Family travel is easy with the help of a licensed forklift operator

image Welcome to another installment of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. These posts aren’t about venting or vindictiveness; I was just someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way I knew how: Through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

This morning, we left on a family vacation with our two children, four train tickets to Seattle, and approximately 700 pounds of luggage. This is a conservative estimate based on my wife’s meticulous packing strategy, which means bringing anything that doesn’t require the help of a licensed forklift operator. My wife says that we have a responsibility to our children to be prepared for all situations. Apparently, this includes any sudden shift in the Earth’s core temperature that would render our entire summer wardrobe useless. For example: Our daughter’s clothing options include both a full-length fleece parka AND two-piece bikini, with a choice of sandals, tennis shoes or mud boots.

Being a man, I naturally argue against hauling around this much luggage.

And, being a man, I naturally lose this argument.

This is because my wife is a woman, and therefore prone to supporting her argument with actual facts.

Fact: If for some reason there really WAS a sudden shift in the Earth’s core temperature, I’d never hear the end of it.

As a result, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and just worry about my own packing. This is something I put a lot of thought into. First, because I’m a savvy traveler who refuses to bring anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. And second, because my wife leaves me just enough room in our suitcase for a small shaving kit and whatever I can vacuum-pack into a one-quart freezer bag.

However, according to new travel restrictions listed in our Amtrak guide, my wife was forced to drastically cut back on luggage for our trip. This meant making some hard choices between what to take and what to leave behind. After careful consideration, she decided I didn’t need to shave, and pulled my razor kit from the luggage. Amazingly, it was just enough to put us within Amtrak’s maximum weight limit.

For a circus train.

According to the restrictions, we still needed to get rid of another 180 pounds of unnecessary baggage.

Fact: I weigh 180 pounds.

But I’m also her husband. That makes me an important part of the family experience because, aside from being the man she married, I’m also the man who carries her baggage. And as I mentioned, she has a lot of it.

Fact: We’ll be gone by the time this column runs.

In desperation, we turned to the Internet in search of traveling tips. Though we didn’t find anything that could help us with our packing, I did discover something just as important, which is that there is a cruise ship with a Star Wars theme that includes land-speeder beds and breakfast with Darth Vader.

My wife didn’t see that as particularly relevant, which is precisely why I lose these arguments.

I’m happy to say that we were eventually able to meet Amtrak’s luggage restrictions and are, at this very moment, on our way to Seattle.

By bus.

We hope to arrive within a few hours of our luggage, which, according to my wife, should be waiting for us at the train station. Of course, it’ll be my job to get all of it to the hotel. I’m estimating that this will require a minimum of two taxis making two trips each.

Fact: If I should come up missing, start by looking for a 180-pound suitcase.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

24 thoughts on “Family travel is easy with the help of a licensed forklift operator”

  1. It’s just the opposite for my husband and I–HE’S the over-packer. Why bring one of something when two is better? seems to be his motto. But like you, he is the packmule and carries everything, so I just walk blissfully ahead, unemcumbered by luggage…

  2. LOL! That was cute. I actually defy the stereotype, I like to travel light. Our kids however, yikes! We go somewhere, they think we’re moving out of the house. A simple camping trip and they want to hire a U-Haul. My grown daughter will pack an espresso machine AND an ice cream maker for a weekend camping trip where there is no electricity. I have nightmares about her plugging in to a rest stop bathroom and making lattes.

  3. I feel for you there man. I got my divorce out of the way early. I was 28 when my decree absolute through. My marriage was de-solemnised on what would have been my fifth wedding anniversary. Who says Judges don’t have a sense of humour?
    You can’t win with women in these situations. I couldn’t and I actually am, amongst other things, a licensed forklift operator. The problem is that the forklift weighs three and a half tons, which is only marginally less than the amount the average wife packs for a holiday so it’s never an option.
    I have a new missus now and we mainly just talk bollocks at each each other and laugh a lot, which is fine by me.
    Great post mate. I could feel the angst bubbling under the suface. Glad you have a happier life now.

    1. Wow, Mike — I’d say that was a sign of fate. I found out on my 40th birthday that my wife had filed for divorce and already had a lawyer, new place and bank account. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the perfect birthday gift.

