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Travelling - Its the characters you meet by Calculated Traveller

Travelling – It’s the Characters You Meet

Author Mary Chong
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One thing I love about travelling is the people you meet along the way. By meeting and interacting with people you learn a little more about their culture, language and customs.

BUT sometimes you meet people who are just awesome character sketches and you end up with some great stories to share afterwards.

Here are a few of my stories.

The story you are about to hear is true; only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
– Dragnet

Burger King Joe

One road trip we were in one of the southern states of the USA. It was getting late and we had to find somewhere to eat. We drove off the interstate highway and went to the local Burger King.

It was quite obvious that we were not from that town because we stuck out like a sore thumb in appearance and dress. It’s one of those scenes you see on tv and in the movies where the music stops with a screech and everyone in the room stops and turns to look at the people who just walked in through the door. It was further emphasized by the fact that although I’ve been in Burger King many times here in Canada, I had no idea what the flavours of pop (soda) were and I had to ask the cashier to explain what “Slice” was. (it’s like Orange Crush if anyone was wondering)

As we were ordering, Joe stumbled over (he was slightly drunk)…

Joe: Susie…is that you?
Me: I’m sorry. No, I don’t think so.
Joe: No, I KNOW you…
Me: You don’t know me.
Joe: No, I KNOW you – you’re Susie. You’re the cash girl at Wegmans.
Me: No, my name is not Susie. You don’t know me.
This continued back and forth for the next few minutes until…
Burger King Cashier: Joe leave these good people alone. You don’t KNOW them. They’re not from these parts.

Then again during our meal Joe kept coming by our table asking if I worked at various stores in town. He was so convinced that he knew me! We just kept continuing to say No as we laughed and ate our burgers.

Finally, the manager came by to apologize and shoo him away. At one point I wanted to just say that Yes I was in fact Susie just to make him stop but I wasn’t sure what the next series of questions would be if I had said YES – and I’m sure there would be MORE questions.

Nashville Gas Station Guy

We were in Nashville, Tennessee and we drive into a gas station to fill up the tank. Upon seeing our Canadian license plate on our car, this man at another pump waves, approaches and starts talking to us. It was broad daylight so we weren’t concerned at all and he seemed totally harmless.

Gas Guy (GG): Are you from Canada?
Me: Yes
GG: Can I ask you a few questions about Canada?
Me: Sure…I guess.
GG: What’s your minimum wage up there?
Me: I’m not sure, I think its $10/hour
GG: Wow, yeah I heard it was high. I’m thinking of driving up to Canada to get a job ‘cuz there is no work here.
Me: Well, you know you just can’t drive across the border and start working. You have to immigrate or get a work permit etc and someone has to sponsor you.
GG: What? What are you talking about? I’m an American citizen.

After we explained that Canada was an entirely different country from the US. (to which he was really surprised) He agreed that it would be okay – and that he would immigrate if he HAD to.

GG: Don’t you get free healthcare too? ‘cuz I don’t have healthcare here.
Me: Yeah, sure it’s free but we pay for it in taxes. We pay about 50% of our salary towards healthcare, unemployment etc plus in Ontario we pay 13% tax on goods and services. Our cost of living is higher.
GG: What?? Taxes? That’s crazy…ok I’m going to check it out more before I make my decision because I don’t want to pay all that tax.
ME: Oh and you know…Canada is cold. In the winter we get snow and sometimes the temperature goes as low as 14F.
GG: What?? That’s cold man – That’s colder than my freezer! No, no way! That’s not going to work out for me…I don’t like the cold!

And then he promptly walked away.

Elevator Dude on a cruise ship

One evening after a day spent on the cruise ships private island we were going up to the buffet on the 15th floor. Waiting for the elevator were 2 other couples. No one knew each other and we were all dressed for dinner. The elevator arrived and standing inside all alone, shirtless in shorts and flip-flops is the “elevator dude”. He was burnt brown from the sun and was obviously totally drunk.

After asking for our respective floors (we were all going to the same floor), with great difficulty he found and pushed the button on the elevator panel.

As the elevator moved and as we passed each floor he would state the floor number (in an exaggerated drunk Fonzie from the “Happy Days” tv-show manner), give 2-thumbs up and look around the elevator for a response.

Dude: eiiiggghhhht….[looks around pauses and gives the thumbs up]…eight…
Dude: niiinnnnnne….[looks around pauses and gives the thumbs up]…nine…
Dude: teeeeennnnn….[looks around pauses and gives the thumbs up]…ten…

This continued floor after floor with not a single person in the elevator saying a word or acknowledging him.

Finally at the 14th floor…

Dude: fourrrrrteeeeen….[looks around pauses and gives the thumbs up]…GO BLUE!

and steps off the elevator.

The door closes and there is total silence in the elevator for a few seconds…then everyone in the elevator burst out laughing.

Funny thing is a couple of days later…I saw Elevator Dude wandering around the pool deck wearing the same exact outfit and with the same drunk dazed look on his face.

What characters have you met while travelling?
I’d love to hear your stories…

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