Traveling with Yooper Stewart

Because of my job, I fly a few times each year to attend conferences or visit family (because I can take my work with me). Yooper Stewart works close to home, so he doesn’t travel as much. When he does, it’s almost always to visit family or friends, which means vacation time.

Vacation time for Yooper Stewart boils down to two main things:

  1. Buying, sorting, or building Legos
  2. Unrestricted access to coffee and beer*

That second thing may not seem like a big deal, but it’s heaven for a truck driver, especially one who used to drive across the country (over-the-road, or OTR). You see, OTR drivers make money one of two ways: they’re paid by the mile or by the delivery. Either way, the more deliveries you can make in a week, the more money you make. That means the minimum number of stops, which means as few bathroom breaks as possible.

Most people take their liquid consumption for granted. Not Yooper Stewart. In the two weeks after he quit driving OTR, he drank approximately two pots of coffee per day—not because he wanted to drink that much, but because he could.

As you can see by the short list above, Yooper Stewart’s vacation demands are small. That’s why he’s happy to staycation—he has access to everything he wants at home. When we travel, however, there’s a problem.

The Legos.

He doesn’t indiscriminately play with Legos. He plays with his Legos. He collects the mini-figure-scale modular sets, and he knows how to build the sets as shown on the box as well as according to the alternate building directions available from master builders online. In his world, one Lego pet shop set yields a nice pet shop; a second pet shop with the right instructions, however, yields a vintage book store.

That makes out-of-town vacations interesting, especially when we fly. He wants to make sure he makes the best use of his vacation time, so he packs every Lego he might possibly need. Just in case. That means an entire carry-on roller bag full of Legos, which also means being stopped by the small airport’s TSA because they have no idea what to think of his bag when they see it on the x-ray machine.

I usually wait for Yooper Stewart on the other side of security while the TSA agent asks every teenage boy in the area, “Is this your bag?” YS is too distracted to respond (because he’s repacking the small buffet’s worth of food he had to unpack), so I wave at the nice woman, then point at YS. “That bag belongs to the tall gray-bearded man.”

Once we get through the airport and to our destination, it should be over, right? Hardly. I learned the hard way that when we’re at our family’s house and Yooper Stewart “unpacks the necessities,” what he means is he unpacked the Legos. Nine days later, when we’re repacking suitcases to go home, I notice the still-folded pants inside. It hits me.

“Have you been wearing the same pair of jeans for nine days?”

“It’s the only pair I have.”

“Did you check your suitcase?”

“I took the Legos out. I didn’t think to look there for more pants.”

He didn’t think to look??

(Deep, cleansing breaths.)

Next year, I promise to make sure he takes everything out of his suitcase. I also promise to make sure he changes his pants.

*Yooper Stewart would like to go on record saying he doesn’t drink a lot of beer; he just likes having access to it. I can vouch for him. He can make two beers last the entire afternoon.

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