We're ditching the diary format for the third n' final part of the Orlando ordeal. The rest of the trip was otherwise uneventful, save for a smattering of moments in and around actually having to work while I was out there.
Let's do this thang…
· One of the most surreal sights in the history of humanity occurred just as I was about to board my flight from Dallas to Orlando. A tall blonde woman was shuffling through the terminal with shackles on her arms and legs. She was in pale prison blues and flanked by not one, but two African-American federal agents. In Texas! The state where mentally retarded convicts are sent to death and Blacks got the right to vote in 2002. That 60-second scene was all the "reparations" I'll ever need.
· We were about an hour late in leaving Dallas, which put us in Orlando just after 8:00 PM, Tuesday night. By the time I got my luggage and rental car, it was around 9:00 PM…and pitch black outside. The darkness ensured that, for the fifth or sixth business trip in a row, I was going to get lost on the unfamiliar roads. Turns out that my hotel was all of one block from Hertz. And, I still drove right past it. I actually ended up back at the airport – in the passenger loading/unloading areas – which made for Surreal Moment #2. Heavy construction in the area (and heavy traffic in and around said area) forced me to loop around the terminals three times, before I could get in the right lane to exit. "Look, kids…Big Ben…Parliament…"
· I finally reach the hotel just before 10:00 PM. Now, I know I make this point whenever I fly back east, but can you believe there's a part of the country where televised baseball games don't start until 10:00 PM? Do you guys stay up and watch when your teams play out west? Do you TiVO? Do you wait for the (n)-word to appear next to the teams in tomorrow's paper?
· Room service options are down to the blue-collar, working class Cuban Sandwich or the effeminately pretentious "pineapple-salsa charred chicken salad". And, let me tell you…did they think I couldn't tell the difference between "pineapple salsa" and the mango salsa that came served atop my salad? They're two different fruits, Embassy Suites! Still, kudos for the finely chopped fresh jalapeños mixed in with the salsa. And, can you believe the whole thing only had 5 grams of fat?! Dee-lish!
· Just before midnight, Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron's home run record and I was still awake to see it. Immediately afterwards, Mrs. Bootleg called to tell me it had happened. Yes, she now watches baseball on her own and without any prompting on my part. Conversely, I still want nothing to do with any of her interests, such as Grey's Anatomy, the theater or "play dates with her 'Mommy's Club'". The winner and still champion…me!
· On Wednesday morning, I made the 20 mile drive from Orlando to Lake Buena Vista. In the span of six miles down the free, er…expressway, I hit two toll booths. TWO! Is there any other city in America with a similar scam? This isn't even about the 75 cents I had to pony up at both booths or the difficulty in judging which of the two dozen lines I was supposed to be in ("Drive-Pass", "Exact Change" or "Drive-Pass PLUS/Change"). Y'see, here's the thing: Up in the Bay Area, anyone who wants into San Francisco has to pay a toll. Understandable. It's one of America's greatest cities. I get that. In my case, I was paying for the honor of driving from Central Orlando to…South Central Orlando. And, then again to get out of South Central Orlando. A Black man paying (twice) to go deeper into the Deep South. Think about it.
· My destination was the Coronado Springs Resort, which is part of the sprawling Disney World complex. Armed with my Yahoo! Maps directions, I'd gotten about 98% of the way down without any problems. Then, somewhere around the "99%" off-ramp, all of the regular-named streets became…"Mickey Mouse Way", "Donald Duck Drive", etc. Curiously, Yahoo! had failed to account for the fake infrastructure of a fake city's fake streets. For the next 10 minutes, I would be "directed" by gigantic plastic cartoon characters from the Disney Family that helpfully extended one of their four fingers and "pointed" me to where I needed to be.
· Fashion Faux-Pas: A four-button black suit with a blue-on-blue shirt and tie combo is stunning in any of the other 47 contiguous states. In Florida…in August…it's stupid. (I assume the Eskimos and savages who rule Alaska and Hawaii, respectively, have their own dress codes for their undeveloped colonies.)
· You know it's a sh*tty business trip when you have to return to your hotel at the end of the day…to do more work. And, even better, my 20 minute drive to the convention center turned into an hour and 20 minute drive back to Orlando. The reason? Well, according to Power 95.3 FM - Orlando's "new #1 home for Hip Hop" – there was a shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. Good for you, Florida. NASCAR, Confederate Flags and our jingoistic space exploration campaign. It's like a Red State Starter Kit.
· And, just to cap things off…one of my nights in Orlando was extended by a bout of jet-lag induced insomnia. (Can you get jet-lag when going from west coast to east coast? Am I actually gaining hours or losing them? Is there such a thing as "reverse jet-lag" or is that an imaginary concept like "reverse-racism"?) I was up until 4:00 AM watching Denzel Washington's Inside Man. Still, not sure if I liked it or not.
· I reached the end of the week in one piece and returned to the Orlando Airport for my flight home. Now, friends…if you take nothing else from this post, trust me when I say that Orlando Sanford(!) International Airport is the most bat-sh*t insane, congested human car-wreck of an airport you'll ever see. When I arrived, it was relatively late on what's generally a light travel day (Tuesday). On this day, there were several security lines that inexplicably merged into one, then separated and expanded into eight or ten, again. Every airport employee appeared to be under 18 and overwhelmed to the point of indifference. Hair twirling, gum snapping, foot-long press-on nails…these are the kids we're entrusting with our national and personal security?!
· Our flight went through LAX, before I hopped a puddle-jumper home to San Diego. On the way home, I stopped off at Taco Bell to try their new Grande Quesadilla. But, I already wrote about that. And, now we've come full circle.