I was traveling for work - had not been feeling well for several days. I had a sneaking suspicion that I might have appendicitis. Decided to try to fly home and would go to the ER as soon as I landed. Get on the plane, taxi to the runway, and sat in a ground-hold for the better part of 2 hours. At this point I felt really, really bad. I was close to ringing the flight attendant call button and explaining that I needed to get off the plane. We were finally cleared for take-off, and fortunately it was a relatively short flight. I landed and drove straight to the ER. Three hours later I was in surgery to have my appendix removed.
In hindsight, it was an incredibly dumb move to try to fly. If my appendix had ruptured mid-flight, well....
"Probably when my dad woke my brother and me up in the middle of the night while visiting grandma and grandpa to make us WALK to the airport. My dad is a very unstable person, and he can lose his mind at the drop of the hat. I was 11, visiting my grandparents in Florida with my dad. He went out, got piss drunk, lost his cell phone, and decided that we were leaving. He woke us up in the middle of the night to pack our bags. Cut to the three of us walking down the street with our bags while my grandparent's coast next to us begging us to get in the car. We walked for a little while, then caught a cab. Once we got to the airport, I guess my dad realized he couldn't possibly pay for 3 more tickets home, so he lost it (again), threw his suitcase across the terminal, and left. Just walked out of the airport. I can still see him disappearing at the top of a hill. My brother and I got our bags, found a maintenance guy (who saw everything but didn't give a crap), and asked where the pay phone was.
I guess we were going to look up my grandparents' number or something. But then they showed up and took us home. In the morning, dad was there, acting like nothing ever happened. Worst Christmas ever."
"I work at a military school. This experience happened to one of my students: One August, his parents told him to pack enough clothes for a two-week vacation in the Bahamas. They would be flying out the next day. Instead, they flew with him to military boarding school, where he was enrolled, in-processed, and had his head shaved. He stayed through the school year.
Insult to injury: His parents continued on to the Bahamas without him."
I took a transatlantic cruise back from the Mediterranean to the US on board a Holland America ship, because we thought it might be more fun than just flying back. As we were boarding we were given notice that there was some kind of severe sickness on the previous cruise with lots of vomiting, basically, the whole ship had become a vomitorium. Elevators, hallways, walls, everywhere. Most of the amenities were shut down, including laundry facilities. There were notices that also said the ship was being 'deep cleaned' to remove the virus or germs, or whatever the issue was, but I didn't really see many signs of that, as our room was pretty filthy. There was a layer of grime on the phone that made it look like it was never washed, the sheets looked dirty and stained, and that bathroom was mildew city. We immediately made demands to have the room cleaned again, and it wasn't much better.
After two days on the ship, we started to hear about people getting sick on the cruise, and being quarantined in their quarters. I even saw fresh vomit in the hall. We were still traveling around the coast of Europe and were at a port in Spain when we decided to noped the heck out of the rest of the cruise, took the loss, and fly back home instead anyway.
"A caravan trip to the north of Western Australia in the 70s. On the way we were headed through a cattle grid (for those that don't know this is where the fence crosses the road and there is a metal grid in the road to stop cows). There was a dead bloated kangaroo on the grid and a car coming the other way so my father had to drive over the roo. Which burst. We wound up the windows very fast and at the next town all the dogs came running and had a great time eating chunks of dead cooked rotten roo off the car. We then drove over 180 miles of corragated unsealed road and spent the night in a caravan park - read bare dirt patch with no power and Thunderbox loos for caravan park. We had a fire in the caravan that night. When we got to our destination and hooked up the power there was an electrical fault which threw my mother 30ft.
It was supposed to be a 'save the marriage' holiday. I was about 15 and the entire month was hell on wheels."
"Just in my 6 months alone in Europe, I: Got stuck in a soccer riot in Greece. We were in Thessaloniki and just walking about when out of nowhere we see a police motorcade full of motorcycles and horses. We thought it must be some sort of festival or parade or something because a crowd was drawing. Eventually, we heard singing coming down the block and hundreds of hooligans were marching toward the police. Once we realized what was going on we tried to leave but stuff already started to go down. In trying to escape we got hit with tear gas from the police and found shelter in a random apt building. That one, while terrifying in the moment is one of my favorite memories looking back. Got caught in a storm out at sea. We bordered a little boat in the Peloponnese islands, and 20 minutes in a storm started. It was pretty scary because the boat was only big enough for like 10 people and we were rocking pretty violently.
