It Rums In The Family

, , , , | Related | June 21, 2018

(I am about nine and our family is on vacation in the Caribbean. I have spent most of the day down at the beach, and with the heat and the salt water I am very thirsty. There is only one stand that sells soda, and it is down on the other end of the beach. My Mom and I start walking toward it. Along the way, we run into my grandparents walking the opposite way.)

Grandma: “Where are you two going?”

Mom: “[My Name] is really thirsty, so we’re going to get her a soda.”

Grandma: “Well, I have a coke here she can have. It’s diet, though.”

Me: “I don’t care.”

(I’m just eager to drink anything. My grandma hands me her cup and I take a huge drink, and a second later I start spitting it out on the ground.)

Grandma: “It’s just diet; it’s not that bad.”

(My mom takes the cup out of my hand and takes a small sip.)

Mom: “There’s rum in this.”

Grandma: “Oh! I forgot about that.”


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My New Grand-Mama Mia!

, , , , , | Hopeless | April 1, 2018

(It is the late 90s, and I am 12 years old. I get to go on a ten-day trip to Italy with my family and five other families. It is planned through a travel agency, so we are already signed up to see and do certain things. The day arrives when we reach Venice by bus, and I am not feeling well at all. It turns out, I’ve gotten food poisoning from the rest stop we ate breakfast at this morning. I am the only one who ate a particular bad food item, and therefore am the only one who is sick. My parents are pretty upset, because getting on a gondola is out of the question for me, and it’s something we’ve all been looking forward to. I am already nauseated enough on dry land. They are discussing which one of them will stay with me while the rest of our group goes on the gondolas, or if they could possibly switch off at some point, when our tour guide comes over with an older Italian lady.)

Tour Guide: “Good news! You can both go on the gondola ride. My friend here will stay with your daughter.”

Mom: “Oh! Thank you, but we don’t want to impose. I can stay with [My Name].”

Tour Guide: “No, no, no! You must experience the gondola! [My Name] can stay here with [Lady]. She owns a restaurant near where we will dock later.”

(After talking it out for a few minutes, and after our tour guide assures them again she’s known the lady for a long time, my parents agree to meet me at the restaurant after the gondola ride. So, the tour guide walks the lady and I back to her little restaurant on the water. I am so sick to my stomach that I nearly throw up again before we reach it. The tour guide leaves, and the lady ushers me inside the restaurant. Inside, the lady says something in rapid Italian. I know only a few words, and am so nauseated all I can do is stare at her and try to not throw up on her shoes. The lady clucks her tongue at me and guides me to a little back room with an attached bathroom. She tells everyone we pass something about me in Italian. I assume she is informing everyone of my plight, but who knows. I also think random people keep calling me bebe, which I assume means “baby.” I’m sure I look pretty miserable. I spend the afternoon alternating between running to the bathroom and huddling on a tiny couch in that room. The lady checks on me every so often, bringing me some kind of broth and water to drink. By the time my parents come back with the tour guide, I feel better enough to make it to our hotel. They are very grateful to the lady for looking after me, and we even go to eat at her restaurant before we leave Venice, when I am able to eat again. Back home from our trip, a friend is asking me for details about everything we saw in Italy.)

Friend: “Oh! Did you go on one of those little boat things in Venice? Did the driver sing that song they always sing in the movies?”

Me: “Uh… No. My mom and dad got to go, but I was sick.”

Friend: “Aw, really? You didn’t get to go at all?”

Me: “No, but I became very well-acquainted with a Venetian bathroom. I also think I have an Italian grandma, now.”

(Thank you again, kind Italian lady, for watching a sick kid who couldn’t understand a word you were saying!)

