I was travel weary before setting foot on the plane. Yesterday’s inclement weather caused me to miss the evening flight to Ireland. I spent a sleepless night in a faceless motel without food or creature comforts. I returned to the airport early in the morning just so I could wander the octopus’ tentacles all day and bemoan time’s torturous crawl. Finally, I was in the Aer Lingus boarding area, still sleep deprived and underfed, waiting for my second chance to launch.
A dapper man sat next to me.
My travel companion was a tattersall adorned, middle-aged Irish gent on his way home to Dublin. His lilting brogue soothed my frazzled nerves as he asked about my travel plans. Early into our pleasant banter the discourse unexpectedly veered from delightful to discordant. My jangled neurons triggered some turbulence as he excoriated me: “You plan to DRIVE in Ireland?” He proceeded to regale me with Tales of Terror, the perils and pitfalls of American tourists driving on Irish roads. Hadn’t I heard about Matthew Broderick? Like a chastising father, he admonished me for my foolhardy decision to rent a car.
Before meeting this leprechaun, it didn’t seem consequential that I was not an experienced driver when planning my itinerary for the two-week trip. Even though I was a city girl who rarely drove a car, I had a valid driver’s license. And I wasn’t naïve. I had done my research. I knew that I would be driving on the wrong side of the road and the opposite way on the roundabouts. I knew it would require a little extra concentration. Okay, maybe a lot. But I didn’t believe it would be anything I could not handle. And I was savvy enough to purchase auto insurance through my American Express card just in case there were any mishaps along the way. I wouldn’t dream of leaving home without that! I felt prepared.
Yes, an automobile was central to my plans. It was too late now to reconsider, even if I wanted to.
The conversation slowed to a dribble then ceased, and I was left with my own thoughts. I hoped this guy was exaggerating the danger. You know, the way the Irish weave a yarn. I decided to dismiss his warning. Maybe he was just a patronizing male chauvinist perturbed that I was young and female and traveling alone and found it amusing to scare me.
This reverie was interrupted by a call to board. My next-door neighbor shook his head with a tad of exasperation, and with a tittle of irony he said: “Good Luck.”
I shrugged off residual jitters and reassured myself all would be fine as I slumped into the cramped middle seat of the crowded center aisle. The kid behind me rhythmically beat the seatback’s drum with his cute little footstick, thumping my sleepy head without mercy.
There was to be no rest on this flight.