Many years ago, my sister was married in Hawaii.
The family was invited and we happily came over for the lovely event. My son was five weeks old at the time.
My wife at the time, myself and my very new son went on a few excursions during those days in the islands.
Strangers were not happy to see us as we boarded the bus. They expected my son to be unruly and cry a good deal, I suppose, but he was a perfect gentleman, as always.
He weighed ten pounds, 11 ounces at birth and was a good eater so complained very little. He slept and ate. He was twenty four inches long and looked like a toddler.
Many of the Japanese tourists gladly offered to switch their very small babies for my “Godzilla” sized child for photographs. It was a relief to hold those small, Japanese babies, compared to mine.
There was a man on this trip who had been recovering in a hospital a few months before coming to Hawaii. His wife had cleaned out his bank account and headed for greener pastures as he was flat on his back. We’ll call him Joe.
His children had arranged the trip to help him find a little pleasure and happiness again in his life, bleak as it appeared at the moment.
He was a fine fellow, but he was the one in the group who was always last and a little lost through the whole adventure.
My wife, myself and my son along with the others who joined us at the hotel on a few guided tours over the few days formed a tight group of travelers as the days passed.
Our guide took us to dive off of a rather high cliff into a very small pond. He even took us to his own house and pointed out the various plants that could be smoked for different and interesting effects.
Joe watched and listened intently as we went on these various outings. All be it late as usual and not sure exactly where we were headed. He was a trooper considering all that he had been through.
The week passed quickly as all good vacations sadly do and soon we were in a fine restaurant at the airport waiting for dinner. We had a few hours to kill before heading home and decided to have a nice dinner instead of airplane food. That might have been a mistake.
Let me say here that 45 years ago, I might have had a drink once in a very great while. I don’t like the taste of alcoholic drinks or what they do to your cognitive abilities, but that is another topic for another time.
Eventually we ordered dinner and sat back to wait for it to arrive. We were on the side of the restaurant near the kitchen and the waiters had to pass by us to get to the rest of the room to deliver the meals.
My brother and I ordered a drink. It was a mixed drink I am sure, because I do not like wine or beer. Time passed and after a very long time we wondered where our meals were.
As the time passed, the alcohol did effect us and as we waited for our meal, many waiters with their heavily laden trays passed by us. We looked at each other and wondered the same thing.
“Where is our food?”
As each waiter passed by us I greeted them with a friendly guess at their name and a question as to where our meals might be. An example might be, “hey Chuck, where’s the steak I ordered?”
As each waiter passed by, I used a different name hoping to conjure up the the right one so the waiter might return with our food or I would at least get a reply. It didn’t happen.
The clock showed me that time was, indeed, passing us by and soon we would have to leave for California and home.
I was not my usual self by now as I had half of a drink as was feeling the full effects of it. I had an empty stomach, as well.
As we sat there, the quiet restaurant became very noisy and the customers were becoming louder and a little more unruly as their alcohol was kicking in as well.
The food finally arrived in the neck of time and we ate a fine meal too quickly to be properly enjoyed, but now we had no choice unless we wanted to swim back to California.
When we were finally finished and heading down the stairs to the airport lobby a waitress walked passed us and asked us how dinner was and informed us that this was their opening night.
Well, I guess that explained everything away, except for one thing.
When I met Joe on the plan looking for my seat, he had a giant smile on his face.
“Joe, you look very content, what’s up,” I asked.
“Oh Ray, that was the best meal and service I have ever had and I’ve eaten in some very nice places around the world. It was wonderful.”
I had to laugh for obvious reasons.
Then I remembered what he had just gone through with his wife leaving him and all and thought that perhaps there just might be a higher power watching over him at that moment. That power was very busy with Joe I suppose and had little time to worry about my discomfort.
Such is the way of life.
I try to remember this when things don’t go my way on vacation. When I travel, I’m always happy for the little things that go wrong. They are usually very interesting and show you what you and your fellow travelers are made of.
Never in history have so many done so little to gain so much from their fellow man. A country such as this will soon be a shadow of its former self. R.C. Hand.
“Sunrise, Sunset,” my book of ten short stories is now an Audible book.