Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Honest Scraps: The Weary Traveller

This is a personal complaint post; feel free to skip it. I would, if I were you.

But A Living Nadneyda was kind enough to tag me for the Honest Scraps Award, and now I'm supposed to write ten honest things about myself, and the only one I have time/energy to discuss at the moment is a complaint, so there it is. I apologize.

I have discovered, to my chagrin, that I am not much of a traveller.

I always thought I would be a good traveller-
• I like seeing new things;
• I am not particularly into creature comforts;
• I can go for extended periods on little sleep or food, thank Gd;
• I can work on a laptop or with a sefer, and keep in touch by cell phone as well.

And the mishnah/gemara make it sound like all of the tannaim were good travellers: Rabban Gamliel and his cohorts appear on boats headed to or from Rome, or take long walks past Har haBayis or along the water, etc. Caravans and ships fill the gemara, with all sorts of halachos from Shabbos issues to responsibility for property to davening to terumah/maaser.

On the other hand, Rabbi Akiva does place a premium (toward the end of Pesachim, in advice to his son) on studying in an undisturbed area. And the gemara does talk about not davening for days after coming off the road, because your concentration is so disruptive.

For me, though, it was pretty much moot until three years ago; I never travelled, until I started mentoring new rabbis in a Yeshiva University program. Suddenly I found myself spending full days in air transit, travelling cross-continent. And, surprise, I discovered that I don’t travel well:

• I get frustrated about missing chavrutot and shiurim.
• The airline industry is absurdly irresponsible.
• I can’t stand the repetitious commercials blasting away on airport television sets. I don't know what Evyawning is, but I heard way too many commercials for it during last night's flight delay in Toronto.
• I’m too cheap frugal to spring for airport candy bars. And the cooler souvenir foods they stock are never kosher.
• I don’t sleep well in foreign beds.
• My emails pile up, because my laptop doesn’t always cooperate.
• I can’t write up shiur source sheets, without my library available to get direct quotes (no CD ROM drive on the laptop, either).
• In international travel, I can’t use my cell phone.
• I don’t actually get time to see new things; I spend most of my time in airports, because I don’t have the luxury of taking long trips.

So, for example, the wonderful Rebbetzin and I flew to Toronto late Sunday night, to spend Monday seeing houses (seven of them) before flying back home late Monday night. The people there were wonderful, we got a great Priceline deal on a good airport hotel for Sunday night, and we may even have a house soon, but I just get so thrown off. I had to cancel a trip to the RCA Convention for today. (I am not a convention type of person anyway, but I was supposed to present something, and I had already paid for the day… but such is life.)

One good laugh out of the trip, though: Back at Newark airport last night, on the parking shuttle, we noticed two windows on the bus. One was labelled “Emergency Exit." The next one was labelled “Non-Emergency Exit.”

I know what they meant, but that was not what came across…

I owe you 9 other honest scraps. And seven bloggers to tag with this award. Some other time, I hope.


  1. Sounds like you & the Rebbetzin need to book in an extra day of travel just so you can have some fun and see the sites, where ever you go. There's nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for doing a task you can't stand; the opposite, really, since it just might help you turn traveling into an asset.

  2. I don’t sleep well in foreign bedsI am tempted to make some sort of reference to Gershom and being a stranger in a strange land, but it is just not working.

    So I'll settle for saying that I have been privileged to have stayed in a few hotels that had amazing beds.

    However, most of the time my rest is not the same as when I am home. Excuse me now, I am going to click my heels and head back to Kansas.

  3. ALN-
    Theoretically true, but there's never the time needed to do it. I can't justify it.