Commentary by Dick Wolfsie
Mary Ellen and I recently returned from a vacation to Savannah, Ga. We stopped first in St. Augustine, Fla., the oldest city in the nation. They take pride in the fact that things haven’t changed much in that city in 400 years, but I don’t think a rib-eye steak cost $42.95 in 1611.
We went with our friends, the Murphys. John has a PhD in statistics, so it scared me when he said there was only a 50/50 probability we’d all still like each other after the trip.
There are some things that put stress on a vacation with other people: too much alcohol, talking politics, driving recklessly and eating sloppily. My wife said if I’d stop doing this stuff, the Murphys might travel with us again.
People I vacation with have to tolerate lots of my quirky behaviors. For example, I am totally paranoid about losing my cell phone, my wallet, my passport and my tickets. I am continually checking my back and front pockets to be sure I have everything. The TSA agent let me walk right through security without being scanned because he said no one on his staff could do a better job of patting me down than I just had.
There were some dogs sniffing suitcases at the airport and the four of us were debating whether they were trying to detect drugs or explosives. Mary Ellen was so convinced it was explosives that she made me a rather sizeable wager that she was correct. To prove she was right, she decided to ask.
“The dogs are searching for explosives,” said the officer, “not drugs.”
“Oh, that’s great to hear,” said Mary Ellen … which led to a thorough search of her carry-on bag.
More trouble was to come. The next day, I was pulled over by a Georgia Highway Patrolman for rolling through a stop sign. I was surprised to be stopped for this infraction because I had heard that Savannah was very laid back, and coming to an abrupt halt seemed rather uncharacteristic of the local pace of life. And whether I would actually get a ticket was not helped by the three smug people in the car who thought it was funny that someone would be pulled over while going three miles per hour.
My wife, who normally takes interaction with law enforcement very seriously, was snapping photos of me talking to the officer, explaining to him she had shots of me in a scrapbook being pulled over in 13 states. Very funny.
The trooper gave me a warning instead of a ticket since, as the cautionary note stated, “there were mitigating circumstances for the infraction,” which either meant I was a law-abiding tourist who was sightseeing and didn’t notice the sign, or he was cutting me some slack for having to drive around with three goofy passengers distracting me.
We all had a great time, but we wondered if we would we be pushing our luck if we went on another trip together. I asked John to apply his statistical acumen to this proposition, factoring in all of our personalities, length of the trip and any other related variables.
“I can’t give you the specific odds,” said Dr. Murphy with a smile, “but chances are we’ll all have a better time if I do the driving.”