Hoffman's Houston
oh, the horror...

Ken Hoffman's 2 true travel tales from troubling trips

Ken Hoffman's 2 true travel tales from troubling trips

French Quarter horse carriage
Hoffman shares a New Orleans horror story. Photo by Mario Tama, Getty Images

I have some very smart friends. Really, I do. I know government officials, doctors, lawyers, comedians, and lots of really bright journalists. And then...

True story: My buddy, we’ll call him “Bob” to protect his stupidity, flew to New Orleans a few days ago on “business.” He checked into a hotel on Canal Street. At some point during his visit, he lost his driver’s license. I think it’s best not to question how or where or what time of night. Let’s move on.

File this one under "Travel Horror Stories (self-inflicted)."

Losing your driver’s license is always a pain — even at home. On the road, losing your license can be a crashing headache. You can’t cash a check. You can’t check into a hotel. Some of New Orleans' more elegant five-star restaurants and regal drive-through daiquiri stands require a driver’s license before accepting a credit card.

Most important, you can't rent a car to drive home, or board a plane back to Houston.

Not to worry. My friend had it all figured out. He called his wife and asked her to find his passport and FedEx it to his hotel in New Orleans. At least a passport will get him on a plane.

Next day, "Bob" went to the front desk and asked if there was a package for him.

Receptionist: "Yes, the package arrived. Let me get it for you."

Bob: "Thank goodness, you have no idea what problems I'd have without that package!"

Receptionist: "Glad to help ... I'll just need to see your driver's license."

TV sleepers
The "Bestest Poll the Planet" RV stopped in Houston last week. The RV is on a national tour, interviewing Americans about their habits, beliefs, and opinions on hot topics. The "Bestest" app team gave me a couple of samples.

Sixty percent of respondents were against Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed to the Supreme Court.

More people use "haha" than "LOL" in emails.

I figured as much. But one poll result shocked me: According to the "Bestest" app, 33 percent of American adults can only fall asleep with a TV on.

Only 33 percent (including me)? Here's another true story, about a sleepless night that radio superstar Sean Pendergast and I spent in La Grange a few years ago.

Pendergast, a dedicated all-night-TV sleeper like me, decided to give the BP MS 150 charity bike ride a shot. Pendergast, another friend named Jeff, and I reserved a room at the ritzy Motel 6 in La Grange, the overnight halfway point between Houston and Austin.

Pendergast said he puts on Channel 57 The KUBE and climbs under the blankets. "I watch the back-to-back Seinfeld reruns at 11 and 11:30 pm and usually fall asleep. If I'm still up, I get syndicated court shows like Judge Judy all night."

My somnambulistic viewing habits tend toward CNN and ESPN or binge-watching sitcoms on the DVR. If QVC is demonstrating vacuum cleaners or blenders, I'll stay on home shopping.

Sean, Jeff, and I pulled into La Grange around late afternoon, stored our bikes at the "6," and went out for dinner. We got back to our room, watched an Astros game, and called it a night. We were exhausted from the ride. Well, Jeff and I were. It seems Sean took a shortcut by sneaking into a rescue van for most of the miles. 

Sean took the bed by the window. Jeff the bed in the middle. I pulled out the sofa-sleeper by the door. The TV was on, filling the room with artificial glare and irritating babble. Perfect sleeping conditions.

Me: “Good night.”

Jeff: “Good night.”

Sean: “Good night.”

That’s when Jeff, without polling the room, walked to the TV and — oh no! — turned it off. Sean and I popped straight up in the pitch black. I could see Sean’s outline, arms outstretched in panic. I was the same way. Panic! We can’t be alone with our thoughts in a quiet dark room.

Jeff got his way. Even though earlier that evening, he shocked us by washing his underpants in the bathroom sink and putting them in the microwave oven to dry. Which explains why there is no Yankee Candle scent called "Steaming Underpants."

That was the last night I've slept with no TV. I haven’t eaten popcorn from a motel microwave, either.