I've been racking my brain trying to come up with the Important Life Lessons I learned during this past week of traveling. Adversity builds character, right? And schlepping through half-a-dozen states and three concerts whilst sick as a crack-addled lhasa apso certainly qualifies as adversity. So where's my loot, dang it? All I can come up with is tired aphorisms like "Don't Judge a Hotel Shampoo by its Bottle," and "That Thing in the Bin with the Microwaveable Bacon is Not a Pancake and You Should Not Try to Eat It."
Or how about, "Don't Make Conversation with People who Look Crazy?" I was privileged to learn this one on the fifth of my six flights in seven days, whilst preparing for takeoff in a state of abject and totally unwarranted terror. Just as the plane was about to leave the gate, a disreputable looking gentleman shuffled on board and plunked himself down in the seat next to me. He was bearded, dirty, shifty-eyed, and smelled of liquor. When he did not place a drink order I instantly, with the impeccable logic of the nervous airplane passenger, assumed he was a terrorist. Who but a terrorist doesn't want free airplane drinks?
We taxied out. The terrorist turned on and off his cell phone, which I noted featured the welcoming message "Fuck the World." A few minutes from takeoff, I decided that the thing to do was engage him in conversation. If he was a terrorist, he might suffer some qualms about blowing up the nice woman next to him. If he wasn't a terrorist, I'd find out pretty quickly.
He wasn't a terrorist. For the next one hour and fifty minutes of flight time, he kept up a steady, mostly one-sided stream of conversation about the trucks he fixes up, the ways in which he likes to crash said trucks, his liquor preferences, his addiction to smoking, his brushes with the law, and his general worldview, which seemed to consist of the twin creeds Trucks before Women and Drunk Driving is Fun. Midway through the flight, he pulled out his tin of chewing tobacco and, talking around the pungent lump, proceeded to describe, in detail, the stash of porn he keeps on his phone.
Actually, come to think of it, I barely noticed the flight's considerable turbulence. Fight Fire with Fire; Fight Fear with Fear.