I was just barely holding everything together, rocking back and forth on the worn seat of an older model Skoda. It's a kind of Volkswagon I'd learned on a prior cab ride. Just the word "Skoda" kind of made me nauseous. The car smelled like beef bouillon and humanity. The cabbie kept making me laugh, but I couldn't. I was so afraid.
A thing you shouldn't do is go to a foreign airport with the spins. I really had no idea what was going on. The lights are so bright and there's movement everywhere. In Ireland, the people speak in the loveliest accents but they're melodic and lyrical and simply listening made me feel like I was bobbing on an ocean wave.
Plus, sometimes I had a hard time understanding them. Earlier in the week I was walking to get lunch and a friendly Irish volunteer asked, "Are you going to Food Summit?" the dining brethren of Web Summit (the conference we were attending). I thought he asked, "Were you on the field, sonny?" I looked at my feet. I was on asphalt, but very near me was a rugby field and I know how much the Irish adore their rugby and so I made a defensive declaration, "No sir, I was never on the field!"
And he asked "ay?"
To set him straight I replied, "I'm going to Food Summit."
He nodded and watched me walk by, probably realizing why Donald Trump had a shot at being the leader of the free world.
The hotel was nice. I couldn't figure out the light switches. I'd stand in my underwear by the bathroom flicking them on and off trying to trace and remember what each one does. And then I'd scurry over to the switches by the bed and see if any combination of the two panels made a difference. I had to have the bathroom light on to have the bedside light on. But not always. And then there's the shower. I didn't know how to do it. It's got extra knobs and I was like a desperate ship’s captain trying to figure out where the water's coming from.
I'll take a step back and say my wife is usually correct in calling me an idiot, and that's not just because I had to settle for quick baths over the more effective shower. The foremost reason I was given the Idiot Badge is my inability to seize the day. Now I have my moments, and on many occasions have been lauded for milking a moment until only dried flakes breeze away from the teat of experience, but there’s this paranoia I have about leaving Sarah and kids. I know they’re in good care and I know that Sarah must enjoy quiet evenings without me pacing around and listing off things I need to do so I’m not pacing around listing things I need to do. So when I get an opportunity to get away, I shouldn't screw it up. Dublin was an all-expense paid work trip but instead of getting the most out of the opportunity, I truncated my stay so I could be back sooner with the family. And that’s when she called me an idiot, smacking me with the verbal spatula of a frustrated mom.
So, yes, idiot because Ireland is amazing. The people are so nice that they make Canadians, CANADIANS, look gruff. Americans are pretty much ISIL. The Irish are the most pleasant and inquisitive people you’ll ever meet. Go ahead, start a riot in Dublin. Here’s how: ask for directions on the street. You’ll be trampled by people trying to help you. As one cabbie told me, “Ireland is the only place where people will give you money and then thank you.”
There are some things to think about with international travel. One: the plugs. Thanks to Sarah, who’s never not looking out for me, I bought an international power adapter. I needed it for everything in the hotel. Secondly, since the Irish looking for a reason to help someone, you may want to take advantage and get help figuring out the light switches and shower.
I should back up a bit and cover jet lag. Do not stay up all night on your all-night flight. I got giddy and couldn’t stop working. And when I wasn’t working I was watching movies or taking yet another stab and connecting to Lufthansa’s nonexistent WiFi. If Einstein really did define insanity as people indulging in futility, then you should spend more time with me because I make even Ben Carson look brilliant. Over and over and I fiddled with my computer’s network to get a signal that was clearly never there. That entire time I could have drugged myself and slept like before we had kids, but instead I set myself up for sadness. I woke up about 8am Sunday, November 1, and would not sleep again until 1am November 3. Confused and disturbed by the 7-hour time difference, I drank more than I slept until finishing with a promotional stunt that involved buying out an Irish pub. We bought all the drinks that night and that's how I found myself in the back of a cab swerving and bouncing like Enya on a toboggan.
Einstein, I fancy, would grab my hand and suggest I see Darwin about my role in society.
I was able to make my way through the airport fairly quickly, if not desperately. I have to thank a man named Ultan. A lovely Irish fellow who'd told me the first thing I should do is go online and buy this six dollar expedited screening pass for the airport. Because of that, I was treated a bit more special. And perhaps it was because I was hanging onto things and muttering little prayers that they made an extra effort to whisk me out of the country.
Eventually, I settled into Burger King seating. You can get beer at the Burger King in the Dublin airport. I did not partake. I whispered to myself, "That's enough Ireland. That's enough."