Hold On To Your Hats

I am a terrible traveller. I’m an introvert and a nester, and I like my house. I get very stressed out in foreign environments where I don’t have control over every little thing.

I once had a minor meltdown in Mexico – at an all-inclusive resort where you are completely protected from the actual local culture, of course – when I discovered that the light switches worked sideways, instead of up and down.

I once had a crying fit in Cuba – at an all-inclusive resort, of course – when I did not understand that the guy reaching for my luggage was a hotel employee, not a thief, and then after I yelled at him, he didn’t want to help us with our luggage anymore, and now how were we going to find our room without help, and WOE WOE WOE??? FameThrowa had to dig me out of that hole.

My first year out of university, for my first full time job ever, I had to take a business trip. I was a developer and travel was in no way part of my job description. However, a company in England that used my product was having repeated crashes and no one could figure out why, and we couldn’t duplicate the problem on our local setup. It was a very important client so the company decided to send someone to debug it on site.

Someone being me.

This was just a week or so before Christmas and I FREAKED OUT. The very idea of going to a cold, damp, dark country just before the holidays was horrifying. I can’t even imagine how awful it would have been had it been, say, a country where people don’t speak English. Or there are no McDonalds (where I ate 95% of my meals). I was very young, it was the first time I had ever been outside Canada, and I was UP! SET!

So one night after I’d been working all day, some of the guys I was working with decided to take me out to a restaurant, because they knew I was having a miserable time and they wanted to cheer me up. After eating, just before I got up to leave, I went to use the bathroom. There was a little hook in the stall and I hung my winter coat and hat on the hook.

When I left the bathroom, I accidentally left my hat behind.

Now this hat was an important hat. My mother had made it for me, by hand, just a month or so earlier. It was a black and white tweed, with little flecks of red and green in it. It was lined in black with a strip of red ribbon around the inside edge where the hat met the brim – like a secret little hint of “I love you” from my Mommy.

And when you’re lonely and distressed in a foreign country near Christmas, having a comfort item from your Mommy is important.

Once we were outside the restaurant I realized what had happened, but by the time I went back, it was gone. I looked everywhere and asked the staff, but no one had seen anything. It was gone.

WHO STEALS A HAT? Have those idiots no fear of lice? Their mommas did not raise them right. HOOLIGANS.

I called the restaurant at least twice a day for the rest of the time I was there, and nothing. I called Sir Monkeypants as soon as I got home that night, in tears, and the poor guy did his best to comfort me from across an ocean about the horror of a lost hat. Because he is very nice that way, and he didn’t even mock me about it until I was safely back on Canadian soil.

But seriously, who steals a hat? Idiots. I still tear up when I think about it.

So last night, the girls had their first swimming lesson of the winter, and we had some scheduling difficulty that caused dinner to not get made on time. After swim class we went out to Wendy’s for dinner.

Then when we got up to go, MY HAT WAS GONE.

Now, I really loved this hat, too. It was a Canada Olympic hat from the last winter Olympics. You’ve probably seen them around – it’s white with red maple leaves on it, and red tassles and ear flaps. It was my go-to hat for winter, my signature hat. My little bit of warmth in a brutal, cold country.

It was definitely there at the start of the meal.

Not there at the end of the meal.

I searched everywhere in the restaurant, under all the tables, everyone looking at me like a freak. The staff had seen nothing, no one had turned it in. It was gone.

I was forced to go home HATLESS.


The hooligans are invading! It’s time to hoard spam, load up on bottled water, build that bomb shelter in the basement!

And above all, hold on to your hats.

11 thoughts on “Hold On To Your Hats

  1. “I once had a minor meltdown in Mexico – at an all-inclusive resort where you are completely protected from the actual local culture, of course – when I discovered that the light switches worked sideways, instead of up and down.”

    LOL! I’m sorry but that is too funny! Stress makes us do funny things!

    That is so pathetic that people stole your hats! Honestly, who does steal personal wear like that?

  2. famethrowa

    It’s very natural to get stressed out or upset when you’re traveling about issues you wouldn’t bat an eyelash at back at home. It’s hard for nesters to be away from home. It adds a strange feeling that you’re falling through space, that you’re lost, that everything is out of order and out of your control, which means you’re always a little on edge. That little strain that’s constantly there means you have less energy to deal with a crisis, when it arises.

    I know because I’m similar (but, as we know, not *quite* to the same extent 😉 ).

    On my most recent trip, I had a hissy fit when the front desk wouldn’t bring me a second pillow. Sure, I got by with my head on a folded blanket, but it left me in a sour mood for hours.

    Then, in another city, a cockroach in the room nearly had me packing up and flying back to Ottawa. I think I was justified in being upset about the cockroach, but the situation because a bigger ordeal than it needed to be.

  3. HOOLIGANS indeed. How dare they?

    I actually rather enjoy travel and all the unfamiliarity that goes with it, but even I sometimes hit a breaking point where I just want things to be the way I expect them to be.

  4. Oh my that is hilarious. Well, not so funny that your hat was stolen but hilarious to read your past encounters of hysteria. A good read and I hope you can somehow find another (new) hat from the old Olympics.

  5. That… is weird. What’s with the hat-stealers?

    I’m a terrible traveller too. Remind me to tell you about pumping breastmilk in Morocco some time. I think I only do it now because it makes me love home so much more (my kids do think it’s a little weird when I lie down and hug the floor, but hey, that’s the way I roll).

  6. shoot. i totally thought there was going to be a happy ending to this story, like someone found the hat and mailed it back to you or something.
    people suck.

    1. nadinethornhill

      I was also waiting for the happy, found-the-hat, ending. Instead my faith in non-hat stealing human decency has been shaken.

  7. I LOVE TO TRAVEL! And wish I could do so much more of it. I do have to admit that I get really sad and a little nervous when I have to travel for business since having the jellybean, but I still love to do it. I can’t wait until the bean is older and we can go off discovering new places. When I was in Thailand I met a German couple with two kids in tow, one in a backpack! I want to be them.

    On hat stealers, they suck! And what is it with apparel stealing in local fast food restaurants? I had my LLBean mitts stolen at the McDonald’s down near Sparks street while I was on strike. Man, 4 hours of walking in the blowing snow with no mitts sucks!

    I would check eBay or something for the hat. You never know what you may find. Hat and mitt stealers suck! Rotten hooligans.

  8. I cannot believe someone took your hat at Wendy’s – or in England, for that matter. I’ll have to hope that the person who picked it up had one similar and thought it was their’s maybe??? That might restore my faith in humanity. I know which hats you mean exactly too – I have one too!!

  9. Travel and hat loss is endemic. Our 10-month trip featured four separate hats (I learned my lesson after the first one, opting for cheap and funky). There was the fedora (lost in Rio), the K-guevera (in honour of Argentina, lost on a train in Spain), the Kimu-gabe (in honour of Africa) and finally, Kimmer-rouge (South-East Asia, lost in Siem Reap).

    But think of it this way — you get to pick a new one now!

  10. Once I let my boyfriend borrow my winter hat. We were in college, and he said he didn’t own his own anymore, and I wasn’t going out, so I let him borrow mine. I’d bought it when I was visiting my brother his first year of college — so it was special to me, too. Anyway, my boyfriend left my hat at one of the bars he visited that night. And apparently my brother’s college bookstore doesn’t make this particular style anymore. I still like to make the boyfriend feel guilty about it. But it’s true what they say: Hooligans are almost always someone you know.

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