The lesson "The Accidental Tourist" by Bill Bryson contains five different narratives. Let us look into each one in detail. Moreover, let us give them a few interesting titles, shall we?
1. The zip incident
The zip incident is the main incident on which the lesson is woven around. It is the first incident that the narrator recounts in the lesson. The incident took place during the previous travel he took with his family. It was during Easter, and they were flying to England from Boston, U.S.A. While they were in the line to check-in, the narrator suddenly remembered the privilege card he had with him. He had recently joined British Airways’ frequent flyer programme, and by using the card, he would be eligible to gain more points. He remembered putting the card in his carry-on bag which was hanging around his neck. The narrator tried to open the bag's zip. However, as luck would have it, the zip was stuck. He tried pulling it open, but nothing happened. He kept pulling it harder, and with increasing grunts and frowns. All of a sudden, the zip came undone. The narrator lost his control over the bag and dropped all its contents on the floor. He had also hurt his finger when the zip had come undone abruptly. At the sight of the blood, he becomes quite distraught and hysterical.
2. Shoelace and the crash position
The narrator was settled on his seat when he discovered that his shoelaces had come undone. So he leaned over to tie them. When the narrator leaned down, the passenger before him threw his seat back so that he could lie down.
Unfortunately, the narrator got stuck in the crash position between the floor and the seat's back. He lied helplessly for a while before he could manage to get the attention of his neighbour. He scratched the leg of the man sitting next to him and brought his plight into the latter's notice. In the end, thanks to the help from the neighbour, the narrator freed himself from the uncomfortable position.
3. The curious case of a clumsy arm
The narrator was seated near a lady on a plane on whose lap he accidentally knocked a soft drink. The "sweet little lady" remained calm and left the matter aside. After knocking the drink, the flight attender came, cleaned the lady up, and brought the narrator a replacement drink. As luck would have it, the narrator knocked it on the woman again! The lady was dumbstruck! She was so astonished and taken aback that she muttered the unspeakable expression, "Oh for ****'s sake". The narrator was more than surprised to hear the lady utter the phrase in public, and more so because she was a nun.
Thinking back to the incident, the narrator says that he could never figure out how such things happened. He felt like his arm acted on its own. He remembers reaching out for the replaced drink, and he watched helplessly how his clumsy arm moved abruptly and violently to knock the glass off. The narrator also compares his clumsy arm to a cheap prop from one of those 1950s horror movies with a name like "The Undead Limb".
4. The pen, the ink, and the worst experience
The narrator was writing important notes such as 'buy socks' and 'clutch drinks carefully' on his notebook, and was sucking thoughtfully on the end of his pen. Meanwhile, he fell into a conversation with an attractive young lady in the next seat. He indulged in an exciting conversion, throwing witty remarks occasionally, for about \(20\) minutes. Later, when the narrator excused himself to the lavatory, he was startled to find that the pen he had been sucking on had leaked. His mouth, tongue, teeth, gums, and even his chin had turned navy blue. Moreover, the ink was very bright and scrub-resistant. Despite trying to rub it off, it remained on his face for several days. This had also been the worst experience of the three incidents.
5. The flyer miles
It was in January when the incident happened. He was on a flight to Australia, a flight for which he would get about a zillion air miles. So when he extended his privilege card to the clerk to register his travel, the clerk shook her head and told him that he was not entitled to any. The narrator asked her why for which the clerk responded by saying that the ticket was in the name of B. Bryson, and the card was in the name of W. Bryson. The narrator tried explaining to the clerk the relationship between "B" and "W" in the names. But, as is the rule, the clerk couldn't accept it. Hence, he missed the points.