Monday, May 12, 2008
The TBGaithersburg Travel Diary – Part 3
4:45 PM (East Coast time) - From my airplane's window, I see that it's almost entirely gray outside with a steady drizzle here at Dulles International.
4:55 PM - And, from the airport terminal, I see that it's almost entirely Black inside. This is my fifth or sixth business trip to the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area and I will never ever ceased to be shocked by this. In San Diego, the menial airport labor is Mexican…here it's Moesha. In San Diego, the business-class travelers on a Sunday are old white men….here, they're old Black men. In San Diego, the shoeshine guy is a brutha named Otis…here, it's…well, probably Otis' son – but I assume he's just working his way through Howard University or something.
5:10 PM - I'm not sure what I love more about this airport: the three-mile walk to the shuttles that transport passengers to baggage claim or the 3 MPH rate of speed of the shuttles themselves. Even with a piss break, there's no way it should take 15 minutes from the plane to my luggage.
5:20 PM - There'll be no rental car for me, this time. I'm traveling with a co-worker who won't be in until 10:00PM and she got the one rental that my department will pay for. Meanwhile, I'm forced to settle with…Super Shuttle. A bit presumptuous, perhaps, but the word "super" added credibility and years of extended shelf life to Mexican wrestlers Super Calo and Super Crazy, to say nothing of early '90s hip hop act Super Cat, so what have I got to worry about?
5:25 PM - I'm standing right behind an Asian lady at the Super Shuttle counter. English does not appear to be her first language and she's having an, uh…"uncomfortable" exchange with the SS employee. Just for grins, try and guess the employee's ethnicity:
SS Employee: "OK, wait! What do you need? WHAT do you NEED?!"
Asian Lady: "I'm trying to…reservation…"
SS Employee: "Then USE the computer! Can you READ English?!"
Asian Lady: "I don't think it's working…"
With that, the Super Shuttle gal exhaled heavily, rolled her eyes, slowly loafed around the counter to the computer kiosk and set up the customer with whatever it was she needed.
Aw, sh*t…I'm next.
SS Employee: "What you need, baby?" (looks over to Asian lady, who can't be more than 10 feet away) "Ooh, I can't STAND when people won't learn no English!"
5:30 PM - With the personal treatment from this wonderfully helpful Super Shuttle sista, I was assigned a shuttle and on my way. I don't really follow the news, but I'm pretty sure the last five minutes would qualify as "reparations".
5:35 PM - My shuttle driver appears to be – and, I KNOW I reach for this reference whenever I see a man of such obvious African descent – Simon Adebisi. But, this guy's got an equally ill-fitting knit cap, so the comparison is actually slightly less lazy on my part.
5:40 PM - Fine…"Akon" has abandoned me. We were power-walking to his shuttle, when I lost him. The sidewalks outside Dulles are very narrow and pocked with those waist-high cement pillars to keep suicide bombers from plowing a truck into the terminal. Good for our safety, I s'pose, but bad for a guy with a ginormous rolling garment bag.
5:45 PM - Turns out my driver was hustling for unauthorized under-the-table passengers on the side – provided that these men wanted to leave right now. I'm all for illicit entrepreneurial spirit, but it's 50 degrees and I'm in shorts and a t-shirt. You think you can get me to Gaithersburg, Maryland before sundown, Saba Simba?
5:50 PM - There are three white men on the shuttle with me. For some reason, the seat belts drape down from the inside ceiling, so when they're in use, they come across our necks instead of our shoulders. I can tell that one of the guys wants to make an unfunny lynching reference, but considering the company he's in, he can't. Too bad, cuz all I had was "Who says 'lynchin' ain't easy?!' Huh? Huh?" I would've welcomed something funnier.
5:55 PM - Here's the deal I make with myself: If I'm the first drop-off, the driver will get a $10 tip. If I'm second, he gets $5. Anything after that and he can kiss my Black ass. Cool? Cool.
6:00 PM - The temperature has gone from 50 degrees outside to 500 degrees inside. The shuttle has become an oven and the driver is acting like it's just another lazy day in Zamunda under the benevolent rule of newly-crowned King Akeem and Queen Lisa McDowell.
6:35 PM - We take the Bethesda exit and it's obvious that I'm going to be the last drop-off. It's raining a little harder now and I'm genuinely concerned that the first one out of the shuttle is going to shatter like a hot casserole dish that's immediately introduced into cold water.
6:55 PM - We've been navigating Bethesda's surface streets for 20 minutes. Right around the fifth "we're almost there" out of him, I became convinced he was lost. Just then, he spotted a hotel and exclaimed, "Oh, THERE it is!" Encouraging, this is not.
6:57 PM - We fishtail through an intersection. Is that sweat on my groin? It's still awfully hot in here. Jesus, let it please be sweat.
7:01 PM - Another fishtail.
7:05 PM - After more than an hour of this inferno, another passenger finally speaks up. Thank God the white man remains the most overtly annoyed race on earth.
7:30 PM - We finally reach my hotel in Gaithersburg and, yes, I'm the last drop-off. This is about a 30-minute drive from the airport, if memory serves me and Super Shuttle got me here in one hour, 45 minutes. Hope you enjoyed the read, cuz I will never do this again.
Later that evening, I met Josh DaCane – a longtime reader dating back to the Friday Music News Bootleg days. So far, I've had nothing but great things to say about the folks I've met through my column. MGF's Jeff Fernandez was awesome, but smaller than I thought, based on our mutual love for fast food. Mathan talks exactly like he writes (he really says "slayed" and "shagged") and didn't take too kindly to three days of me mispronouncing his name.
And, of course, I met That Nicka Guy in 2003. That evolved into his 2 ½ year run with a featured piece in my column, occasional in-person debauchery and an odd urge from Mrs. Bootleg to meet a man she only knows through me.
So, it should go without saying that when Josh showed up at my hotel with a care package of energy bars, candy and nuts (from his mother!) he was instantly accepted into my Hall of Degenerates. We went out for Chinese and he sealed the deal when he awesomely mocked my order of fried chicken wings for an appetizer and Szechuan pork as my entrée.
Racial comedy from a Jew? We're like those three scenes per week featuring Ice-T and Richard Belzer on Law & Order: SVU.
Next: More Josh, a review of the Washington Nationals new ballpark and I ride the Metro…unescorted!