Opinion: State of confusion


A few years ago, my wife and I were planning a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit some of my old college classmates. Mary Ellen usually makes the reservations, but I took on the responsibility. Big mistake.

I checked online to compare rates. I found a surprisingly inexpensive hotel right in Washington and booked it. I couldn’t determine from its map how far the hotel was from the White House, which was the part of town we needed to be in, So, I called.

“Hello. I booked a room through your website for Sept. 4-10. Can you tell me how far you are from the White House and how long it would take to walk that distance?”

There was a pause on the other end.

“Well, sir, it’s about 3,000 miles as the crow flies. If you’re walking, you’re looking at about three months.”

What I had done was — yes, book a hotel in Washington. Just not D.C. It was in the middle of Seattle.

Mary Ellen has never let me forget this dumb mistake, but now she has topped me. This is especially gratifying because she never does dumb things, with maybe one exception 42 years ago.

Here’s the story: The other night we decided to pick up Chinese food. Our favorite place had gone out of business, so we were seeking a new option. Someone recommended Happy Dragon. Mary Ellen made the call and placed the order. The first odd thing was our ticket number: 8649735260, which I think is also the population of China.

After we ordered, I asked Mary Ellen for the address. Brett, my son, put it in his GPS to see how long it would take to get there.

“Do we need to leave now?” I asked

.“I think we better, Dad. It’s gonna take us about 3 1/2 hours.”

“Wow, that much traffic?”

With that, Mary Ellen let out a yelp. I had never heard my wife yelp. Not in 42 years.

“Oh, no! I ordered our food from a Happy Dragon in Ohio by mistake.”

“I hope it was Canton. I love Cantonese food.”

“Very funny. No, it’s Happy Dragon in Columbus, Ohio. Call them back and cancel.”

I called and gave him my name and our order number

.“OK, you are Mr. fried rice, two eggrolls, wonton soup and main course is …”

“Yes, that’s me. Look, we live in Indianapolis and …”

“Oh, that’s a long drive. Better leave now. Getting cold.”

“I’m sorry, we made a mistake and have to cancel. We didn’t mean to order from Ohio.”

“You don’t like Cantonese food?”

“Too late, I already did that joke.”

We reordered at the local Happy Dragon and enjoyed the dinner. That night we were a happy family, which was also our main course.