The Ugly American: 5 of the Stupidest Things I’ve Ever Done While Jet-lagged (or Hungover or Both)

Travel Features

1. That time in 1992 I flew into SFO from Japan, barely made my connecting flight and was very irked to find someone else in my seat. It took two stewardesses to convince me I’d mistakenly boarded a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, thinking it was my connector to Oakland, CA.

2. That time I flew to Berlin, napped, showered and then showed up, promptly and refreshed, in the hotel lobby for a six o’clock appointment. I waited around for a half an hour before determining I’d been stood up, so I returned to my room, called my associate and demanded to know where she was. “I’m in bed,” she groaned. “It’s 6:30 in the morning.”

3. That time in Amsterdam when I didn’t recognize Michael Caine, handed him my camera and asked him to take a picture of me on the canal with my friend Laura. Laura, who did recognize him, was too star-struck say anything until after he’d taken our photo, handed the camera back and left.

4. That time I flew home from Korea, fell asleep, got a phone call from my sister and then somehow ended up in Gatlinburg, TN, to meet her family for a holiday dinner at the Golden Coral. That’s it. I ended up in Gatlinburg. At the Golden Coral.

5. That time I came home after 36 hours of travel to a dead car battery, got my insurance company to send out my favorite roadside-assist stud Avery to give me a jump, and he said I look sexy all tan from my trip to Crete, or maybe he was just telling me to pop the hood, but whatever the case I stupidly did not nail down any affirmative flirting. Then after Avery got the car running, I drove it only three blocks, stupidly cut the engine, let the battery die again and had to get it jumped again. Then I drove to the movies (Spy, loved it), left the lights on and it died again. Avery came out again, gave me another jump, only this time it took a few tries. Avery commenced our playful banter. “You’ve got every knob on the dashboard turned to high! What’re you, flying the space shuttle in there?” Further flirting ensued, mostly consisting of him opening car hoods and me being all amazed that he could open car hoods. He finally got the car running again, then he gazed into my eyes and professed the immense engorging of his loins upon my visage—or maybe he was just telling me the insurance company won’t fork over any more free roadside assists for this particular incident anymore, so I better make sure to let the car idle long enough to recharge the battery. I promised I would, drove home, left the car idling in the driveway, went inside, turned on the TV, got five minutes into the first backlogged episode of The Daily Show and promptly passed out. Woke up at 4 a.m. Car dead again. Out of gas.

Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, coming out soon. Follow her on Twitter.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin