April 17, 2012

Living out of a suitcase

Og has an amusing anecdote today about living out of a suitcase. I have often found myself awake in a strange hotel room needing to piss and confused to the direction of the nearest head. Never with such hilarious results though.

Many people live life on the road. I spend about one night a week in a hotel, on the average. In the past that was more like three to four nights in a hotel. For me, it was (and is) rare to spend more than one night at a time in a particular location. That means a different bed every night. I am not sure if it is better or worse that I usually patronize the same chain whenever I travel.  That means the rooms are often similar, just oriented slightly different. Sometimes my biggest issue is remembering the room number.

Life on the road is not the glamor or adventure some people imagine. For one thing, industrial areas are not usually situated near tourist destinations. Second, sitting alone reading a novel while waiting on a chicken salad or hamburger at Applebees is no one's idea of the high life. Nor is being hundreds or thousands of miles from your loved ones. Stuff always happens when you are gone from home. The boy's car breaks down. The furnace quits in the middle of the night. I once got a call that the toilet tank was flooding the house. I was in Germany. I won't bother with my response to my tearful wife. Let us just say I had to apologize when I got home (but I was right).

It is not all ratty carpets and miniature shampoos though.  I have travelled much of the United States and parts of the World on someone else's dollar.  I've been to some fantastic places that easily compensate for every night spent in small town America and smokestack industrial area of the rustbelt. I have seen mountains and lakes and waterfalls and flat farm fields of black earth stretching to the horizon. I have seen sunsets that take my breath away through my windshield and tall skyscrapers rising in the midst of a concrete jungle. I drank cold beer beside an Alpine lake in Austria and tiptoed past the junkies shooting smack in the Utrecht train station late at night. I have visited (and only visited in the tourist sense) the red light district of Hamburg and climbed the Eiffel Tower.

For a people watcher, life on the road is a joy. I have seen idiocy in the air and on the road beyond comprehension. I have witnessed a couple having sex in a convertible at 80 mph and a nutjob playing the trumpet while driving on I-75 in the heart of Atlanta's rush hour. I watched two semis collide on Chicago's I-94 near the loop and a car drive off the road and flip from a two lane highway in West Tennessee.

So far, I have yet to find myself groggy from a drug-induced sleep, sitting in a tub of ice, minus a kidney in a worn out Ramada Inn. There is that.

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