Got lost in Bucharest with no wallet, phone, or form of ID. This only happened because my SO was carrying all of our stuff and we got separated in one of the biggest piazzas in the city.
Was locked out of my hotel in 110+ Florence heat with all my luggage the entire day. This wasn't a hotel exactly, but someone's apartment that was listed online. It was in the piazza Duomo, right across from it. The owner forgot about our arrival I guess and didn't come back until 3pm, after 5-6 hours of us stuck with all of our stuff in the sweltering heat. If you've been in Italy in July, then you know how awful it is.
Took the wrong train ended up in an entirely different country than I expected."
"In June of 2013 I went on a plane by myself for the first time ( I was 16) to France. I had to go from Memphis to Atlanta then Brussels, Belgium to Nantes, France. When I got to Atlanta I had a four-hour layover. I got a little bit hungry so I bought myself a turkey sandwich. Fast forward to the plane. I'm sitting between an elderly german couple who are snoring. I hear my stomach make a noise like a bear having a stroke. I say oh heck and try to stumble over the old dude but I trip and fall on my face. I pick myself up wait five minutes for one of the stalls to be open, then proceed to puke for the rest of the flight. I get to Brussels and like on the plane my stomach is still heaving. Soon I find a restroom and the guys one is out of order. I pretty much say screw it and go to the ladies restroom. People look at me like I am out of my mind and go to a stall, puke, nod to the two pretty young women in there, and leave. A pretty nice guy gets me through a shorter line than where I was supposed to go and the next thing I know is I am on my flight. The guy who was supposed to sit with me saw me fill a few bags and was pretty much upgraded to first class. All this time the stewardesses are giving me more bags.
I say thank you, leave, pick up my luggage, and go to some family members house. I am then in bed for two days from food poisoning and dehydration."
I spent some time backpacking across parts of East Africa with a small group of friends last summer, and we managed to get ourselves into a couple of absolutely ridiculous situations. (including ending up in the wrong country after a super dodgy plane ride, but perhaps that's a story for another time.)
One of the main portions of the trip was a couple months of volunteer work in northern Tanzania - we worked as English teachers in orphanages in the town of Arusha. After a week or so, we figured it was time to check out the local nightlife, as there were a couple bars in town. So we started drinking at the house - and the couple drinks we planned on having before we left turned into about 6 or 7. We were staying well within walking distance to the town square, where we figured we would easily be able to grab a taxi to take us to the bar. When we finally stumbled over to hire one, we were met by a man who claimed to be a cab driver. Mind you, none of the taxis are marked in any way, the only way to tell if a cab is officially registered is the colour of the license place. We never bothered to look - as most of the people in town working as cab drivers never bothered to actually register anyway.
So we began to negotiate price. We quickly agreed to pay 10,000 schillings total, or about $6 USD. That's a pretty fair price in the region for a ride that short. So we hop in, and we're on our way. After about a minute or so, the driver leans back and says:
'My friends, 70,000 schillings.'
My stomach sank. Between the few of us, we barely had that much. We only brought enough to have a couple drinks and hire a cab back to the house, as we were already pretty drunk. I wasn't sure we would have enough to cover a cab ride back if we paid him what he wanted.
Now, in most parts I've been to in Africa, everything is up for negotiation. The seller will start high and you come in low, and eventually, you both work out a price. It takes some getting used to - but at this point, I had been doing it for a while. But this was the first time I had someone change the price after we agreed. At this point, I was a little scared. I've traveled all over the place, and I'd never been that genuinely scared before. After a few minutes of arguing back and forth, I realized we weren't going where we needed to be. I looked out the window and saw he was starting to drive in circles - he wasn't going to take us where we needed to be until we paid what he was asking.
