10:10 AM - We're off to a great start as I leave without my 80 pages of printed Mapquest directions and have to double back to the office to pick them up. I was 10 miles down the freeway, so the round-trip recovery adds another 20 miles to what was already a 30 mile drive to the airport. For those of us who hate flying, this sure seems like a sign…
11:00 AM - I check my bags, only to find out that my 12:20 PM is delayed half an hour. Like any good businessman with an expense account, I pull up a stool in an overpriced airport bar. (Has anyone ever developed a sitcom around an airport bar and the crazy cast of characters it would attract? Seems like a ready made vehicle for George Lopez. He's free. And bitter about it!)
11:10 AM - I always tend to pound my first beer and today is no exception. The little Asian lady tending the bar scurried over and asked if I wanted another "Sammy". I'm not sure why I still find this funny, days later, but I do. Near as I can tell, that's how I'd expect "Ashley" to order a Sam Adams before sending it back in favor of whatever white girls really drink.
12:30 PM - On my way to the gate, I see my Program Manager getting his shoes shined, as it appears we're on the same flight. After cursing under my breath, I silently wonder how the airlines have managed to maintain the last of the 19th century employment alternatives to slavery, like porters (skycaps) and shoeshine boys.
12:31 PM - I pull out the cell and hold it to my ear, just to avoid conversation with my PM. Perpetrating has never looked more professional. (Do the kids still say "perpetrating"? Has it been replaced by "frontin'"? Little help, readers.)
12:50 PM - While I managed to avoid my decrepit PM at the gate, I discover that my aisle seat is next to the withered remains of a woman who immediately makes that "eye contact/let's have a conversation" connection with me. Y'know what I'm talking about…it's that tactic us ugly guys have been using in bars for years and always ends with us asking an out-of-our-league lady, "I saw you watching me. What are you drinking?"
1:20 PM - We're in the air, so I pull out a borrowed copy of Aqua Teen Hunger Force Season One on DVD since I've never seen it before and had a few hours to kill. The crazy lady next to me looks over and calls it "cute".
1:40 PM - I make it through two episodes before I throw in the towel. Is this one of those shows that Black people just aren't supposed to "get", like Friends or anything on The CW Network that doesn't run on Mondays?
1:41 PM - Switching to my Justice League Season One DVD. And, yes, my DVD collection is almost entirely comprised of comic book cartoons, comic book movies, Dave Chappelle, Oz and about eight or nine unopened Simpsons sets. Amazingly, I'm married.
2:10 PM - It actually took two episodes before the crazy homeless lady noses in. Her words are muffled by my headphones and my intentional indifference only makes her ask more loudly, "What's Superman's name in the office?!" The guy to her right is shaking with stifled laughter. As I respond…
2:11 PM - "Clark Kent", which leads to the ubiquitous old person's anecdote. This one is about a crossword puzzle she was doing that morning featuring "Superman's secret ID" as the clue.
2:15 PM - She's still going on about it.
4:00 PM (California time) - As we're about to land, she finally turns her attention to the guy on her right. He was pretending to read the airplane magazine that no one ever reads. This one featured Houston Rocket Yao Ming on the cover, to which Miss Daisy quipped, "Orientals play basketball now?" Oh, how can I stay mad at her?
6:10 PM (Missouri time) - Because we were delayed coming out of Cali, an announcement was made asking that special consideration be given to those who had to make their connections in St. Louis. F*ck that noise. I plow right into the aisle, not wanting to sit a minute longer next to Mrs. Skinner. Besides, it's not like my selfish act would come back to bite me in the ass, right?
6:25 PM - First impression of St. Louis: It was obviously one of the unmarked off ramps on The Underground Railroad. It's like The Source Awards up in here.
6:35 PM - The middle-aged white guy at the rent-a-car counter calls me "sir". How cool is that?! How come I've never heard of this "Saint Louis" before?
6:45 PM - Second impression of St. Louis: Amazing! It's as if I can actually feel the hot, sticky outdoor air all over my body. The locals call it "humidity" and the Hertz shuttle driver swears that it'll be twice as worse in two months. Air that you can feel? Do the natural laws of meteorology just not work here or do other states experience "humidity", too?
7:00 PM - The best part of business travel is coming from the West Coast. It never fails: I arrive in town relatively late and, consequently, my reserved rent-a-car has already been given away. The result is that I invariably get to upgrade at no additional cost. This week, I lost my Toyota Corolla and get a convertible Ford Mustang in exchange.
7:01 PM - I decline the salesperson's offer to show me how to drop the top, as I find the air conditioning all on my own.
7:10 PM - Now, behind the wheel, I marvel at how the locals are eyeing me. In San Diego, it would've been assumed that I stole it. In St. Louis, the looks of admiration and envy can only mean they think I'm a rapper, a drug dealer or Preston Wilson.
7:30 PM - I check in to the Airport Marriott and begin the rat's maze walk to my room.
8:00 PM - I arrive at Room #2063. I wonder if the desk clerks intentionally direct guests to the one lobby elevator that guarantees the longest walk. And, how did I end up making six turns in what's ostensibly a square building?
8:45 PM - Dinner is a room service Portobello mushroom sandwich with goat cheese and roasted peppers. Hey…"When in St. Louis…", y'know? I tip the guy four bucks for my $14 meal.
8:46 PM - I look at the receipt and discover that every meal already includes a 22% surcharge for gratuities.
9:00 PM - Baseball Tonight is just coming on?! Raw's been running for an hour already? The Golden State/Utah game hasn't even started yet? It's 9:00 PM! I try to take it all in, but my head is spinning with all of these obvious chronological conundrums.
12:00 AM - The NBA game still isn't over. Can't wait any longer. Bedtime beckons. We've got a busy day, tomorrow.