Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Riding the Blue Bus


It was the second time I had ever been to Phoenix. The first time was when I flew in to town to interview with the law firm that had hired me three weeks before. Today, they had flown me into town to attend a meeting with the firms biggest client. I was nervous. I was excited.

The plane landed and I impatiently waited for the rows in front of me to clear out before clambering into the narrow walkway, grabbing my bag from the overhead compartment and heading for the jetway. It was November 12. The Phoenix heat had dissipated and it was immediately apparent that it had been a perfect day. Here it was 9:00p.m. on November evening and I was leaving the icy temperatures of Iowa and getting off a plane in 70 degree temperatures. I thought I was in heaven.

After hitting the baggage claim area for one bag too big to fit into the overhead, the next stop was the Hertz desk for my rental car.

"Did you have a reservation?" the youngish woman behind the counter asked.

"Yes, for Smith." I responded.

She pulled the reservation documents and began to flip through the papers while giving me instructions. "I am just going to need your driver's license and a credit card," she said with syrupy politeness. I gave her both.

A few more minutes of shuffling, some typing on the keyboard in front of her and then this. "I'm sorry, we aren't going to be able to give you a car this evening."

Stunned.

"Why not? Is something wrong?"

"I'm afraid your driver's license has expired."

My birthday was a few days earlier and the expiration date on my license was on my birthday. That's just the way they do things in Iowa.

"Well, technically I guess that's true," I implored, "but in Iowa we have a window of 30 days before and 30 days after the expiration date to renew it. It's still good."

"I'm afraid we can't give you a car if your license has expired." Her syrupy sweetness now turning less sweet. "In fact, none of the other companies are going to rent to you either."

Shit.


After some pleading and additional arguing, I accepted my fate and headed out to grab a cab. Not quite as convenient in Phoenix, but it would have to do. So out the door and to the curb I went, bags in tow. Now it was around 9:30 and still gorgeous. I couldn't believe how nice it was and thought to myself that I would just make the best of the situation. No cabs in sight. I walked further down the curb. No cabs. Hmmm.

But there, at the end of the sidewalk was a Super Shuttle stop...and a blue bus glimmering in the moonlight just waiting for me. It crossed my mind that it was probably cheaper than a cab, too. The firm would surely appreciate the fact that I was about to save them a couple of bucks. I climbed into the blue van.

The manly female driver turned around and asked "Where are you headed this evening?"

"The Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak" I mumbled as I read it from the printout I had in my hand. I was unusually organized during this trip thanks to some very good assistance from my future administrative assistant. Although, I did have to continually reference my itinerary due to the fact that everything was still new and strange.

"Great!" she said, "We have to hit just one more stop and we'll head out."

She closed the van door and we pulled away from the curb. Phoenix Sky Harbor airport is a spread out, bird's nest of roadways, twists and turns. I was completely turned around in a matter of seconds. Lost, dazed and confused but I had this knowledgeable driver to shuttle me. Maybe it was a good thing I didn't get a car. I might drive around this airport for days. She'll probably have me at the hotel in no time.

I was also starving having been on a plane for a very long time including through the dinner hours. I couldn't wait to get to the hotel.

After roughly 10 minutes of driving in what seemed to be circles around the airport we pulled into the next shuttle stop. Another passenger was waiting there, with a sky captain lending assistance. He was old. Damn was he old. And a big fella. Probably 280. He had two canes that were immediately visible and I would later notice (when he was a little closer) that he also had two hearing aids.

The driver stepped down from the van, conducted a brief conversation with the sky captain the two of them set about loading up this large, old and somewhat physically challenged man. I could tell it was going to be a process, so I moved to the rear bench seat to give him the forward bench and then watched. After much effort and strain on everyone - except me - which lasted nearly 10 minutes, he was loaded. Now 10 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but trust me, when it is for the sole purpose of getting into a vehicle, THAT is a long time. Watching was exhausting enough and a little irritating since I really did want to get to the hotel, but what the hell. I kicked back and relaxed because I knew we were headed out that way now.

"Where do you live?" the driver asked Mr. Old Big Guy. No response.

"Where do you live?" she said, louder this time. No response from Mr. Old Big Guy.

"Where do you live?" she shouted in her manly woman voice.

