A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
With the New Zealand general election recently becoming a whole whopping chunk more gripping than it was otherwise looking, it reminded me of being in the States during their un-switch-off-able campaign last year. And of all the places to be on election night for a couple of non-Trumpian travellers, we happened to be in Texas.
Austin, Texas is a often thought of as a progressive splash of blue in an otherwise conservative red state. We were having dinner with dear old Texan friends with three out of the four of us relaxed, safe in the knowledge that a mean-spirited, thin-skinned, compulsive lying, science-denying, unempathetic, general knowledge-devoid demagogue wasn't about to be elected president. I was the fourth member of that group.
I feel so bad now. But I couldn't concentrate on dinner properly, nor the joy of catching up with two of the coolest Americans I've ever had the good fortune of knowing. On in the background was CNN and out of the corner of my eye I could see the swing states were tracking in a worrisome direction. Early in the night I knew what I so dreaded was now a near certainty to occur.
At a table next to us a man in a Make America Great Again cap muttered something about how the restaurant shouldn't have the "Clinton News Network" on. I wanted to tell him that despite its soaring ratings, CNN had done much to establish the false equivalency about Trump v Clinton by constantly giving screen time to the Don's morally questionable (or merely deluded) surrogates.
I would've reworded it, but it pained me that people like the MAGA hat guy were unaware that CNN had helped give political credibility to a man who deserved none. How desperately sad that so many people like this felt that their worries, hopes and fears would be improved by a 70-year-old property magnate and reality TV star who bragged about sexually assaulting women and had denied tenancy to his buildings based on race. My heart literally ached.
As in, I snuck off to the bathroom, checked my phone, saw confirmation Trump was going to win and had physical pain in my chest. And I was on holiday! In one of my favourite countries in the world! Still is.
We'd had two incredible weeks crisscrossing the south of the States. The election was never far from conversation, but we avoided discussing it unless it naturally (and safely) came up. And through it all, the warmth and hospitality shown to us by Americans who'd most likely recoil at the political colours I've revealed in this column is something I never want to lose sight of.
Airline food mishap on a Third World country's airline
At some point in the past decade I was flying business class on the national carrier for one of this precious planet's poorer nations. Seated in the plane's second row, I'm not sure if I've ever been so close to the front of an international aircraft.
The meal service began on the three-hour flight. A very earnest steward inquired whether I wanted the chicken or the beef. I answered, the beef.
Without skipping a beat (nor checking the trolley) the steward responded with, "I'm sorry sir, we've just run out of the beef."
I'm genuinely laughing as I type this because I was in the second row. How do you run out of one of your two options by the second row?
The fact he was gamely still offering the non-existent option on the menu in the hope passengers wouldn't ask for it made me admire him.
The gumption! The resourcefulness! Good man.
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's The Two, Coast Soul on Coast and writes the music and travel blog RoxboroghReport.com.