How to Laugh at Unfortunate Circumstances

Posted on Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016

There are times in life when everything, no matter the level of planning, goes absolutely sideways and the only thing you can do is laugh; so went my first night in London.Cain_Picture.jpg

Picture yourself standing alone on a corner, around 2 AM, completely lost. For anyone who has never left the great US of A (like myself), moving to a foreign country is a little daunting. You plan meticulously for weeks leading up to your adventure. You read everything you think will help ease the transition. You even look up British phrases so when someone says ‘toodle pip’, you don’t answer with a blank stare. Now, take all of that research and understand that most of it won’t help.

My flight landed at Heathrow airport at 9:30pm and I thought one hour to get through customs, 20 minutes to change some currency and I’ll get to my flat by 11:30 no problem. Fast forward to 2am and there I was, stepping off the tube with the vaguest idea of my whereabouts and no GPS to find my flat. I stood on the corner with my ball cap pulled low, an enormous backpack holding far too many books and a cold sweat trickling down my spine. Apparently one hour to get through customs was laughably unrealistic; more like two and a half. Additionally, you probably want to check on how to get from the airport to said flat as well as how long it will take. A few crucial details I overlooked.

The thing to understand about wandering around London at a very late hour on a Friday night looking the definition of a tourist is that there will be drunken people everywhere and you will be heckled. Contrary to what you might think, this will most likely not improve your outlook on the situation. However, yelling cheers and smiling a lot usually keeps them at bay. Eventually, and I still don’t know how, I stumbled around North London long enough to find my flat. With heavy legs and sore shoulders, I banged on the door until my new and very groggy landlady answered the door, pointed to a door and went back to bed. I dropped my things climbed into bed and, although I was exhausted, I couldn’t fall asleep. I laid there, eyes open, staring at the ceiling, recalling the night’s events. Bit by bit my frustration turned to amusement as I realized that the night couldn’t have gone much worse than if I had planned it. So, with my heart a little lighter, I fell asleep and concluded my memorable first night in London.

To give a few quick pointers and share some info:
  • Heathrow airport is an awful place and leaving said airport will take hours
  • Smile and yell ‘cheers’
  • Remember that terrible situations usually make pretty good stories
Concluding, yes, things go wrong at very inopportune moments, but a life without a little struggle isn’t a very interesting life, is it?

Stephen Cain
U.S. Commercial Services
London