My $78 meeting

It all started at 9:30 this morning.

I had a meeting in DC.  Still being somewhat new to the area, I am not familiar with all of the neighborhoods in DC yet so I am not sure the most effective route to go when I have to go in most of the time. Typically @jaredwsmith goes with me but since we had the new cleaning lady coming today he stayed home.

Sidebar: this is our 3rd cleaning lady.  the first on never did the inside of the microwave and she insisted on doing my laundry.  The result was a shit ton of stuff ruined because it didnt belong in the washing machine. The second one didn’t show up…twice then presented a lame excuse as to why and expected to still have a job.  So now we have Stacey. End sidebar.

So off i go to the vienna metro station which is at the scariest road i have ever been on.  I arrive promptly at 10:00 am. Then the trouble starts.  its a little known fact that if you arrive to Vienna after 8am, you will not be parking anywhere legal.  I forgot this fact this morning.  I was hoping that it was a myth.  It is not. Whats worse is the only way to get out of the parking garage is $4.50 on your metro card.  I have $3.50 on mine. So i circled the parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a spot and I couldnt leave because I wouldnt be able to get out.  I was literally trapped in a concrete fortress.

So what does any desperate-to-be-on-time person do? Invents a parking spot! I found a cozy little place on the sidewalk that would accommodate my volkwagen beetle nicely and pulled right in.  Concerned and looking for approval, I call my mother who tells me I am going to get towed.  She never supports my semi-illegal things. Late and stressed, I leave my car and head into the metro station.  I fill up my card with $20 and get on the train.

I have the metro system down pretty well.  I dont like the long escalators but the rest of it is ok.

This is when the trouble starts.

Let me take a moment to discuss Google Maps. Nothing says “lost” like a kid walking in circles looking at their iPhone. This was me.  I was begging to be mugged or converted to a religion i had never heard of.

I find a bus stop. Albeit, not MY bus stop but a bus stop where I promptly get on a bus and tell the bus driver I am looking for D6.  She kicks me off the bus and tells me to cross the street. I realized later that she meant while there was no traffic. I hop across the street but ask for directions from strangers on two occasions. Once was a nice lady who told me to walk down the block and another a guy in a hard hat smoking a cigarette who actually didnt say anything just shook his head and went back to his phone.  If that is how all construction workers communicate that would explain why things never get done.

I find bus stop number two. On the sign it says “D6”. and I wait. and wait. and wait.  I met a friend in the interim.  Martha.  A nice african american woman in her late 50’s she was also waiting on D6.  But like all good things in life, there is an expiration date. That expiration date was as soon as we got on the bus.  she didnt want to sit next to me. Google transit said the ride is only supposed to be 24 minutes.  apparently they werent ever on this particular bus because every single asshole on this bus wanted to get off not at a stop. I found them to be selfish and lazy.

I had a red sticky note on my puppy notebook telling me what stop to get off at.  so as soon as we got on Macarthur street, i jumped for joy.  Remember how I said the other bus patrons were lazy?  I felt I needed to set and example and get off at the stop 1.4 miles early.

Thanks google maps for brightening my day yet again.

Hot, late, hungry and hoofing it up a hill with a 30 pound purse on my shoulder I call the person I am supposed to be meeting with.  His secretary tells me no problem and she would let him know.

I get to the top of the hill and the road is no more.  I have to go left or right.  I go left.  New rule: if you look at google maps and it looks like you go right, go left.

I pick a direction and go about a block, realize its incorrect and head back. Keep in mind I have already gone a mile.  Luckily, not in heels.

Next thing I know, i am surrounded by houses and the german embassy.  At this point I give up.  I call @jaredwsmith to tell him im canceling my meeting and he says he will come get me.

At this point I call the office back. She tells me she will tell him but isnt that weird..I am not on his schedule for the day.

So I am tired, hot, sweaty, tired, hungry and almost out of money on my metro card and im not even on this guys schedule for the day.

I call @jaredwsmith back. He says he will take a cab to vienna to get my car so I dont get towed. The bright side: my car was still there, the down side: I had a $50 ticket on it.

