Travel Makes You Tired But…

Not many posts in the past month. Just back from overseas.

This is a light-hearted account of the trials of becoming tired and not always rational.

Long distance travelling can make you tired and cranky. You need those brief moments of absurdity to keep you sane.


On the plane, for instance, you fiddle and twiddle with the entertainment system. The plane has been in the air for forty-five minutes. You are frustrated. Like everyone else, you can see your screen on the seat in front of you but, unlike everyone else, you have no sound. Why must you be the one among the hundreds of travellers on board whose sound system is malfunctioning? Your patience runs out. Irritated, you call the flight attendant to complain. In a flash, she takes your plug out of the arm of your neighbour’s seat and inserts it into its proper socket, on the arm of your seat. The cabin lights are low enough to conceal your red face; but not low enough to conceal your neighbour’s smirk. Five minutes later, you smile too.


In Abu Dhabi, according to your smart phone you have walked twelve kilometres – in searing heat. Your partner, over-heated and exhausted too, enters the hotel elevator first, relieved to prop herself against the railing. You follow her example. Alas, you see too late that your wall does not have a railing. There is no dignity on the floor of an elevator. You hope there’s a pick-me-up in your mini-bar.


You are checking out at the crack of dawn for an early morning flight. The concierge calculates your bill. You spy a lone peppermint in a bowl on the desk. The concierge follows your eyes and nods approval. Quickly you put it to your lips. The concierge becomes alarmed and signals you to stop. He takes the peppermint from your lips and demonstrates how it works. It’s a tiny face washer tightly rolled up to the size of a coin. You slowly wipe every one of your ten fingers to give you time to recover. At the terminal your partner buys a packet of peppermints to rub it in.


Italy: the first day of the conference. You have arranged for your partner to come for lunch. You look out for her, anxious she not get lost. She appears in a room across a corridor two sets of glass doors apart. You push the first door open. The sirens whoop. Security officers swoop. It’s only then that you see the signs on the door. They cannot be described as inconspicuous:


All eyes are on you. You try to explain—but every face is asking, “Can’t you read plain English?” The conference manager is cool towards you for the duration of the conference. You buy him a beer on the last night. His smile is still a bit edgy.


You try your very best Italian. “Due,” you hold up two fingers just to be clear. “Duple,” No that’s not right. “No, due doppio caffè expressos, er espressos, per favore. And some aqua calde”. You make a sign for a jug. The waiter smiles politely. “OK,” he says, “You want two double espressos and a jug of hot water on the side. What part of Australia are you from?”


You have stayed in half a dozen different hotels, each one with a slightly different bedroom-en suite layout. It’s always a struggle but you manage to find the toilet. But this night, half-asleep, you are flummoxed and bump into a door. Your partner wakes and asks the problem. “Can’t find the toilet,” you mutter. “That’s the dressing-room door, darling. Turn left. You’ll find the toilet in the usual place.” By now you remember: you’re home. Travelling can make you tired and cranky, but you get over it.

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