Talkers And Hybrids And Signs, Oh My! – Tales From The Road

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When you get right down to it, there are two kinds of business travelers in the world, those who talk to their airplane seatmates and those who don’t. I’m the latter, and I just flew in with the former. I’m not talking about pleasantries, which everyone should abide. I mean crazy talk from wheels-up to landing, like he plays Jenga with Mats Wilander every other Tuesday and was the original voice of Toucan Sam. The clincher: Stuttgart is weird because all urinals look like sinks and sinks look like urinals. It’s more than I can fix, so I resolve just to hold it until we land.

I could address this situation if I really wanted to. It would be easy enough always to travel in a red tee-shirt that reads Ask Me About My Ten Cats. Even a professional grade talker would deem such a person too dangerous to engage. But I’m not there yet. Plus it could backfire if I got a Calico-lover from Eau Claire who thinks she’s died and gone to heaven.

Truth is it wasn’t all a rainy day with my seatmate. I actually liked one of his ideas, Just Pedal. A cycle class for those who don’t want to hear wellness jibber-jabber during workout any more than to be told to do dumbbell lunges during worship – they just want a good sweat. I didn’t have him pegged for countercultural, or for that matter an exercise type. He was built like Grimace and absolutely destroyed me in the armrest war.

At baggage claim I’m surprised to find my luggage in good shape. Surprised because the handler who loaded the plane had to have been trained by that TV commercial gorilla who went medieval on a suitcase. Even better luck at the cab stand, where there’s no line. I am however herded into a hybrid – the Joan Baez of cars — and not just any hybrid. A clown car that tops out at 45 mph and with every acceleration sounds like George Jetson’s morning commute.

It’s a bad draw. Not as bad as years ago, waiting forever for your turn at bumper cars and then getting stuck with the purple car that only turns left, allowing Lars the exchange student to broadside you without mercy for five minutes. But a bad draw. For you roll the dice whenever you take one of those kittens out on the highway. It’s like getting into a bar fight with only Christopher Cross in your corner. Sure, his belting out “Sailing” might calm everybody down. But it also might lead to the beating of a lifetime.

I’m strangely relaxed when my taxi arrives at the hotel, until I see the sign on the wall — To Conserve Energy, Please Use Revolving Doors. Conserve whose energy? Regular doors are easiest to open. Plus I don’t have to worry about a Kansas City financial planner mistiming his jump and riding shotgun in there with me. That, my friend, is the longest two seconds you’ll ever experience. Nor am I blameless. I once pinned in a revolving door an indecisive but thankfully big-boned woman who’d committed to entering but changed her mind. (To this day I cannot eat nectarines.) Bottom line: I hate the idea of an urban planning scold thinking he has mind control powers over me. Powers which if I had, I would use for more than funneling people through a doorway.

In my hotel room the harassment continues. Please Consider the Environment – Keep Towels Folded That You Don’t Use. Seriously? There are only two sitting there, plus that mangy bathmat that Portugal’s premier exorcist probably couldn’t cleanse. Worse, now I have to consider what the room’s last occupant’s definition of “barely used” was. So let’s end this charade. If you want to be the hotel that leaves a solitary, threadbare towel for me, one that looks like it spent a fortnight in Willie Nelson’s tour bus hamper, then go for it. Just be clear on one thing: there’s no honor in placing that sign on my towel stack, only buck-passing.

Look, I don’t want to quarrel, I really don’t. If I did, I’d say something like Mrs. G called to say she appreciates how much of her son Kenny’s music you’re playing in the elevators. I just want what every other business traveler wants: to leave my room with more soap than when I entered. (The last time I actually purchased shampoo, it was called Breck). So ditch the signs and bake into my room’s price all the bad choices I might make. Let me come and go through the door of my choosing. Do these things for me and I’ll conserve the towels.