So at this point we have spent the following to travel 21 miles for a meeting that never was:

  • $50 ticket
  • $22 cab fare
  • $5 metro fare

That one time in Roanoke

After a long weekend in Hilton Head, we are driving back to Reston VA.  We got a late start leaving this morning and made a detour in Charlotte (@lemursmanlemurs).  We finally got on i-77 North to head home around 8pm.

Things are going swimmingly until the 3 cokes I had with dinner hit my bladder around 11:15.  Jared, being the gentleman he is, finds the nearest rest location for me to eliminate my bladder contents.

After a death defying dash across 6 lanes of traffic in the pissing rain he locates a Pilot station.

He pulls into a parking spot and grabs ahold of maggie so she doesnt follow me into this dark, moderately populated rest stop.

I hop out into the icy, wet outdoors and proclaim “holy shit im fucking cold!’.  Much to my dismay, @jaredwsmith was already on to looking at his phone and over me getting out of the car.  Luckily the blonde with dark roots smoking a cigarette in the next car noticed.

My best defense mechanism that I have is to smile big and raise my voice an octave when I feel threatened. so with a big ass smile sounding like Ke$ha, I walk into this pilot station.  Lets do this.

I saunter up to the counter and ask Vi if I may use the restroom.  (tip: as somebody whose father made her go on annual treks from Minnesota all up and down the eastern seaboard, always ask, never assume, that the restroom is free or even located in the building.) She nod’s yes, I smile and shout “thank you” almost too enthusiastically, startled she points to the back corner, nods and mumbles “back there”.

It’s one of those restrooms.  The one where you can’t pick the cleanest one, just the one that is less filthy than the rest.  After creating my ass-to-seat barrier i do what i came here for. Just then, I hear the door open and close.  I am already on high-alert with Vi, the blonde and the fact that there are 10 semi’s parked out back. Just because this gas station has a subway in it doesn’t mean its safe for a lone female to wander at almost midnight alone. I decided to hide out in the stall for a few minutes.  What’s a little inhalation of industrial cleaner and fecal material?  When I am sure the coast is clear, I flush the toilet with my big toe and do the cootie dance all the way out of the stall.

Before I left @jaredwsmith and I made a pact to drink a shit-ton of red bull and finish the drive jacked up on sugar and caffeine.  I buy him a liter of red bull and a hershey’s bar, i got a normal-sized-person red bull and chewy sweetarts.  I also found a random magnet from South Dakota (where I went to college) that I had to purchase because if I made it out of here unscathed I needed something on my fridge to commemorate it. I ventured up to Vi.

Once again, i have my “i dont belong here” smile on when I approach the counter and put my soon-to-be-mine belongings in front of her.  When in doubt, talk about dogs and weather.  I mentioned how balls cold it was outside, she nodded, I told her how happy my dogs must be because they wear sweaters all year, she nodded, I mentioned how stupid it was to keep a bin on knifes under the counter at a shady gas station. She paused, gave me my total and the stink eye.

I handed her the $20 my mom stuck in my pocket before we left and giggled nervously. All I could smell was burning hot dogs, while she counted out my changes all I thought about was that smell seeping into my hair and how I might have to burn it off when I get home…

I got my $8.00 back and scampered out the door back to @jaredwsmith who was still playing on his phone next to the blonde who was still smoking.

The day Panera changed my life

As some of you may remember, when I last did freelance I worked at a Panera on Hilton Head Island (I didn’t work AT panera just IN panera…) everyday from usually around 11am til 9-9:30pm.  Now that I am back to doing freelance full time I am starting to remember some of the challenges that I had in finding semi-well lit areas with a mild temperature and ample opportunity to plug my laptop in. I liked panera because every booth had a plugin, it was well lit, the staff was friendly, the coffee was hot and it was right by my gym.

With these memories unfolding as I try and get my sea legs back bring me back to a time when I had only first heard of Panera.

When Panera opened on Hilton Head everyone was excited.  Since I lived in a cave in South Dakota for 5 years and a bomb shelter in Minnesota for 18, I didnt know what a Panera was. I pretended to be excited and hungry like everyone around me.

The day panera opened there was electricity in the air.  I was going through an arbys phase (read: fat phase) so I wasn’t too keen on trying Panera on that day.  I wasn’t too sure what the expect and I couldnt leave the fate of my lunch unknown.  What if I didnt like it and then i would be hungry the rest of the day? So I skipped it.  I actually avoided panera for about 2 weeks before I finally gave in.

