I travel with a power board. Whether I’m going on an overseas holiday, a short girls’ weekend at Inverloch, or for a quiet Daylesford cottage weekend with my husband, the power board comes along. It is the item I jerk awake worrying I’ll forget at midnight. The last thing packed before leaving and the first thing taken out on arrival. Until recently, I assumed everyone else traveled with a power board too. And that they understood the etiquette involved.
I was wrong.
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Recently, while packing for a girls’ weeks I received the following text:
The air conditioning at the house is broken. If you have a small heater bring it along.
It wasn’t too thrilled. The weather forecast for the weekend was bleak – rain, hail, only thirteen degrees. But what could I do? I tossed a small blow heater onto my pile of luggage, unplugged my power board and zipped my case.
In the car on the way to Inverloch we discussed the air conditioning.
‘I hope it isn’t cold.’
‘Yes, me too.’
‘Do you think we’ll have enough heaters?’
‘Four should do the trick.’
‘What if there aren’t many power points?’
‘Not to worry,’ someone chimed in. ‘Liz has brought a power board.’
Silence. Craning heads. General murmur of approval. ‘Wow, Liz! That’s organised.’
Organised! Why not? There’s a first time for everything. I didn’t mention that I’d taken my power board from the plug with my USB chargers all lined up ready for action, that if they wanted to use it for more than temporary heating they would probably have to fight me for it. Or damn well pay for the privilege. And if there was any danger that their heating requirements might interfere with my iProduct charging, I’d be on the first bus home.
Some things are best left unsaid. Even between friends.
* * *
Now, I’m not a huge going away kind of girl but a week later I found myself packing again. This time for a weekend with my husband. I packed my power board of course (forgot my hair dryer but, oh well, I can live without that) and set off up the Calder Highway to Hepburn Springs. We had no problem with heating this time. Dijon, our small rented cottage was a delight. Tasteful and cosy with every modern convenience – including several well appointed power outlets. I wasted no time in bagging the one in the kitchen.
It was mine, so I thought, for the duration of our stay.
Now my husband is a minimalist – at home and when traveling. He prides himself on a paucity of clutter and baggage. There is only one problem with this strategy. It doesn’t involve a power board. And he is every bit as addicted to his iProducts as me.
The first morning I got up (late-ish). My husband had already gone cycling. As I stumbled to the coffee plunger and made myself a Dukan breakfast, I noticed he’d plugged his iPad into my power board.
I took a deep breath. Okay, confronting. But I mustn’t over react. I mean, it was only a power board and…sometimes compromises are necessary in a relationship. I struggled through my oat bran galette, gulped down my strong morning coffee and willed myself not to keep glancing over my shoulder at the power board.
After half an hour, I’d had enough. I jerked hubby’s cable out and plugged my phone back in.
Did it need charging? Well, no, but, really. There are limits. Even in a modern relationship.
This pattern continued for several days (the late-ish rising and the cycling) but, I thought, the compromise was working. Until, one morning I noticed a gap in the configuration of my power board. One of my official, Apple USB plugs was missing. Yes, that’s right missing. In its place, a cheap, dual, no-name USB plug from the Coburg Market.
‘Err…excuse me,’ I said. ‘Did you change my power board?’
‘Yes,’ hubby said. ‘We needed more space.’
Space! I shook my head. We needed more space? ‘And where exactly is my Apple plug?’
‘Over there.’ He shrugged. ‘In my bag.’
In his bag! Just like that, cool as you please. I swung round, rifling through his bag, untangled my plug and dragged it out. Turning back to him, I struggled to keep my voice even.
‘Husband.’ I said. ‘Granted ours is a modern marriage. But I do think you need to ask before altering a woman’s power board.’
* * *