In my family, we have a unique way of getting ready to take a vacation. Knowing that for a few days away we will be stress-free, we try to cram in as much stress as possible before we leave.

Knowing how to create pre-trip stress is both a science and an art. It requires meticulous organization and painstaking attention to detail that generally involves much actual pain.

We will be vacationing soon. This is how we have prepared:

-I hurt my back.

-Our lawn mower died.

-My wife hurt her back.

-Our septic system failed.

-My wife developed an abscess in her mouth.

-We couldn’t use the sinks or the toilets at home.

-Those annoying idiot lights on the car dashboard began blinking idiotically.

-My watch battery expired.

-I hurt my hip.

-My wife may have to have a tooth extracted.

-The car engine oil dipstick showed that the car had no engine oil.

-I lost my wallet.

-My wife has to have root canal work.

-We had to file amended income tax returns.

-My son broke his wrist.

-We had to put in a new septic pump.

-And we lost our puppy

Actually, we don’t really have a puppy, but if we had one, we would have lost it. Its name would have been Fluffy.

We have not yet gotten into an auto accident, but we’re trying to see where we can fit it into our schedule. We’re available Wednesday from 10 to 2.

I know it’s not every family that is able to stick to such a highly regimented pre-vacation plan. But alas, we’ve had experience.

There was the time we just had to check the trunk of the car before heading out on a road trip and so we just popped up the trunk, right into the middle of my forehead, slicing it cleanly in half.

There was the time the day before we left for Europe when we headed over to the bank to get some money and found out that the bank had been closed by federal regulators.

There was the time we packed everything into the trunk of the car and then discovered, a day later after driving through a hurricane, that the sun roof leaked – right into the trunk.

There was the time I went jogging the day before we were driving north and managed to find the only hole on the trail into which my ankle could fit perfectly. It was my right ankle. It looked like an eggplant. I was driving a car with a right ankle clutch.

None of these stories is made up. Neither is my ankle.

By the way, on the trip we’re about to take we’re going to hike down the Grand Canyon. At least that’ll be easy and stress-free.