[ad#World Nomad 2LP] If only travel insurance could have protected me from this particular disaster. The most regrettable trips are often not even that far from home!
The most regrettable trip of my life was a long trip. It wasn’t a trip to a foreign country. It was a trip that I didn’t plan but accepted on the spur of the moment. Towards the end of high school back in 1989, I was suffering from a case of wanderlust. I was working in the sporting goods department of a big box store, I hated my high school and town, and I was already suffering from what would become my lifelong hatred of paperwork and bureaucracy. I’d scored well on the SAT but I didn’t want to fill out a bunch of application forms. I wanted the colleges to come to me. They didn’t. Instead it was the Army who called.
I had been thinking about the military anyway because I wanted to travel and see the world and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go talk with the recruiter, so I agreed to meet him after school. The only problem was that he didn’t show up. Instead, I sat there waiting for an hour until finally a guy with a high and tight haircut showed up in bright red Jeep Cherokee. He was wearing a sharp looking blue uniform and his smile made fun of me without making me feel like I was being made fun of.
“You waiting for the Army? They aren’t coming. Why not come see what the Marines can offer?” Looking back, the whole thing seems like some sort of a set up. I never bothered to ask how the Marines found out and why the Army didn’t come. All I know is that the recruiter, Sergeant Slaughter (that was really his name), took me for a ride in his cool jeep, introduced me to his playmate wife with big fake DD boobs, and told me that the Marines had given him everything and they would give me just as much. That trip to the United States Marine Corps recruiter’s office was my single most regrettable trip.
Instead of going to college, I accepted the offer to become an enlisted navigator thinking I would be flying all over the world. The only problem was that to be a navigator, I had to pass a first class swimming exam. I got to second class. So I was made an Air Traffic Controller instead. I was told that I would be stationed in Japan or Hawaii, but no, instead I was sent to Tennessee and North Carolina. At 18, since I was in the Marines, I was allowed to drink as much as I wanted on base. Instead of saving or studying, I was spending and drinking. Where did I go in four years? I went to the brig a few times, I went to Marine rehab, and I never left the American South.
Despite all that, I was a pretty damn good Air Traffic Controller and NCO (Non Commissioned Officer). I was an idiot though. I spent every penny I earned in four years and because of easy credit available for Marines, I racked up nearly $30,000 in debt. By the time I got out, I was overweight, in debt, and I would say more ignorant of all aspects of the world than I had been when I went in. They offered me a pretty big bonus to reenlist, but I’d never really forgotten that they called Arabs, ‘ragheads’ in bootcamp and made us chant songs about ‘Kentucky Fried Children’. The Marines were my definition of hell – the brig had been a relief from daily USMC life. I said no thank you and never looked back.
It took me nearly a decade to recover from the damage that regrettable trip to the recruiter caused to me. I’d like to just offer a piece of advice to anyone who is offered a ride to the recruiter’s office, “Just Say No!”
This regrettable trip was written for the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa Carnival. To read about more Regrettable Trips just follow the link. Or if you want to share your most regrettable trip, why not submit it using the button at the top of the page or by commenting below.