Monday, March 18, 2013

Marriage 501, Lecture 630: Traveling together


SH stayed in Elbonia for two days, which is probably why he didn't get as jet lagged as I did and didn't slice his finger off with a mandolin.

Still, he was a little high strung.

Which made our final journey to the metro stop a little more dramatic than it needed to be.

Yes, the metro. He was determined to support public transportation and take the metro back to the airport rather than a taxi.

"The metro is 90% less than a taxi!" he said.

"But a taxi is only ten dollars!" I argued.

I am a fan of metros if they are convenient. If I don't have to haul my suitcase, which is usually full of 20 lbs of chocolate, up and down lots of flights of stairs and I'm talking to you, Paris, and you Madrid. What do people who can't walk do in those cities? How do you go up and down those stairs in a wheelchair? 

I am a fan of metros if they are convenient, if I can have my own space, and if the people around me do not smell bad.

Anyone who has ever ridden a metro knows that those conditions are rarely filled.

I am a huge cheapskate, but I am willing to spend nine extra dollars not to have to deal with crowded, smelly, lots of stairs transport.

SH was unswayed. He wanted to take the metro. He had mastered the system during his short visit to Elbonia. He had his ticket. It was only two stops to the airport. He was ready.

I told him I would walk with him to the metro stop. I had finished with my conference call with HQ that was supposed to be a ten-minute meet and greet and tried to turn into an hour-long "but how will we label the taps in the bathrooms" and "should our mission be to serve Mapuche women or young Mapuche women?" drama that I had to nip in the butt by suggesting diplomatically that perhaps I could meet with the VPs when I got home and we could review the details then rather than on a transatlantic call at the end of the day for the seven people in the Elbonia office, the three of us who had traveled there and were jet lagged, and several VPs at the home office. If you calculate the salaries of everyone involved, an hour of time becomes expensive. (Well, except for my time, which is quite cheap.) Although if we're all salaried, why does the employer care? We still have to get all our work done, even if it means working longer hours. So who cares if we waste time on a call?

But anyway. I had called from our hotel room, so SH had been able to hear. "I've never heard you work before," he marveled.

"I am capable of it," I admitted.

We set out. The sun had already set.The streets were only dimly lit, with the occasional streetlight casting shadows on the cobbled sidewalks, which are not the best surface for a wheeled suitcase, so SH had to keep veering into the road. However, this was not a busy area and there were almost no cars.

There were almost no people, either, and the few men we saw loitering did not look savory.

No cats. No dogs. I have not seen a single dog in Elbonia, although a woman in our Elbonia office said she wants one as a pet. She is not Elbonian.

He walked confidently, veering on and off the sidewalk as circumstances dictated. I followed. I paid no attention to where we were going because hello, this was his deal.

We heard the call to prayer, then walked past a mosque, men running in, carefully laying their shoes on the sidewalk before they entered.

"I don't remember a mosque," SH mused.

I shrugged. I hadn't walked this way before. I didn't know.

We hit a dead end.

"Wait! There's not supposed to be a dead end!" SH looked around. "Where are we?" he asked.

I shrugged again. "I don't know."

"How can you not know?"

"Because I'm not the one who looked at the map. I'm just following you. I thought you knew where we were going."

He turned frantically. "I don't know where we are!"

I pointed. "Don't we need to be on that big street over there?" Through the buildings, I could see the lights and the traffic on the main drag, which was where the metro stop was.

"But this isn't the street where we're supposed to  be! I wanted 34th street! This is 39th! When did we pass 34th?"

I shrugged again. "If this is 39th, then we must have passed 34th. But don't we just need to turn and walk that way?"

He turned left and walked rapidly. I had to skip to keep up. We walked a block and the street ended. We were forced to turn left, back toward the hotel. We walked another block. The street ended and we had to go left again. Now we were going away from the main street.

I wasn't worried because I could still see where we wanted to be. I actually have a very good sense of direction, even though nobody ever believes me. But SH was sweating. "I can't believe this! Why is this happening? Oh no!"

"Sweetie, it's right there! We just have to make our way there!"

"But this isn't how it's supposed to work out! How did this happen? Why didn't you say something?"

Note he was hitting all the steps in the process: assigning blame, doing a root cause analysis.

Note I was following my usual process: solve the problem at hand.

We got to another street. Turned right. Went a block. Street ended. Turned left, toward the hotel again. In half a block, there was a short street. We turned right, going toward the main street. But the street didn't go through.

SH moaned. "I'm going to miss my plane!"

I scoffed. "You are not! The street is right there!"

"But this street doesn't go through!"

I squinted. There was a path cutting through an empty lot. "We can go this way."

"This isn't how it's supposed to be! I don't want you to see me like this!"

"You mean, panicking? Because I've never seen that before." I sighed. My husband. Mr Panics in a crisis.

Although the few times we have had a real crisis - like when the grill caught on fire and was about to set the garage on fire, he was dealt calmly with the situation. He hasn't dealt calmly with the situation when blood is involved, but he has still dealt with it.

Fire, he is good.

Blood, not so good. But he still does what needs to be done. Unless it's help me change the bandage on my sliced finger, in which case he gets deathly pale and has to leave the room.

We trotted up the path. It hit the main street. We were exactly where I thought we would be. SH exhaled. "I thought I was going to be late," he admitted.

"I noticed," I said. "It's not too late to take a taxi."

"No!" he answered. "I already have my metro ticket!"

When I took the taxi to the airport, I discovered it was really only five dollars. We had taken the Pink Lady Taxi to go to the hotel from the airport and they charge twice as much as the ordinary taxi.

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