Saturday, January 13, 2007

Typically Surreal Travels With Stucco

So I'm back from my trip to Phoenix and San Jose, and true to form it was rife with weirdness. I got to Phoenix easily enough and was actually in a small town north of Phoenix that only had one hotel. Thankfully, it was among the better hotels I've seen lately (the ordinary Hampton Inn there spanks some of the four star craptastic snooty bins I've used recently). There is a weird identity crisis these days with US Airlines and America West. I guess they've merged or something, but the upholstery all said America West (as did the outside of the plane, and the people all said and were dressed in US Air what not. The only thing noteworthy about this was the forced captive audience advertising prior to the instructional safety video. By the way, why is it that the stewardesses no longer have to do the air mask genuflect now? Just because it's retarded doesn't mean that they should be excused from this routine. Yes, their jobs should suck- the outfits, the mandated scary makeup and too much perfume, the freaky passengers, turf wars in the overhead bins, and the auctioneer style "buh bye, buh bye, buh bye, buh bye now..." That's the drill- I want that job to suck. After the misery the mouth breathing retards from the TSA put me through, I want to see some indignant suffering for redemption, and it needs to be someone from the airline industry.

So I get to Phoenix and get to work, and that's got some drama. My predecessor left some bad juju behind for me to get through, the most frightening of which had me believing that I'd somehow lost all of this salespersons emails. I didn't have any idea how exactly I might have accomplished this, but I was sweating bullets none the less. Turns out that the predecessor had been having trouble last time he was there and at that time made this user a second mailbox (which I have no eyes on, since my predecessor hosts our email, even though he's not an employee any more - *sigh*). So, inadvertent sabotage aside, the work went smoothly enough. I decided to take our remote staffer and her husband to lunch and that brings us to the car I rented. The ridiculous car. The uncomfortable, noisy, clown car. The Dodge Caliber.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not averse to Chrysler overall, but this car is a blight on the marque. The fine sheisters at Thrifty car rental characterize this as a "Mid Size" car. Bullshit. Pygmies would feel claustrophobic in this tin can. The doors sound like metal drum lids slamming when you close the doors. [disclosure- I'm 6'3" and about 275] With the seat all the way back and reclined to the point I could just reach the top of the steering wheel, I still had no leg room to speak of, and my right knee rested against a pointy mould of the console.

Note the bevel of cruelty. Into this plastic preposterousness we three tried in vein to find comfort.

If this car had a sunroof, I could have driven with my head out the top. Now, in addition to being NOT a midsize car, being woefully underpowered, being noisy, and offering uninspiring handling, it has a gimmick. It has a beverage cooler.

That's what Chrysler calls it. What are you thinking right now? An insulated area that holds beverages with some kind of refrigeration system? That was the direction I was going. What it really is, is more laughable. Imagine a hole from the glove box to the passenger side AC vent. To cool the beverages, you have to close off the passenger side vent to direct the air to the glove box soda rack. Umm... What? Can you actually cool a beverage with an AC vent? In an otherwise hot glove box? In the sun, in Phoenix? Recockulous. Why not hire a mouth breather to exhale on your drink while holding an ice cube on their tongue? That'd probably be more effective.

Well, so it sucked out loud, but what the hell. I got back to the airport in Phoenix, ready to head to Oakland. After one of the longest security screen lines I may have ever endured, I hustled to the gate and got on the plane, just in time to sit there at the gate for about 90 minutes. (Incidentally, after several flights, America West/US Airways is now batting 0% in terms of on-time performance) I was seated in the middle, which is right where you want the semi-claustrophibic huge fat guy. I was forward of the wing and could see some of the activity. Apparently there was an "issue with the flaps" that needed to be repaired before we could leave the gate. Good thing they didn't let us mill about in the concourse in comfort until they got the shit handled. We deserved to be elbow wrestling in the hot and stinky cabin, surely.

The repair men were mouth breathers too, and they would walk in and out of the aircraft via the baggage loading ramp to a golf cart that held the toolbox. A smallish toolbox. God forbid they take the tools INSIDE the plane. (*sigh*) At any rate, the repair required hammers. Big hammers. They'd disappear into the aircraft and then BANG BANG BANG BANG! My ass was tightening with each strike, and it felt like they were directly beneath me. They'd stop hammering and go back to the toolbox and sort through the wrenches, not finding anything that suited them, then they'd go back in to hammer some more. Finally, they pulled out some kidney shaped green metal paddle looking thing that was in three pieces. They puzzled over them at the golfcart for a little while, as if they were trying to deduce how they had once fit together with springs. I was thinking that if the plane were to go down, that this would surely be the reason why. Never before have I been so hopeful about the hammering ability of others. The remainder of the flight was stuffy, crowded, very late, and uneventful.

In Oakland, I needed to rent a car to get to San Jose. I had to cleanse the taint of the Caliber from myself, so I rented a Chrysler 300.

Two words: Daddy like.

