The Room

Here sit I, in this big, hot conference room in a Soviet-era building, unable to concentrate on anything more substantial than my overwhelming wish for an iced tea in one hand, a Frappucino in the other, and a breeze from the open windows.

None appear, and the Chinese bureaucrat across from me drones on, wilted from the heat but determined to get through her prepared remarks.

These are the time that try mens’ souls. And if the two Ph.D. nutritionists across from me are any indication, womens’ souls as well.

Between The Devil and Road Runner

The Road Runner Shuttle van picked me up at LAX after a very early flight from Seattle. I’d been up since 3:30am, and the van is chockers, four stops at least. The trip was short and packed, and within twenty-four hours I’d be back at this charming little aerodrome on my way to Asia.

As we’re about to leave the airport, a tall, frizzy-haired gent in shorts and Birkenstocks flags us down. The driver stops, the guy sticks his head in the window, and asks driver where we are going.

Driver: “Ventura.”

Guy: “How much to take us to Santa Clarita?

Driver: “I’m not going to Santa Clarita. It’s too far out of my way.”

Guy: “Aw, c’mon. They’re close!”

All of us in the van – including the driver – in unison: “NO THEY’RE NOT!”

The guy gives us a dirty look, pulls his head out, and turns back to his wife, who looks at him with a venom that suggests our interloper had not remembered to make a reservation.

I felt a little bad as we drove away, but consoled myself in the fact that the two towns are over fifty miles apart, and dropping this fellow off would have added at least an hour onto the trip for each of us. I was not, I told myself, being a grouchy, selfish asshole. The poor guy on the curb wilting under the laser-gaze of his wife was learning a lesson hew would be compelled to remember for a long time.