Thursday, May 17, 2007

The St. Louis Diaries - Day #2

4:45 AM - Just like every other time I travel, I'm unable to get a good night's sleep the first night. I'm awakened by the sound of someone shoving a complementary USA Today under my door, as he/she apparently banged his/her head/knee/elbow into my door by accident. It's 2:45 AM in California, right now.

6:30 AM - I'm up and down the rest of the "night", so I take my newspaper into…well, you know where guys read newspapers, whaddaya want…pictures?

6:40 AM - Has anyone else noticed that whenever a report on President Bush's declining approval rating is made public, it must follow that news of a foiled terror cell be leaked? Sure enough, not five seconds after I read about America's unhappiness with Iraq, do I find some
manufactured justification for the war in Iraq. Don't look at me like that…those men and women are "fighting for the freedom to speak my mind". They're just doing it in Iraq.

7:15 AM - After a shower, I'm afforded the opportunity for a little AM Sportscenter. I gotta say, I'm loving the show's new look. There's a grid to the right of the screen that lets viewers know which highlights are coming next. There's also an awful lot of "Schilling" on this day, so I make my leave.

7:45 AM - I'm officially lost. My customer's facility is in Hazelwood, which is about 10 miles outside of St. Louis. I got lost on a 10 mile drive. Not a personal low-proximity record, but definitely in the top 15.

7:46 AM - There are a TON of Christian billboards in this town. I mean, does He really have to advertise here in the Bible Belt? Talk about preaching to the choir. Hey, literally!

8:05 AM - I finally find my way and proceed to check-in. Everyone is assigned a laminated name badge aaaaaaand, yep…there I am. "Arron Camberon". (During introductions, the host announces me as "Err-in cam-BURRIN". I didn't correct her.

8:10 AM - Forgot to mention that my Vaseline Intensive Care lotion was confiscated at the gate in San Diego. White folk might laugh, but lotion is all the Black man has in our war against the ash. I'm forced to settle for the hotel's in-room Bath & Body Works' orange-ginger scent.

9:30 AM - The fifth of about 5,000 speakers on the day takes the stage. He's an Asian guy attired in Air Force blues and speaks with the most distinct Boston accent this side of NESN. As I jotted this down, I couldn't decide on the punch line. The finalists were "Dong F. Kennedy" and "Clam Chow Mein". We'll come back to this one.

12:15 PM - It's time for lunch. According to the agenda, we're already about eight days behind schedule for this three-day conference. I head to the facility's cafeteria, in search of ersatz BBQ. I find a guy serving up "BBQ Pork Sandwich with Fries" for $5.00. He literally takes two handfuls of shredded pig and puts it on a bun. He then takes a handful of onions and puts that on top. I assume serving spoons and other utensils are a California thing.

2:00 PM - So, with two pounds of pork resting uncomfortably on my colon, I drag myself to the first of two vitally important meetings, which are essentially the entire reason(s) why I was put on a plane in the first place. I enter a conference room and find my primary clients (representatives of a major U.S. military base) waiting for me.

2:05 PM - I'm supposed to be joined by two of my co-workers, who actually set up the meeting. Aaaaaaand, they appear to be running a wee bit late.

2:15 PM - Still no sign of my people. The guys at the other end of the table in the heavily-starched uniforms and Aaron Cameron haircuts remind me that my company was the one who set up this meeting. I'm sweating both pig and onions at this point.

2:20 PM - I'm frantically calling as many of the 2,000 employees at my company whose numbers I know in an attempt to find the cell phone numbers for my absentee teammates. Concurrently, my attempts at small talk were inadvertently inappropriate:

Me: "How's Lieutenant So-and-So? I haven't heard from him in forever."

Military Guy: "He was deployed to Iraq back in January. Haven't you worked any issues with his replacement?"

2:35 PM - After 35 minutes of awkward conversation and my own heavily-cured perspiration, our customers get up and leave. Although, not before I hand them hard copies and two CDs of my never-pitched presentation. Think of it as the equivalent of the hand stamp those trendy bars give you. Y'know how they're designed to not wash away the next day? Well, when word of this snub gets back to our management, that'll be my faded purple star on the back of the customer's hands. (Hmmm, that analogy read a lot better in rehearsals.)

4:00 PM - The walk through the parking lot back to my car has turned into an unexpected afternoon swim. I'm convinced that hell ain't this humid, but "hell" would be
East St. Louis and I'm not close to being Black enough to try'n drive through there.

5:15 PM - After a quick shower and change of sweat wet clothes, I'm on the road to Busch Stadium to see the local baseball club.


sean said...

I'm not sure what's funnier, Cam. The first two days of your "business trip" or the fact that you were taking notes for this blog during a meeting with the Air Force.

Our tax dollars at work.

castro said...

How does a dirty liberal like yourself end up working for a defense contractor? My theory that you're trying to bring the company down from the inside is strengthened by this post.

Also, I hope the CDs you handed over to the government weren't anything from your extensive Warren G. catalog. It might be interpreted as an act of war.


Tom said...

Look on the bright side. When you come to New York there's a 50/50 chance the weather will be exactly the same as St. Louis or the North Pole.

Seriously, it could go either way.

JPinAZ said...

"but lotion is all the Black man has in our war against the ash"

Sure. It's for "the ash". We all know what your really use lotion for.

mathan said...

Oh, I'll second Cam's comment about the lotion. And I'm only 50% Black.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Sean: Hey, I didn't axe to be sent to Missouri. But, once I saw the Cards, Royals *and* the A's would be in the state that week... Oh, and you already know that the job upped our per diem. I wasn't passin' that up.

Castro: You work in our accounting dept. and you accuse me of bringing the company down, internally? And, your Warren G. bashing would carry a wee bit more weight if you openly counting down the days until the next T.I. album.

Tom: Since I hate the heat, I have no doubt that it will be NY's hottest summer in 30 years, in celebration of the three decade anniversary of "Son of Sam". And, I'll probably be killed. Just don't let Spike Lee make a movie about me.