I admit blogging was the last thing on my list of things to do lately. But in my quest to resume as much normality and routine in my life as possible, it meant it’s time to resume. I found myself stalled for a while. What does one say after sharing something so personal and so emotional? I then realized, well, it’s time to talk about how to travel, how I travel again.
To say that nothing changed would be a blatant lie. I was at a group lunch recently when we were talking about people and shrinks (not a segue from my experiences, but from leadership training, believe it or not). One guy said “It’s tragic if someone was abused as a child but to imagine that it would change and define that person for her whole life, I don’t get it.” While I have no doubt he has no maliciousness about it, as poorly his judgement may reflect, it made me think that whether or not I realized it, I have changed. And in the scale of ways to victimized, I could have been faced with so much worse.
It’s an experience that in part of me now, a change in my psyche, but it won’t be the defining thing of my life. Surprisingly, I haven’t been scared off traveling a whit. It wasn’t a willed reaction, a forced effort to move on. It just was. I checked into the next hotel without hesitating; I continued my trip in CA after a brief pause and a few nights with local relatives.
I’ve always considered myself a pretty careful person. I can’t claim 100% attention span… I get tired, hungry, distracted. Travel to various third world countries have taught me some habits already. I always travel with a pocket knife, except in Japan and in the UK. I glance at all the hallways when I get off the elevator. I keep something sharp- a key, a pen- in one hand when walking in the dark. However, I was caught off guard that night. I was exhausted, after 12+ hours of travel, 8 hour time difference, no restful sleep in over 18 hours, my belongings all tightly packed in my check-in luggage. And in my mind, I was back in America and checked into a reputable hotel chain.
So, I now use all the services offered by the hotels. Valet parking? Sure. Bellhop? Please. Walk through the room with a staff to go over how the A/C works? Absolutely.
I had been one of those who always turned away the bellhop. My bags have wheels. I had found the service to be unnecessary and I rarely think to have small bills available for tip. Not anymore. I’ll change $100 for all $1 at the reception desk if I have to. If he takes the service elevator while I take the guest, I’ll even wait in the hall for him to show up.
I have also started walking the entire length of the hallway my room is in, and back, before I actually enter. Where the guy came from that night is a difference of opinion between the police and me. I think he was already in the room. The police thinks he followed me. I decided I’d rather be confronted in the public hallway than cornered in a private room.
How I got right back to routine travel, I don’t know. I didn’t stop to analyze how I’d deal with it, I just did. Two key factors in my recovery I believe are loved ones and one excellent hotel. My aunt flew down as soon as she could to spend time with me, giving me company, not letting me out of her sight for more than a couple minutes, day and night. My cousins called as soon as they heard, giving me a home I can spend a few nights in to regain my equilibrium. My friends and family called, some daily, to check on me, be a listening ear for my emotions at the moment.
Before I went to my cousin’s, I still stayed at a hotel. The police offered to move me to a different hotel and I took them up on the offer in a heartbeat. They informed the management of the second place the gist of my circumstances. The head of security immediately introduced himself to me, told the front desk to leave instruction that house keeping does not disturb me. For the following three days I stayed there, I always saw a security staff roaming the hallways. The rest of the staff was not informed, but they were so attentive. My keys frequently demagnetised, leaving me to constantly ask for help. The bellhops staff recognised me with my roaming, my trying to find the services around the hotel. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have stayed at any more hotels immediately after. But this one had such excellent service and cheerfulness that without realizing it, they demonstrated that I can still stay in one of these establishments comfortably.
For all those who helped, knowingly or not, I am thankful. To find that I would be paralized from travel would be devastating. It is an inherent component to my work and a big hobby. I can’t begin to the express my relief that didn’t happen.