travel

The Laundry Criminal

I was about to see Sydney. I’ve been on a plane for hours. We finally landed and I could feel the presence of kangaroos- their glares from far far away. I knew this would be the best trip ever.

Then I got stopped by Australia’s border security. I was called into their awfully small and eye-burning white interview room. A nice lad by the name of Shane asked me some random questions as to why I was visiting Australia and how I planned on supporting myself. Then he started asking suspicious questions about how I do my laundry. Apparently they track that too.

“Sir, I am here to see the kangaroos and dingos. Why do you have to know how I do my laundry?” I asked, nervously. My laundry record follows me everywhere. It’s like a crime people cannot get past it. Can never forgive me for it.

“‘Mam, there is a record of your previous offenses regarding ghastly laundry methods- you have admitted in the past that you do not separate your laundry into colors and whites/light pastels. Is that correct?”

“Yes, that is correct. But I only did that in the past, I don’t do it anymore,” I tried to reassure him.

“Ok. What about your usage of hot water when washing? Do you still use hot water every-time you do laundry?” Shane asked with a serious face.

“No, sir, I don’t do that anymore, either. I learned my lessons. May I ask, how is this relevant to my stay here?” I asked, getting nauseous. I scratched my unwashed head like a monkey.

“The reason I am asking this Miss …errr.”- he glanced at my passport, “Leah, is that we want to make sure you won’t commit any of these crimes here in Australia.”

“I can assure you bad laundry habits are in my past,” I reassured him and bit off a piece of nail from my pinky.

“If that’s the case, then you don’t mind if we swap your laundry for any discoloring?”- Shane would not stop.

“Not at all,” I told him.

He left the room and was gone for probably an hour. I sat there with my head leaning against the table. I knew the outcome of the test. I have also seen the show “Border Security: Australia’s Front Line.” Once they have you in  the interview room you are banned from the country no matter what you say.

Shane comes back with a disappointing look on his face. He puts a big bureaucratic pile of papers on the table and clears his throat.

“Today I have decided to cancel your visa. So what will happen from here is that we will contact an airline to–” His words became a blur. I didn’t fight it. It’s pointless. Every conversation I have with people I get the same treatment. I am the laundry criminal.

“I, Leah Rennes, am the criminal who does not separate her laundry into colors and whites/light pastels and I don’t care if I use hot or cold water. I just use hot for everything- and I will do so until the day I die because I DON’T care!!”

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Local man buys a motorcycle to use it as “means of transportation”- friends&family outraged

Jacksonville, FL- Trying to avoid the summer spike in gas prices, along with some other reasons such as cheaper insurance, Mike Bukley, 31, bought a simple, 250 cc motorcycle to get around. Realizing the dangers of riding a motorcycle, he also bought a protective jacket, gloves and a helmet to keep him safe.

He expected to have some troubles on the road since he just got his riding licence, but what he did not expect was the response from his friends and family to his new bike.

“I told my buddies I got a new bike. One said that 250cc is for old ladies and the other said I shouldn’t be buying rice rockets,” Mike told us, obviously annoyed by their reaction. “My brother Dave was the worst […] He wanted to make my bike louder, and add a car radio so everyone would hear and see me riding.” His co-workers also thought he looked stupid wearing a helmet and should not be wearing one (if he wanted to get the attention from the ladies attention anyhow).

“I don’t really care, though,” Mike assured us, “if they can’t get it that a motorcycle to me is just a means of transportation getting me from place A to place B then so be it. I don’t have to overcompensate for my lack of bad-boy image and excitement in my life by buying a bike.”

Inspired by The Onion

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Reclining seats in crammed spaces

Whoever thought a reclining seat was a good thing to have in a can of sardines type environment must have been a complete halfwit- or a true optimist in regard to human spirit and selflessness.

There are many annoying things when taking a flight somewhere, but reclining seats on an airplane/bus should be banned. Forever forbidden! Never to be given to humans as an option ever again!

Most people travel in economy class which means one gets a tiny little square of space to sit on through the next X amount of hours. Seating by the window tends to be a little better, but if a seat is reclined in your face the anger is equal to that of a isle seat or the middle seat.

Jerks who recline seats in crammed spaces truly show the type of people they are. It goes without saying they are self-centered and selfish. But what is worse are the problems they cause for the person sitting behind them. Because not only do they make one feel like their presence is not worthy of any respect at all, but they put one in a bad spot.

Now, the even more uncomfortable individual must:

1) Talk to the person who reclined their seat OR

2) Recline the seat themselves

3) Justify and apologize to the person behind them who is now unsatisfied with the new seating situation

It becomes like a domino effect. First jerks reclines the seat, and then everyone else has to do it in order to feel like they are not crammed as a packed commuter train in Tokyo. Now, a third person is mad at the second person because of something the first person did. I know, many times life works this way, but come on, let’s end this madness when we are all suffering in a tiny seat.

