Today we have a guest post from Brandon Baker who proves that you don’t have to travel too far from home to have an interesting travel experience…..
You know the smell of garbage that has been sitting out for a few days? That smell of rotting left-overs mixed with various other smells like dead rodents, pet shit, vomit, disposable diapers and whatever else you can think of? You know that smell? Isn’t it just delightful?
Now imagine a large portion of a modern city engulfed in that smell……
I’m in a band and one of the great benefits of being in a band (besides playing music in front of people) is that sometimes you get to travel to other places to perform.
A while back my band got a bar gig in the city of Columbus, in the State of Ohio, in the United States. Just north of the downtown area is the state college which is very large and has a successful sports program, most notably the American football team. The bar we were to play at was called “Bernie’s” and was right off the main university campus.
From our starting point the drive to get to Columbus took about 3 and half hours. We took 2 vehicles; one guitarist Chris, vocalist Adam and I were in one. The other guitarist Kevin, and the bassist Aaron, were in a separate vehicle.
The show was on a Sunday night. The football team, Ohio State Buckeyes, had just played the night before. The Buckeyes won, and the students had partied. And boy did they party.
When we drove down the main drag near the campus, our windows were down and we started to smell garbage. We quickly rolled our windows up and figured the smell must have just been something we drove past at that moment.
There was no parking in front of the bar on the main street, so we went up a block to the off-campus housing for students and looked for parking there. There was trash all over the streets and yards! Most of it was beer cans and red party cups. One of the houses we drove past actually had a fortress built on the porch made of used cases of beer!
After we parked, we walked down the street to meet up with the rest of the band. Trash was skewed all over the streets and the stench of trash got thicker and thicker as we got closer to the main street.
After deciding to kill some time and store-hopping for a while, we found a Mexican restaurant that looked tempting. While walking down the street on the way to the restaurant, we saw 4 separate bags of trash in the middle of the street, and every trash can we passed was full and smelled horrible! Food was just lying on the sidewalk everywhere. But it seemed like we were the only ones who noticed the abundance of trash. The locals didn’t seem bothered by it!
After eating we headed to the bar to unload our gear and prepare for the show. The bar was a dive but it smelled so much better than being outside! The stage was very small, the sound system sucked and they had Christmas lights around the stage which didn’t even work. We were amused to note that this certainly wasn’t the worst place we had played! And it really was quite adequate for punk music!
We played the gig in what seemed like fresh air in the bar. It wasn’t the greatest gig as not many people showed up. But it was fun regardless and it didn’t stink inside!
We were more than ready to go home when the show was over at 1am. After a long day, and with a long drive home ahead of us, we decided to go to a famous 24 hour donut shop nearby called Buckeye Donuts. We pulled up to the side with another band, and as soon as we got out of the cars instantly smelled trash again.
The entire side of the building was covered in trash cans and trash bags.
By this point we had just accepted that everywhere we went was going to smell like garbage and managed to just deal with it. Plus we were just too exhausted to really care.
(If you’re wondering, the donuts were delicious!)
Finally, we were ready to leave the smelly hell which we had come to recognize as Columbus. We were low on gas and groaned at the thought of getting out of the car to fill up with gas and smelling the stench again.
We figured we would fill up quickly and get out of town!
In this part of the United States, there is a gas station named Get-Go which is open 24-7. We drove up to one and realized it was not a gas station, it was just the store portion. A little odd, but we didn’t question it much. Plus it delayed the need to hold our breath while filling up just a little longer. We saw another Get-Go a few blocks down the road and decided to try that one. But it was another Get-Go that did not serve as a gas station!
Adam, our vocalist, was not very amused. “Why do these places even exist? This city is the shittiest place I’ve ever been. Garbage everywhere, it fucking smells, food on the sidewalks, useless Get-Go’s. I just want to get out of this shitty place!”
Fed up with Columbus, we drove out of the city and found a gas station just off the highway heading out of the city. After filling up we were finally on our way home, out of the depths of trash for a three and half hour ride at 2 in the morning.
Entertaining ourselves on the way home proved just as difficult as avoiding the stink of garbage in Columbus!
Since we weren’t from the area, we had no idea what radio stations were what and could not find anything to listen to but talk shows and weird programming. We reluctantly settled on a Korean broadcast which was in English. For the first 20 minutes we listened it was a woman and a man discussing different Korean issues like the government, education, history, and social issues. At some point, they go into this part of their programming where the woman tells old Korean stories (!)
The longest story she told, which took 25 torturous minutes, was a story about a farmer who got scammed. The story was that the farmer went into the town market to get some supplies and came across a watermelon. He had never seen a watermelon and asked the merchant what it was. The merchant told the farmer it was a donkey egg. The farmer, who believed him, decided to buy the watermelon and took it home. For weeks he kept it in his house wrapped up in a blanket, but his frustration grew. He eventually believed he was scammed and took the watermelon outside and threw it over into some bushes. To his surprise, a donkey jumped out of the bushes. What he didn’t know was that the donkey was his neighbor’s. The farmer claimed the donkey was really his and the neighbor took him to court. The farmer explained how he got the watermelon, or egg as he believed it was, from a local merchant. The merchant was brought to the trial and the Judge ruled that he would have to pay a fine for scamming the farmer.
That was it.
We spent 25 fucking minutes listening to this long droning story. We thought there might be some great ending or twist to it, but at the end of this rainbow wasn’t a pot of gold. It was just a steaming pile of disappointment!
The broadcast went dark for a few minutes as we sat there taking in what we had just heard. After about a minute, Adam flipped out.
“That’s it? That’s the fucking story? What was even the point of that? I just wasted a half hour of my life listening to that shitty story!”
We then miraculously tuned in to some classic rock and listened quietly for the rest of the drive.
It was an odd, yet appropriate end to our trip…..
Had any interesting travel adventures of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments!
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