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Dear Customers,

                It’s a long-standing joke among my family and friends that when it comes to “travel” . . . I prefer not to.  It wasn’t always like that, I used to enjoy packing for days, getting up at the crack of dark, fighting traffic for several hours and then sleeping in a bed that wasn’t contoured to my every dimension!  As I’ve aged, however, I’ve gotten decidedly more comfortable in my own environment.  I still enjoy travel – in theory – it’s just the actual putting it into practice where the discomfort sets in.

                Imagine my excitement, then, when this past October I was informed that I would be traveling via car, plane and shuttle from Smethport to the Raleigh-Durham airport to attend a very prestigious milestone in my daughter’s medical school experience; the White Coat ceremony!  We could have driven the 10+ hours by car each way, but I got the bright idea of catching the plane out of State College.  The most direct route involved a stop in Philadelphia with a short layover before changing planes and continuing on to North Carolina.  It would still be much faster than driving so we booked the flights. 

                Having not flown since 2005, I wasn’t prepared for all the new safety rules.  Getting ready to fly involved arriving at the airport several hours before take-off, removing certain lethal articles of clothing (shoes and belt among them) and allowing a dis-interested TSA clerk to paw through my entire carry-on suitcase – which even though it met the stringent dimensions of a “carry-on” was politely checked into the belly of the plane. 

                Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of air travel was being told many of my toiletries were too large to go on the plane.  Apparently shampoo and body wash, when stored in close proximity, can be used to construct an explosive device.  Its probably because of this most recent trip that we began looking for smaller, travel-size health and beauty aids to carry at Costa’s Supermarket.  In conjunction with our wholesaler, we were able to add over 50 new items that could be described as “travel” or “trial size”.  These include medicines, bandages, shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, disposable razors, mouthwash and practically anything you’d need for a short trip or a limited stay away from home. 

                Even if you’re not planning a trip, many of these items are welcome additions to anyone’s purse or the console of your vehicle; small packages of headache pills, hand lotion and other assorted aids for those times when you’re not sitting in your favorite recliner.  Most of the pain relievers are displayed at the cash register – a friendly reminder!

                Fortunately, I had been for-warned by my oldest son, a veteran flyer, and purchased smaller, acceptable sizes of everything for my toiletry bag.  As luck would have it, my fears that I would run out of mouthwash in the three-day trip were rendered moot by hurricane season in North Carolina.  High winds delayed our departure from State College – the late arrival in Philly mandated that we circle the airport waiting for our turn – and another lengthy wait on the tarmac while a couple of apathetic minimum wagers hunted slowly for my “carry-on” – determined that we got to our departure gate for Raleigh-Durham just as the flight attendant slammed the door shut.  Attempts to book a later flight were met with, “Raleigh-Durham airport is closed for the rest of the day, and in fact, there’s no guarantee that the flight you missed will even land there!”

                Five hours later and after conversations with at least three harried airline employees, we rented a car and drove sadly back to State College to pick up our vehicle.  The exorbitant car rental fee was compounded by the pricey parking fee necessary to get our own vehicle out of the lot.  But at least I had all the right size toiletries!  Bet I won’t be using them anytime soon!