Thursday, 7 July 2011

13 Reasons to Stay at Home

  • One sort of knows the rules at home, unlike in airport security:  Even after careful preparation of liquids bags, placement of electrical items and precision packing of the potential weapons in my manicure set (don't get me started about knitting needles), one must bow to the whims of the various security staff:  camera out? shoes off? is this belt deemed to be dangerous? do I walk through slowly or turn sideways and surrender?  Each airport is unique.  Some post detailed instructions, but I confess to going largely brain-dead soon after entering the queue.  No matter how skilled your juggling act, one rarely wins:  there is always some form of submission.
  • The local store carries your particular hair colour; the Wal-Mart in Springfield, MO may does not.  Thus one may have to choose either the skunk stripe look or go with (nearly) purple (Swarzkopf's 'mahogany') and orange (L'Oreal's 'R4: dark auburn').  Maybe those are someone's high school colours or something?

Note the colourful plumage of the female tourist bird, Oklahomae englandii

  • Living in Britain, one becomes accustomed to breathing fresh, genuine, natural air:  not re-cycled, de-humidified, cooled or 'conditioned', just plain air.  Trust me on this, ordinary is good.  Especially when one has jet lag, asthma, a toothache and resulting infection.  At that point, dry cold air hurts.

  • Your local dentist works five days a week.  He will see you if you hurt.  Other people (like Bill) will even re-schedule their ordinary check up appointment to let a hurting person squeeze into the schedule.  In Atoka and Coal County OK, dentists work Monday -Wednesday only.  There is one dentist who apparently works on Fridays, except that he wasn't in on Friday.  Dentists may see patients on their list if they have an emergency.  If you call on Friday and you are not on their list, the recording tells you to call back Monday.  I had travel insurance (paltry though it was) and cash, for all the good it did me.  It doesn't bear thinking about what happens if a person  doesn't have money or a dentist of their very own, and  needs their very first root canal.

  • In Britain, customers must provide a PIN to use their  credit card.  In the US, the staff occasionally might or might not ask for a wonky signature written on a computer screen which no one checks to see if it is the same name.  In general, just swiping the card is sufficient.  This means one must guard one's credit card with one's life.  Perhaps that's why so many people carry guns along with their credit cards.

  • One's body has a softer time in the safety of its own home:  fewer insect bites, strained muscles from heavy luggage, bruises from furniture legs and table corners in unfamiliar bedrooms; never mind insomnia, dizziness, nausea and overall mush-brain caused by jet lag.

  • One's hair grows more slowly in a cooler climate, thus one needn't ponder whether Super Cuts or your friend's daughter might be the worse option for taming one's mane.   So you do neither.  Warning:  get a full hair cut just before you leave home, not 'just a trim' a couple of weeks before.  (What was I thinking?)

  • If one travels in summer and wishes to enjoy the coolness of linen, one must become adept at ironing not just on proper ironing boards, but also tables, chairs, beds or floors.  Warning:  if using the floor, be sure to put down a towel to protect  clothing from the carpet.  I'm sure it will be very clean (ha) but it may have synthetic fibres which do not respond well to a hot iron.  (I knew this one from previous experience, so didn't have this problem; also, at 55 I don't crawl around on the floor much anymore.)  Towels are a good idea for all these surfaces, come to think of it.  Note to self:  collect a non-creasing travel wardrobe.

  • One must sort out the rules for tipping.  In Britain, 10% (easy math) is customary but only if the order was taken at the table and the food was brought to the table.  Last I knew, 15% was customary in the US, but what if I got my own food from a buffet?  Do I tip for coffee service?  You might guess what I did.

  • Ah yes, sales tax.  Bill's rant number 34 (go ask him, I can't be bothered).  I confess to having been caught out a few times, thinking I'd not understood the sticker price when it came time to pay at the till.  Then, again, one learns to ask the motels about their full price after staying at the Best Western in Atoka and getting a nasty surprise at check out time.  Room rate?  Only 50-something city tax, state tax, county tax and occupancy tax (I'm not joking), so more like about $77 a night.

