Some of you may know from my previous posts that I grew up in Europe (my father was in the U.S. Army band), and I’m blessed to say that I enjoyed a life of traveling abroad. There are several trips that I took with my family that stand out as being especially adventurous, but one in particular was fun because of two other tourists.
My mother and I took a short mother-daughter trip to Switzerland and traveled by tour bus overnight to arrive in Zurich the next day. Most of the passengers had boarded the bus by the time our bags were loaded underneath, and my mother and I were just about to get onboard ourselves when I heard a shout from someone behind me. I turned and saw two men, disheveled and winded, running or should I say staggering, toward the bus. “Wait. We’re here,” one of the men said. He was unsteady on his feet with tuffs of thin hair shooting out all over his head like a scarecrow. And to top it off, he smelled like he’d been swimming in a vat of beer. “I wanna see the Alps,” he said to the driver whose pinched face darted back from the man’s beer-breath.
Now, maybe each of the men had a bag, but I only remember seeing one between the two of them. And I remember the bag because it was more like an oversized briefcase than a regular piece of luggage. Clothes stuck out on the sides, and duct tape wrapped around the middle to keep it closed. Once inside the bus, my mother and I found seats toward the middle, and the drunken guys sat in the back row.
A few hours into the trip, my mother fell asleep and started snoring like a wood chip grinder (thankfully she doesn’t snore like that anymore). Acid stares from our fellow travelers, burned through me, and I tried to keep my mother awake by nudging her every few minutes. Bless her heart, she couldn’t help herself, but I was miserable knowing that no one on the bus was sleeping except for her.
“Harry,” one of the men said, half-whining and half-crying. “Make it stop!”
“It’s like a chainsaw,” Harry said, whining louder than the other man.
And so, the night went on with me nudging my mother until we arrived at the hotel. I can’t express to you how grateful I was to finally be off of that bus. Switzerland is a beautiful place, by the way, and I highly recommend it if you ever do a European tour.
The day before we left Zurich I overheard Harry talking to several other tourists at a table next to ours. “I want to see the Alps,” he said, slurring his words. “They’re lovely,” an older woman commented politely, and inched as far away from Harry as she could.
On the trip back home, as we drove through the Alps, Harry and his friend were sprawled out across the back row of the bus sleeping.
“Wake that guy up,” one of the tourists said, and pointed to Harry.
A barrel-chested middle-aged man made his way to the back of the bus and shook Harry. “Hey,” the man said, and shook Harry harder. “Wake up. This whole time you’ve been going on and on about seeing the Alps, and now you’re missing it.”
Harry sat up, rubbed his eyes and said, “Where are the Alps?”
“Look out of the window you bonehead,” the barrel-chested man said.
Harry stared out the window with his mouth agape and said. “They look like mountains.”
I laughed so hard. I wanted to smack the guy upside the head, but I wasn’t the only one. The barrel-chested man leaned close to Harry and said, “You do realize you’ve been someplace and back don’t you?”
Wouldn’t you know it, Harry actually seemed confused. Who goes to Switzerland unaware that they’ve traveled to another country? Un-doggone-believable!