Don’t We All Need a Laugh Today

I wrote this a few years ago, but it still makes me laugh.

The following are actual stories told by travel agents:

I had someone who wanted to stay at the Bob Newhart Inn in Connecticut.

When I explained that the inn was fictional, the customer became very
irate and insisted “I know it is real, I see people check in every week!”

___I really did have someone ask for an aisle seat so that their hair
wouldn’t get messed up by being near the window.

___A client called in inquiring about a package to Hawaii. After going over all the cost info, she asked, “Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?”

___I got a call from a woman who wanted to go to Cape Town. I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information when she interrupted me with “I’m not trying to make you look stupid, but Cape Town is in Massachusetts.”

Without trying to make her look like the stupid one, I calmly explained,

“Cape Cod is in Massachusetts; Cape Town is in Africa.”

Her response … click.

___A secretary called in looking for a hotel in Los Angeles. She gave me
various names off a list, none of which I could find. I finally had her fax me the list. To my surprise, it was a list of hotels in New Orleans, Louisiana. She thought the LA stood for Los Angeles, and that New Orleans was a suburb of L.A. Worst of all, when I called her back, she was not even embarrassed.

___A man called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was  wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that is not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state.

He replied, “Don’t lie to me. I looked on the map and Florida is a very
thin state.”

___I got a call from a man who asked, “Is it possible to see England from

I said, “No.”

He said, “But they look so close on the map.”

___Another man called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I
pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had a one-hour layover in Dallas.

When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, “I heard Dallas was a big airport, and I need a car to drive between the gates to save time.”

___A nice lady just called. She needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:20am and got into Chicago at 8:33am.

I tried to explain that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she could not understand the concept of time zones. Finally I told her the plane went very fast, and she bought that!

___A woman called and asked, “Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know who’s luggage belongs to who?”

I said, “No, why do you ask?”

She replied, “Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT, and I’m overweight, is there any connection?”

After putting her on hold for a minute while I ‘looked into it’ (I was actually laughing), I came back and explained the city code for Fresno is FAT, and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.

___I just got off the phone with a man who asked, “How do I know which plane to get on?”

I asked him what, exactly, he meant, to which he replied, “I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these darn planes have numbers on them.”

___A woman called and said, “I need to fly to Pepsi-cola on one of those computer planes.”

I asked if she meant to fly to Pensacola on a commuter plane.

She said, “Yeah, whatever.”

___A business man called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him he needed a visa.

“Oh, no, I don’t. I’ve been to China many times and never had to have one of those.”

I double-checked, and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this, he said, “Look, I’ve been to China four times and every time, they have accepted my American Express.”

___A woman called to make reservations; “I want to go from Chicago to
Hippopotamus, New York.” The agent was at a loss for words.

Finally, the agent said, “Are you sure that’s the name of the town?”

“Yes, what flights do you have?” replied the customer.

After some searching, the agent came back with, “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’ve looked up every airport code in the country and can’t find a Hippopotamus anywhere.”

The customer retorted, “Oh, don’t be silly. Everyone knows where it is. Check your map!”

The agent scoured a map of the state of New York and finally offered, “You don’t mean Buffalo, do you?”

“That’s it! I knew it was a big animal!”

Talk Less; Listen More

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I talk way too much. Not that there’s anything wrong with talking, but I find that, when I am with a group of people, I don’t listen enough because I’m too busy talking.

Last night when the Crankee Yankee and I went to our Christmas social with our train friends I tried an experiment. I listened more and I talked less. Of course, if someone asked me a question I’d answer, but in the main I started asking people what was new in their lives, and so on.

And you know what? It was a wonderful experience! For the most part, everyone has stories to tell and enjoys catching up on each others’ lives. Everyone is involved in their own lives and families, there are joys and sorrows, gain and loss, and so on.

My Irish grandmother used to talk about people she knew who liked to “shine their behinds.” This means that there are people who love talking about themselves non-stop. Unwittingly, I now realize I was myself shining my behind!

So last night was wonderful; I got caught up with everyone, and best of all: I listened. Although our group loves trains and everything about them, they are people with lives, joys and sorrows of their own. It was a pure pleasure to sit back and listen. Of course when asked I would tell folks how we are doing and so forth, but mainly it was a joy to just sit back and listen.

I guess I could say that my early New Year’s resolution is to listen more and talk less. Since I do love to talk, it’s a challenge sometimes to keep my mouth shut and just listen. Somewhere I read in an advice column about talking too much; their advice was this: “keep your tongue firmly on the roof of your mouth.” Try it and you’ll find that you are talking less and listening more.

The First BIG Snow

Yep, we finally got hit big time here in the Northeast with loads of snow yesterday. And of course, it wasn’t the light fluffy snow either; it was heavy and sticky; we ended up with about a foot and a half of it. The Crankee Yankee fired up my Dad’s old snow blower for the driveway, and I went out back to stomp “roads” for the outdoorsies to walk in so that they could get to the food stations.

It’s my habit that, in the early evening before dark, I go out and top off the outdoorsies’ food bowls, check the water bowls (those “barn bowls” are the best; they have long cords to keep the water from freezing), etc. Knowing that the nights are getting really cold, I always pop a body warmer, or hand warmer under the blankets in the shelters just in case. They last for hours, so if any of our “guests” get caught in the storm, they have food, water and warm beds.