      I’m glad you are with someone who shares the laughs with you. She’s a talented artist, which is its own gift.

      Thanks for the kind words, my friend— and the same for you.

      Cheers 😉

  4. my motto with the kids was ‘you pack it, you carry it’. we would go for a 10 week cross country camping trip each with a backpack for clothes and a small bag for electronic essentials that can be plugged in and charged while driving. Even the dog had a backpack to carry her own food and bowls.

        1. One of the reasons I like going back and posting these is because they serve as a reminder of what it took to get here, and how fortunate I am to have arrived at this place in my life with the woman I’ve arrived with. Especially given my terrible sense of direction… 😉

  5. i can identify with this as my mother was this kind of packer. in spite of, or perhaps, because of, i am the opposite and can travel with a large purse.

  6. Ha! That’s hilarious Ned! (or “Hed” as in, looking aHED, staying aHED, impossible to HED off, with a HED on his shoulders) I too have a forklift licence and modern science has created some pretty light, compact machines that you might consider. Ha! When I was about 8, my parents got a new car – a 1967 Chevy II station wagon. My Dad loved to drive and my parents figured we’d take a vacation tour from Nova Scotia down as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. My Mom wanted to bring her mother and since I was an only child, they let me bring my best friend Brian too. This was before seat-belt laws, so Brian and I were consigned to the back of the stationwagon and Nan got the back seat to herself. They then rented a hard top travel trailer to eliminate motel bills. This made the luggage issue a non-issue, as the travel trailer could be packed to the roof with luggage and when we had to sleep, the luggage could be transferred to the car. Ha! Imaginge – 3 adults and 2 kids and no luggage limit (and we also brought all our small appliances to use when plugged into the grid). Whew. Well, come the day it was time to go, we stopped at Nan’s to pick up her and her luggage (and small appliances) and commenced the journey. Well, Nan lived on a small side street that ran across the face of a steep hill and to exit we had to turn onto Pine Street, which ran straight up the hill. The little car laboured under the load and went slower and slower. Eventually we were in first gear and the car was still slowing – no more gears left. It didn’t look like we were going to be able to haul our luggage even the first mile. It was tense and Dad was sweating, wondering if the brakes would hold the load on the hill if the engine stalled. But the little car found its second breathe just before stalling and we proceeded up the hill at a pace slower than walking. We made it to the top and that was an auspicious beginning to a long trip. After that first day, we were heartened that we could navigate even the mountains but we were careful to park the car in a trailer park before doing day tours in the mountains. So the trip was a success thanks to the tenacity of Detroit Iron not our luggage packing abilities.

  7. I travel as light as possible, I do admit to packing a few options usually though. If it’s overnight I will pack evening clothes and an optional second outfit and next day clothes and an optional second shirt just in case.

  8. Ned! I love hearing about your experiences from another lifetime–it’s good to see you still had your sense of humor. As one self-proclaimed funny man to another, it really is our shield.

    I also love the way you craft this piece. I’m not sure what to call it, but the way you seem to write the punch line. For example: Amazingly, it was just enough to put us within Amtrak’s maximum weight limit.

    For a circus train. Classic stuff, Ned. Thanks!

  9. Not to state the obvious, but your limited space in the luggage, might imply that she was hoping for a shift in the earth’s core, leaving you exposed…and most probably freezing… Great you moved on. And lived to talk about it. #Suspiciousminds

  10. Why do we always lose the arguments?! I know you’re trying to be clever and weave a witty sentence but it’s true. Is it passed down from our fathers? Who do I blame?

    Train travel is romantic. The bus–notsomuch. Plus, it takes a really, really, really long time to reach your destination. Sometimes, you rest your head in someone else’s hair gel.

    1. It’s inherited. By all men. Probably for our own good.

      I used to take the midnight Greyhound from Dallas to Waco, Texas, and then back every other Saturday (long painful story). Creepiest experiences of my life.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this (as always!)
    I’m sooo far behind in my reading and always love coming over to your space and getting caught up with posts that make me giggle and smile.
    Thanks for the laugh!!
    Now ‘cuse me…I have to go pack 2 weeks of stuff for 3 days of travel 😉

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