Schmoopie says it's an old white man's car, and I'm telling her that she's clearly never seen one fully pimped out. I could still maintain my "get down" with this car. Some spinning wheel deals (featuring tires so small it's look like a rubber band over a rim), aftermarket grille, chrome stuff, curb feelers- whatever. Also, it's worth noting that I'm an old white man- 39 at the end of the month, how the hell did that happen? I look at hot young chix now and find myself thinking "nope- too young" I never thought I'd see this stage of life. So, a drive down the 880 and back and it's time for a nice dinner with mom. In the morning it's time to go home.

To cleanse the taint of the sardine flight, I decided to pony up the $50 and upgrade to first class. Damn, that's the way to travel. Alaska Air. I was sitting near the window in the second row and there were two women probably in their late 50's who were speaking loudly to one another the whole flight. They were each in a window seat, and wouldn't move closer. If there was money in it for them, they couldn't have been more vapid and shallow. The one in front of me was the instigator. She managed a band that included her husband. It was called "Maxx Hazzard" (she repeatedly spelled it) and their motto was "Blues that roxx". They opened the (unspecified) county fair. They played a birthday party for someone named Leonard (I think it was Leonard, but who knows?) The woman was distributing CD's to anyone she spoke with. I faced out the window in an effort to not get sucked in.

So the loud woman prattled on about: the titanium disc in her back, her breast reduction surgery, favorite plastic surgeon, the plastic surgeon that did the eye lift for the other woman, Maxx Hazzard's web site that she made herself, Walla Walla, Alaska, Las Vegas, jewelry, and where anyone had last seen her drivers license. She lost it somewhere and the last 30 minutes of the flight she was consumed trying to find it. It was like an audio car accident. I couldn't stop hearing it- I mean there was no way of NOT hearing it, but I have a problem with sounds in that I'm unable to disregard them. I can't read while the television or radio are on. I can't "tune things out". I am a prisoner of my ears, and this woman took me hostage.

So now I'm back home and life is good again. I've been tagged in absentia by Scott from Oregon, and I'll get to that next. Really.


Blogger Hammer said...

LOL I'll remember to stay away from the caliber. We're nearly the same size and I'm always stuck renting a POS.

The banging would freak me out too. they were probably just hammering on some random piece of metal to screw with you guys.

Sorry about the chatty kathys on your flight, I try to imbibe heavily when that happens.

Thanks for the laugh sorry it had to be at your expense.

I like the Big Chryslers, I recently bought a decked out charger and it's great except for the shitty plastic dash WTF?

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will pay good money to see you drive a clown car with your head out the sunroof! LOL, T

8:55 PM  
Blogger Lexcen said...

Some people have ALL the fun.

1:26 AM  
Blogger Irrelephant said...

I loooove me some Alaska Air/Horizon. They're the finest thing the Pacific Northwest ever turned out, better than Starbucks. The rest can go hang from a flap.

As for the POS? That 300 is grand, ain't it? Tho I had opportunity to rent a Caddy a few years back, the SVO or CLR or NBC or whatever it is. Dayumn that thing was nice.

6:21 AM  
Blogger That Guy said...

I miss traveling, my favorite passenger or really passengers are the ones that think you want to talk to them.
"Yes folks, I paid a nice little price to sit for four hours on the plane, just to talk to you." It sad really. I once had a lady that was afraid of flying, needless to say she grabbed my hand and squeezed it when we hit turbulence. Now I would have been ok with it had she been actually cute but this beauty was the poster child for not smoking, you know, a person who's voice sounds like gravel... Although it was in frequent for me to travel coach during my time at the travel agency, first class was also bad as those idiots like nothing better to do than to hear themselves talk about how successful they are.

I was glad when my buddy Stucco sold me that iPod... it was a life saver. I could look cool and be an ass to anyone that wanted to talk... and I continued that tradition to this day. Now to save for the iPhone :)

Oh, and I too love the 300m, although being the poor man I am, and the minor fact I just purchase yet another mini van to replace the wife's ailing old one, I will eventually get a Charger or the Magnum, both of which I got to drive and loved. I'm still leaning towards the magnum, even if its a station wagon, it was really nice to drive

And although its late, never trust midsize titles, always upgrade to full :)

glad to see you back from your trip, have a great weekend mate.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Nancy Dancehall said...

"Why not hire a mouth breather to exhale on your drink while holding an ice cube on their tongue? That'd probably be more effective." it.

Welcome home, darlin'.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

Stucco, you are one funny rat bastard...

And THAT, my friend, is a good thing!

Someday I'd love to join you for a beer and a crying session over some of the things you (well, me too) have been forced to endure...

6:06 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

God i love your stories! I was nearly falling about laughing.

I especially loved the airplane one. Well written. You know, i always hope on a flight that there's someone interesting to talk to but it's has only happened once in my long life of travelling.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

What is it about being in a small confined space with a group of total strangers that gives some people the irresistable urge to talk until they've used up all the available oxygen in said small space?? Maybe some find the sound of their own voice soothing? These people should be identified and segregated.

9:58 AM  

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