Tag Archives: travel

Stop

While I was out and about today I passed by another road sign that gave me pause.  I didn’t actually go on pause, because that would be dangerous while driving.  I simple accepted the pause and pondered it.  I read the sign and said to myself, “Bob, you should blog about that one.”  It’s kind of odd because my name is Marcus.  That’s probably why I didn’t bother responding.

The sign said, “Be Prepared to Stop”.  This got me thinking—perhaps too much.  But I do that a lot.

What is going on here, on this particular road, that I should be issued this cautionary warning?  If you are driving a vehicle, whether it is a full sized truck or a smart car, you probably should be prepared to stop during every second of your entire trip.  You should not rely on the occasional road side sign to suggest an intelligent, well-thought-out, course of action.  You should, in fact, be prepared to stop as soon as you begin you journey—from the first moment you take your foot off the brake pedal all the way to the point you put the car back into park.

Be prepared to stop.

Seriously this is some good advice.  Perhaps this sign should be posted in other locations where people tend to congregate.  How about at the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet?  Be prepared to stop.  You are about to feel like hell.

The girl scouts should post this sign on all of their boxes of cookies.  Be prepared to stop.  You are about to eat an entire sleeve of thin mints.  Twice.

But then I was thinking that maybe this seemingly random sign of good advice could possibly be sending the wrong message.  What if someone was driving along thinking about a major life decision?  Perhaps this person was thinking about jumping into an opportunity of a lifetime, but was hesitating because of an irrational fear of the risks associated with chasing his lifelong dream.  He looks up.  He sees the sign.  Be prepared to stop.  He then cancels the whole concept and continues his mundane life of working in a dark office cubicle.

The sign needs to have additional signs to clarify how to handle all of the possible scenarios that may be in play.

Be Prepared to Stop.  Always When Driving.  With Caution While Eating.  Never When Chasing Your Dreams.

Maybe there wasn’t enough room on the telephone pole.  I can’t remember because I didn’t stop.  But I was prepared to stop.

Be prepared to stop, and then buy my book.

End Road Work

When you approach the end of a construction zone, you will often see a sign that reads ‘End Road Work’.  I know this because the road just outside of my development has been under construction for about a year now.  So when I pull into my neighborhood every day, I am greeted with the happy news that the construction zone has ended.  My remaining journey to my house will now be unobstructed.  I will not be hindered further by those dented orange barrels.  You do realize that a different person’s car hit each and every one of those.

The ‘Road Work Ahead’ sign—sure, I understand its value.  Slow down, there are people working ahead.  It helps reduce potential injuries.  There is nothing worse than scraping a road worker off of your bumper.  It’s time consuming and very messy.  Your finger nails won’t be the same for weeks.  (Hey geese lovers, how’d you like that one?)

However the ‘End Road Work’ sign is not very informative.  Who is this sign for?  I would have noticed that the street was suddenly easier to navigate with or without the appearance of this sign.  Who leaves an area of road work and thinks, “I wonder if that was the end of the construction.  I don’t feel any more potholes.  No, it can’t be over.  I’ll bet they come back here after lunch and start jack-hammering and throwing asphalt at my car.  Those sneaky little road workers can’t fool me!”

Maybe the useless sign comes from a very slick sales person.  “What your outfit needs is signs at the end of your construction zone that will let people know where the construction zone ends.  No more confused drivers.  You’ll need one of these gems for every side street leaving the road that you’re working on.  I used to be in the ‘State Prison, Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers’ sign business, so you can trust that I know what I’m speaking about.  Today is your lucky day because I am selling signs that simply say ‘End Road Work’.  You compare the cost of my signs to those over priced signs that read ‘End Of The Road Work’ and your savings are obvious.  Those five extra letters really add to the overall price.  I’ll put you down for fifty signs.  Sign right here.”

Perhaps the sign is for the workers themselves.  Can you image getting a knock on your front door and hearing something like, “Excuse me.  I was paving your street this afternoon and I didn’t know that I was finished.  I accidentally paved your front yard.  Sorry about your grass, mailbox, and your flower beds.  I really could have used a sign to tell me that I ventured outside of the construction zone.  But hey, the asphalt makes your house look bigger.  And, uh, now your friends can all park closer to your front door.  Do you want me to paint some parking spots?”

