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The Terrifying Travel Curses of Brent and Michael
Think digital nomads are immune to spooky Halloween curses? Think again!
Michael and I are cursed.
Which is a bit surprising, since we rarely stay in haunted mansions or abandoned insane asylums — unless, of course, the price is right, and they have good Wi-Fi.
And we almost never frequent deserted cemeteries at night — except when Michael insists it could make a good photo op.
Admittedly, we do spend a lot of time in spooky crypts and ancient ruins.
Hmmm, pondering deeper on this issue, I think I’m starting to understand why Michael and I are cursed.
But it’s Halloween, which is no time for playing The Blame Game. Instead, why don’t I list the most horrible of the curses we must currently endure?
The Curse of Impossibly Dull Knives
Effect: After five years of nomading, in dozens of short-term rental apartments, we have literally never had a kitchen with a sharp knife. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a dull steak knife.
Cause: Years ago, I probably cut myself and swore at the knife, angering Ginsu, the God of Knives.
The Toilet Jinx
Effect: The more we travel, the more we’re confronted by increasingly annoying toilets. A toilet with no seat? What’s the plan here, you just sort of hover?
Cause: I clearly once also angered the toilet spirits, by writing an article, “The Only Thing You Have to Fear About Foreign Toilets is Fear Itself.”
The Italian Train Misfortune
Effect: Whenever we’re on Trenitalia in Italy, we’re subject to train strikes, chronically late arrivals, terrifying station bathrooms, vague or non-existent signage (only in Italian, natch), and inspectors who give us hefty fines for “infractions” that are the result of our simply doing what the other conductor previously told us to do (!!!).
Cause: Nothing to do with us, the Italian train system just kinda sucks.
The Curse of the Call to Prayer
Effect: We’re apparently pursued by an It Follows-like creature that does nothing but agitate barking dogs in the middle of the night and turn up the volume on calls-to-prayer, church bells, and car alarms.
Cause: In a previous life, Michael invented the car alarm.
The European Washing Machine Lament
Effect: Whenever in Europe, we are doomed to live in apartments where the shortest washing machine cycle is four hours.
Cause: In a previous life, I invented the Tide pod challenge. Granted, it was eighty years before the invention of TikTok, but still.
The Cancellation Tribulation
Effect: The second after the cancellation period on our existing reservation is passed, we find the absolutely perfect apartment, and it’s offered to us for almost nothing — “I don’t know why, I just like you guys!”
Cause: Irony, man, what are ya gonna do?
The Foreign Product Ruination
Effect: We take a chance on a new food brand or personal product in some foreign country and we absolutely love it. But then we try to buy it again and can’t find it, in that country or anywhere else, and we’re doomed to spend the rest of our lives searching in vain.
Cause: I collect taboo idols, like that one Bobby found in the Hawaii episodes of The Brady Bunch.
The Bad Pillow Bane
Effect: Even in the very nicest of apartments, we are condemned to be confronted with terrible pillows: limp, lumpy, or rock hard (and sometimes all three!). Note to self: never take the pillowcases off an Airbnb pillow to see the horror that lies beneath.
Cause: I’m sure it goes back to all those sarcophaguses we’ve defiled.
The VPN Conundrum
Effect: To watch any streaming channel outside of America, we’ve been consigned by unseen forces to use ever-more-rigorous VPNs…which then cause our computers to crash.
Cause: Corporations suuuuuuuuck! [Said the guy who now has access to an almost infinite amount of incredible programming from anywhere in the world, very reasonably priced, all from an inexpensive laptop.]
The Newsletter Malediction
Effect: I come up with a fairly amusing idea for a humor piece for our newsletter, but it’s essentially the same joke over and over, and I am unable to end the damn thing.
Cause: Sheer laziness.