A few weeks back, I ran through a Top 11 Travel Nuisance Tales in 100 Words or Less; in truth, these were likely the Top Stories Fit To Print, and I limited myself to nuisances caused by the vagaries of the travel industry, and not so much by cultural differences — or, more accurately, “bad behavior by locals and travelers alike.” Maybe we’ll get to that list someday — though we don’t need any international incidents! As the saying goes, sometimes H-E-double hockey sticks is other people.
We invited readers to send in their own stories, and received over 125 responses running the gamut from Gnats Ate Our Vacation stories to B&B hosts who greeted visitors in their skivvies. Word counts also ran the gamut, from eight words (included below) to a seven-screen screed that read sufficiently miserably but missed the word count by a few thousand words or so.
Without further ado, here are some of the favorites that met both the spirit and arithmetic of the challenge (as well as the unstated “fit to print” requirement — there were some doozies). Thanks tremendously for sharing your woes for all of us to enjoy!
Jar Jew Goeeng to Eat Jer Tomato?
“This is from the 80’s. Flying back from San Juan, a drunk, cigarette-smoking Puerto Rican man sat next to me. He blew his Winston exhale in my face and spilled his scotch on me twice. Then when dinner was served, he said, ‘Jar jew goeeng to eat jer tomato?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ and he poked his fork over me, stole my tomato and said, ‘Now jer not!’ I pressed the flight attendant button and she took his food, his cigs and, most importantly, his alcohol. You can imagine the last hour next to him was real fun.” (98 words) — Debvial
When in Doubt, Call in the Pros
“So, for the first time in years I checked a bag on American from San Francisco to Dallas. My TSA lock was on the bag, just as it should be. When I arrived at DFW I collected my bag, only it had a different, non-TSA lock on it. When I confronted the TSA person there, she said it was the problem of the San Francisco TSA, not theirs. AA said it wasn’t their problem. When I got particularly pushy with the AA baggage person, he did call in someone from the airplane maintenance section. He picked the lock. Ugh.” (99 words) — Johncurtis6111
Father Knows Best (but not Geography)
“My 24-year-old daughter calls me hysterical: ‘Waah, Dad, I missed my flight to Greenville, I’m gonna miss my trade show!’ Good old Dad says, ‘Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of it!’ Dad goes online, gets daughter flight from FLL to Greenville, $600. Several hours later, daughter calls again, hysterical. ‘Waah, Dad, I’m in Greenville, North Carolina.’ Daddy says, ‘So what’s wrong?’ Daughter: ‘I was supposed to go to Greenville, South Carolina!’ No airline flies direct between the two Greenvilles. $1,000 and 12 hours later, my darling daughter arrives at her destination.” (92 words) — Larry R.
Borderline Wakefulness: Part Deux
“My stepbrother and my family cross over to Canada. Step-bro gets drunk, and they are on their way back. Border patrol asks the usual questions, and when she gets to ‘Do you have anything to declare?’ drunk step-bro shouts from the backseat ‘Yeah! War on Canada!’ Border Patrol: ‘Pull over…'” (50 words) — pneumandro
Ivan-na Get Outta Here
“In order to escape the RNC in NYC, you take a 10-day trip to the DR. First, while scuba diving, given an oxygen tank with just enough air to get down 60 feet, next sit for five days in a hotel (with outdoor hallways, and all outdoor restaurants) while Hurricane Ivan pummels the island. Then, when it clears up, you take a cab into town to cure cabin fever. This is where you are robbed at gunpoint for $1,200. Finally, you want nothing more than to leave, but to change your flight, you’re stuck booking a one-way first-class ticket.” (99 words) — UptownishNYC
“It was a warm time of the year. My wife and I traveled to Europe and I waited until Germany to book our trip to Paris through a German travel agent. The agent spoke broken English but understood our request for A/C and assured us our hotel would have air conditioning. When we arrived and found no apparent A/C in our room, I headed for the front desk. The lady at the front desk explained to us how to work the air conditioner. First you unlatch the window. Then you swing it open to adjust for air flow.” (98 words) — Randygorace
Hey, Those Rubber Stoppers Can Be Lethal
“Had knee surgery in Ohio. Went to return home to Texas and took a small jet from Cincinnati. Had about 10 steps up to plane. They take my crutches as they could be used as a weapon — all this with only one handrail. Two attorneys handed me their cards.” (50 words) — Kneeshot42
YY/MM/DD — Uh-Oh
“January 3, 2004 was the day I was suppose to fly home from El Paso, TX to Orlando, FL. Little did I know that the travel agent had printed my itinerary to show ‘year, month, day’ instead of the natural ‘day, month, year.’ Since I had been living in the year 2003 for 12 months I was shocked to realize my error. But the ticket agent was nice enough to point I out that I was supposed to leave the day before (on the 3rd) instead of the 4th, the day I showed up.” (94 words) — Angie H
Do I Get Half a Sandwich, at Least?
