Driving Miss Crazy

Originally Posted: May 4, 2009

In recent times, Gayle and I decided to leave the US to make our home in Australia… at least for the time being.

As reported on a World Health Alert, Gayle has a severe condition that is often know as the Heebie Jeebies, the Jim Jams, the Can’t Copes or simply ADHD. We all know that these conditions can be controlled by the simple application of large doses of drugs.


Gayle has learnt over the years that having ADHD is a perfect cop-out for not listening to anyone, getting her own way, and generally pushing the envelope.

Little pills or not, Gayle is going to have ADHD and the world is going pay the price.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Gayle is not cunning and devious, nor is she a pain in the ‘whatever’. She is simply, a character. Everyone loves her… she makes friends at the drop of a hat, she has a high moral code, and she works incessantly at building our relationship, and doing ‘stuff’.

Some of that stuff is highly relevant, most is not. All is part of her built in requirement to touch everything. She believes she is a tidy freak, a clean freak… she’s not. She just has to touch everything everyday. She has been seen going on shopping expeditions to Big Lots (read Reject Shop or Dollar Store depending on your continent), with the express purpose of straightening out their stock. They are not sure whether they should pay her to leave, or charge her for the therapy session.

Like many women and most ADHD’ers, Gayle has some particular obsessions. Of course everyone (read ‘all women’ if I am allowed to be honest and politically incorrect) like to shop. This is not like that, this is on a whole different level.
The ADHD, the plain and simple bad habits, being bred as an American Consumer and the influence of Mawmaw have had their way with her mind, and she has totally succumbed.

Mawmaw was Gayle’s mother, who is almost entirely responsible for the ways of her daughter. Every Thursday was the hair appointment, every Sunday was the Big Lots trip, and every day was the shopping channel. If anyone tells you that ADHD is not contagious or heriditary, they are barking mad. Of course Mawmaw had weight issues, but mainly so she had an excuse for buying new clothes.

There is the Imelda Marcos shoe collection, the constant issue with having a bad hair day and of course the weight issue. Now you may think that this is just ‘being a woman’ or ‘I’m like that’…. Not so.

Gayle has increased these activities to an art-form.

Just to give a single out-of-place example, we visited the Eiffel Tower.
Gayle gave it a cursory glance, murmured, “There must be a great Souvenir Store here” and wandered off.

An hour later, all of the iconic trinkets were arranged neatly in Size, Price or Alphabetical order, dependent on her mood at that exact moment.

She had taken her pills, been screamed at by the staff and sworn at by the throngs of tourists in languages that the clergy do not know. But it needed to happen.
Oh, one other thing before I leave you to ponder at what could possibly be eventful on our travels across Europe and Asia.

Gayle knows her Left from her Right.

I was particularly aware of checking this out, before I put her in charge of navigation.

So when she says, “Turn Right Here!”, I turn Right.

“But I meant you to turn Left, right here!”

You get the idea….

A word about luggage.

Travelling is easy. Travelling overseas is fun. Travelling around the world is one of the most amazing experiences for the human soul.

Luggage sucks.

Long ago we decided that we would travel with the world’s most garish and ridiculous luggage so that it was easily identified on the baggage carousels. The suitcases that we already owned were basic black, but we had adorned them with iron on strips of brightly colored ribbon, but of course, for this trip, we needed more. Much more.

As Gayle was making the ‘big’ move this time, uprooting her from the last 50 years of life in North Carolina to the instability of a life in Australia with few friends and little that was familiar, she decided to bring a few precious belongings with her.

We travelled with eight suitcases.

We bought suitcases because of their size and bright colours, not because of their quality. Seven arrived, battered and re-stitched and worn, one died and was replaced at about the three-quarter mark – it would have dissolved into a million pieces if it went through another baggage handlers dispute.
(Advice to those about to travel – airlines hate luggage, and keep trying to throw it, lose it, or break off any parts that do not fit in their idea of the perfect shape for luggage – a sphere. Eventually, they win, and reduce all luggage to tagged and taped garbage.)

We didn’t like the idea of leaving the vehicle fully loaded at anytime – especially overnight – as Gayle’s whole life was in those suitcases, as well as camera equipment, two laptops and a proof-of-concept invention of mine that need to be trialled around the world.

Staying in little Guesthouses throughout Europe, we inevitably scored an upstairs room that gave us ample opportunity to enjoy the cardiac workout, lugging the bags upstairs at the end of a long day of wandering the hills taking photographs, or just driving in the car.

So, up the stairs we went – while our poor hosts looked on with incredulity.

Of course we decided that each case would represent a division of belongings – by type or whatever, (Perhaps Gayle sorted alphabetically again?) so that we would only have one or two that needed to be opened… but of course, the weight distribution factor was more relevant than any other, or was it the security factor – so items that were packed to gain extra protection like hard disk drives, were neatly wrapped in socks and then spread around the various cases so that if one case went missing, not all data was lost. This meant that clean socks were in each of the cases.

It gets worse, but suffice to say, all cases needed to be opened each night, so that Gayle could touch everything inside them, or find a new way of packing, or even so that I could retrieve a hard disk drive to continue with my data backups on the road.

Luggage sucks.

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