Open Suitcase. Insert Foot.

Union Station Timetable

Every departure’s on time?
A traveler’s dream.
And highly unlikely.

My brilliant friends on the creative team of Brandstorm NYC suggested I add a category to address those travel disasters that you see coming, but are helpless to avert. They proposed the title and I think it’s genius, comparing vacation mishaps to the verbal blunders that you wish you could physically catch as they’re rolling off your tongue.

I’m not talking about missing your flight because there was too much traffic. Think instead about arriving at the airport for a flight – to a funeral – and the kiosk repeatedly rejects your id. After snaking your way through the check-in line, you explain your situation to the desk agent. The video terminal’s consulted. Twice. There are hushed whispers between very serious colleagues. And then you’re informed that you do indeed have a plane to catch. Next week.

To kick things off, I’m sharing this little nugget from California: “Rocks Set Fire in Pocket.” Moms are routinely handed many things that are instinctively shoved in pockets: snotty tissues, chewed gum, bugs. No Mom would think twice when her kid hands over vacation “souvenirs”, pleading “Can I bring these home?”  No problem.  Into the pockets they go. End of story. Except in this case. Apparently these rocks were some volatile and unusual geological specimens, most likely containing phosphorus (an investigation is ongoing) and they ignited, setting Mom’s pants ablaze. The initial report merely sparked (sorry – bad pun) my curiosity. Was this a spontaneous combust or a slow burn? Who noticed? When and where? Was the family on line at the Kream Kone, waiting for their soft serve? Did someone yell, “Hey Lady! Your pants are on fire.” Did little Johnny douse her with the water and hermit crab from his beach bucket?


It’s all fun and games until Mom’s pants catch on fire.

Years ago our close friends and frequent traveling companions began to refer to these moments as “Griswolds”, a shout-out to National Lampoon’s Vacation series.  We routinely resurrect these stories and are repeatedly leveled by laughter, often in inappropriate public places. My point in highlighting this piece is not to make fun of this woman’s pain and I do sincerely hope she makes a full and speedy recovery. On the contrary, I implore you to celebrate your inner Clark and take comfort in knowing that this kind of wackiness can happen to anyone on any trip.


Maybe not Rick Steves.

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