I don’t like traveling on an empty stomach. I can make it from my house to my office, a distance of about nine miles, without something to eat or drink, but much further and my mind wanders to the next food mart. My wife, Rhonda, is keenly aware of this. I am less interested in where we are going than the availability of food and drink in the cab of the truck.
“You bring something to drink?” What have you got to eat?” are questions Rhonda hears from me in the first fifteen minutes of almost every trip. I am more than ready to stop at the next available store if she somehow forgot about my inability to travel without refreshments.
I have been to enough wedding receptions to know that feeding their guests is not the first thing on the minds of the bride and groom. Sometimes I have had to wait almost an hour to eat – and that’s if I have been fortunate enough to sit at the lucky table (the one served first after the head table).
One time we had left a wedding ceremony and were driving to the reception when it occurred to me that I was hungry. I think we ended up being late to that reception because we had to find something to eat first. After that day Rhonda learned to have a pack or two of crackers with her in case of an emergency.
Perhaps the most extensive supply of food and drink I have ever been given while traveling down the road was on a Greyhound bus trip forty years ago. The fact that I shared it with my younger brother, Terry, only made it more enjoyable.
Terry and I had traveled to Milwaukee with Mom, Dad and our younger sister to visit our older sister, Colleen, who was living there with her husband and baby boy. When it came time to head back to Minnesota, Mom and Dad left Terry and I with Colleen, who didn’t seemed to mind. I suppose this had been pre-arranged and agreed upon – but still I find it difficult to imagine why Colleen would agree to have her two youngest brothers live with her for a week. But she did – and that’s another story.
When it came time for us to leave Colleen at the bus station she handed me a grocery bag (paper – no plastic grocery bags back then) full of food for our bus trip back to Minneapolis. The bag was piled full of food – so full that it was impossible to fold the top down. Terry and I spent the next seven hours happily exploring the contents of the bag.
We set the bag on the floor and ate like kings. There were bananas and apples, cookies fresh from her kitchen, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, assorted bake goods, chips, snacks and cans of pop.
Pewaukee, Baraboo, Mauston, Tomah, Black River Falls, Eau Claire and Menomonie flew by our window as we happily emptied the bag. When we got off the bus in Minneapolis Mom asked if we were hungry. We laughed and told her about the grocery bag.
Next week I will celebrate Thanksgiving and I will certainly have more than enough to eat that day. While I am mindful that I don’t like to travel on an empty stomach, I never have to go to bed with one either.