Bill Bryson was a frequent air traveller. He finds himself always uneasy during his air travels. In this lesson, the author describes some of his experiences during these travels. He says that once he was going to England with his family. He had a carry-on bag with him.
The trouble started at the airport when the checking staff asked him to open the bag. He tried hard to open the zip of the bag but it would not open. He pulled it harder and it broke. All the things in the bag were discharged like a fluttery cascade. The newspaper cuttings, other documents, the tin of pipe tobacco, magazines, passport and coins all spread over an area about the size of a tennis court.
Then he describes his another experience. He says that once on an aeroplane, he leaned over to tie a shoelace. Just at the moment someone in the seat ahead of him threw his seat back into full recline and found himself pinned helplessly in the crash position. It was only by clawing the leg of the man sitting next to him that he managed to get himself freed.
On another occasion, he knocked a soft drink onto the lap of a lady. He repeated this mischief many times. But it was not his worst experience on the aeroplane. He says that his worst experience took place on a plane flight. He says that he was writing something in a notebook. lie fell into conversation with an attractive young lady in the next seat. He was sucking his pen on one of the ends. After about 20 minutes, when he went to lavatory he discovered that the pen had leaked and that his mouth, chin, tongue, teeth and gums were now navy blue and would remain so for several days.
Despite being a frequent flyer he never got any air card. Ile says that he used to fly 100,000 miles a year but due to his carelessness or some other reasons he could get no air card.
The writer’s job demands him to tour a lot but he finds it difficult to behave as per the social code of conduct required in the real world. He is amazed to see other people carry on the routine tasks with ease because he cannot even find the lavatory in a cinema or remember his room number in a hotel.
He recalls an episode when he had travelled with his family to England at Easter and had arrived at Logan Airport in Boston. At check-in, he remembered that he had recently joined the British Airways’ frequent flyer programme and the card for that same was in his carry-on bag. However, while attempting to open the jammed zip of his bag, the side flew open suddenly and all the contents littered over a huge area. Bryson watched dumbstruck and was more worried about losing his tobacco that had spilt from its tin-box than clearing away the mess he had accidentally created. He had also clumsily cut his finger on the zip and went hysterical on seeing his blood.
Bryson admits that travelling is catastrophic for him. Recounting another experience he writes how he had got himself pinned in a crash position in a plane while tying shoelaces. He had leaned forward when the person ahead of him threw back his seat into full recline. He could free himself only by clawing the leg of the man sitting next to him. On another occasion, he had knocked off a soft drink onto the lap of a sweet little lady sitting beside him. This lady was a nun and Bryson spilt even the replaced drink brought by the flight attendant. However, his worst experience was when he sucked on the end of his pen with which he was writing something. The pen leaked and without realizing that the ink had smeared his mouth, chin, cheek, teeth, and gums, Bryson entered into a conversation with his attractive co-passenger. He tried to impress her by telling jokes and discovered his ink-smudged mouth only twenty minutes later when he went to the lavatory.
Bryson’s desire to be charming always fails. He wishes to function normally at least once. He wants to eat properly, get in the car nicely, and carry off a light-coloured trouser without messing it up. In order to avoid accidents while travelling, his wife has now instructed his children to open the lids off the food for him. But when he is alone, he does not eat or drink as a precaution. He sits just still and controls his hands lest they cause another spilling. However, he does miss the fun because of his accidents.
Bryson also misses the opportunity to avail flyer miles like other people. Whenever he tries to gain this benefit, he either misplaces his card or forgets to ask at the time of check-in. Even the airlines cannot grant him free flying miles as his name on the card and his ticket do not match. Of course, in view of Bryson’s careless nature, all this is possible.
“The Accidental Tourist’ is a humorous story. The author, Bill Bryson, narrates his experiences as an air traveller. There were many things that he could not do properly. He was a confused person. He goes many times to find the lavatory in a cinema but ends up standing in an alley on the wrong side of self-locking door. He often forgets the number of his hotel room and goes two to three times a day at the hotel reception to inquire about it. Once he went to England with his family for a week on Easter. At the airport, he remembered that he had a discount card in his carry bag. He tried to open the bag and pulled the zip harder. The zip broke and the bag opened abruptly. Everything in his bag rained out and spread here and there. His wife was shocked to find her husband so absent-minded. He had many such experiences while on board. Once he found himself helplessly in the crash position when he leaned over to tie his shoelaces and someone in the seat ahead of him threw his seat back into full recline. On another occasion, he knocked soft drinks into the lap of a lady sitting beside him. The worst experience he had was when he got his mouth, chin, gums and tongue blue coloured. He was writing some thoughts on a sheet of paper. He fell into conversation with a lady sitting next to him. He had put his pen in his mouth. It leaked and his mouth was covered with ink. He did not realise it until he went to the lavatory. The narrator was so fed up with the eating habits that he preferred not to eat while on board. His wife used to take some precautions. She told the children to take the lid off the food for daddy or put their hoods up when daddy cut his meat. He often forgot to ask for air miles. He could never take benefits from the discount schemes. It was his state of mind that he missed a golden opportunity to avail himself of a first-class flight to Bali.