STORIES BY OTHERS

THE SUIT

Travel is one of the greatest pleasures in life.  It’s as simple as that.  But funny things sometimes happen along the way.  In the end they make good stories and just add to the wonderful world of travel.  I’ve got one.  It demonstrates the need for good advance planning and good execution of your plan for any trip you take.  Pay close attention.  You can learn something here.  The story I’m about to tell you will appear in the book, “Travel with me, avoid it if you can.”  Sub title, “I can’t, I’m me.”

I was planning a business trip to New York.  I don’t like suit coats that wrinkle in the back.  Mine did.  I told my wife I was going to buy a suit for the trip that would take a beating on the road and still look as good as when I first put it on.  Then I could travel in the future without this problem that drove me crazy.  We went to a the store where I buy my clothes and to the salesman who always helped me.

“Don’t worry, I know how you feel and I’ve got just the suit for you.”

He took this light weight, medium blue suit off the rack and said,  “Watch this.”  He literally pulled the coat off the hanger and eagerly crumpled it into a small lump.  Then with a satisfied, almost smug smile he held it by the collar and watched it unfurl before our eyes into the freshest looking most neatly pressed suit you could imagine.  And before I could say how impressed I was, he grabbed it fiercely with both hands in a virtual hammer lock and attacked it again.  Same result.  When released it floated cheerfully down to its immaculate self.

Greatly relieved I told him, “I’ll take two.  I can wear one on the plane and go right to my first meeting without even having to change.”

Knowing I had the backup suit in my suitcase (good planning, right) I decided to give my salvation suit the ultimate test.  I wore the coat through the entire flight from Los Angeles to New York.  It felt very good knowing I still looked very good when we landed.  Clothes make the man they say.  They can give you added confidence.  I had it, at last.  I got out of the cab in front of my hotel and walked briskly up to the desk to check in, beaming with self-assurance.

My first meeting was in two hours, in the lobby lounge.  I had never met the people I would see.  If I made the sale I would go home a hero.  When I got to my room I took off the  suit coat and tossed it casually on the bed.  It landed on its face, buttons down back up.  My mouth opened but no sound came out.  Lying there in front of me was the coat of a million wrinkles.  It could have been mistaken for a satellite map of the airplanes in the air over America at high noon.  I turned my back to the mirror on the wall.  Of course.  The pants had partnered with the coat.  This was an ugly scene.

Disappointed as I was, I had planned ahead.  Remember.  I had the salvation suit’s twin in my suitcase.  Good thinking I thought.  I opened the suitcase and removed the folded suit.  I didn’t take a suit bag.  These suits don’t wrinkle.  Welllll!  Every fold, it was a small suitcase, had a deeply set crease running sideways.  From the cuff of the pants, to the calf, to the knee, to the lower thigh, to the upper thigh, there were horizontal stripes.  The coat continued that design right up to the top of the lapels.  What now? 

If I wore that to the meeting it would look like I was put together in sections.

Sitting on the side of the bed, in my underwear, I did some quick thinking.  It’s important to be able to do that if your advance planning doesn’t work.  My wife, bless her heart, had once told me that you can steam wrinkles out of  a suit, by hanging it near a hot shower with the door closed.  I took the divided suit into the bathroom.  I still had almost two hours before the meeting, plenty of time.  I put the second suit on a coat hanger and hung it from the cross-bar that holds the shower curtain, which was shoved all the way to the wall alongside the shower head.  I made sure the shower drain was open.  I left the globe shaped, vanity lights around the basin turned on, to warm the room a little faster.  Then I turned the hot water on to full in the shower, left the bathroom, closed the door, and I and my underwear went back to sit on the bed until the repair was done.

I waited about an hour until I saw steam start to roll from under the bathroom door into the bedroom, like a low-lying London fog.  Suddenly I heard a bang…bang, like shots coming from the bathroom.  I ran and opened the door.  The steam was so thick from floor to ceiling I couldn’t see anything in the room, except the blurred outline of the vanity light bulbs, as they exploded one by one.  Stepping in I felt the broken glass crackle and snap under my feet.  I made it to the shower and turned it off.  With the door open the steam had begun to diminish.  I looked at my suit.  The once proud example of sartorial splendor, now damp and formless, drooped sadly.  The wall paper was that flocked kind.  It had been white, with light blue geometric patterns spaced evenly in rows and columns.  But the walls were all wet now, with steam turned to water, and the blue designs had started to bleed blue droplets everywhere.  I took the white towels off the rack and tried to stop the flow by wiping the patterns.  That didn’t work, but the white towels all changed to light blue.  By now all the lights were blown out.  The floor was thick with their remains and the white walls were as blue as the towels.  Their patterns looked like Picasso paintings. I stepped gingerly into the shower to rescue my severely wounded suit.  We escaped into the bedroom closing the door to the once elegant, but now badly redecorated hotel bathroom behind us.

Fifteen minutes to go to meeting time.  I went back to the bed.  I picked up the old, worn out, salvation suit that lay there in ruin but still dry.  I quickly put it back on.  We’d been through a lot together that day.  We weren’t about to give up now.  I walked bravely out of the bedroom, rode anxiously down the elevator, and strode head high into the lounge to meet whatever came, carefully keeping everyone in front of me.   Yes, I got the order, then I said a hasty goodbye to my new acquaintances and backed briskly out of the lounge.

The next morning I checked out of the hotel before the maid came.

The name of the hotel?  Sorry, that’s between us!

Submitted by Larry Vanderveen