March 5th, 2012

Rants from the Rat-Race: The Business Trip, Part 1

4 p.m.

I’m leaving work now to catch a flight for New Orleans. I have a big work presentation to give tomorrow and I won’t let the team down. My flight isn’t until 6, but I’m responsible and plan on getting to Hobby early and eating a pretzel.

The first few raindrops hit my windshield like the instigator in a recess fight that calls people pussies until they swing at one another. These drops are followed by many more, but I am adept at driving in the rain while watching funny animal clips on my phone. Others are not, and a wreck occurs somewhere in front of me. Instead of moving their vehicles to the side of the road to wrestle or whatever you’re supposed to do after an accident, the drivers get out of their cars and gawk at each other like when you show old people a 3-D television.

5 p.m.

I’m running low on time. I grab my ticket from the parking machine and immediately place it somewhere I believe it can’t be lost. I will later find that I was wrong. I read about a good trick where you take a photo of the spot you parked in so you can remember where it is when you get back, but I forgot to do that. There’s nowhere to develop film around here anyway.

5:30 p.m.

Security goes very smoothly. The full body scanners are truly fascinating and give you the comfort that you are truly flying safe. These things are not true. I am yelled at to take off my belt, but it is in a tone that makes me think that the bald man in blue slacks only knows how to speak in this fashion. This is probably very irritating for his loved ones during foreplay, serious funerals and Jeopardy.

A man in a stocking cap and t-shirt forgets to take his Apple computer out of his bag and begins muttering something about people trying to control his life when the attendant reverses the conveyor. An oafish girl with a thick tongue begins panicking in the body scanner, but it is important to make sure 13-year-olds aren’t carrying guns and heroin. The bald man yells at her that it will be ok.

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6:00

After boarding the 737 and acting like I do not speak English when they ask me if I’m cool with potentially opening the emergency doors, I am able to switch seats with someone. That’s a lot of pressure. Plus, the lady who switched with me will probably think quicker if we go down. I just have to keep her child occupied now. I give the little girl my laptop and order a Jack Daniels once we take off.

The ride is bumpy and I think about eating a cigarette. I squeeze the armrest of my chair until my knuckles are white before I realize that it is not an armrest, but the arm of the little girl. She begins to cry a little so I let her finish my drink and try to get some sleep. Some people whine so much.

7:30

The rental car place is nearly booked thanks to Mardi Gras, so I take what they have. It is a nerdy looking vehicle that looks like a catfish head someone lopped off, painted red and put on wheels. However, I treat it with respect. I check my mirrors, buckle my seatbelt, and press the gas pedal to the floor to see if I could outrun a cop or a robot if I had to.

I forget to take my foot off the pedal fully before throwing the car into drive, and I lurch forward over the yellow bump. The exit gate attendant is staring at me. I see that I have fooled him into thinking I’m a fast-paced businessman. A mover and a shaker that wears matching socks and pronounces the word charcuterie the same way every time. A real go-getter.

9:00

I check into the La Quinta on Veterans after investing my per-diem on four hand-grenades, an airbrushed t-shirt and three hands of blackjack at a rest stop casino. I didn’t think it was a casino, but the guy in the truck said he would comp me some Better than Ezra tickets if I followed him in and provided some personal information. Fell asleep with clothes on to get jump on next day.

I won’t let the team down tomorrow.

To be continued in two weeks. Stay tuned…

— Tea Jones

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