travails, dogs and blue eye shadow on the way to paradise


According to many sources the origin of the word travel is likely connected to the French word travailler which means “to work.” Other sources connect it to the Middle English word “travailen” which means to torment, labor, strive, or journey. We currently use the word “travail” to indicate a struggle of some sort. Traveling years ago was quite a difficult undertaking, as it sometimes took weeks or months to get to distances that were within a few hundred miles. Today, while traveling is significantly easier, it still has its travails.

On my way to meet some friends in Fort Lauderdale in the state that shall not be named, I encountered a few. After quite a harrowing week at work, I made my way to New York’s Penn Station, the armpit of the city, to get a New Jersey Transit train to Newark airport. For a mere $12.00 or so, a one way ticket gets you to the airport via a monorail link that goes directly to the terminals. Not a bad deal if you don’t mind traveling through Chris Christie-land.

Since I am a travel efficient-nado [yes I said that first so please give me credit when using it], upon my arrival to Penn Station I immediately bought NJ Transit tickets at the kiosk. It was approximately 3:30pm. When I checked the big board, for some reason, the next train was not until 4:30pm. That seemed quite strange to me, as these trains usually run every 20 minutes or so. Asking around got me nowhere, as expected. Given that my flight was leaving at 6:00pm I thought it prudent to look for other options. Enter: Amtrak.

I love Amtrak. Unfortunately, you need to mortgage your house or sell a limb to afford a ticket for even the shortest journey, and the train goes slower than my little FIAT 500. Still, there was a train leaving in five minutes, and I had a sneaking travel suspicion that I had better get on that train or some unknown intervention by the airport travel gods would prevent me from making my flight. It was a prescient thought. So, $45.00 later, I was on the Amtrak.

Once I arrived at the airport, something did not seem right. The security queues seemed uncharacteristically long. When I checked the lower level it was also packed. Given it was onlyThursday and it was not a holiday weekend, something was definitely not right. I was pushed to the lower level behind a hundred or so people and told there had been a security breach and all security had been halted. I would wait behind these one hundred irritated travelers before I would even get to the regular security queue, which itself was about one hundred strong. This was not going to fly. No pun intended.

I then went through the stanchions that had been set up and said I was searching for the rest room. Once on the main floor, I got in the high priority queue and told them I was a platinum member with [mumble mumble] airlines. It worked like a charm. Once security opened again, I breezed through without even a cavity search, and made my flight. I boarded first, of course, being a platinum member of [mumble mumble] airlines.

As I approached my seat, 13F, a woman was sitting in my seat. Mind you, there was no one else on the plane. She was mid-60s, roots-showing, silicone lipped, frosty-haired with-considerable blue eye shadow. Based on these attributes, I recognized her immediately as being from Eastern Europe. When I looked down I was quite disturbed to see a dog — yes a dog — on her lap. It was at least two and a half feet long, with a diamond collar. Now, I understand if someone can prove they need their pet on the plane with them for emotional reasons, the airlines must oblige. While, except for a seeing eye dog, I think that is ridiculous, perhaps the woman was disturbed from what she saw in the mirror.

I said “hello, I believe you are in my seat”. “OH”, she said putting the back of her hand against her forehead, “I just cant move now… I just sat down”. I could see how distressing that could be. “Can you sit in my seat? It is also a window and I just can’t bear moving – and I can’t imagine how it will effect Putin [her dog]”. “No problem” I said, as my eyes rolled back into my head. I took seat 13A.

Soon thereafter, an Argentine woman sat next to me and I explained the entire episode, and how I had save her from sitting next to a dog. After she thanked me I told her not to thank me too soon, as I would make sure I barked throughout the entire flight just to show her what she was missing.

Less than three hours later I arrived at a beautiful beach and the travails of the experience melted away. And I only barked a few times during the flight.