Panera’s driveway is on the busiest street in Hilton Head.  Its a 4 lane death trap that they expect you to dart over just for dry baked goods. I digress.

I got into the parking lot without incident. I drove around the parking lot three times (ala @jaredwsmith) looking for the perfect parking spot.  I was really just trying to prolong the time that I had before I had to go in and face my uncoolness.

As a side note: I hate trying new things. I have had my hair cut the same way since 8th grade, it has always been the same shade of brown.  I always eat turkey sandwiches with american cheese and I drink plain coffee with milk and sweet and low.  I won’t even try splenda.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I especially hate trying new restaurants.  I get very cranky when my blood sugar is low and I would hate having to go somewhere, drop $10 on lunch and then not eat it because I dont like it.

I slowly walk up to the door and I am greeted by a mob of people hungrier than the entire continent of Africa.  The door at this specific panera is at an angle and the counter is at another angle creating a sort of triangle effect which makes it very difficult to create straight and orderly lines of people.

I decided to duck behind the person furthest back in the line so I could decide what kind of turkey sandwich I wanted to get. There are 6 distinctly different turkey sandwiches on the Panera menu, with all the types of bread, the permutations are endless. My heart was racing. The crowd was thinning and I was rapidly approaching the counter.

When the girl got to me she was plump and friendly making me feel that if I ate here enough I might be plump and friendly as well. I felt good about the decision I was making.

I asked for “a turkey sandwich”. She asked which one “the one with turkey on it”. she was sweet and obviously saw me sweating through my bra and she simply suggested the sierra turkey sandwich.  I was grateful to have her in my life at that moment. She asked what I wanted as a side item, bread, an apple or chips.  I asked for an apple.  turns out they are macintosh apples which are disgusting and fodder for another blog entry. She handed me a cup (she knew how salty that sandwich would be) and asked if I wanted a cookie as well. I accepted the cookie (read: fat phase).

Then she told me my total. $14.56. No kidding. I had to dip into my emergency candy reserve funds to pay for lunch. I handed her my visa and while it was processing she tried to ease the pain by telling me that “it was for the best” and that I would “just LOOOOOVE the sierra turkey sandwich” and that “its SOOOOOOO good”. She handed me a buzzer and then started at me blankly as I looked at her and then looked at the buzzer. What the fuck was I supposed to do with this thing?

She then looked at the floor and then eventually looked past me and asked for the next person in line.  I was, for a fleeting moment, this girls best friend. I wandered around the new mob of people that were starting to accumulate in no particular fashion around me.

Then my buzzer lit up and started shaking violently. I was overly alarmed.  Now I had this crying device in my hand with no cradle to put it in. I must have looked panicked because a man in a striped brooks brothers shirt pointed me in the direction of my $14 sandwich.

I looked at him like “yeah, i know, just testing you!” and walked down the aisle. I was greeted by a manager at the end asking me how I was doing that day.  I was confused, starving and broke.

I got my bag and vacated but not before getting a diet pepsi. The drink station was chaos. There were kids and adults everywhere just looking for carbonated syrup. I waited in the back until everyone cleared out and walked up to the station.  I got my diet pepsi and I went to put a lid on it.  I have a small issue with lids.  Particularly clear plastic ones that need to go on clear plastic cups.  It took a little finess, readjusting my purse and putting my bag ‘o sandwich on the floor, but I got it.

Triumphant, I walked out of panera with my head held high.

I got back to the office, ate half the sandwich then threw it away with the apple and half of the cookie.


an ode to traffic

I am finishing up at the ukelele festival (its a thing) with @jaredwsmith.  He just got his new fancy pants camera and decided to take pictures of every blade of grass and bug in our path. naturally, we hit prime-time ukelele traffic when trying to exit the parking garage.

So as i sit in my car with the lights off and the windows down (im unemployed, i cant just throw money away on air conditioning) I write a small haiku reflecting on my experience.

It goes like this:

An Ode to Traffic

My Car Oh So Red
Everyone in garage wishin’ they was tipsy
I have to pee now