Oct 17, 2006

It doesn't count as a "road trip" if it's for work.

Today, I drove three hours to D.C., spent 5-1/2 hours onsite, and then drove four hours back. In the rain. In traffic. Here's what happened while I was driving.

Morning. I had to blow my nose and all of a sudden realized I had NOTHING on which to blow it. I had already nixed the idea of stopping at the Chesapeake House for coffee since I had to make up for lost time (the lost time being the time I was still sleeping instead of driving this morning). I even decided to go through the EZPass lanes at the tollbooths instead of paying cash (although that meant I would not get receipts to turn in for reimbursement and now I'll have to forge something or write up some sob story about how the receipts flew out the window), so there was no time to waste looking for tissue outside my own car. Finally, I found something in the glove compartment that looked like a minipack of babywipes, all dried out with age. Perfect! Except it wasn't babywipes, it was some type of freshen-up wipes for after the gym, and the pack smelled like it used to be saturated with Axe Bodyspray. I had no choice, so I blew my nose and then smelled the overpowering Axe-type smell with newly-cleared sinuses and almost threw up in my own lap.

No stopping for Dubin! No Cinnabons, no coffee, no nothing. Also, since I only drive about 65, I had to make up some time for that as well. I usually go down there with Eeyore ,who drives like a madman so we get there in 2-1/2 hours even with the pitstops. This morning it took me three hours and when I finally showed up I found that I had missed the whole meeting but really that's not important for reasons I won't bother to explain here.

Skip forward past the working part to the next interesting agenda item:

Lunch. We ate with the client and the contractor at the cafeteria of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the site on which our building is located. If you use your imagination, you can envision what it is like to eat lunch at a cafeteria that is painted pepto-bismol-pink all over (David O. noted that it must be "preemptive") and is full of retired soldiers. These guys are all old, some of them friendly, some of them ornery, and almost none of them female. We sat a table with one of the chaplains. I ate the sloppy joe with tater tots and drippy peas. The contractor had the fried fish slab with 6 oz. of tartar sauce on top, plus tots and drippy corn. David O. chose the cream of asparagus soup as well as something that looked like a salad he fabricated at the salad bar except that it was made of gherkins, pineapple chunks, beets, grated cheese, and marshmallows. The main topic of conversation was about whether you should be unequivocal with your teenage children about forbidding drug and alcohol use in all cases, or whether it would help to be realistic and try to teach moderation. I voted for unequivocal, but then again it's all academic to me so I can say whatever I want because I don't have scary teenage kids yet.

Skip the rest of the work day except the part where the contractor is asking me how he's supposed to install a duct in an existing soffit if I didn't indicate any demolition work at that soffit. I said, "Just shove it in there." He was like, "Just shove it in there?" and I was all, "yeh, just stick it in there." This is actually architect/contractor humor because he wanted me to admit that I forgot to indicate demo and patching, and I was trying to be retarded so we could move on to the next topic.

Evening. Driving home, there was plenty of time in traffic to choose which pledge drive I felt like listening to. I actually even listened to Christian Radio for a good half-hour because it was an allegorical kid's story told by animals and I was in the mood. I scanned around and heard a bunch of evocative songs before I got home:

    1. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Erica Dunn was the only one besides me who would admit liking Billy Joel in college. Either that or she was the only other person who actually liked Billy Joel, admission notwithstanding, but anyway we had that in common. We would occasionally go jogging up at that track... you know, that track that was kind of up on the hill but I don't even remember who owned it or where it was exactly, or why I went there for that matter because I hate jogging. But I remember Erica and singing Scenes from an Italian Restaurant while running around it. It's a catchy song.

    2. More than a Feeling. I don't need to expound too much on this, because everyone knows that I love Boston and that the 1976 debut album (best-selling debut album of all time, et cetera) is my favorite album. Tom Sholtz is my favorite pomp-rock boyfriend for obvious reasons. The first song on the album has special meaning for me because when I was running the Bay-to-Breakers (why am I running in all these stories?? I HATE running and I am a crap runner!) and I came up the last 500 yards towards the ocean, there were enormous speakers blasting this song and it literally propelled me across the finish line, I'm telling you. Christine and I would eventually harness the energy of the debut album for various late-night wallpaper-removing episodes at the Hazel House.

    3. Drown (Son Volt). This is from the 1995 album Trace and it was being played on some "eclectic" radio station between two other songs that had nothing to do with it. I think they played it because the song starts with, "Sky cracks open..." and the DJ was being cute about how it was raining all day. When I first got exposed to "alt. country" in the summer of 1999, it didn't catch on with me right away. In fact, I remember Sauce saying, "Oh, man, I wish I could produce and sell this stuff because it's like GOLD!" and thinking he was just being such a guy about it all. But somehow, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and their ilk crept up on me. Now hearing them reminds me of the Alabama summer.

    4. Brown-Eyed Girl. This song always makes me think of Mandy F. Although it's not my favorite Van Morrison song, I like that line about, "cast a memory back there, Lord, sometime I'm overcome thinking 'bout making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you ..." If you can excuse the earnest use of the phrase "making love," this line is an example of how evocative his lyrics often are... cast a memory back there, sometimes I'm overcome. Also, the song reminds me of visiting Mandy and Heather in Brookline, when they lived in that big house, except now that I think about it Mandy wasn't there at all, it was just me and Heather walking back from Trader Joe's in the warm rain, dropping wine bottles through wet paper bags onto the pavement.

Anyway, that's about it for the travelog. The gas light came on 50 miles out from the Hess near my house, and I just went for it. I rolled in on fumes, filled the car, bought a pack of gum, parked in the rain. T.J. made me dinner - some type of teriyaki tilapia that he copied off of Nate, who served the same thing last night, but it was GOOD, though! Thank you, Teej. You're nice... now I will brush my teeth while reading Capella/Bob/Megan and go to bed full... all in all not such a bad day, as workdays go...


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