Sometime last year a Canadian named Jordan Axani purchased around-the-world trip tickets for himself and his girlfriend. Unfortunately, their relationship ended, leaving Axani in possession of an extra non-refundable, non-transferrable ticket. What to do? In this age of social media, the answer was clear: find another Canadian with a current passport and the same name to step in and use the spare ticket. In November, Axani publicized his offer through Reddit and ended up with 18 viable candidates. Last month he announced the winner, 23-year-old Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. The two met the week before Christmas and began their adventure several days later. They are now about two weeks into their three-week tour.
It is little wonder that Axani’s story quickly went viral. It reads like something straight out of “The Bachelor.” There is just one problem: Gallagher has her own boyfriend, who is understandably not thrilled at the prospect of his paramour spending three weeks with another man. But she is quick with the reassurance that “this is totally sort of like as friends.” Phew, like, what a total sort of relief. I’m sure Mr. Boyfriend feels much better now. (He might have felt even better if he had been the one invited along as Gallagher’s companion when she and Axani first met, but apparently he was not.)
No Harm Done, Right?
None of the parties involved owes the world an explanation, of course. They’re private citizens, and grown-ups. (Work with me here.) But since they have made their adventure public, to the point of documenting the entire trip online, they shouldn’t be surprised that members of that public might have an opinion on the whole odd escapade.
On the one hand, it all seems pretty innocuous. It’s just a trip around the world, after all, not auctioning off someone’s virginity. What’s the big deal? Axani promises the trip is “strictly platonic,” and updates on his blog appear to be bearing that out. Marriott International smartly saw an opportunity for publicity and offered to provide the travelers separate rooms for the duration of travel. And there is now a developing philanthropic component to the trip, as Axani has announced he’s launching a non-profit organization, A Ticket Forward, to provide “transformative” travel experiences to deserving candidates.
Still, if I were Gallagher’s boyfriend, I would not be happy to hear how much my girlfriend enjoyed her hours-long phone chat getting to know her traveling companion: “It definitely did seem a little bit creepy at the beginning but now that I talked to him it’s less creepy and more awesome.” I would also not be pleased to hear that, now that the trip is underway, the two have not ruled out traveling together again in the future. I guess that’s what they mean by “transformative.”
You Can Do Much Better, Mr. Boyfriend
Call me old-fashioned, but I find myself feeling very sorry for Gallagher’s unnamed boyfriend. It used to be that people fell in love, got married, then scrimped and saved for years to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip with their one true love. These days, true love apparently means not standing in the way of your beloved’s chance to see the world on the cheap, even if it requires she do it with another man. To Gallagher’s boyfriend, I say look at the bright side: if the two of you remain a couple and someday get married you can forego the expense of an extravagant honeymoon, since your wife will have already “been there, done that.” Put the money towards something more practical, like, say, marriage counseling.
Maybe I’m just being overly cynical. Gallagher says she’s “not really looking for anything at all” (not really!) since she and her current boyfriend have “been together for a while . . . [are] planning on buying a house” and even “have a puppy.” No mention of a ring or a marriage license, but hey, there’s a puppy. That has to mean something, right?
Um, wrong. For what it’s worth, here’s my advice to Mr. Anonymous Boyfriend: you can do better. A woman who would ask you to stand by and take it while she traipses around the world with a total stranger is not giving you the respect you deserve, as either a boyfriend or a human being. A woman who truly loved you would wait to see the world until she could do it with you, and if it never happened, she would not count her life as any less complete since she would still have you in it. For your sake, I hope I’m wrong, but I predict that this time next year Gallagher will have left both you and Axani in the dust.
If I’m right, give me a call. I know some very nice ladies who understand the meaning of commitment. You should know, though, that none of them is the type to go buying a house or getting a puppy with a man until he puts a ring on it.