The first day of our fabulous European vacation began with Mike’s friend Bill picking us up at our house. He was to drive us to the airport shuttle station where we would hop on a bus to our gate. As Bill was graciously loading my suitcase into the back of his SUV, he commented on its small size. “My wife would have had three of these cases at least. All filled with shoes”
While he meant this as a compliment, telling me in not so many words that I was low-maintenance, I instinctively worried that I should go back in and pack the additional five pairs of shoes I had forced myself to remove just hours before. I had worked so hard to convince myself that my first trip to Europe would still be complete even without my favorite red platforms or my Kenneth Cole peek-toes. Now Bill was making me doubt my decision.
I let Mike ride shotgun and I got in next to the empty babyseat in back to ponder what was surely my worst packing job ever. I knew that I had to fit everything into a small bag because I am not the best at maneuvering through crowds, and doing so carrying a huge bag would just add more disaster-triggering elements to the equation. I know better than to put myself in that kind of situation, and I was used to taking preventative measures. I resigned myself to accept that the three measly pairs of shoes tucked safely in my tiny suitcase would just have to get me through the next two weeks.
At the bus station, Bill dropped us off with perfect timing, and we got right on the airport shuttle, basically just a regular city bus that drives to and from the airport all day. We sat up front, and the excitement finally began to settle in. I hadn’t slept at all the night before; I was actually going to leave the country for the first time ever. I double checked my passport in my purse and then checked it again. Mike was fumbling around with his effing iPhone, and so I amused myself with people-watching and staring out the window at the changing leaves. Then I saw a huge sign at the front of the bus. It read:
Causing a disturbance on this or any DIA shuttlebus is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of up to $750,000.
Seriously, three quarters of a million dollars in fines for causing a disturbance on a bus? 20 years in federal prison? This seemed really steep to me. What if I caused a disturbance, but it wasn’t on purpose? I started to worry a little bit about exactly what exactly was entailed by the phrase ‘causing a disturbance’.
A couple years ago, on a plane, I dropped my purse as I was walking down the aisle in front of a long line of people. Everyone was desperate to get off of what had been a particularly bumpy, three-hour flight, and my stuff was strewn absolutely everywhere holding them up. I was crawling around on the floor trying to find my cell phone and my wallet, picking up a random brush or tampon here and there while people just stepped over me grumbling and growling. I swear one lady even said ‘idiot’ under her breath as she stepped directly on my empty purse-carcass. That was also the last time I saw my perfect shade of Bobbi Brown lipgloss, which consequently, they no longer seem to make.
At Target last year, I knocked four jars of pickles onto the floor causing a noise reminiscent of something in the sonic-boom genre, splashing kosher brine all over a man’s shoes, and rudely interrupting the lunch hour of a four-man crew ---apparently the proper cleanup ratio is one mop to one jar of pickles---who showed up armed with supplies and smirks. I left without purchasing my items and drove straight home.
While doing my chubby-girl duty on the elliptical at the gym, I saw my good friend Tim on the stair-climber in the row in front of me. I removed my headphones and said his name approximately 47 times, getting louder each time. He didn’t have headphones on, so I ascertained that he obviously just couldn’t hear me over the din of fifty cardio machines.
“TIM!” “TIMMY” “TIM!” I kept yelling as I climbed off of my machine and stomped over to his.
“Hey, Tim!” I said, grabbing the cuff of his shorts and tugging a little bit.
As he turned around, I realized my mistake. This was not Tim. This was an innocent bystander, persevering through his daily workout against all odds while being stalked by a crazy woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s. I knew my face was purple with embarrassment, and I knew that all of the exercisers on all of the machines were watching the show. I gave a weak wave to my new friend on the stair-climber and made a beeline for the locker room.
The last time I went skiing, I had to be towed down the hill in a Ski-Patrol toboggan.
I choked on my gum in a dark movie theater a few months back, sending myself into a horrific five-minute coughing fit.
At work, during the monthly creative team meeting last week, something our VP said struck me as funny, (even though it wasn’t really meant to be) and I could not stop laughing. For the entire hour. No one else even smiled, and a couple of people haven’t really spoken to me much since then.
I talk too much, and too loudly, and mostly about myself.
When I get to the front of a line, I can never find my credit card, or Safeway Card, or DSW shoe discount card, or whatever other elusive item the checkout person needs from me before he can move on and help the next person in line.
I accidentally swear in front of people’s toddlers. Then I can’t suppress my laughter when the little buggers repeat the things I’ve said.
I am the reigning queen of TMI.
I cause disturbances every single day. I am a disturbing person. I am always holding people up, or making a mess, or putting my huge foot into my huge mouth. I try so hard to remain calm, to not speak unless spoken to, and to keep a tight grip on whatever I am holding, but it just never seems to work out for me. Wherever I go, I always end up doing something stupid that will inevitably cause a disturbance to those around me.
I wanted to ask the bus driver what was implied by the sign, and if I was, in fact, in danger of spending the rest of my thirties in prison if say, hypothetically, something beyond my control were to happen on this short drive. I never asked him, though. I sat quietly, holding my purse in a death grip. I checked on my passport again. As we climbed down the stairs and off of the bus, I held onto Mike’s arm as if it were holding me up, and it very well may have been. Success. I made it through the first travel leg of our trip without being arrested or having any strangers roll their eyes at me. I let out the deep breath I had been holding in, smiled, and held my head high. I guess I am finally growing up and getting control of myself. Just don’t ask about what happened on the plane to London later that day.