Traveling Truth (or Dare)

What’s on the iPod: The Loneliness and the Scream by Frightened Rabbit

We’re driving home today. I can’t wait. As much as I’ve loved being on a road trip of this size (we’re up around 3K miles at this writing), seeing people we love and want to spend time with, I’m ready to be back at my desk and in clothes that haven’t been worn six times each.

While on this trip, we’ve seen some strange things. Maybe it’s a good time for a little primer on traveling etiquette:

Wearing pajamas to breakfast at the hotel isn’t cool. I really don’t want to see your Sponge Bob pajama bottoms nor your Santa-themed flannel. These weren’t kids — full-grown adults who should know better. I’m eating here.

Bed and breakfasts aren’t hotels. No one misbehaved this trip, but it’s been needing to be said for some time now. You’re not staying at a full-service hotel — this is someone’s home usually. Arriving at midnight, wanting a snack at 3 am, or expecting breakfast at 5 am is out of line. Your host/hostess is giving you a room and a breakfast. You can’t order from a menu, nor can you fuss about not having free shampoo or shower caps. If you want to treat people rudely, stay in a hotel. No wait — stay home. You should never treat people rudely.

Business calls should not be conducted in a museum. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it. She was walking around the otherwise quiet museum, talking about project goals among the artifacts. Some people, armed with cell phones, become colossal idiots. Or maybe they just are idiots and the cell phones simply emphasize that.

Cell phones in general should be used wisely. I’m in a coffee shop now where cell phones are being used for business and other things. I think that’s expected and perfectly okay. What isn’t okay? Talking on the phone in a restaurant (at high volume), in a bathroom (I’m always tempted to shout “Be quiet! I’m trying to go to the bathroom!” just to “out” the person), or in a place where you don’t want everyone hearing your personal information or gossip. And don’t give me that look as if listening in is not cool — airing your private business in public is what’s not cool. In the last five minutes, I’ve heard the woman next to me reveal her birth date (twice — to an automated system), her phone number, and her address. If I were a heinous person, she’d be screwed.

Talking to your kids constantly is annoying. Kids are excited to be places. Their enthusiasm is great and often is fine/unnoticeable. What is noticeable and not fine are those parents who have a running dialogue with their children (who aren’t listening, I hope) about “Come this way… thank you, Evan/Rachel we don’t do that, here let’s go this way oh put your mittens on that way don’t touch that there are germs like Ebola…” Shut up. Please. Your kids know how to walk, how to breathe, and how to survive touching something germ-infested like that handrail you’re not concerned with. Unless they’re acting like animals, let them be.

Publicly disciplining your kids is embarrassing–for you. Jerking their arms off or shouting like fools is so much more disruptive than what they may have been doing. If they’re misbehaving, remove them quietly and have at them in private. It’s uncomfortable to watch an adult lose their minds on their kids. If you’re embarrassed about your kids’ behavior, think of how they feel when you act like a jerk in public.

Your wild kids are ruining everyone’s damn day. Don’t just sit there saying “Oliver, please stop.” Take your child out of the situation and refuse to bring them back if they can’t settle down. I paid money for that museum or dinner. I do NOT want to hear your fights or have your kid looking at my food or trying to get my attention or running in circles around me when I’m trying to enjoy something.

Not everyone is a dog person. A lovely woman got on the elevator with her dog, but she asked first if we minded. Thank you. No, I didn’t mind, but that you thought to offer that courtesy is refreshing.

Tailing someone isn’t safe. Even in the slow lane, they were riding our tails. If we’re in the slow lane and you’re pissed because we’re not going faster, change lanes or learn the rules of the road.

Consideration costs us nothing. I remember having my keys locked in my car at a car wash. The woman in line asked if something was wrong. I said, “Yes, I locked my keys in the car and need to reach my husband.” She said, “I wondered what the damn holdup was” and closed her window. Thanks. She must have wanted to sit a while, for had she offered her phone, I could have been out of her hair in a heartbeat.

You’re a guest in someone’s home. Act as you’d like others to act in your home. A friend of ours related a story about a friend who’d come to stay for a few days and did nothing but complain. She hated the bed, hated the food (which they’d made for her), and when she asked for popcorn and they said they didn’t think they had any, she went right over and opened their cabinet, pointed, and shouted “What the f*** do you call that?” The friend was too cordial. I’d have had that woman in a hotel (and I’d have paid to remove her) within minutes.

If you don’t clean up after yourselves, you’re not coming back. We washed our sheets/towels as we were leaving each person’s home. Not everyone likes that or needs that, but picking up your dishes, making your bed, helping with chores is just common courtesy.

What have you witnessed in your travels?

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  • Paula December 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    This afternoon I saw a woman leaving a dollar store carrying wrapping paper – in her PJs. Did I mention it was the afternoon?

    Great list, Lori. What I get tired of are people who get pushy or grumpy while Christmas shopping. Shortly after my Dad died (in December, like most people and pets in my family seem to do) my sister and I were at Target. A grumpy woman cut in front of us in line (if she'd asked we would have let her in, since she only had a couple things and we had a lot of stuff between us). Our response, a sincere, "Merry Christmas to you, too!" She had no response.

    Betting she didn't put any money in the red kettle either!

  • Sandy December 20, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Could not agree more with every single point. Unfortunately, the people most needing to heed this would never recognize themselves.

  • Lori Widmer December 20, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Paula, it kills some people to be nice. I just don't get it. Two days ago in a coffee shop, my husband ordered. I came up just as he'd paid, and the waitress asked if I wanted something. I turned to the woman next in line and said "Sorry." You'd think I'd shot her in the stomach. She was icy as hell. Whatever. Get over yourself. I wasn't cutting in line and I was about to get to the back of the line when the waitress asked. It was a frigging bottle of water!

    Sandy, you're so right. Every time, the guilty don't think it applies to them. How are you, by the way? Haven't talked with you in a while! Hope you're well.

  • Paula December 22, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    My theory is most grumpy people are grumpy because no one is ever nice to them – which is probably because they're never nice to anyone else. That's why I try to be extra nice.

    Remember the neighbor I've mentioned who can be really cranky, and complains all the time? A few weeks ago she asked me to keep an eye out for those kitchen towels that wrap around a refrigerator handle. She hadn't seen them in stores. When I ordered a few things online the other day, I tossed in a fun, cheery kitchen towel and found a pattern to crochet the top part that hooks around the refrigerator handle. I've got plenty of yarn to choose from and judging by the pattern I can knock it out in one evening. A small gesture that might actually make her happy.

  • Lori Widmer December 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Oh, I love that theory, Paula. 🙂 I know if someone is ignoring me, I go out of my way to get them to talk. It's passive-aggressive on my part, but rudeness isn't any better. I hope to cancel out one faux pas with another.

  • Devon Ellington December 26, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    All great points.