A Different Kind Of Humanitarian Tour

, , , , , | Hopeless | March 18, 2018

(I’m a woman in my early 20s, and I decide to try traveling alone for the first time after finding a cheap flight to Massachusetts. I’ve always wanted to see Cape Cod, so my plan is to fly into Boston and then take a bus out to Provincetown. Right off the bat, the trip does not go well. Among other things, a woman on the plane tries to steal my clearly labelled backpack and has to be stopped by the flight attendant, and a man literally pushes me into the street to be the first one onto the bus. By the time I finally arrive in Provincetown, I’m exhausted and miserable and wondering if I made a mistake, but I came all this way, so I decide to at least get a drink before collapsing. While at the bar, I start chatting with a guy there with a bunch of his friends, and he mentions he works for a local whale-watching company.)

Guy: “If you’re only in town for a few days, you should definitely go. It’s probably the coolest thing to do in town.”

Me: “Yeah, it looked neat, but I’m not sure; the tickets were kind of pricey.”

Guy: “Oh, that’s no good! You can’t miss out on it just because of that! Go down to the pier tomorrow and tell them [Guy] sent you, and they’ll hook you up.”

(I thank him, and the conversation soon drifts in another direction. I’m not sure how serious the offer was, but I figure why not, so the next morning I head down to the pier and the ticket booth.)

Ticket Seller: “Hi, can I help you?”

Me: “Yeah, I’d like to get a ticket to the next whale-watching trip, please. [Guy] sent me down here; I was talking to him last night and he said it was absolutely not to be missed.”

Ticket Seller: “Oh, you’re a friend of [Guy]’s?”

Me: “Kind of? I met him in a bar last night.”

Ticket Seller: “Totally counts! He wouldn’t have sent you here if he didn’t like you. Which bar was it?”

(I tell him, and immediately get the impression that I’ve given him the best gossip of the month.)

Ticket Seller: “Oooh, [Guy] was at [Bar]? He hasn’t been back there since the breakup! Wait ‘til tell [Friend]!”

(He hands me a ticket and pulls out his cell phone.)

Me: “Wait, how much do I owe you?”

Ticket Seller: “On the house, m’dear. You’re a friend of [Guy]’s, and you just brought me the best gossip I’ve heard all day; that’s well worth a tour. Just make sure to tip the crew.”

(The tour was completely amazing, and I did indeed make sure to tip the crew well. It was like the conversation in the bar flipped a switch, and for the rest of the trip, everyone around me was so nice, I started to wonder if it was a town-wide prank or if I’d accidentally landed in a Disney movie or something. The locals cheerfully directed me to the best beaches and restaurants, usually with the offer of a ride from a friend who was heading that way. Complete strangers checked to make sure I was enjoying myself, pulled me out onto the dance floor, invited me to join their group heading to a club or karaoke, or insisted on walking me back to my hotel if I turned them down. If I stopped at a bakery or chocolate shop, half the time, there was an extra cookie or chocolate thrown in with whatever I’d ordered. And when I was disappointed that I’d waited too long to go for a walk along the point and night was falling, a quite lovely elderly couple lent me a flashlight and invited me to dinner when I came to return it. Anytime I asked, or expressed amazement at just how genuinely nice everyone was, the answer was always the same: “Well, it’s almost the end of tourist season, we might as well. And besides, we like people here!” Despite my initial misgivings, it was an amazing trip, made so by a bunch of seriously amazing people, and I can’t wait to go back!)

They’re All Behaving Crackers

, , , , | Hopeless | February 2, 2018

(My wife and I take a coach tour up to the vineyards in Sonoma. It’s a Tuesday, so the bus, which leaves at 7:30 am, is full of pensioners, and us. The tour guide is obviously surprised to see us, but all is well once we explain that we’re on “vacation” for our honeymoon. He seats us near the front of the bus so we get a good view. On the way to the vineyards, we stop for a rest and coffee break in a small town, where the tour guide informs us:)

Tour Guide: “This where you buy your crackers. Crackers are REALLY expensive at the vineyards. You need to buy crackers here. HERE.”

