“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Whitney M. Young
A lot of people have told me how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to attend the World Dog Expo in New Jersey last month, and they are correct. I am indeed, very lucky! But not in the way that most people would think. Things don’t just happen easily for me, and they definitely never fall nicely into place. In fact, most of my plans never work out the way I’d like – and many of my successes actually came out of complete failures. This last trip up to New Jersy to attend the World Dog Expo was no exception.
I first learned about the event from the Groomer to Groomer issue that I picked up at the Atlanta Pet Fair. After reading about the event in the article, and how this was the first year that grooming competitions and demos would be front and center at the show, I knew I wanted to be there. But I immediately felt an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach when I started thinking about the cost of the trip. I told myself, “If they’d be willing to give me a press pass to get into the show, I’d be willing to do whatever it takes to get there.” So I emailed the media contact for Barkleigh Productions, and politely asked if they’d consider giving me a press pass based on my media credentials.
“There’s no way they’re going to answer me this close to the show,” I thought. “If they do reply, it’ll probably just be another rejection.” But I still sent the email for the same reason I still buy a lottery ticket, or throw a penny in a wishing well. What does it hurt to try? Well, it would hurt my feelings and my ego a little bit to get rejected, but I wouldn’t lose much for asking. So I hit the send button, went to sleep, and didn’t give it another thought. I didn’t even tell my wife, who is in charge of all the budgeting, because why stress her about something that probably won’t even happen.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are too busy living our fears.” Les Brown
As you know, they did say “Yes”! I did get to go, but not without challenges all along the way. From the day we were trying to leave to the day we got back, things were not going our way. There was an unexpected $200 deposit for the rental van that really put a damper of some of our plans before we could even start the trip. We didn’t know that we needed a parking ticket to park in front of our Air B&B rental, so we woke up to a $50 fine the first morning in New Jersey. I planned to visit my grandma who lives in Staten Island, NY, but things just didn’t work out. Our trip into NYC was pretty much a disaster too, and we blew a lot of our spending money on ridiculous tolls, parking fees and the subway. I picked the cheapest looking parking lot I could find, but still ended paying $49 for just 2 hours of parking. Things were starting to heat up. I could see it in my wife’s eyes. LOL!
The next part of our road trip was to stop by Washington, D.C. for a couple of days on our way back down to Georgia. We did have a great time there, especially hanging out with old friends from Arizona for a day. But the next day we pretty much ran out of money, but luckily the museums were free and we had plenty of water and Gatorade to drink.
Around 3:30pm my wife kept telling me that she has a funny feeling about the rental van, and that we should go and check on it. It was parked only a few blocks away from the National Air and Space Museum where we were browsing. But the summer sun and humidity was intense, and I was not very motivated to leave the air conditioned building. I really didn’t see the need to. We paid for 4 hours on the parking meter so we still had at least 2 hours left. She kept insisting though, so we finally started walking towards the van around 4pm.
As we got closer to our parking spot, my heart dropped. I remember feeling like I was sinking into the earth, and feeling weak and shaky all of a sudden. It was gone!! Our rental van was gone!! We learned that even though the meter had time on it, it didn’t matter because after 4pm all cars that are parked on that street get towed. Luckily we were able to walk to where they towed our van and drive it away. If we had to pay any type of fee for impounding or anything like that, we would have been screwed. We had enough money left to fuel up, and maybe buy a couple of Happy Meals for our girls. But that was it. When we finally made it back home, I felt like I needed a vacation from our vacation. I was exhausted! At the same time, I felt better than I’d ever felt before. I knew that I had grown so much in character from the experience. I felt like I could take on any challenge, overcome any obstacle in my way. I needed this trip so much.
When we got back home I felt the need to apologize to my mother. I had held a lot of rensentment towards my parents when I was younger, and blamed them for a lot of bad memories. I would tell them that I hated going on vacations with them because all we do is fight the whole time, and they would get all bent out of shape. I even turned to my wife while driving home and said, “I get it… I totally get it now. My parents were doing the best they could. They were dealing with so much stress, especially because of money – or the lack thereof.” I felt terrible now that I’ve experienced first hand how stressful and scary it can be traveling on a very tight budget – wanting to give your children good memories and experiences but having to deal with our own fears and emotions when things go wrong.
I sincerely hope that my mother knows how deeply sorry I am for making things much harder on her during those times. I was a child, and I did not know how hard it was. I didn’t understand. If it wasn’t for this trip to New Jersey, I’d still be that child that doesn’t know any better. Arrogant, stubborn, and ignorant. I’m not saying that I’m completely cured of my immaturity, but at least I’m now more aware of my flaws. The dianosis is not the treatment, I understand that. But without the dianosis we wouldn’t even know what to treat. For that I will always be grateful for the opportunity to attend the World Dog Expo in Seacaucus, NJ.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Helen Keller