Brother, Can You Spare a McNugget?

14 May

WARNING: Today’s post is a rant and does strongly represent the views of Trip Ahoy! and its associates.  However, they are my opinions and, therefore, are open for discussion.  I should note that if you do take the time to tell me I’m wrong, I’m probably going to think that you don’t know what you are talking about because… hey.  That’s how this works.  (This means you, Big Cat).

Ah... Gary Cooper. You're so good it's a sin.

When I first moved to the Twin Cities, I was troubled when I saw people begging.  I’d seen begging before but now I was seeing it on a daily basis.  I also typically saw the same person at the same stoplight or freeway on-ramp.  I thought about what I could do.  I didn’t want to give them money but I didn’t like driving by them as if they weren’t human either.  One day I went to McDonald’s and bought six hamburgers.  I knew that I would see at least two people on my drive that day and figured that if their signs were true, anything would help. 

The first few times I did this everyone was pretty nice.  I felt a bit better.  I did this a few more times and started feeling great about myself.  It was if I was slowly bringing a small corner of happiness to the world via the Golden Arches.  And then one day I gave some guy a burger and he chucked it into my car.  He said that he didn’t need my #$%&ing handout.

That stung because I was just trying to help, right?  But if I think about it now I was really just trying to ease my conscience without really doing much for these people.  I mean, we’ve all had a McDonald’s hamburger.  I wasn’t exactly giving them something of high value, was I?  I wasn’t buying them food; I was buying myself a guilt free day.  I stopped thinking “how dare he?” and I thought about how it looked from that guy’s point of view.  I stopped with the Mickey  D’s crusade for good.

I bring up this long anecdote due to some things I’ve been reading lately.  If you research packing light there is a whole world of information out there.  Once I started reading the stuff, I just wanted more.  I had to stop reading before I sawed the handle off my toothbrush and packed only one shirt to save on space.  So many of the ideas out there are really great and I think that they will make me and the Mister happier travelers.  Especially as we’re doing the kind of trip where you go too many places and stay there for five minutes.  I just couldn’t seem to pare down our itenerary as much as I could our packing list.

Anyway, there’s been a tip I keep reading that’s royally irked me.  Some are suggesting that when you go abroad you should pack clothes that have reached the end of the line.  Ones that you’ll be happy to donate.  Then when you are done wearing your worn out clothes, instead of throwing them in the trash, you can leave them behind as a nice surprise for the housekeeping staff at your hotel. 

Let me start by saying that there are, undoubtedly, people who would like to get someone’s hand-me-downs.  I don’t disagree with that.  I just don’t think that this is the kind of scenario that’s going to bring that about.  Even if I was making lower wages cleaning hotel rooms I wouldn’t want someone’s dirty discards.  I think it’s insulting.  Would the kid who moved to Minneapolis 11 years ago (holy crap!) think so?  I have no idea.  Maybe, like me, these people have convinced themselves that they are doing a good thing when really they are making Americans look like biased jackasses. 

Do we really think that America is so great that anyone is going to want to our leftovers?  Ha!  The dollar is in the tank, right now.  And I don’t want to go into politics here but I will say that our rep as a country isn’t so hot either.  Not everyone loves us.  Not everyone hates us either.  I don’t think that we need to travel as Canadians, poutine or not.  I just think that we need to travel with some dignity and some grace.  And a travel clothesline, for crying out loud.

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One Response to “Brother, Can You Spare a McNugget?”

  1. bigcat 2011/05/14 at 12:43 #

    I think the guy who chucked the burger back at you was being a dick. Another great idea is shipping your clothes back home that way you have plenty of room for presents to bring back, hint, hint. When I’ve had to travel instead of packing clean things to wear everyday I’d do laundry. I’m pretty sure they have laundry mats in Europe.

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