I’m a bit Irish. Not just on St. Patrick’s Day, but year round. I’m not even mostly Irish, but I identify myself as Irish because I seem to have an indomitable Irish streak in me. And I’ve kissed the Blarney Stone, so that’s there as well.

And because of this Irish stuff, I made a story – a funny story.

I was scared half to death about going to Switzerland early and being on our own in a place where we didn’t speak the language. But we were brave and we opted for the two extra days. We booked a hotel online, one that was recommended as a lovely central place to stay by the folks in Boston who we were dealing with for our whole vacation.

It was an expensive hotel costing more than we usually spend. Twice as much as we usually spend. Maybe even more. But part of that is simply the price differential between Switzerland and the US. So we paid the fee and booked the room.

It was the most horrible night in a hotel I have ever experienced. They had just reopened the day before after extensive renovations. The rooms were not properly vetted before booking and there were myriad issues, some minor and easily fixable if anyone had even bothered to check first.

We were given a corner room with floor to ceiling windows on two sides. It was a warm, sunny day and the air conditioning never did work well enough to cool the room. The blinds were either all open or all closed without any way to adjust for a view while blocking the piercing sunlight. This was annoying but not insurmountable.

But at 10 PM, the room went into night mode and the bed became a motion sensor nightmare. The entire perimeter of the king sized bed was lit up with bright blue/white LED lighting strips. You could read by the light they made. They could not be turned off and even the slightest movement brought them back on and then lying as still as possible for five minutes, they would turn off, only to be turned back on by on by the slightest shifting of hand or foot.

A fifteen minute adventure of trying to call the front desk for instructions on how to make the room dark ended in further angst. The phone didn’t work. As I said, the room was not vetted before it was rented out.

Eventually we found a way to get the room dark by stopping all power to the room’s “features” which included the non-functional air conditioning, so no real great loss there. The next day we were upgraded to a suite and given other concessions. The staff was as lovely as possible in this horrible situation. I have no idea who designed this hellish bed nor do I know who decided to buy the damn thing but I can only assume they didn’t try it out in a dark room after 10 PM. No one in their right mind would think it was a good idea.

Even as we were suffering through this nightmare, I mumbled how it would make a good story. And it did. We regaled our other travelers, once we were on the boat, with the  funny version of the story of The Bed. We became known as the Bed People or Bed Couple.

The story of the bed is now part of my lexicon. There are always difficulties and life is never perfect. Dealing with issues is a constant state of the human condition. Taking those difficulties and turning them into delightful stories makes them worth the effort. Without problems all we would have to talk about is each other and there is already too much gossip in the world.

So I will travel again. I hope I don’t find another bed like this one. But I’m sure there will be problems because there are always problems. It’s called life; just one damn thing after another. The real trick is turning the shit into gold. This is done by the way the story is told. Tell your stories for the laughs. Everyone already has enough tears of their own.

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I wish you smartness and hope you know many things. I hope you listened while in school and absorbed all the knowledge presented to you. I hope you read interesting things now and internalize the information. I hope you live life with an attitude of competency based on your vast repository of fun facts.

Regardless of how many facts you know (or think you know) or how quick you are with a Google search, there are simply things you do not know. And there are over seven billion people on the planet and they might know many of the things you don’t. Learn to access the brilliance of others not because it is a way to increase your own store of facts, but because it is delightful to learn what and how other people think.

Even the most brilliant person in the whole wide world doesn’t know what I had for breakfast today, but I do. And that genius out there doesn’t know why I chose that particular meal, but I do. The smartest person in the world knows many things I don’t know, but conversely, I know many things that person doesn’t or couldn’t.

I’ve had a variety of careers/jobs in my lifetime and I know the intricacies involved in those areas. Reading about intensive care or surgery is far different than actually working in those places. The same is true of teaching or with office work. Being retired brings its own areas of undiscovered wonderment.

My long life has given me opportunities to pick up a variety of information sets. Other people, both young and old, have had totally different experiences. I have no idea what it is like to live in Asia since I’ve never even visited the continent let alone resided there. Billions of people know things I can’t even guess at.

I’ve never lived in 48 of the 50 states, although I have visited several others. Each time I journey outward, I learn new things. Some of the things which are brand new to me are old hat to the people of the region I’m visiting. We know our own local stories, but there is a vast world out there full of interesting, fascinating, enthralling stories we’ve never heard or even dreamed of.

Everyone knows things you don’t know. Listen to them and you will learn a great deal. Be patient and let them speak fully. Give them the gift of your attention and you will receive a far greater gift – their stories.

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