use them. It’s kind of a reverse psychology thing. I was able to make you smile at the simple overused jokes, while at the same time saying I’m above them all. I seem super intelligent while you get to laugh at a bit more of my humor. It’s a win-win. Of course, I probably shouldn’t do this. It’s this kind of intelligence that gets me in trouble at my job, but what the heck. I thought it was funny.
The thing is, I made two major changes in my vacation this year and it was actually quite amazing. I thought it might be interesting for me to tell you about it. If it isn’t please don’t tell me. I actually like living in my fantasy world.
The first thing is, I actually became an international traveler this summer. Through great personal peril I trekked all the way north into Canada. Not very far into Canada mind you. I never made it out of the Great Lake’s region. In fact, there are still parts of the US that are farther north than I was, but it was a start. International travel is scary. I mean, suppose, just suppose, I wasn’t able to find a fast-food restaurant, or a deep-fried fish sandwich. Hey, I’m an American, it’s unthinkable to be more than fifteen minutes away from an overpriced mocha-latte.
Secondly, this time I went vacationing with my two sons. There were no wives or girlfriends to slow these intrepid explorers down. It was just three men on our own, braving the elements, exploring the world, totally free from all restraints, and being sure to make it back to the hotel before mom called to say good-night and sing me a lullaby. Yup It’s been a long time since I went anywhere without Mrs. Ohh!.
The intelligence of boredom
Another thing about a long trip is, as the miles go by, and the boredom sets in, your mind begins to think of bold new ideas. The big one that came to me was the fact that road signs are way too polite. For example, in various places there were signs which read, “Right Lane ends. Please merge left.” This is all well and fine, but half the drivers didn’t listen. Invariably in the last hundred feet there were millions of cars honking their horns, and trying to slip into spaces that weren’t big enough causing accidents. Now, if the sign was something more like, “Move over you dummy! Can’t you see the lane is ending? Look at all those intelligent drivers next to you and take the bloody hint. What do you have? Crap-for-Brains?” Now, that’s a road sign I can get behind. It says what needs to be said.
The cars GPS could take a hint from this as well. I don’t know about yours but mine is way too nice; “Turn left in two-hundred feet. Turn left in fifty feet. You missed the turn, recalculating the route.” The thing should say something more along the lines of this; “Hey idiot, wake up!! Your turn is coming up. You see that great big intersection up ahead? Well turn left you fool. I can’t believe what a freaking nudnik you are! Do you think I have all day to recalculate routes when idiots like you aren’t going to do what I say anyway. I’ll do it this time but let’s not make it a habit shall we Poindexter.” Frankly, if my GPS talked like this, I’d make far fewer mistakes.
I saw a sign, but I didn’t understand it
Another thing about traveling internationally are the road signs. I understand that Canada measures speed in Kilometers-per-hour, versus the US measuring it in Miles-per-hour. I get that kilometers are smaller and therefore the same speed up north will be represented by a larger number. All that is cool. The thing is, in the US the sign actually says “Speed Limit”. Across the border the speed signs simply say “Maximum” This shouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that the speed they wanted was a hundred kph. Therefore, all the speed signs on the highway read, “Maximum 100”. I was so confused. Sure, a hundred percent is the maximum, but a hundred percent of what? Maybe it meant only a hundred trucks could be on the road on that day, but I never saw a counter. Could it have been tourist vehicles? What if I was the one-hundred-first vacationer on the freeway that day? Was I going to get a ticket? I was thinking, maybe I should steal someone’s Ontario license plate to make sure I was in line with the law. That really doesn’t make much sense; Break the law to stay within the law? International travel in so perplexing.
Speaking of the language
Then there’s the whole language thing. Canada is very multi-cultural, and that’s a good thing. What’s not good is a poor American trying to deal with all those accents. Now, in the US, I’m really good with dialects and accents. If I go to the southern states, I can understand them even though they have a thick accent different from mine. I can even do this is Great Britain. I tune in on the accent and reconfigure my brain to understand.
You can’t do this in Canada. The chances are you might be talking to a native Chinese and just as you tune the accent in, a French speaker joins in. Both are speaking English, but the differences in accent make it impossible for you to switch back and forth fast enough to understand anything. Then add a Pakistani to this mix and the three non-English speakers, speaking English, leave the English speaker in the dust, because he simply doesn’t understand English.
Yes, traveling is nice, and we foolish Americans have a tendency to believe that our way is always the right way, even though we’re not a very big portion of the world. Then again, you won’t find any people prouder of their flag than the Canadians. I am told that the eleven-pointed maple leaf is the single most recognized national symbol in the world. And it should be, it’s on everything. Even established corporate logos change themselves in Canada to find a way to put that leaf on it. I don’t understand it. Leaves are supposed to be green. A red leaf just isn’t natural. Well, I guess it is in the fall, but that’s when it’s dead. So, am I right in saying all those Canadians are celebrating the clan of the dead leaf? And folks around the world call Americans nuts.
Thank you for laughing and Please read a little longer
Thank you all for laughing with me, but I need to be serious. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a genetic disease which rots the liver and lungs. There is no cure. The only help for people is to have a weekly infusion of proteins to stop the spread. For the next few months I will be taking all my proceeds and donating them to the Alpha-1 Foundation who are searching for a cure to this horrible malady. You can give here or for more information go to Alpha-1.org Thanks for supporting world laughter, and finding a cure. Laugh On