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Snow perfect

“I looked out the window and for the first time in my life I saw snowflakes falling from the sky. I wrapped myself in a blanket and jumped to the window. Everywhere I looked, there was a white layer covering the Earth; ground disappeared, snow covered tree branches with a white coat. Cars were covered in a thick layer of white puffiness. For minutes I stared at the snowflakes and watched them twirl in the wind. Then, I put a coat over pajamas, changed slippers for boots and ran outside. Soft, wet snowflakes landed on my face, melting at the touch of my skin. It felt like rain, only softer. I looked straight in the sky; the air was foggy while dancing snowflakes approached the ground.”Jenna Gunner

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3 Tips on how to avoid being THAT tourist/guest

We all know them. They whine. They complain. You wonder why they even visited another country if everything is so bad. Here’s some tips on how not to be THAT tourist.

1) OK, YOU CAN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT THE WEATHER. There is nothing anyone can do about it; I can’t make the rain stop, I can’t make the wind stop blowing and I sure as hell can’t change winter to summer. It’s winter time. Why is snow and wind such a surprise? Just because your delicate little feet are from Florida or Mexico or some other warm place and you are essentially a person with a weak immune system and practically a germ-cold-disease-cough-bate, I can’t help you with your cold intolerance. Of course, weather is always a point of conversation but I don’t want to hear about how you are going to die for the billionth time.
2) FOOD is the best part of going somewhere else and getting French fries does not mean you are trying. But OK, even that is better than making a face with everything that’s not American food. Just don’t compare everything to American food…. it is just a waste of time. Germans know how to make better beer. Fact. Italians know how to make better pizza than Papa John’s. Fact. Just because your palette isn’t capable of differentiating, it does mean you get to complain about how bad and weird the food is.
3) WALKING IS SOMETHING PEOPLE DO ALL THE TIME– they even pursue this method of getting from a place A to place B in American cities such as New York, Boston etc.What a surprise! As Americans, we have the beautiful freedom of having a car and driving it everywhere BUT when you are in a country where they actually walk more than 10 feet because that is, another surprise, normal, then don’t complain about having to walk. I get it that the back hurts sometimes with too much walking but avoiding places just because they have to be walked to is just ridiculous.
So, don’t complain about weather, different food and walking– and everyone will love you.
And….. P.S: if you are staying at someone’s house, don’t complain about the quality of toilet paper. We all know your ass is delicate and it bleeds if you don’t use a 5-layer soft toilet paper with sheets of gold, but that’s really not something worth complaining about. Maybe you have too much of a heavy hand, have you thought of that?

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The secret lives of the cruise ship staff

You’re not supposed to talk to the staff on a cruise ship and they are not allowed to talk to you. But you see, I’m no Lady Mary material. Despite my status of the guest, I talk to the staff. I feel for the staff. And above all, I like to chat with the staff. Some are terrified when I approach them. They don’t want to be seen talking to the guest about anything else but guest-related topics. But I come back. Maybe when the store is not so busy, or when the buffet is fully stocked. I may be terrible with languages, but I know some basics. I know enough to communicate.

After the initial reluctance, they tell me things. I ask them about how life on a cruise ship really is. Are they happy with the work they chose? Do they ever think of giving up?

“They work us like slaves,” Józsa tells me. She’s a thirty-something Hungarian working as a server. She’s smoking a cigarette like it’s her last. We’re standing at a “staff only” hidden smoking corner. I am not supposed to be there. I am getting ugly stares from the Asian crew. I don’t know Chinese or Tagalog or Siamese to calm them down. They don’t know English and they don’t like my presence.

“Don’t worry about them,” Józsa notices my stare. “They’re good guys. You see Emmanuel?” She points to a short Filipino whose luscious hair is tied in a bun. “He’s dating Jana, a girl from Poland. They met on one of the cruise lines and now they are trying to work on the same ship at least, you know.” “Where is she now?” I ask. “I think she has a year contract for the Western Caribbean that will expire soon. He’s been doing everything he can to get her here. They’re really cute together.” “Oh, do you know her?” I ask. “No,” she responds. “But I’ve seen pictures. Anyway, where was I? Yes, they treat us like slaves. Our rooms are tiny and we have to share shower areas. There’s no privacy at all. We work 12 hours a day minimum. It’s shit.” I watch her frowned face. She looks so unhappy. “Will you return to Hungary?” I ask her. “Maybe you have a better chance there.” She almost giggles. “It’s same shit there. I am just paid less. Here I can at least save some money.”

Next day, sometime after my fourth slice of pizza, I notice a tall, handsome man with a chiseled jaw of Orlando Bloom. He is “Luka from Croatia” his tag tells me. I find out he’s always wanted to work on a ship; he even went to a special maritime school in Dalmatia. “I love this job!” he tells me. “Isn’t it hard work? Don’t they work you hard?” I ask. “It is, and they do,” he says and grins. “But I love it! I’ll tell you a secret, Leah, are you paying attention? The secret to this job is that you must love the sea! If you don’t love the sea, you won’t be happy. I get to see places I have never been, I don’t have to pay for my room and I make more than I would in Croatia. I love it!”