(We’ve never been asked to provide our own crackers at a wine tasting before, but all the other patrons seem keen, so we follow along, and buy a small packet of eight crackers. As we get back on the bus every one of the pensioners is struggling under the sheer weight of the number of crackers that they’ve bought. Most have more than ten large packs each. More than you could reasonably eat in a month. I’m starting to wonder if crackers are a form of currency in wine country, like cigarettes in prison. Half an hour later we arrive at the first vineyard. As the bus stops, the other passengers are already barging each other out of the way, trying to get off first. Even though we’re at the front, no one allows us to get off until everyone has gone past us. Of course, they’re all rushing for the bathroom. Not a problem. Some older people need to use the facilities more regularly than most. By the time we get into the visitor center, the queue has formed, and they’re all arguing with each other:)

Pensioner #1: “I had two coffees back in town. Let me go first.”

Pensioner #2: “I had bowel cancer. I need to be given priority!”

Pensioner #3: “I’ve GOT bowel cancer right now. I need priority!”

(We make a mental note to make sure we’re off the bus quickly at the next stop, which is a larger vineyard that also has a restaurant as part of the visitor centre. I get into the bathroom ahead of the pensioners; there is only one cubicle, and two urinals. A man and a young boy enter behind me, and go into the cubicle. As I’m washing my hands, the mob of pensioners descends. They begin banging on the door to the cubicle.)

Pensioner #1:  “Get out. I’m a senior citizen. I need this more than you!”

(Then, the in-fighting starts again.)

Pensioner #2: “Hey, I told ya, I’ve got cancer. I need to use the cubicle.”

Pensioner #3: “We’ve all got cancer, buddy. Get back in line.”

(The man in the cubicle shouts that he is in there with his son, and will be out in a minute.)

Pensioner #1: “Hurry up!”

Pensioner #2: “I’m next.”

Pensioner #3: “No way. You went ahead of me at the last winery.”

(There’s jostling. Then pushing. I manage to squeeze past them to exit. They continue pounding on the door to the cubicle, as if that will make the little boy speed up. I find the tour guide chatting to the manager of the restaurant, and explain what’s happening. They both roll their eyes.)

Manager: “It’s always the Tuesday tour, ain’t it?”

(He walks back and shouts at the top of his voice for the seniors to behave themselves. The poor little boy comes out but has clearly been crying. The manager takes them up to the bar, and beckons my wife and me over as well.)

Manager: “All you guys, anything you want, it’s on the house today.”

Me: “Oh, that’s not necessary—”

Manager: “No, I insist. You’re visitors to this fine state of ours, and I want to make sure you have the best time.”

(We ordered a sharing platter starter, for which he insisted on doubling all the portions, including the wines, then gifted us a bottle to take home with us. After lunch there was another winery to visit, but the seniors were much better behaved this time. We were back by six pm, and watched as they all left the bus with their unopened boxes of crackers. I don’t think anyone had more than about four, anyway. Even though that was eight years ago, I still buy a bottle of the wine from the vineyard that made us so welcome, every time I see it. They do a mean Lodi Zinfandel.)

Thrilla In The Villa

, , , , | Friendly | January 9, 2018

My sister’s wealthy friend has a villa in Dominican Republic. We love to travel, so we pay her to rent it for a week. She sends us pictures and says that she herself vacations there and that it’s lovely. We trust her because she’s a friend who enjoys the luxurious life.

However, things aren’t so great when we arrive. The place is infested by bees and hand-sized spiders, the electricity is wired badly so we get shocked from turning off the lights, and the air conditioning is poor in this 90 F weather, so we’re sweating everywhere. We are glad to return home, and when we do, the friend sends us an email.

Email: “How was your trip? Be sure to send a good review on [Website]!”

We do send a review, but not a good one. The friend is not pleased and doesn’t speak to us anymore, calling us too spoiled. Maybe we’re spoiled, but it really was awful enough to ruin our vacation!

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