I was at the dentist the other day.  After he finished cleaning my teeth, he stuck that cool little spinning tooth-brush straight up my nose.  After I was done screaming he apologized and explained that there was no sign declaring ‘End Mouth Work’.  Without it, he had no reason to believe that there wouldn’t be more teeth nearby that needed cleaning.  I understand.  Without a sign, things can get real confusing.  Next time I’m going to make a tiny little ‘End Mouth Work” sign and plant it on the end of my nose.

<Sales Pitch Ahead>  Buy my books.  <End Sale Pitch>.

…and dont miss this blog entry.

Ego Buster

I’m afraid that I am a little short on material.  So once again, I bring you a chunk of words pulled from my book.  Hey, did you know I’m selling a book?  Go to amazon.com and “click inside the book” and read the first fifteen or so pages.  Enjoy!

My Status Update Journey: A Quirky In-Depth Analysis of the World from the Voices in My Head

And when you’re finally holding it in your hands, life will be complete.

Once, when my boys were very small, we were headed out of town.  The snow piled up on the driveway overnight, but I was ready to go.  I was driving a van at the time.  Thinking that this would be even easier than normal since I only needed to go down and not back up again, I set out.  Kids strapped into their car seats and wife buckled in.  I punched the gas and made it all the way down to the mailbox.  At which point I somehow got stuck!  I’m not sure what happened, but the tires were spinning and we were not moving.

I turn to the boys in the back seat and proclaimed that we were stuck.  The reaction that immediately followed was something that I did not predict.  The boys started wailing and crying!  I can’t imagine the horrible image that was going through their tiny little minds.  It’s as if we were stranded in the middle of the field with no signs of human life in any direction.  I tried to explain that we lived about forty-five feet away and that I truly believed that we would be able to make it back home on foot if we needed to.

They only calmed down a little.

So, I started rocking the van back and forth.  Drive.  Reverse.  Drive.  Reverse.  No help there.  Still stuck.  Still crying.

On to the pushing phase.  I opened the passenger door to use it as a place to push and the wife took over at the steering wheel.

Kids still crying.

Now I’m pushing with all I have and the wife is rocking the van and we are starting to make just a little bit of progress when one of my boys yells out, “We need a big strong man!”

Pop!  Did you hear my ego explode?

A big strong man?  Hello?  My self esteem would have kept those boys in their seats for hours while I pushed the van with more than everything I had until we were moving down the road.  A big strong man.

I did eventually get us unstuck and moving.  And I didn’t even need to call the big strong man.

It’s probably a good thing that I don’t recall which of the two boys uttered those hurtful words.  Big strong man…

Buy my big strong book.

Travel Woes

I woke in Denver on my wife’s birthday.  She is in Cincinnati—our home.  This is the second year in a row that my job has put my out of town on her birthday.  However, the way I arranged my return flight should have put me back home somewhere near seven in the evening.  I still would be able to wish her a happy birthday and give her a hug on her actual birthday.  Good plan.  Or at least it was an acceptable plan.  That is, until the guy at the airport checking me in said, “Your flight has been cancelled.”

He delivered this news in a very non-emotional matter-of-fact kind of way.  I thought he was joking at first.  His demeanor didn’t really bother me, but I sure would have liked a little more sympathy.  “Sir, please accept our deepest apologies.  Your flight has been cancelled and we understand the emotional anguish that we have placed upon your life.  Allow us to guide you through the numerous options that we will present to you.  It is our sincere desire to find a solution to your dilemma that meets your expectation—an expectation that we understand is justifiably high.”  That would have left me thinking, “Hey, this airline cares about me”.  Instead I got, “Go stand in that line while we figure out what to do.”

I turned around to see “the next line”.  There were about fifteen people who already received the cancelled flight news.  They were all just standing there with the same look on each of their faces.  A look that said, “We are mentally preparing for our scalding hot water enema.”  Bend over, here it comes.

The airline came up with two options.  Option One: take a flight leaving an hour later to a nearby city and then get on a three hour bus to drive to reach the original destination.  Option Two: take a flight that leaves seven hours later to the same original destination.  I choose option two.  Have you ever had such a long delay in an airport?  I already turned in my rental car, so I was trapped.

Rather than wallow in my misery, I got to thinking about how things could have been much worse.  By thinking about worse case scenarios, I can make this current debacle seem insignificant.  Let’s rewind the clock a bit and replay the events to observe just how fortunate this path actually is.  Consider this:

“Hey dork, your flight is cancelled.  Go get in that line over there and maybe we will think about helping you.”  I turn around to see a line of people actually being subjected to scalding hot water enemas.

You see.  It could have been worse.

