I fuck up sometimes. It’s ok. It’s not a big deal. Everyone makes mistakes.
The difference is really in whether you learn from your mistakes. If you’re extra smart, you can even learn from other people’s mistakes. I wrote once before about some of mine. Maybe you learned something, maybe you just laughed at me. Either is fine. In any case, I’m doing it again!
Directional sense after nap time
I went to a Halloween party in Copenhagen with some college students I met in Prague. It was a very typical college dorm room party. Beer pong. Costumes. Smoking cigarettes out the window. It was a fun throwback to an earlier time in my life.
I didn’t leave until almost 5 in the morning. When I did leave, I was still pretty drunk. I went to the metro station and the screen said the next subway didn’t come for another 26 minutes. This was upsetting to me at the time. My offline maps app (Here Maps: detailed here) said it was about a 50 minute walk back to my accommodation, so I decided to forego the train and hoof it.
It was pretty damn late and I was 31 years old, no longer built for that kind of college party. I was starting to get really, really sleepy on my walk home. About halfway back I spotted a park with some trails and forest cover and I decided to see if I could find a bench or something for a super quick nap. I found a perfect bench, laid down, and passed out right away. Fifteen minutes later the alarm I had set on my phone went off and I popped back up to continue the journey with renewed vigor.
Here’s where it goes wrong… I exited the park trail and my sleepy, half-drunk brain pointed me in the wrong direction. I normally have a pretty good sense of direction, but this time I walked 20 minutes back in the direction I had come from. I was pretty disappointed in myself (read: very angry) when I realized what had happened.
I turned around and walked back again. Suddenly it all looked so familiar. When I got to the park again, I was still very, very sleepy and started to nod off while walking, so I went back to the same bench again for another snooze. I made sure to consult my maps before exiting the park this time. Somehow I made it home, but not until about 7am. It was two drunken hours of stumbling through Copenhagen.
Lesson: If you have a map with GPS, USE IT! I got in trouble when I thought I knew where I was going. Technology is built to be useful, but it’s not useful if you don’t use it.
Tube Time Tables
I booked a flight from London to Dublin and the cheapest flight I could find left at 6:30am. I knew it would be difficult to wake up, but I was proud of myself for finding a deal.
The day before I was to fly out, I looked up the easiest way to get to the airport, and it involved the London tube system. I planned to wake up with plenty of time to take the tube to the airport at 3:30am.
I ended up staying up past midnight to spend one last night having drinks with a friend before we parted ways. I won’t say that staying up was a mistake, but I only got about three hours of sleep.
The real problem with this is that I didn’t realize the tube I needed wasn’t running at 3:30am. So my sleepy ass sat in the lobby of the hostel frantically searching the internet for the best way to get to Gatwick airport from central London without the use of the tubes. I looked into getting a taxi, but the fare was estimated at about €140, which is more than I was paying for the flight itself. I looked instead at other flights later in the day, and resolved that it would be about the same cost whether I took a taxi or just booked a different flight. I was also so sleepy that a flight later in the day sounded great. I could wait to check out of the hostel and just go back to bed for a while.
So I booked a new flight and went back to bed. It was an expensive mistake, but it all worked out.
Lesson: When you’re planning public transportation, keep in mind that the time tables will change depending on what time of day you’re using it. You can’t assume that trains or busses or subways will come with the same frequency at 3:30am as they do during rush hour.
These are just a few of my troubles. There are some other big tribulations that deserve a write up at some point in the future (including a particularly ridiculous trip to Las Vegas last spring that probably deserves a whole post to itself), but that’s enough for now. I hope you learned something. And if you didn’t, well, at least I got this all off my chest.