Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Trip Begins: Packing

This is when a trip begins for me.  Not when I arrive at my location or even when I go to the airport.  Today, the day before, the day I pack.  The day I start to stress out.

I am sure there are people who pack the day they leave but I can't be trusted to be one of them.  I can't remember everything I need 24 hours before.  Something will be forgotten.  Normally it's something easily acquired like a toothbrush.  As I have forgotten things over time, I changed my methods to eliminate some of the chance.  For example, I have a box with all of my toiletries and a duplicate set of my normal cosmetics that I can just keep in my suitcase.  It saves me trouble on the return trip too. I don't have to unpack to have contact lens solution and moisturizer.
This is the single best thing I have done since becoming a regular traveler. 

For similar reasons, I also carry a medicine kit that contains everything I might ever need:  Tylenol, Advil and Excedrin migraine, Dramamine (for motion sickness), various cough and cold remedies, Neosporin, band-aids, Rolaids, Imodium, melatonin (for insomnia), Biofreeze (for soreness) and Kleenex.  I restock this immediately, on the road if necessary. 

Even though some things are meant to stay in the suitcase when I get home I frequently find things that weren't meant to.  I found Wonder Woman tonight.  I bought her in Baltimore a month ago and thought I left her at my daughters.  Nope.  She was in the suitcase patiently waiting for me the whole time.

Sometimes though, even as many times as I have repeated the ritual of packing, I forget something big.  Something not as simple as a stop at a convenience store.  The worst one?  Hands down, Miami. 
My hotel was next door to the customer's office and I had been there before so I knew I had 2-3 restaurants in walking distance so I didn't rent a car.  At the hotel I unpack and notice something pretty significant missing.  No undergarments -none - other than the ones on my body at the time.  I am scheduled to be there 4 nights, 5 days.  Something has to be done.

So I ask, without saying what it is I am missing.  I ask the ladies in my training class. 
Me:  Is there a store nearby, like a WalMart or Target or a mall, that is close enough I can walk there this afternoon?

Them:  (They glance around at each other, passing looks and don't answer immediately.)
Lady in Front Row (LFR):  Yes, but I would not go there if I was you.

Me:  Why?  Is it too far, maybe I could get a cab?
LFR:  No, it is about two blocks.  KMart.  But I don't think it is a good idea for you to go.

Me:  (By now I can tell by the way she is looking at me she has more to say but doesn't quite know how.  I should mention, I am the only white person in the room.  A light comes on in my head.)  Is it because I'm white?
LFR:  (With a look of utter relief) Yes!

Me:  Okay, well,  I appreciate your advice but I have to go.
And go I did.  One of the topics of my class is discrimination which is ironic because I was also warned there were homeless people between my hotel and the store.  It was a busy street in broad daylight so I wasn't worried.  No one bothered me and I arrived safely at the store. The lady in the front row was right.  I am the only white person there.  I received more than a few stares - none aggressive - more of a concerned nature that I was obviously lost.

I still own the items I purchased and think of them as my "Miami things".  This still doesn't stop me from forgetting.  Recently, I drove to Houston and after arriving knew before the zipper was even all the way open on my suitcase that there were no work appropriate pants in my bag.  I have a car this time but it is nearly 10 pm.  I am supposed to be at my client's location at 9 am the next morning.  I tried to think of a plausible, less embarrassing lie as to why I would need to be late but in the end, decided the truth was best.  The man I met was very understanding and had good laugh at my expense. And a good story to share with his family over dinner that night.
But there is one thing I am very careful to never forget.  Shoes.

You may remember from earlier posts that I claim to, on occasion, wear manly shoes.  This isn't because I particularly like them but because sometimes, it is necessary.  I wear a women's 12 (a men's 10 - 10 1/2).  I go to a lot of small towns and there is no way in a place like Waynesboro, Mississippi where the closest hotel is 30 miles away and physically attached to a Waffle House that I am going to find size 12 shoes.  So I pack them first.

This invitation was spammed to me by  They claimed they would create a custom shoe wardrobe just for me.  There is only one problem...

Sometimes people think I am exaggerating the issue of my size.  Needing "Tall" sizes, never wearing long sleeve shirts, the problem with finding shoes.  Some of the ladies at my office were in a circle discussing their shoes when I walked in.  "I am wearing these because they are the exact color of my cardigan".  "Well I wore these because they bring out the flecks of gold in my eyes."  They look up when I come in.  They look at my shoes.  I look at my shoes.  I say, "I am wearing these because them make them in my size."  The party broke up after that.

This was in my room at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington D.C.  If you forget your workout gear they will provide it for you.  Assuming you aren't a freak of nature.

So the rule is, the shoes go in first.  I take the suitcase down and immediately put my shoes - the pair I will wear for work - in or on the suitcase right away.

I can breathe easier now.

This allows me to sleep at night.  At least between sessions of checking to make sure I have my driver's license and my debit and credit cards.  Even though I have been home all day. And verified they were present this morning. And again when doing my laundry.  And right after dinner. 

Yes, they're in there....Yes, I'm sure... Excuse me, I have to go check on something.

No comments:

Post a Comment