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