And so I meet the photographers, the waiters, the cleaners etc. I find out the jobs no one wants are taken by Asians; if you speak English at least somewhat decently you get to work at a cruise shop. The captain is (of course) a guy from Western Europe or something like that. It’s a hierarchy of positions based on your country of origin. Less third-world you are, better your chances of making good money. There are people who can’t wait for their contract to be over, and then there are those that want to stay. And those that stay, hope to save enough money to go back to their home country and maybe buy a little tiny place they can call home.

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The travel jitters

Furthest my mom has traveled in the recent years has probably been Georgia and New Orleans. My father has never been outside United States. When we were younger my mom booked us tickets to England and we left, without him. He refused to come along.

I never could truly understand the mindset of being unable to travel to new or different places. To me, that’s part of the excitement, to Dad, it’s unpleasant. Now that he’s retired, he goes to same places each week and talks about them like it is his first time there.

Since I am embarking on an overseas travel soon, I can’t tell you how excited I am (btw, I offered to pay for Dad’s ticket but he merely responded he’s not the traveling type).

There’s something about traveling I always loved. It’s the anticipation, the planning, the preparation. Sometimes the process before going anywhere is even more exciting than the trip itself. I get to imagine my own scenario of how the place I will go to will turn out. I browse for restaurants I will eat at, local desserts I will stuff my face with, the historical places I will visit.

It’s a beautiful thing to have travel jitters and I wish my Dad could share them with me. I feel like he’s missing on a part of his life but at the same time he seems to be content. So does it matter?

Well, I can’t force him into anything and I can’t wait to pack my suitcases!

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog. Like, share or comment! 🙂

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Incinerated four-leaf clover

Sometimes bad luck lasts a couple of days, but this one has been dragging around for a while. As I was sitting on the couch earlier, contemplating why and how I deserve this bad time in my life (there is nothing wrong with a little self-pity), I suddenly noticed the “Surviving the French Revolution” book.

It was given to me by a friend, and I only opened it once….a while ago….to make a herbarium out of a four-leaf clover. Suddenly it hit me. Perhaps the 1:10,000 chance in finding a four-leaf clover does not bless you with good luck, but perhaps with bad luck too. Did I bring my own misfortune disguised in a leafy green clover?

I had to do something about it. Throwing it away would mean it is still there, just in a different location. Instead, I found a pair of matches in the kitchen cabinet and lit it on fire. It had to be incinerated, only that way it can stop jinxing my life. I hope from now on my bad luck is gone.

Are you guys superstitious? Do you think a clover or a lucky charm truly bring good luck? Am I a little crazy for doing this? Share your thoughts with me  

P.S: Thank you everyone who took the time to get my special offer on Amazon a few days ago. I am thrilled some people out there are reading what I wrote….IT MEANS THE WORLD! And please leave a review or comment, love it or hate it.

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The remarkable overly air-conditioned rides

 “It was a remarkable morning; the lake was quiet, the light blue color of the sky was reflecting on the surface of the water and green trees were peacefully resting nearby.”– Jenna Gunner

Jenna Gunner, in my sort of cliché description, lives for the moments by the lake and finds those moments to be remarkable; the sense of peacefulness, tranquility and connectedness with nature astound her.

I, on the other hand, am a little simpler with “remarkable”. When you lead a crazy-busy schedule, you start finding simple things remarkable. I love my long rides in an overly air-conditioned car (Florida heat is terrible, ya’ll). I love them because they bring me peace and serenity (on those instances I avoid rush hour).

The point is, we all have different ideas on what is remarkable. What is worthy of remark in your life? Comment, like and share!

P.S: Another remarkable thing in my life: my book “Six months of Croissants, Café crèmes, Parties and Love” for FREE on Amazon from August 8th to August 12th! Please check it out and leave a review on Amazon, whether you love it or hate it 🙂 Thank you!

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Weekend is the new vacation

“What about you? How have you been? How long are you staying?” “Same as last year, about two weeks,” I answered.-  Jenna Gunner

As Americans, we don’t often get the short end of the stick… but when I look at my vacations days, I can’t help but feel envious. Damn Europeans. As I hope for maybe two weeks (including weekends!), there is an Italian out there with 42 days of vacation, a Frenchman with 37 days and a German with 35 days…. and I get 13 days? When did we allow this to happen?

Do you know what happens in Europe in the summertime? Companies shut down. People are gone for a month and little work gets done in July and August. But guess what? Everybody comes back happy and rested.  Sadly, for Americans a weekend is a vacation these days, and quite frankly that is horrendously bothersome.

How many vacation days do you get? Do you think Europeans have too much time off?

 

P.S: Thanks for reading my blog! 😀 Check out my book on Amazon, and don’t forget to comment, share or like!

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Stats on Vacation Days