  • At home, one knows in what sort of neighbourhood one lives.  A former home town may have changed a bit after 20 years.  One may check into a slightly cheaper hotel in what used to be a reasonable area only to discover the next morning that your Jamaican neighbour - friendly kinda guy - and his room mate are reporting to work across the road with their cardboard signs identifying passing cars that they are 'homeless'.  So, either they have found a good pitch and are doing all right or we accidentally spent the night in a homeless shelter.  I must admit that other than being a bit perplexed, I didn't have any complaint about the accommodation.

  • At home, one doesn't need to figure out the electrical thingy to make British plugs work in American outlets.  The location of said outlets, of light switches and spare pillows is a known constant and doesn't change every 1-3 days.  This also applies to the general location of the bathroom and the precise location and height of the toilet, vital pieces of information for some us in the middle of the night.  Small things wear on a tired brain with extended travel.  

  • After several weeks of driving on the 'right' side of the road and putting unleaded fuel into the rental car, one might on a weary post-race evening forget that in real life one drives a car that requires diesel, not unleaded petrol.  One might be so tired as to not realize the mistake until the car coughed and sputtered, eventually requiring it to be towed.  It could be a rather expensive mistake.  (I wish I had made this one up).   
What did I love about coming home? Absolutely Everything!  All that said, we really had a great time in our three weeks in the US and I will be writing to tell you no doubt more than you want to know about it in the coming weeks. 

Do you love coming home after a long vacation?


Jo said...

There is something to be said about traveling in and RV, always having your own bed, bathroom, and kitchen (if you choose to use it). There is also room to carry an extra bottle of hair color!

All this aside, we enjoyed the visit.

Rick Stone said...

"Do you love coming home after a long vacation?"

In a word: NO. Would love for "HOME" to be on the road. Of course, we don't stay in motel/hotels and have the luxury of traveling with our own bed and toilet where ever we go. ;->

BigLittleWolf said...

Great colorful plumage on the tourist bird! (Just smiling... I like staying home, too, except that I could do with a trip overseas about now!!! And then making myself "chez moi" over there.)

Anonymous said...

Traveling always gives me a renewed appreciation of home. Sounds like you had a number of challenges. Having gone through a root canal earlier this year...I can only imagine what you were contending with.

Per your comment on Rags, Yes, there are many vacant buildings, unrepaired roads and bridges, and a high level of clutter in many areas of the US. Your impressions are spot on.

Sandra said...

I love this piece. I can't wait to read more...if only I can get this to accept my comments and YES I definitely love coming home!

Shelley said...

Joanne - As you know we are shopping for an RV. I've lost count of the number of times I've been called to look at yet another one on some website. I've no idea about campsites in Europe, but I'm dead keen to have a month or two of summer someplace.

Rick - Yes, I can see that an RV has advantages over motels. I still can't see the fascination of living in a metal box on rented ground for the rest of your life.

BigLittleWolf - Yes, it is a luxury to have overseas travel and slightly ungrateful to complain about it. I think my next post complains a bit more, but then after that they are more positive, I hope.

Terri - I'm grateful to have had that root canal; it was amazingly painless. I can recommend a really good (if rather expensive) dentist! I'm quite sad about the state of things in the US just now.

HELLO SANDRA! I do appreciate the difficulties of making comments on some websites. I don't get past all the 'ID' barriers some times and it's quite frustrating. Glad you made it through!

Anonymous said...

I can just imagine you Shelley looking at that hair photo and thinking - this would make a great post, shall I embarrass myself and post it anyway - yep you bet I will.Ha Ha, I got a stitch from all that laughing.

Hi Sandra I gave up on trying to work out how to post and now choose Anonymous and then sign the post with my name so Shelley knows who it is from.