Important Traveling Tips, All Learned The Hard Way

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In conjunction with the 2006 Meetings & Events calendar that appears in this issue beginning on page 12, I share the following Lessons From (Too Many Years On) The Road, sponsored by Pepto Bismal...

I have learned...

...That if your hotel room door hits the bed when you open it, you're likely not in for a quality stay...That airports would be far more pleasant experiences if there were separate security lines labeled, "I'm Still Perplexed By The Check-In Kiosk" and "Understand The General Flying Concept."...That I could be a flight attendant for approximately 15 minutes before I punched my first passenger, and that flight attendants must find themselves thinking at least a half-dozen times per day, "For this I took a pay cut?"...I've learned never to be surprised at stories of rapes and robberies in hotels. Over the years I've been checked into otherwise occupied hotel rooms on at least six occasions, three times while the people were in the room, including once in the middle of the night in Corpus Christi when I opened a door that had not been latched to see two people in bed. They were obviously not credit union people, as they would not move over...That the among the first signs you're on the road too much is when you're asked if you'd like to go to Hawaii, and you respond, "Um, no."...That Jerry Seinfeld was right on with the observation that cabs have that thick sheet of Plexiglas between driver and passenger so that from the back all that mayhem and personal injury the driver is causing appears to you as if you're watching it on TV...That you should never eat in any restaurant that features boneless cheesecake, and moreover, that most restaurants should not allow us any view into the kitchen...That very best meals I've had over the years have been the simplest, but in wonderful locations. A schnitzel on a rocky outcropping in the mountains of Germany; a sausage under a shady tree across a stream from an ancient castle in Ireland; a fresh ham sandwich on the I've-gone-back-in-time public square in Pella, Iowa; a hot dog and pretzel in Battery Park as the sun shone on the Statue of Liberty, and a cup of tea and scones on a chilly afternoon next to the Opera House in Sydney as the sun set behind the harbor bridge.

I have witnessed...

...The generally oblivious as they stop to check their tickets at the very bottom of those long escalators in Atlanta's airport and cause a human pile-up behind them like something out of a Three Stooges routine. It also never occurs to these very same people that there might be a 6'5" guy behind them when they recline their airplane seatback, or that that crunching sound could be someone's kneecaps. (I can also tell you that if you slip your belt off, then over the offending reclining person's neck until they pass out, that you can then push their seat forward)...Someone actually carry a lamp, including shade, onto an airplane...More than one cab driver ask me if I knew how to get to the address I've just given him.

I believe...

That if you bring along one of those snippy little dogs and keep it in a carrier under your seat and all it does is yap, yap, yap the whole flight, other passengers should be allowed to let the dog go outside for a walk...That anything can be breaded, deep-fried and served up at a conference reception, and that credit union people will not hesitate to eat it...That I am not the first person who had to go to the front desk on more than one occasion to ask what room I'm in. (Once, in the St. Louis airport, I had to go look at the newspaper box to see what city I was in)...That you can be in and out of a rental car lot in five minutes with a $25,000 car, but if I want to pick up a fax at the hotel business center you need a half-hour and three forms of ID....That renting that car can be cheaper than the fax...That the three most valuable substances on Earth are gold, uranium and a 16-oz. bottle of water out of the hotel mini-bar...That few things can improve your day like an unrequested upgrade to first class, and that it takes just a few moments in your new environs before you become an advocate for the class system and believe you are morally and intellectually superior to the uneducated chattel on the other side of that curtain...I used to believe there was no duller place to spend a weekend day than downtown Dallas. Until I spent one in downtown San Jose...That there are fewer more agonizing realizations than after three movies and two meals on the LA to Sydney flight, that you've still got six hours to go. In the dark. In turbulence...That if you go through all the channels on your hotel TV, you will find at least one channel showing "the Shawshank Redemption"...That Sept. 11 showed just how utterly futile those three questions-are you carrying anything for anyone else, did you pack your bags yourself, and have your bags been out of your sight? - really were...That no matter how often you fly, departing under gray, rainy skies and then slowly breaking through the puffy white cloud tops to reveal a deep blue sky is still a thrill...That the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas hasn't found a way to charge for breathing their air. Yet....That no matter how tiring a trip might have been, it's all worth it if there are kids waiting at the airport who are happy to see you. Until they ask, "What did you bring us?"

Frank J. Diekmann is Editor of The Credit Union Journal.

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