Writer’s Workshop: Islands And Such

A friend of mine once told me he uses the Columbus Method of typing. I asked him to explain what he meant, and he told me, “Find an island and land on it.”

Seriously, today the the prompt I’ve chosen is to base my post on the word “island,” and it made me think of the islands I’ve been on. And it struck me that every island I’ve ever been to was for work, or a work-related activity.

  • Puerto Rico I went to San Juan on a consulting assignment to their water company, PRASA. Thanks to missed connections in Miami and the fact that Puerto Rico is on Atlantic time, I arrived at 3 AM, and had a weird cab ride to the hotel where the driver stopped in his neighborhood and picked up a couple of his friends. The rest of the trip was pretty much taxi to the client from the hotel, taxi to the hotel from the client. My manager told me when I got back that they wanted me to spend a couple of months there to fix whatever issues they had. It never materialized.
  • Singapore I think I spent more time in the air getting to Singapore than I spent there. I was there to conduct a two-day class, arrived the day before, and left after the class. Singapore, at that time of the year, was exactly twelve hours ahead of Atlanta, and when I got back to the hotel after a day of teaching, I put on my tech support guy hat and supported classes that were ongoing in the US. Singapore is veddy, veddy British, don’t you know, even though most of the people are Asian, so I felt comfortable being there, but again, I spent a lot of time in taxis between the hotel and the client site.
  • Hong Kong I wondered if I should include Hong Kong, because I just stopped there on the way to Singapore and spent all my time in the airport. Interesting thing about public restrooms in Asia: there are usually one or two stalls which house a squat toilet. No, I never used one. I’ll save that bucket list item for my next life.
  • Manhattan I’ve spent a lot of time in Manhattan, relatively speaking, and it’s a very interesting place. To a lot of folks, Manhattan is New York. The first time I had sushi was in Manhattan. I got the sushi platter where the food just kept coming and coming. When I got my plate, I saw this blob of green stuff sitting on it. I figured, okay, green things are cool, picked it up and stuck the whole thing in my mouth. That was my introduction to wasabi, which if you’ve never had it is Japanese horseradish, except in most Japanese restaurants it’s hot mustard, horseradish, and green food coloring, which produces a flavor simiar to the real stuff, but a whole lot hotter. My last few trips were made to a client near Ground Zero, and I got the chance to see the aftermath about a year later. There was a chain-link fence surrounding the site, and people had hung clothing and other personal items from the victims on it. Very somber.
  • Long Island Several of my trips sent me to locations on Long Island, or as they say on Long Island, “Lawn Guyland.” I got lost on my way to a client site and ended up in Amityville, which I understand is at the very tip of the island. The client site was about ten minutes from my hotel. I had another trip where the client was a bank on a street corner in Flushing in what looked like a residential neighborhood. It was a small chain of banks, and evidently it was the only place they had a training facility.
  • O’ahu Yes, I had a couple of business trips to Hawai’i. I did a training class for a number of warehouse people in a facility near the airport, which was also where Dole had a processing plant, so the air was constantly redolent with the smell of pineapples. I made the mistake of wearing a tie, and one of the participants literally cut it off. “We don’t wear ties here,” she said. Listen, I remember the original Hawai’i Five-O, and those guys wore ties…
  • Hilton Head My company had an award called King’s Court, which one generally won by collecting a bunch of “attaboy” letters from clients. I managed to do so within my first year by spending all my time on the road, so my reward was to take Mary with me and go on the road to Hilton Head, where a full slate of activities was planned: golf (which we don’t do), sail (which we don’t to), play tennis (ditto). We nevertheless had an okay time.
  • Great Britain My list of islands originally ended with Hilton Head, then I remembered that Great Britain is also an island. Mary and I took a belated honeymoon there, spending a week in Edinburgh and a week in London, then I went to The Netherlands and England on a product-launch tour, where I trained our European associates.
  • Australia And, while I was writing the last entry, I remembered that Australia, while a continent, is also an island. I spent a week there, again training, this time our Australian associates. My friends saw to it that I had plenty to do while I was there, and one of the things was walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I managed to get lost one evening, going away from the water when I should have been going toward it, and that is a pretty interesting experience.

There isn’t much chance that I’ll be traveling much in the near future. Mary hates to go anywhere by plane, and travel is not a particularly handicap-friendly activity. I was never much for taking advantage of being in a foreign land to do sightseeing. But, ya know, maybe in my next life…

19 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Islands And Such

  1. I don’t recall having been to many islands. The ones in NY that you mentioned. Rhode Island–oh wait–I guess that’s not really an island. Maybe some others as well, but I can’t think of any right now. I don’t like being out in water or on boats so that has discouraged any island hopping for me. If I can’t drive then I don’t always like going.

    Tossing It Out


  2. Love the island hopping you did and holy wasabi!!! That stuff is hot!!!!! I’m surprised you lived to tell the tale. I too, was in Manhattan 1 year after 9/11 and visited the twin tower site…very sobering indeed. I’m trying to think of islands I have been to aside from Manhattan. I have been to the Dominican Republic which was fun but never left the hotel site. I have been to the Thousand Island and did a tour where we stopped at Boldt Castle. I loved it and want to go back since 20 years will make a difference to that beautiful castle. I think that’s about it actually.


    1. Both parts of Hispaniola have their rough areas but the Dominican Republic is a lot safer than Haiti. You were probably wise to just hang around the hotel. Where are the Thousand Islands?


      1. The thousand islands are in Ontario but also, I think, New York State. It is past Toronto, near Kingston at Gananoque. If you go to google maps you will find it. The islands can be so small that it is just a few rocks to larger islands with cottages. Boldt Castle was built by a Robber baron during the turn of the century for his wife whom he adored. She passed away just before completion and he stopped everything. He actually wanted the place destroyed but the heritage counsel intervened and it was saved. For the last 20+ years they have been restoring the castle. This castle is on the American side so when we ever visit we have to make sure we bring our passports. There is also the shortest bridge between the U.S and Canada. Hope you check it out


  3. That proved to be an excellent prompt for you! We’ve been to some of the same islands, but your list includes many farther than mine. I feel for you on the wasabi incident, but I’m sure you had clear breathing for hours after πŸ™‚ I’ve no interest in Hawaii, but I could sure use days that smell like pineapple! πŸ™‚


  4. You, island hopper, you! So many islands! Your sushi story made me crack up! Wasabi is sooooo hot! I used to get sushi for lunch and my coworkers would laugh at me because they knew exactly when the wasabi hit me!


    1. I doubt I’m the first person who’s done that. Funny thing was, After I finished coughing and wiped the tears out of my eyes, the waiter was standing there with a glass of water. “You like wasabi? Is Japanese horseradish.” We don’t generally get the real thing here, I don’t think; they use a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and green food coloring, whicvh approximates the real thing, which I understand is a little milder…


  5. Went to a picnic on Angel Island in the SFO bay once and attended a couple of birthday parties on Treasure Island when I was a kid but no far away island hopping for me yet. LOL on the Wasabi! I definitely stay away from that stuff.


  6. Hi John – well you’ve been to many more islands than I’ve been to … I’d love to go to Hawaii sometime and Australia … but when I wrote about Islands of the British Isles – I thought you’d like to know you missed 6,288 islands off your Britain honeymoon?! Granted only about 828 able to be visited … lots of dots around! Greek Islands too and African islands … but a mouthful of wasabi – no thank you … cheers Hilary


  7. SOOOOO interesting! I lived in Puerto Rico as a kid, and spent three years in Manhattan (yay). The wasabi story made my mouth water FOR you in sympathy – that’s scary! Thx for sharing your fun observations.


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