So I just got back from a trip to New Hampshire. It may surprise you to learn this, but I do not subsist solely on the sale of nerd shirts and giving dating advice to the socially challenged, although one day I hope to be in such a position. I have, for lack of a better term, a day job that actually pays my bills and pays a lot of the bills associated with my fledgling business. I won’t get into the details, except to say that I do work for a company I can reasonably assure you that you have heard of, in spite of the fact that they only have about 40 employees in the US.
Part of the job requires a certain amount of travel, and once a year they require us to travel to a conference. In spite of my and the other West Coast guys desire to not fly all over the place, inevitably they make us come out to the East Coast.
This trip wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good if you know what I mean. I have had worse, but not a lot of them. There were no flights capable of getting the West Coast guys there in time for the first meeting (which was, by tradition, a bunch of masturbatory self congratulations and hand shaking) so I had to fly out the day before and kill time at the hotel. The meetings were generally good and productive (even marketing, which is normally a bit of a personal challenge to stay awake). Another tradition is we do something outdoorsy as a team building experience (in spite of the fact that for 99% of the year I work alone or with a single customer service person, who opted out of the trip) and this year I enjoyed a near death experience when the kayak (not sure how rowing a single kayak builds teamwork) I was in capsized in the only water that was more than two feet deep we found on the whole river. It was kind of a worrisome experience, and I think my next activity will be to take some swimming lessons. I can tread water, but that is about the limit. Also, I would like to point out that I was the only guy to flip a boat, and had the rest of the crew calling me “Flipper” for the rest of the conference. Bastards.
Actually, I seem to have a near death experience every time we do our outdoor experience. Just once I would like to see us set up a LAN party and play Counterstrike East Coast vrs West Coast. That would actually teach us some teamwork skills and not involve me making sure my insurance was paid up ahead of time.
Anyway, the meetings were productive and have me kind of excited for the next year. The hotel was nice (although my assigned roommate seem particularly gassy this year) and the food really good. In general I had a good time.
The flight home sucked like the pool drain in Final Destination 3D. I had a layover in Chicago. It started out pleasantly enough, with me getting to talk to a really cute girl who it turns out is an opera singer. No joke. But there was a rainstorm going on that turned into lightning at the airport. Apparently the policy of the FAA is if there is lightning they don’t allow the ground crew outside in to keep them safe from being struck (a 1 in 750,000 chance). Incidentally, while they are in a rush to get everyone inside they think it’s perfectly cool to leave my luggage outside in the rain. Ironically, that morning I scrambled around looking for a plastic bag to put my wet clothes into (remember that whole kayak tipping indecent?) only to find when I got my clothes the stuff in the bag was dryer than anything else.
So we had about a 45 minute delay. I finally got on board and took my favorite seat in the very back (I have my reasons, and won’t get into them here). It was looking like I was going to have the whole row to myself (one of my reasons, although not really a main one) when I was joined in my row by a guy who I will refer to henceforth as Smelly Hippy. Smelly Hippy epitomized every aspect of that descriptive. Long hair, grungy bear, small little wire frame glasses, dumb hat, and a collection of clothes that looked like they were rejected by the buyers at Buffalo Exchange. He smelled of BO and cheap patchouli oil (guys, for dating purposes patchouli oil is a clear statement that you don’t bathe every day) until he opted to take off his shoes, at which time he smelled of BO, patchouli oil, and feet. He was probably headed to Burning Man (patchouli oil Hell) or something equally obnoxious.
I spend a lot of time in Berkeley, and have had my fill of hippies. In general they are selfish bastards (if you don’t believe me try shopping at the Berkeley Bowl. Ever had a foot rolled over by a shopping cart twice in one trip? I have). The one thing they all share is they are for the most part desperate for people to notice them, and Smelly Hippy was no exception. First thing he did was about 20 really loud yawns in an attempt to show the whole plane how tired he was. We get it, dude. Then he took his boots off (a level of rudeness and selfishness that goes beyond most human behavior and lands you firmly in the lower primate category) and tried to find a comfortable position, which apparently involved rolling around over and over again until the guy in front of him had to ask him to ask him to not kick the seat anymore. Smelly Hippy apparently can’t do anything without being a pain in the ass, as the flight attendant found out when he asked for iced tea and then hot tea and a cup of ice when they didn’t have iced tea (I know it’s not such a big deal, but is it so much to ask for something that is already on the menu?). The net result of this is I had a god damned science experiment going on next to me.
Also, he kept opening and closing the window, which sucked while the sun was out and then sucked when it was night as I like to see the ground as we land. By that time I was watching Master of the Flying Guillotine on my laptop and blatantly ignoring him.
(By the way, this is the closest thing I have to a martial arts t-shirt, but I have a line on some great Shao Lin and Wu Tang t-shirts. This shirt is from our movie t shirt category)
Fortunately by the end of the flight he was doing his sleeping thing, to the point that he pretended to sleep through the very rough landing (no doubt trying to prove to the world what a free spirit he is. Freaking hippies). I was also surrounded by any number of other obnoxious people, including a party of like six people who more or less drank the airplane bar dry. They weren’t super obnoxious, just noisy.
Anyway, the title of this piece, and the coolest part of the trip, was the fact that we left at sunset and flew west, which means the sunset stayed with us for most of the trip. It had some amazing colors, and when I would get sick of Smelly Hippy thrashing around I would look out the other side of the plane and enjoy them. Kind of cool.