Instead of being held hostage in his car, I told him to stop. I really didn't think we had much of a choice - if we had given him what he was asking, we might not have had enough to get back to the house again. He tells us to get out.
So we did. Standing at the side of the road, I did my best to come to a price that would allow us to at least get a ride home again. Without warning, he just sped off. He left us on the side of the road. Then I looked around. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I realized he had dumped us off in the bad end of town. Being drunk and white in a small group in the middle of an African slum at night is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
We also had no way of getting home. There wasn't another car on the road. He had taken us farther out from the town centre than I thought. We quickly drew a crowd. Several people immediately approached us, and a couple guys were yelling at us in Swahili. A couple people spoke decent English, and asked what we were doing here. One man jokingly said 'you're brave people, being here.' I noticed another man picked up a cell phone, and says a couple sentences in Swahili. Somehow I just knew he was telling someone about us being there. Another group of men started yelling at us:
'Come with us! Get away from those people!'
The man who told me I was 'brave' pipes up and tells me not to go with those men, they're trying to lure me away so they can rob us. He told me he was going to protect us from the 'bad people.'
I didn't know what to do. Neither did my friends. I began to notice the group began to not only surround us, but now there were people getting in between us. I might have been drunk, but my instincts began to scream to not let these guys separate us. I tried to get back toward the others, but one of the men put his hands on my shoulders and told me 'it's ok.'
I just yelled out for my friend. He yelled back 'I can't get to you'. Right then, I just about had a heart attack. This was turning really bad, really fast.
One of the only cars on the road must have seen the commotion, and thankfully pulled over right in front of us. The man that had me by the shoulders let go of me, and a few of them walked over to the car. The men and the driver begin yelling back and forth, and the driver told us to get in. I didn't know what to do. For all I knew, this might have been the guy the man on the cell phone had called earlier. It might have been part of the plan. The man that was on the phone just happened to be one of the men yelling at the driver, so that put my mind at ease. The man in the car kept yelling with increasing haste:
'Get in! Now!'
So We did. We piled in - not knowing if this guy actually was trying to get us out of there or not. I felt a little better when he began to yell at us as we pulled away in really good English for being idiots. He asked us how we could ever get ourselves in a situation like that, and asked us where home was.
He took us home. Thank God. When we got there, we offered him money for saving or asses, and he refused to take it. He just told us never to go into that area again. I ended up throwing a good chunk of the money I had on me at the time into the car as a thank you. He tried to give it back to me, but I wouldn't take it back.
He left, and I never even got his name. We all just said 'thank you' over and over again.
So to the man that pulled us out of that crowd seconds before the situation got even worse: thank you. I can't thank you enough. I still love Africa. Everywhere I've been, I loved. The people, the culture. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
When I lived in L.A., one night I was watching The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. A commercial came on for a standup show he was doing in Vegas that coming Saturday. I thought, you know what, I'm gonna go to that. I bought a ticket for the show online and booked flight & hotel through Tcity. Flight confirmed and hotel reservation confirmed. The flight went well, but guess what happened when I got to the hotel. They didn't have my reservation. But Tcity said that my reservation was confirmed. Yes, but the hotel had sold out since then. Yes, I'm one of the customers you sold out too. Apparently, that's not how it works.
I got on the phone to get it sorted out. Nearly lost the call as the battery on my cell phone nearly drained out after 40 (that's FORTY) minutes on hold. They did get me another hotel, halfway across town, at $25 a night more than the room I had booked, and I missed the show. Money spent for hotel, show ticket and round-trip flight for nothing. I now book flights and hotels directly.
"In 1985 I was a young lad in the Marines and was coming back to base after being on leave. The trip home was interesting as we rode motorcycles and got kicked out of a Texas town because the cops didn't want us sleeping on our bikes. He even called us "hippies" even though we were freaking short-haired Marines! But I digress.
I was flying back because I dropped my bike off at home (I was going to be unable to take it to my next duty station) and my plane got diverted from LAX to the Burbank airport. Here's where the fun starts.