Buy my not cancelled book

Oh Say Did You Hear

With the Olympics in full swing, I found myself in Denver on business travel.  I had dinner at a Friday’s restaurant where I was eating as a “party of one” and trying to take in some Olympic coverage on the television in the background.  However, today was also the opening day for NFL preseason football games.  If perhaps you have been living under a rock, you may not have heard that Peyton Manning will be playing quarterback for the Denver Broncos this season.  A little background for you under-rock dwellers:  Peyton Manning has recovered from several neck surgeries and was picked up by Denver.  Apparently the Olympics was all but forgotten, as the fans in this restaurant had all the televisions tuned to watch Peyton Manning’s first drive as a Denver Bronco.

So the crowd that I ate with was obviously excited about their new quarterback.  The weather at the game was a light drizzle.  Oddly enough, there was an unexpected amount of criticism in the air at the restaurant.  No, not about Peyton.  It was all about the poor girl who was sang the national anthem.  Harsh crowd.

Someone said, “She sounds tone deaf.”  Another critic spoke up with, “She is missing half her notes.”  I also heard, “How did she ever make it to the big leagues?”

Really harsh crowd.  Hey Denver people, lighten up a bit.  Relax.

The young singer was clearly happy to be there, but I found myself chiming in with my own special comments designed to make them realize how critical they were sounding.  “Hey, it’s hard to sing at this level with the rain coming down.  Do you know how hard it is to not fumble a wet microphone?”  And then I added that typical sport fan battle cry, “Wait until next year.  Maybe they’ll draft some real back-up singers.”

That’s kind of funny, isn’t it?  Not really.  You should have seen the looks I received.  I went silent, tucked my tail between my legs, and started crawling back to Cincinnati.

Hey, how come the Peyton Manning bobble-head doll didn’t take off after his neck surgeries?

Buy my bobbling harsh book!

People Everywhere

If you stop and think about how many people cross your path each day, it’s amazing.  Today I find myself taking a morning flight to Denver from Cincinnati.  I started out by seeing my family as they each said good bye and then saw me off.  I’ll be gone just this week.  Not too bad of a trip, but not too good either.  I love my family and miss them when I’m traveling.  From my car I probably saw a hundred people or so doing their commute to their jobs while I was making my way to the airport while enjoying a beverage and a breakfast bar.  While doing the check in at the ticket counter, I probably saw a couple hundred more people.  Going through security, it looked like maybe a hundred more.  Waiting at the gate there must have been about hundred more yet.  And then at my destination, there was the arrival gate, the baggage claim, and the rental car pick up.  The number of people that I saw is staggering!

And although it is a smaller set of people, the amount of people that verbally interacted with me is overwhelming too.  Ticket agents, baggage handlers, ticket checkers, security scanners, a clueless man at gate that asks me if this is the gate for the LA flight while standing next to the sign that says “departure: Denver”, the airline crew, the talkative man in the seat next to me that I’m trying to ignore, and far more.  Added up, this is a very large number of people that spoke with me today.

So why, I ask, why didn’t even one of them tell me that I had a chunk of breakfast bar stuck to my front tooth?  I actually had to discover this for myself in my hotel bathroom while washing my hands.  Really?  How can people not care about me that much?

A possible explanation might be that wanted to perpetuate my embarrassment and torture those around me by choosing to enjoy the knowledge of the placement of granola on my tooth.  “Ha ha mister speck of crud on your teeth, I’m so enjoying watching other people try to not look you in the face while they talk to you, that I deliberatiely choose to remain silent”. Could people really be that evil?

I think a more logical answer would be that they didn’t want to embarrass me.  So instead, they chose to remain quite and issue a silent little prayer for me.  “Dear God, please remove the crap from this stranger’s teeth.  I’m tired of looking at it, and he seems like such a nice guy.”

Well God didn’t fix it and I can’t blame Him.  He has a lot to take care of in this big world of ours.  I image His list of things to do does not look like the following.

1) Give comfort and strength to those who recently lost a loved one.

2) Deal with the constant fighting in the world.

3) Check Marcus’s teeth for bits of his breakfast bar.

So the next time you see someone sporting a chunk of food in their otherwise beaming smile, do them a favor.  Tell them!  You don’t have to be all in their face about it.  Just a simple, “hey you have something in your teeth”.  Done.  In extending this common courtesy, the countless number of people that I interacted with would not have had to play the “I’m pretending not to see it” game.

Buy my book (breakfast bar not included)