“Overbooked flight in Rome. Reassigned to different flight to Chicago. The new flight is not only overbooked — it is double booked. Every seat was sold twice. Once to a cruise line, and again to everyone bumped off other planes. The funny part was we were all let on the plane. Total chaos. Everyone off the plane. Hours later, got a flight to New York. Connecting flight to Chicago canceled due to weather. Long story short: 31 hours from Rome to Chicago.” (82 words) — Vikingkay1
Battery by Battery
“Borrow boat for Houston to Florida vacation. 10 miles from home, trailer flat tire. 100 miles, broken trailer axle. Hubby does the welding while shop owner drinks our beer, then charges $500. Battery goes dead while driving. Buy one. Repeat. Repeat. Florida day one, steering cable breaks on boat. Battery dead on van. Buy new alternator. Give up, start home. Dead battery. Frustrated hubby kicks trash can. Breaks foot. Buy battery. Dead battery again. Hitchhike in 105 degrees to auto shop. Buy $5 part, fixes problem. 200 miles from home. Axle breaks in half on I-10. UNHOOK trailer. Head home.” (100 words) — T Red117
Two for One
“Ecuador: Robbed in the Guayaquil airport, chased down the thief who was led away — as was I — by soldiers with machine guns. Tried to tell my story to the authorities with my high school Spanish, told to shut up by the commandant, and watched the thief headbutted with a rifle when he interrupted. China: Shanghaied (in Guilin, not Shanghai) by a taxi driver who took me to the hotel of his choice, not mine. The manager felt so bad he gave me the honeymoon suite — and then offered to join me for the night.” (97 words) — Lstrang1215
It Will Be Just a Few More Minutes, Folks (But Thankfully Not a Few More Words…)
“3:15 p.m.: Scheduled to depart Orlando. 3:20: Sitting in seat, all secured. 3:50: Still at gate. 4:10: Captain announces right-side engine won’t start but mechanic is on his way. 4:45: Mechanic arrives, engine starts! 5:10: Captain announces no clearance until mechanic files paperwork with airport authority. 5:50: Taxi to runway. 6:05: Held on runway to allow severe thunderstorm to pass. 6:50: Captain announces we used up too much fuel waiting for storm to pass, must return to terminal to refuel. 100-word rule good — next 100 words involve vulgarity!” (89 words) — DRL1953
Don’t Phone Home
“Back in the 80’s, I was traveling alone through the Iberian and Italian peninsulas. One night I was in Lisbon, Portugal. I had a room in a fine hotel that cost me $50 and included breakfast. I called home for less then 10 minutes. The call cost me $51.” (49 words) –Marty B.
Calling Kneeshot’s Attorneys
“On a ski trip to the Swiss Alps, we spent an evening in Frankfurt where my wife lost $1,100 – $1,800 in traveler’s checks. Due to the hour, we had to report the loss in Bern, Switzerland. On the way to Bern, I got diarrhea. The next day in Bern, I locked the keys in the car. Three days later on the slopes, my wife broke her leg — in two places. The doctor who set the fractures said, ‘Are you coming back to Switzerland?’ I said I would be back in the summer. He said, ‘Will you bring back the crutches?'” (100 words) — Marty B.
All That For…
“Six kids and three adults travel to a wedding. Flight is canceled after eight hours of delay. No luggage — it already arrived in Chicago. Stay overnight with 15 high school basketball teams who crank call your room all night. Catch 5 a.m. flight, arrive in Chicago. Torrential rains get you stranded in a bowling alley all night.
“You then find that your relatives’ bedroom accommodations are flooded out and you have to sleep in their newly renovated living room. All furniture and rugs are stark white, hmm, six kids. OH NO. Wedding couple gets divorced one year later.” (98 words) — Nicoletto
Luggage Carousel Surprise
“You arrive in Lhasa, Tibet and discover that the live ducks that were loaded into the luggage compartment at an earlier stop were apparently placed directly over your suitcases, which are now covered with — guess what? And it ain’t feathers!” (41 words) — CasaHoover
NYC Mascot Welcomes Us Home at JFK
“A 20-inch snowstorm back home delayed our departure from Cancun by six hours. We landed at JFK so late that we had to stand two hours before a customs agent could be found to process us all. It was 2:30 a.m. and 12 degrees when we finally stumbled out into an icy wind. As the automatic doors opened to the sidewalk, my husband almost tripped on a large white rat, frozen solid, mouth open, belly up. Here’s the worst part: we were so tired that we didn’t stop and take its picture!” (92 words) — Joan of Whiting
“You find yourself at Denver airport, flight eight hours delayed and a security line that wraps around the entire airport twice. You find a way to cut in front of the line, then yell at others why they shouldn’t be cutting as well. You wait for only 15 minutes as opposed to three hours. You think you have won, only to find when you get back to Dallas at 3 a.m with your luggage missing in action, the morning of your grandmother’s funeral, a week ago you had parked in the ‘two hour parking only’ zone. Thus, no car anymore.” (100 words) — Hoopsmj9
“Worst ever — fiancee and I pool all of our cash to take a world cruise. We reach Tahiti; the cruise company bankrupts, stranding all passengers in Tahiti. Find your own way home, just get off the ship, which was owned by a third party. By the way, the insurance company that sold the travel insurance was owned by the cruise company and, therefore, also bankrupt. So please, stop whining.” (70 words including gratuitous advice) — Wydde24
Guy Siphons Gas with Gob, Priceless…
“You’re on a cross-country RV trip and it’s your brother’s turn to drive. He forgets to pull over for gas and you run out on the most desolate highway in Ohio. While your dad is out walking to the nearest gas station miles away, a truck driver offers to siphon his gas into your tank for 20 bucks … with his mouth! Best 20 bucks I’ve ever spent!” (67 words) — JTNY7373
And Finally, as Ever, Brevity Is the Soul of Wit
“My luggage was lost on a direct flight.” (8 words) — MMcKenzie
Tremendous thanks to everyone who wrote in response to our 100-word challenge; of course misery loves company — and it’s even better in small doses!