First, I had little to no actual cash on me. I was going to be picked up at the airport and taken right back to Pendleton so why bother? Back then they still served food on planes so I knew I'd eat. But getting diverted to Burbank meant that I'd have to figure out how to contact my ride since this was before the days of cell phones. I called base and found out he'd already left. I figured he'd get to LAX, see that the flight had been diverted, and come pick me up. That was about 8 am on Saturday. By 2 pm I was starting to get a bit nervous and hungry. By 5 pm I figured I should take matters into my own hand. I contacted base and they informed me that my ride had been arrested. At the time I had no idea why. No ride was coming. Someone could come up the next day, though. I just needed to hang on. Fine. So there I sat, with my bag and a couple cool people who ordered a pizza and shared it with me. All night. I couldn't sleep because I didn't want my stuff ripped off.
The next day I called base and nobody answered. Several times. I kept trying and finally about noon or so somebody answered and informed me that the guy I'd talked to the previous day had not told anyone about someone needing a ride. So none was coming. Are you kidding me?
I contacted my family and they agreed to go to Western Union to send me money to get back to base, but the nearest WU was about five miles away and closed soon. So I started hoofing it. I made it just under the wire, sweaty and probably smelling. I don't remember how much money it was, but I had to go back to the airport since I'd left my luggage there so I could hurry to the WU.
I make it back to the airport after dark and get my stuff and order a cab to take me to the Amtrak station, which would take me directly to Oceanside by Camp Pendleton. The cab comes and the guy couldn't have been more stereotypical if he'd tried. Middle-Eastern with the tricked out cab and all the baubles that go along with it. He asked me where I was going in very, very broken English and I tell him the Amtrak station. Okay, he says, and off we go. I watch the meter start to climb and climb, watching the terrain around me just fly by. Finally I say to him, "How long until we get there?" to which he responds in broken English, "Where do you want to go?" He was just driving around aimlessly for over an hour! I told him to pull over and we engaged in an epic argument about how I was going to pay his stupid ass and him telling me he was going to call the cops - which was just fine in my mind. I even got on his radio at one point and cussed out the dispatcher. The company sent around another driver that could fully speak English and I explained (in four letter words) what had transpired. He then took me to the Amtrak station, which was incredibly close to the airport. He didn't charge me but I gave him a tip that would have been enough to cover the cost of the trip.
I go in to buy my ticket and find out I've just missed the last train out for the day. The next one? 7 am the next morning. Dangit. I buy the ticket and have just enough left to get a small fries and water from a fast food place. Then I go sit on a bench to wait. After about an hour they tell me that I have to leave. They are closing the place for the night. Where should I go? They don't know or care. I go sit outside on a bench and wait.
Now, by this point I've been awake for about 40 hours and sleeping outside in California is colder than you think. I'm still trying to stay awake because I don't want my stuff stolen, but I start taking clothes out of my bag and layering. A cop pulls up and asks what the hell I'm doing and I explain my situation. The rest of the night the Burbank police had almost continuous patrols going past so I could sleep. They weren't able to take me anywhere, but that was amazing and I've never forgot their kindness. I still didn't sleep too well because cold hard bench, but it was better than it could have been. The next morning I boarded the train and we headed South.
I make it to Oceanside and have to hop a bus to get back on base. The bus was crowded as hell and I had my bags. I sat down and some wanted to give me grief about taking up so much space, but my disheveled look and sour demeanor made them clam up pretty quickly and leave me alone. I made it back to my post, threw my stuff on my bunk, got changed, and booked it to my job. I was two hours late and the sergeant threatened to write me up for it. After hearing my story, he decided not to, although he did make me work the full day for cussing at him.
To top it off, my friend that was supposed to pick me up and got arrested? It was because he got stopped when the license plate fell off his motorcycle and he didn't have a motorcycle license. Let me say that again. He was picking me up at the airport with my luggage with a motorcycle."
"The trip was great for me, and everyone else involved until the end. Went to Jamaica with a 40+ person wedding party. When we got back to the states people started texting in circles that everyone had HOOK WORMS in their feet and legs. Only about 5 people didn't get them and I was one of the lucky few. Some people had the hook worms travel all the way to their knees."
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