I have an email here from Todd, in Dallas, who writes:
“I’m super depressed from sheltering in place, I’m not even kidding, Sean, please write something that’s going to make me feel better!”
Todd, believe me, I get it. I can’t make you feel better, I can’t even make my dog sit on command, but I do sympathize with you. I’ve been pretty blue lately, too. I miss going places, doing stuff, seeing people, watching baseball, and shaking hands.
So I understand what you’re going through. Which is why I’d like to tell you a story that was sent to me by a reader from Calgary, Canada, named Harriet. I wasn’t aware that anybody in Canada, read my stuff, so I can only assume that this woman was probably forced to read my words against her will.
But anyway, Harriet wrote a letter detailing a trip she and her husband, Phillip, took for their 40th wedding anniversary last year. I don’t have room for the whole thing, but here are the highlights:
Phillip wanted to get Harriet something very special for their anniversary. He had been secretly asking her friends about it. Harriet had always wanted to take a cruise to Mexico.
So Phillip began researching cruises and trying to find the absolute cheapest tickets on the internet because Phillip is a notorious cheapskate.
“He’s Canadian,” explains Harriet. “Canadian men can be tightwads.”
Phillip found a killer deal on a cruise, but the only drawback was that this ship departed from Tampa, Florida, which—as the crow flies—is about 3 million miles from Alberta.
When Harriet asked about this, Phillip’s answer was, “Well, I thought we’d take a roadtrip across the United States.”
Of course Phillip could have simply admitted that he’d gotten a little carried away looking for hot deals, then cancelled the reservations, and booked something closer. But—and I think I already mentioned this—Phillip is male.
“It’ll be fun,” Phillip insisted.
Still, Harriet was having her doubts about driving for 731,249 straight hours to Florida. She told Phillip that she wanted to take a flight.
So Phillip spent hours comparing flight prices, but they were all way too expensive for an average Canadian male. It didn’t take long for a skinflint like old Phil to realize that he could save some major cash if they took a bus trip instead of flying.
“It’ll be fun,” Phillip kept claiming.
It was about as much fun as gallbladder surgery in a Third-World country. The first day of their journey, after riding for nine hours south, the bus broke down on the interstate.
“And the worst part was,” says Harriet, “Phillp’s bulging discs were killing him.”
The passengers waited all night on a dead bus for a replacement bus, which arrived at 2 a.m. The passengers, who were suffering from sleep deprivation, rode for another four hours to the nearest station, where they waited several MORE hours for a connecting bus.
But this was only a warm up. Because by the time their next bus reached Nebraska, all hell broke loose. Somewhere around Omaha, the bus driver had a diebectic episode while driving and nearly wrecked. An ambulance was called. More delays.
But hey, it all worked out. To make a long story even more boring, Phillip and Harriet finally made it to Tampa seven days later. Oh, sure, they could have just said, “Forget it” back in Omaha and rented a car. But Phillip was going all the way.
By the time they reached Tampa, tensions were high, and Harriet was getting urges to decapitate Phillip with her nail file.
When they stood in the cruise-ship ticket line, something else went wrong. The cruise officials could not seem to find Phillip’s reservations. They wouldn’t let Phillip and his wife onto the boat. Phil and the ticket guy almost got into a fistfight.
Thus, while other passengers were boarding the ship, sipping fruity drinks, listening to steel drum bands play “Hot Hot Hot,” Phillip was in the main office having a nervous breakdown.
“I waited on the sidewalk,” says Harriet, “sitting on our luggage. I could hear people having fun on the boat.”
The office person told Phillip that it was a credit-card mixup. The man apologized and led the couple to their ultra-economy suite, which was located in the bowels of the ship, not far from the ship’s laundromat. A suite that was about the size of a No. 4 Tupperware container.
“I think we were on the same deck with the crew,” says Harriet.
The cruise set sail for Cozumel. When they pulled into port, Phillip lined up some half-price activities he’d found for a great deal on the internet. They swam with dolphins and rode ATV wheelers.
Things were going fine until the ATVs. When Phillip was gunning his rented four-wheeler across a sandy Mexican beach, he took a wrong turn and got thrown from his vehicle. He herniated L4 and L5. He was taken to a local hospital, howling in pain. He and Harriet had to cut their trip short and fly back to Canada so Phillip could get spinal fusion surgery.
When the operation was completed and the anesthesia wore off, Harriet says the first face Phillip saw was hers. She touched his cheek and in honor of their momentous anniversary, she said, “I oughta divorce you, you miserable cheapskate.”
I don’t know what the moral of the story is here. But I’ll bet Phil knows what it is.
Hang in there, friend.