How to Travel Buffington Style

Tuesday, August 19 2003

1. Lose or have your wallet stolen a week before moving back to the States from England. Threaten the bank person on the phone, suggesting that you will starve to death, and it’s his fault because the company he works for can’t get a piece of plastic to the UK in less than 3 weeks. Give up as he simply ignores you on the phone in deadly agonizing silence. [-20]

2. Wait until the last second to clean up the house and pack. Realize with just an hours wiggle room that you need to be at the airport an hour early. [-3]

3. Sit next to a huge Danish dude who insists on carrying on a conversation with you in what can only be assumed is his native tongue. Nod emphatically. [-1]

4. Miss out on being bumped from your flight in exchange for 800 Euros, a free night at a 5 star hotel, meal vouchers, and a tour of Copenhagen by one person. [-4]

5. Get seated next to a man who bears a striking resemblance to Hitler. Note the Hitler style mustache, mannerisms, slicked back hair, eyes, soon to be jowls, choice of language. [-1]

6. Watch as nearly a quarter of everyone on the plane floats for a few seconds a foot out of their seats as the plane freefalls for a thousand feet in heavy turbulence, including Hitler. Remain guilt ridden the rest of the flight for thinking it funny that the Hitler look alike had a glob of Cognac from his meal float right into his face and neck. [+6]

7. Tell the customs official that you’ve been on “holiday” for 4 months. Immediately regret using such a British word for “vacation”. Listen to questions such as “so, did you go to Amsterdam” even though you have no stamps to the country of Holland in your passport, or “so why are you so lucky that you get to spend 4 months in England” or “why are your eyes red”. Do your best not to headlock the gentleman and run him head first into Hitler, who is now throwing his hands up in the air and screaming in a Hitler fashion at his customs agent. [-10]

8. Get pulled from the customs line. Make sure that every item in every piece of baggage is scrutinized and swabbed for explosives. This includes loose change in the bottom of the luggage that’s been there for years. This includes dirty socks, and ear plugs. Practice new answers to the same questions asked by the previous customs agents. Do not use the word holiday. [-15]

9. Watch as the guy re-checking your bags writes the wrong flight number on the tags. Assume he’s smarter than you, and knows what he’s doing. [-4]

10. Wait for your luggage to not show up in Portland. [-20]

11. Go to the hotel where you’ve not only reserved a room, but paid for it too, and let them tell you they don’t have your reservation on file. Wait for an hour as they decide whether or not to let you pay in good hard cash. [-10]

12. Wake up bright and early with the intention of renting a car sans drivers license (which was stolen a week before) and major credit card (same). Spend 3 hours waiting for a background check to go through for a car. Drive off the lot in a sort of purple/blue Kia. A girl car, yes, but a car. [+5]

13. Sigh with relief when luggage shows up at the hotel. [+20]

14. Drive to the apartment complex to finish signing papers for new apartment. Be genuinely unsurprised when they don’t have the slightest idea who you are, even though you’ve sent them checks and signed paperwork via fax. [-10]

15. Laugh nervously when the leasing agent finds your file, and says “Sorry, it’s right here. It’s Monday, and things keep happening like this to me. I’m having the worst day”. [+5]

16. Set eyes on a brand new, never lived in apartment built only months ago. Drop jaw as you take in the immense size of it, having been used to a bedroom that can literally only fit a double bed. Wipe tears from your eyes as you take in the view – a forest with several Douglas Fir trees and all sorts of other trees, with rolling green hills beyond. Notice the toilets that flush properly, the faucets that premix the hot and cold water, the lights that work, the windows with screens, the fireplace that turns on with the flick of a switch. Break down and cry like a baby when seeing the Ethernet, phone line, satellite, and cable port in every room, including on the space above the fireplace where a TV and Tivo should go, and in the kitchen. [+60]

17. Wake up in the morning to take a refreshing shower, and realize that the natural gas hasn’t been turned on, therefore leaving you with ice cold water. [-10]

18. Turn on the UK mobile phone to see what time it is in the UK, just out of curiosity, and within seconds answer an incoming call. Melt with relief when the person on the other end says they’ve found your wallet. Arrange to have it sent via internal company mail within 2 days [+100]

19. Tally up the scores, and overall, the trip earned a +83, despite all the bad things.