By: Shane Lambert
“Budget Travel” is a short story I wrote. It’s an example of a work of fiction of mine where the real-life corresponding events aren’t really depicted in the prose, however, I can’t deny a relationship between the two. The short story does contain connections to my real life, connections that only I could know of.
“Budget Travel” tells the story of a man, which I will call Fictional Me since I often write fiction in the first person, that desires to save some money travelling from Nice to Paris. This decision has some ramifications for Fictional Me since it involves ride-sharing with a grouchy lout.
In real life, I felt one specific emotion that Fictional Me felt in the short story. Fictional Me feels like he is being held hostage by his possessions. In real life, I once felt like that when someone I didn’t trust had control over my luggage.
In real life, I used a ride-share in New York at JFK airport, I think in the year 2010 or so. I didn’t really want to use the ride-share a short time after I’d already agreed to it. However, at this point, the ride-share driver had my possessions locked in her trunk and I felt pressure to be agreeable with her because of this.
What changed my mind about using the ride-share? At first, when I met the driver I thought that she represented a business. She offered to carry my luggage and I agreed, allowing her to carry one of my smaller pieces while I shouldered my larger backpack.
However, I soon found that she had no business decals on her vehicle. At this point, I paused and decided that I would take a real cab but, by this point, she had put my bag into her trunk. She then told me she was going to look for more passengers and that she would return shortly.
I remember feeling pressure to comply because of what I will call discombobulation. Everything happened fast and I wasn’t processing things right. When two other passengers arrived, I then felt safer because they seemed like friendly enough people. But later, she upped the price of her service and I agreed because I felt pressure to be congenial with her in order to get my luggage back. In this way, Real-Life Me has a similar experience to Fictional Me in the short story, however, I won’t get further into plot spoilers.
There are other connections between Fictional Me in “Budget Travel” and Real-Life Me. In real life, I once used a ride-share to travel from Calgary to Vancouver. During this ride-share, which took place in 2009, the driver informed me of a pertinent change during the trip: he wasn’t actually going to Vancouver but only to Chilliwack, which is 90 minutes short of Vancouver. This is an important detail that he kept from me as we negotiated price.
Fortunately, we had a pay-half-here and pay-half-there agreement so I deducted the price of a Greyhound ticket between Chilliwack and Vancouver from the latter half. There is a similar event in the short story and by similar, I don’t mean exactly the same so don’t consider this a plot spoiler.
Lastly, a connection between Real-Life Me and Fictional Me in “Budget Travel” is that I really did once travel from Nice to Paris. The above photo is from Nice with the Mediterranean Sea in the background. The photo below is from the same trip and shows me in Paris, France at you-know-what.
However, I didn’t use a ride-share but instead took a night train. This night-train service is mentioned as being too expensive for Fictional Me but in real life it wasn’t. However, I did take the night train because the day trains were far too expensive and I even liked that the night train saved one night’s accommodation for me as I traveled on a budget in France. In real life, for better or worse, I don’t know if I would use a ride-share in France as I would prefer to be under the protection of a reputable company as I traveled vulnerably in a country I didn’t know.