Shout-Out to Val

Last night, Billy and I had a wonderful late-night conversation with our friend Jack—a character and traveler in his own right. We were talking about getting from place to place while abroad, and our conversation went something like this.

Jack. When you’re at the airport in Japan will anyone be there to pick you up?

Elliott. Nope. We’re just going to have to figure it out when we touch down.

Billy. That will probably be the hardest thing we do honestly.

Jack. And how’s that Japanese coming?

Elliott. Not great.

Billy. Yeah not too well.

Elliott. It will be fine though. We’ll just plug in the address on one of our phones.

Jack. Ehh the phone GPS can be tricky. When Meer and I were in Ireland we tried following my phone’s GPS and got sooo lost.

Billy. Yeah?

Jack. Yeah, like, it was bad.

Elliott. What happened?

Jack. So Meer and I were trying to find our way to some place in Dublin, right? And so we used the phone GPS, which was fine until we started going through some really sketchy streets. I remember we were walking down this side street when two old men came out of a pub and stopped us and were like, “What are you guys doing? Don’t go down the rest of this street.”

Billy. Shit.

Jack. Yeah it was bad. *sips his bourbon* Anyway those two old guys gave us an alternate route around the shitty area but really the detour was just as bad. Literally all the windows on every building were shattered and a bunch of like, twelve-year olds were following us and alternating between calling us faggots and homeless.

Elliott. I definitely don’t remember you telling this story before.

Jack. Mm. *sips more bourbon* By that time we had pretty much given up on the GPS and were completely lost, and that’s when we met Val, who is a great guy.

Billy. Val?

Jack. Yeah, he’s a taxi driver in Dublin and he rescued us—twice. He immediately saw that we were both foreign and lost and finally gave us some solid directions. We thanked him and started walking again, but keep in mind Meer and I had on our full backpacks, and we had been walking all day in practically the opposite direction in which we needed to go. Darkness was falling, neither of us had eaten much all day, and we were still a few miles out from our destination.

Elliott. How late was it?

Jack. Late. Like, no one else was out on the road at that time. It’s all so quiet at that kind of hour, and Meer and I are walking alone, unprotected, to God knows where. So we’re walking along as fast as we can when out of nowhere a car cuts out in front of us. Neither of us approach. The window rolls down, and from the dark interior we hear the melodious brogue of Val: “Couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the two o’ you out. Get in, I’ll take you where you need to go.” He drove us there, gave us his business card with his personal number on it and told us to call him if we ever needed a ride. Didn’t charge us fare either. Great guy. Still think I have that business card somewhere in my backpack. *finishes his bourbon* So yeah. Careful with the GPS thing.

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