TRAVEL BUG TALES: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN MOM REALIZED WE DIDN’T HAVE THE GARMENT BAG
We were on a family vacation. I was supposed to load the garment bag. Had I done it? When Mom first asked, I couldn’t remember whether I did or not!
We Were in Trouble, Big Time
After my weak, “I’m not sure, but I might have,” Mom’s death stare turned to Dad. “Did she bring them to you?” Good old Dad, either he couldn’t remember or he knew for sure I hadn’t, but he didn’t want to to get into it.
He refused to stop the car and look right at that moment, too. I’m sure he wanted to avoid the possibility of hearing the chewing out we would receive if the bag wasn’t in there. It would have gone something like this:
“I cannot believe this. I give you one simple thing to do and you didn’t do it. You had plenty of time to ___________________ (fill in the blank with some non-essential kid sort of thing that I did), but you couldn’t do the one thing I asked you to do. And George, you are no better. We discussed this. You knew the hang-up clothes were in Jane’s closet. This is not the first trip this family has made. I’m working now and I cannot do everything all by myself. I have to depend on the rest of you and you always let me down.”
Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we got this harangue in spite of Dad’s efforts. After she got started, he told her it didn’t matter one way or the other, because it was too late to turn around at that point. Besides, each of us had an entire suitcase of clothes. His ploy didn’t work. We were treated to a lecture on the inappropriateness of our suitcase clothes for some of our activities. After thoroughly explaining this point, we returned to the previous discussion of our unreliability in the face of her need for our cooperation. Then we got a little reminder of all the things she did all the time.
At some point Dad had to stop, either for lunch or gas or a potty stop. Once Mom confirmed that we were all unreliable louts based on the evidence of the missing hang-up bag, I’m sure Mom repeated each and every word of her earlier lectures. In fact, this particular incident was referred to and discussed (by her) for years to come. Mom was almost as big on repetition as a teaching tool as she was about ironing out wrinkles. Obviously, it worked pretty well, since I can remember to this day that sour feeling of failure at the bottom of my stomach.
What Happened Next?
Eventually we arrived at El Paso. We unloaded the car and then went shopping. During the drive my parents had decided to buy something to wear for our dress-up occasions on the trip – though I can’t think for the life of me what these situations might have been.
To me this seemed like a lark, but from the position of adulthood, it probably wasn’t so much fun for Mom and Dad. In those days, money wasn’t such an easy thing. Those of us who depend on ATM’s and credit cards can barely remember when these tools weren’t readily available. Forget paying with your phone. Our only phone was hardwired into the kitchen wall.
When we traveled we always used traveler’s checks. This type of currency is still available, but I can’t even remember the last time I used it. I remember serious discussions about how many travelers checks we’d need. You didn’t want to buy too many, because there was a percentage fee for them. You didn’t want to buy too few, because you didn’t want to be stranded. You always took a little cash, but very little, because it could be lost or stolen. Unlike money, travelers checks could be replaced, if you had written down your serial numbers, which of course my parents always did. However, four new outfits would have wiped out our stock of traveler check.
We had all kinds of charge cards for Dallas stores, but, in those pre-WalMart days, each city had its own set of stores. Master Card was in its infancy and was called Presto-Charge. It worked great in Dallas, but it was unlikely they had it in El Paso. Dad had a walletful of gas cards, but while service stations still provided service, if you wanted to purchase more than a soda and a candy bar along with your gas, you were out of luck. There were cards like Diners Club and American Express, but folks like my parents didn’t have them. Those were for high-rolling jet-setters. What’s more, one of the things my parents always did before leaving on a trip was lock their charge cards, except for the gas cards, away in the bank box.
Most likely, on top of the concern about the form of payment to offer, the cost of four new outfits probably wasn’t in my parents’ budget. We didn’t exactly live paycheck to paycheck, but every penny was spoken for. Dad was saving up for a house and Mom was already socking way everything she could for my eventual college education.
Where were we going to go to get the outfits we needed for the rest of the trip. Find out next week!