Passport Required

Twenty years ago I toured Hong Kong and part of China with a senior citizens group, one of whom was my mother.  She had invited me along to be her roomie.  It occurred to me yesterday that if I were going to China today I’d BE one of the senior citizens instead of at least  twenty years younger than anyone else in the group as I was on that tour. 

That thought hit me hard because during  that trip some of the folks  . . . well, they caused a few eye rolls among  the rest of us and I remember thinking to myself, “Lord, don’t let me ever be like that!”   While I have that trip on the brain, I’m writing out a few reminders  for myself  from observations on that trip.

Rule #1 – Don’t try to hide a metal flask in the waistband of your skirt.   It just keeps setting the security beeper off no matter how many other items you remove first.  Especially don’t try it if you’re first in line with 75 other members of the tour behind you because they’ll be irritated enough to cheer when the security supervisor finally takes you aside to strip search you. 

Rule #2.  Don’t wander around the plane and lean on other folks’ seat, putting your bottom at their eye level.   No matter how long the flight or ride,  please don’t try to start a sing-a-long.   Not everyone has a hearing aid she can turn off.

Rule #3.  When the plane is landing, do NOT stand up and yell that your spouse  is missing.  As the flight attendant will explain, any spouse who boarded is still on there somewhere.

Rule #4.  Show photos sparingly.  If you have a picture album of your granddaughter’s graduation and she’s the 17th dot on the 30th row,   show one closeup  formal  picture if you must.  If, however, you are telling strangers about your wedding. . . about how you became a bride for the first time at age  85 and walked down the aisle of the Freewill Baptist Church in a long bridal gown with train in a ceremony complete with several bridesmaids. . . feel free to pull out your wedding album. 

Rule #5.  Pack carefully.  You may have to briefly carry your own suitcase.  While daily Vitamin C and regularity are important, remember that 18 cans of grapefruit juice  may be heavy and they will probably have juice–and yes, maybe even peanut butter–at your destination.   Snickers aren’t  heavy, so sure–pack them.    And share.

Rule #6.  When arriving in a foreign country, if the sign says  Stand behind the yellow line,  please stand behind the yellow line.    They don’t mean four or five feet over it, they mean that if you don’t,  the armed guard is going to come over and point out that line  with his rifle.   It scares the crap out of the other passengers and they can’t run to the bathroom becuase THEY’RE standing behind the yellow line.

Rule #7.  If the passenger beside you becomes air-, bus-, or seasick and throws up, don’t yell, “Louise is puking and her barf bag broke”  even if she is and it did.   It’s like yelling fire in a crowded theatre among those with a quick gag reflex.   Someone has to collect all those bags  and I did it last time, so don’t look to me!

Rule #8.   Don’t wander.   If you do it too often,  your buddy–even if it is your spouse–assumes you’re back in the group somewhere and does not report you as missing.  If  the bus pulls off without you and a stranger  is kind enough to offer a ride in the back of his pickup, do NOT ride standing like a cigar store Indian in the truck bed. 

Rule #9.  Pack Immodium.  It fetches black market prices within the group, especially after the guard with the rifle passes.

Rule #10.   No, the watches running up the arm of the shift-eyed guy aren’t REALLY Rolex-es.

Rule #11.   Better have a couple of menu alternatives to  “Just bring me a hamburger”  when traveling in foreign countries.  Or plenty of grapefruit juice and crackers, I suppose.


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