Pa Krzmarzick in the big city

So, I don’t get off the farm much. When I do, sometimes I feel like I’m in a “Ma and Pa Kettle” movie.

The Kettles made a series of movies in the fifties; it was good ol’ cornpone humor about Ma and Pa gittin’ off the farm and makin’ their way in the modern world.

Pam is actually quite sophisticated, so this is more “Pa Kettle Goes to the Big City.” Ma, I mean Pam, and I went to several cities. We were in Georgia to attend our son’s graduation from Basic Training and decided to make a vacation of it.

Georgia is a popular tourist destination from September to July. No one would go there in August. One is tempted to say it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. But when it’s 98 and the air is basically an extension of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s both. When you find yourself yearning for a frigid Minnesota January day, you know it’s hot.

Since only a crazy person would go to Georgia in August, My Frugal Wife was able to git, oops I mean get, good prices at nice places to stay. They were so nice that my inner-Pa Kettle came out. When a doorman offers to take my bags, my first thought is, “What? Does it look like there’s something wrong with me?” Then he holds the door for me. Now I’m thinking, “Man, how old do I look?”

The nicest place we stayed was at a Marriott outside of Atlanta. It catered to business conferences. Guys arrive in suits who look like they know what to do when a doorman greets them. While we were there, there was a conference of the Aerosol Spray Association. Judging from the hotel bar late at night, those aerosol spray folks know how to party. There was also a meeting of the Society of Former FBI Special Agents. I can only imagine the wacky goings-on in those hospitality rooms

Of course, these conferences are fully comped by their company and are tax deductible. Suddenly, our stay became a meeting of the immediate shareholders of Krzmarzick Farms, Inc. And the bar tab magically became a business expense! (OK, we may have to run that one by the accountant.)

Staying at hotels is interesting for Pa Krzmarzick. No matter the room, they have a TV set with a screen the size of the one at Target Field. Because, of course, we spent all that money to fly to Georgia, rent a car, drive for hours, pay for a nice hotel, and then stare at a TV. They do have cable in these places with several hundred channels. I checked, and no, there’s nothing on.

Another thing about hotels is the heating/cooling system. No matter how much we pay for the room, we are always able to keep the temperature tightly controlled between 40 and 90 degrees for our ultimate comfort. Shivering or sweating, we look forward to an hour or two of sleep after a long day of touristing.

I have noticed that nicer hotels all have an exercise room. No one is actually ever in these exercise rooms. Apparently we feel better about ourselves on vacation if we could have or thought about or almost worked out. To save money, some hotels have begun experimenting with a large picture of an exercise room. I’m feeling buff just thinking about it.

For some time now, hotels have used plastic cards instead of room keys. They are convenient, but need to have the room code “keyed” onto the magnetic strip on the card. And did you know that if you put the card next to your cell phone in your pocket and go to the hotel bar and come back late to the room after your wife is asleep that the magnetic code on the key will be erased by emissions from the cell phone and you’ll have to knock on the door and wake up your wife and she’ll be really mad at you? I didn’t know that either.

Another advantage of modern travel is that you are never far from home information-wise. Hotels have computer centers where you can use your key to go in and check the internet. (Unless you were at the bar late the night before and had your room key decoded by your cell phone. Can we quit talking about that?)

Anyway, every day you can go on-line and see that it hasn’t rained yet back home and that your crops are continuing to shrivel up. Then you can check the grain markets and see that prices continue to crater. You realize what this trip is costing, and begin to make plans for next year’s summer vacation to Flandrau State Park in a tent, grilling cheap hot dogs and drinking 30-packs of Keystone.

My wife and I got along quite well considering this was the most time we spent together since we were dating and mushy-in-love. Oh, there were moments we had urges to push each other out the car door in the middle of six lanes of traffic hurtling along at 80 miles per hour. But, then, who doesn’t have those fleeting thoughts about their dear spouse?

This was also the first time we have travelled using the GPS on our smart phone to guide us. Traditionally, Pam has been the navigator and I steered the ship. Now she could sit back and relax while the calm, disembodied voice of the GPS woman told me, “In one thousand feet, take a left,” or, “In a quarter mile, your destination will be on the right.” The voice was soothing, assuring, almost sultry.

But I could tell Pam was uncomfortable about something. Then we programmed in random moments when the GPS would yell at me, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and “GET OVER!” and “PAY ATTENTION!” Pam could finally be at ease, knowing she wasn’t needed.

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