As our vehicles are covered in loads of snow, we decided to walk to a restaurant close by for lunch. That’s when I found out that my old pair of UGG knockoffs were leaking; yuck. Well, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention. So don’t do what I did; check your boot situation before walking out in the snow. Luckily, I still have my good old un-stylish rubber boots.

As if we didn’t have enough new snow, it snowed again last night. New England is funny that way; we can have “light” winters where there is minimal snow; then again we can have tons of it. Personally I like living in a place where there are four seasons; even the winter season.

But as a savvy 90 year old-plus woman I know always says, “watchagonnado?” I say go with it, bundle up and make a snowman—or two. Then slog back into the house and have a nice mug of hot chocolate.

What Happens When You Re-Read Harry Potter Books (or any books you love)

I have loved the entire series of Harry Potter since the first book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” came out. It was my mother who told me about the book, so I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I came to the end of it. From then on, every time a new Harry Potter book came out, the Crankee Yankee would drive me to the nearest WalMart at midnight to get a copy. When we got home, I would start reading and he would go to bed. When morning came, he would find me still in my chair, reading.

“Have you been up all night?” He would ask.

“Yup.” (said in a tone that clearly meant ‘don’t bother me; I have to get to the end of this and then I’ll talk.’)

This went on until the final book in the seven book series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” came out. I’m sure that I was one of hundreds of thousands who grieved that the stories were over. To this day I have re-read all the books over and over again. Why? Because reading any of the Harry Potter books put me in a magical place that both soothes and interests me.

Also, because I love all things British, I’ve fallen into “Harry Potter speak” without realizing it. Britishisms slowly crept into my speech. I began using words such as “gobsmacked” (seriously surprised), and “what you reckon?” (“what do you suppose that means?”), and the Dumbledore-ish “not to worry,” and so on.

Of course I saw each and every one of the Harry Potter movies as well, and love them still to this day. So, what happens when we re-read books we love? We settle into our most comfortable chair, with a cup of coffee at the ready—and we happily enter the wonderful world of a beloved book.

If you remember *Melanie, she once sung a song in which the lyrics included this: “I’d like to find a good book to live in.” If I could pick one book to live in, it would be any of the Harry Potter books.

My mother used to roll her eyes at me when she saw me re-reading a Harry Potter book. She felt that once you’ve read a book, move on—don’t waste time re-reading; there are plenty of other books to read. I disagree to this day. Harry Potter books are both soothing and truly magical.

I hope that we all can claim at least one book to live in.

*Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk (born February 3, 1947) is an American singer-songwriter[1] known professionally as Melanie and sometimes as Melanie Safka. She remains best known for the 1971/72 global hit “Brand New Key“, her cover of “Ruby Tuesday“, her composition “What Have They Done to My Song Ma“, and her 1970 international breakthrough hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)“, inspired by her experience of performing at the 1969 Woodstock music festival.[2][3]

For All of Us Easy Criers

Let’s face it, it’s not always comfortable to see people crying. Speaking only for me, it’s a not a pretty sight; mascara dripping down, runny nose and all. That being said, those of us chronic criers feel that we are generally too tender-hearted for our own good. I can watch a coffee commercial during the holidays where the son comes home from overseas to be with his parents and devoted dog—and I’ll be sniveling and snorting all through it.

I’ve learned to live with it (anyone know if there’s a Cryers Anonymous anywhere?) over the years. I can’t help it, and most of us frequent cryers who cry about everything will agree with me; it’s hard to stop those flood gates. It’s not unusual for me to carry at least four handkerchiefs with me every day; sometimes more.

However, there is this: our tears come because we care and because we love. We wear our tender hearts on our sleeves, and we can’t help it. For years I was embarrassed about my tears, but now, at this age, who really cares? The greatest thing about getting older is that you can finally not give a damn about what other people think. We older folks are finally in the stage of who we really are; we don’t have to pretend any more.

So there—we can laugh or cry or have a hissy fit; whatever works for us. For me, it’s tears, and I’ve stopped being ashamed of them. That said, at least I am supporting the handkerchief industry.

Thanksgiving With the Grandgirls

As is our tradition, we had Thanksgiving with the grandgirls; Ava and Juliette, and their parents, yesterday. Juliette had made special Thanksgiving pictures for everyone. Everyone had a job to do: Adria, their mom, put us all to work. The Crankee Yankee showed Ava how to chop mushrooms, Juliette supervised me while I cut up the redskin potatoes, and all the dogs waited patiently for someone to drop some food their way.

The turkey was roasting in the oven, along side the stuffing and  creamed spinach. A bowl of homemade coleslaw nestled beside a dish of roasted sweet potatoes with little marshmallows on top. Everything smelled delicious.

Before too long, the girls got restless and they took me downstairs to the basement to play. The basement is set up on one side for a treadmill and workout equipment. The other side has a thick mat where the girls love to play, and a small trampoline. Ava showed me her lastest dance moves, and Juliette and I played catch; neither one of us could throw accurately, but it was still a lot of fun.

Soon it was time to go upstairs and set the table. We all sat down, said our blessings, and enjoyed a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. None of us had room for dessert, and we sat around groaning that we ate too much. (Worth it, though!)

If you remember the famous poem by Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky, we all pretty much talked of many things:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

All in all it was a fabulous day. The Crankee Yankee and I hugged and kissed our wonderful grandgirls and their equally wonderful parents, patted all the dogs and the cats, and drove home. Every Thanksgiving we all say the same thing: “wasn’t this the BEST Thanksgiving ever?!”

I hope that yours was the absolute best Thanksgiving ever, too.