This is the 5th article in a summer series on the life lessons that travel has to teach us.
The slogan ‘have boots will travel’ comes to my mind when I think about what I have learned about myself, others, and the world. You see, early on, at age fifteen, I decided that I wanted to become a professional wrestler. I started on this dream by actually saying it to myself and and also aloud to others: “I’m gonna be a pro wrestler.”
These determined words, and a whole lot of hard work, paid off. I started setting the ring up at age 15, started training at age 23, and had my first official match in this business on September 11, 1988 at age 25. And, in this business, one travels from city to city, state to state, and many times to international destinations. I lived this kind of life for over fifteen years, sometimes traveling as many as 200-300 days per year. That’s many miles of travel my friend! The road becomes your home.
I learned more about myself from my travels and received a better education than I could have ever received from any book or school. To me, the best part of the traveling was meeting all the fans and people from all walks of life and from all around the world. One of the highlights of this experience was enjoying and learning to appreciate the variety of foods and drinks that different places have to offer.
For instance wrestling out of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, the tours there took place during lobster season. You could get fresh lobster every day almost anywhere you decided to eat. It was also only about three dollars per pound, so it was very affordable. Being from Kentucky, lobster is hard to come by, and if you do find it, it’s quite expensive. Imagine going from eating fried baloney sandwiches, or ‘hobo steaks’ as they’re often times referred to, to eating fresh lobster or lobster rolls. That’s a treat!
Another interesting find was the variety in tea options. Now, I like tea, especially sweet tea. And I’m used to mine being sweet, but in some places in Georgia and Tennessee, they make it extra sweet, you know the kind, lots of added sugar, yummy! And in Japan, our English or brown tea is known as ‘Chinese tea’, and most of the Japanese actually drink green tea. Surprisingly I enjoyed the green tea as well, and I drank it straight, ie: no sugar added. I also enjoyed drinking sugar-free tea in England and in Australia.
Of course, a discussion of drinks wouldn’t be complete without beer! Now, I could write about the many different beers that I experienced in each country. But two of my most memorable finds weren’t types of beer. They were the serving methods of the suds. You see, for the most part, at least to me, beer is beer, good, and best served cold. However, in South Africa, they served their beer warm. And in Japan you can purchase beer right out of the vending machines in the hotels!
Oh, it’s the little things alright. It’s always the simple things to me that I enjoyed finding out about people, food, cultures and such. But, guess what the one constant was that I found while traveling? Coca-cola! No matter where I went I was always able to find a Coke. Guess what? They all taste the same. It was always nice to share a Coke and a smile.
And that my friend is your nickles worth of advice thrown in for free. I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I did writing about the simple things I learned while traveling.
-Bobby Blaze Smedley
Bobby Blaze Smedley is a professional wrestler turned bestselling author. His memoir of life on the road, Pin Me, Pay Me: Have Boots Will Travel chronicles his experiences with the inner workings of the pro wrestling world. He holds a BS, MA, and works as a Pro Wrestling Consultant. You can visit him on Twitter @bobbyblaze744.