On the Road with Heather Collins
Greener Pastures for the Gluten Free Green Monster
I knew something was wrong with the Gluten Free Green Monster (aka my work suitcase) as I was packing up for the American Dietetic Association Food, Nutrition Conference and Expo in Boston.
The vibrant green it was named for had faded to a dull grey. It looked worn and tired; wires that should be inside the suitcase were sticking out everywhere. And sadly, it leaned a bit to the right.
Vital signs were not good and I knew this would probably be our last journey together. Quietly, I loaded Udi’s Gluten Free bread, bagels and supplies for the event and hoped that when we reunited on the other side of the flight that it had survived.
With Gloria Gaynor’s song, “I Will Survive” in my head, I anxiously walked to the baggage carousel. My hopes were dashed when I saw my business cards cycling past me. It looked like the aftermath of a ticker tape parade given in my honor to which I wasn’t invited. The entire conveyor belt was littered with Udi’s gluten free brochures and my contact information.
Spectacle or not, my mind was racing as I hurriedly collected each business card and coupon placing them into my carry-on bag. I felt like I was replaying the scene from “I Love Lucy” where she and Ethel were working in the chocolate candy factory and their conveyor belt was moving so quickly they couldn’t keep up.
I looked up and the Gluten Free Green Monster’s zipper had busted open and had exposed the inner secrets of our gluten free world.
As I gathered my other bags, I watched the Green Monster make its final lap around the carousel.
One thing I have learned on the road is that travel either makes people impatient or happy. Luckily, I fall in the latter category. In fact, I thrive on the challenges and opportunities of travel. Even during times that test my patience, like right now – I love it.
With my travel companion lying listless on the floor of Logan Airport, I attempt to revive the Gluten Free Monster. 3-2-1 Pull! I tug on the metal zipper. Nothing.
3-2-1 Pull! I tug again. Still nothing.
Come. On. I mutter under my breath, half giggling.
On the fourth attempt, I somehow managed to get our gluten free bread bag caught in between the zipper. Sigh.
I make light of the situation and call my colleagues who put me on speakerphone and deliver the sad news, “Time of death for the Gluten Free Monster, 4:45 ET.”
SmarteCart to the Rescue
Since I was traveling solo, I knew there was no way I could get from the baggage claim to the taxi stand without causing a comical scene.
Unyielding, I lay the Gluten Free Monster horizontal onto a SmarteCart and inform the taxi driver that we have to gingerly lay it on its side. As we load my other bags into the trunk, my driver remarks, “This thing is as big as you. At least it died in Boston where we have an actual Green Monster.”
Even though I travel each week, one thing I can never figure out is how to appropriately tip bellhops, rental car bus drivers and people who help me with my luggage.
When I arrive to my hotel, the Bell Captain recognizes me from my stay a few weeks ago during Expo East (I traveled with the Green Monster that week, too).
He greets me with a warm welcome and sees the Green Monster, which he had poked fun of days ago and sadly responds, “Uh-oh. It died.”
We exchange a quick, humorous glance. The next thing I know, he’s carrying the Gluten Free Green Monster to my room. Not on a luggage cart, but in his hands.
I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I burst out laughing.
I tip him and he says, “Keep it kid, you’re grieving.”
It’s not you. It’s me.
Cheers Gluten Free Green Monster. You made 2010 a fun year for travel. I am very grateful for the friendships I have made traveling the past year with Udi’s Gluten Free Foods.
In 2011, there will be more days on the road, new friendships, experiences and cities to visit. I think the biggest thing I am looking forward to next year is shopping for a new travel companion.
It’s not you Green Monster. It’s me. I need something a bit stronger, charming, and a tad more handsome and something that can keep up with me on the road. We will always have Boston.
Until next time, Be Udiful!