"thwenty two thwirty nine thwirty ninth street," he finally responded with an accent so thick you couldn't tell whether he was saying 2229 or 3239 and you couldn't tell whether he said twenty ninth street or thirty ninth street. So she asked again. Same unintelligible response.

I could see the analysis going on in her face after this last answer. She was looking at him and I could tell exactly what she was thinking. There were really only four possible combinations here. I could also tell that she had selected what she thought was the most likely response and she turned around to face the front, put the van in gear and we pulled out. I was just happy to be finally moving again, knowing that I was closer by the second to getting to my room and getting some food.

Phoenix is a big, spread out city. We finally got to 2229 39th Street. It was an apartment building. The driver turned around and asked, "Is this where you live?" in her loud manly female voice.

"No," was the response. "It is a 32 unit complex, U-shaped" he said clearly this time.

The driver put the van in gear and drove to the next best answer - 3239 39th street. After a bit of a drive, many lights and some mildly questionable neighborhood areas, we arrived...at an empty field. So she asked again, "Do you live near here?"

"No," was the answer and then Mr. Big Old Guy repeated his address again. Off we went to 2229 29th Street. Nothing. Then to 3229 29th Street - which as it turned out was behind some old abandoned shopping center in what, in my Iowa mentality, did not seem like a safe place to be. I actually witnessed two thugs throwing cinder blocks over a fence onto a parked car at this stop, but did not witness a 3229 29th Street. The driver, assuming Mr. Big Old Guy was mistaken about his residence when we were at the first apartment building went back to the very first address and took another shot at it.

"Do you live here" she asked again in a shout.

"No." and he again described his lovely 32 unit U-shaped apartment complex adding this time that it had a courtyard in the middle.

We had now been driving around for an hour. It was after 10:30 and I was growing more and more hungry and now my impatience was beginning to catch up to my hunger.

In a moment of coherence Mr. Big Old Guy suddenly shouts out for the world to hear, "JUST TAKE ME TO A MOTEL 6!" He repeated that two or three more times with growing excitement in his voice.


She looked back at me and said "I don't know what else to do. I am going to take him to a Motel 6." She pulled over, proceeded to look up the nearest Motel 6 and off we headed in yet another direction.

When we finally arrived at a Motel 6 - which was in what I considered a VERY dicey area - she jumped down from the van and announced that she wanted to make certain they had a room for him before she unloaded him. I thought to myself that it seemed like a pretty good idea. She went in, leaving me in the blue van with Mr. Big Old Guy. I felt bad for him. How could we leave him at a Motel 6 so helpless like this? How could we leave him in this neighborhood.

I fished around in my carry-on bag and found a pad of paper. More fishing resulted in a pen. Taking said pen in hand, I wrote on the pad of paper, "DO YOU LIVE NEAR HERE?"

To which he responded, "Hell no, I live in Madison, Wisconsin. I am here on vacation and just want to go to the Motel 6."

It was at that point that it hit me.

The manly woman van driver returned to the van right then. I began laughing with near hysteria as I said to her, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I found out where he lives. The bad news is that we are going to have to drive to Madison, Wisconsin."

She had, after all, asked him for his address...and he had given it to her.

She was not as amused as I was.

32 Comments:

Blogger HighMaintenanceHussy provided this enlightening comment...

lol...priceless.

Illinois does the same thing as Iowa with licenses.

Ever been on a Greyhound bus? My brother took one to see me once, and had to sit next to an obviously drugged out derelict who dyed his hair while on the bus in order to disguise himself from the law. Good times.

1:50 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger NowhereGirl provided this enlightening comment...

The adventures of flamingo...

I ironically battled the DMV yesterday?1 Now I am good until 2011. Woo Hoo!

7:37 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

We have a Motel 6 ten minute drive from our house. It's new so it's not as seedy as probably the one you witnessed.

So, what's your birthday, Nov 9th or Nov 10th?? I'm sure you could reveal just that Pinky. I'm curious, I'd really love to know.

That was a funny story. I'm suprised I was able to read the whole thing at once, being at work and all.

9:02 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

The Blue busssssss is calling ussssss. The blue bussssss is calling ussssssssssss.....driver where you taking ussssss.........

9:13 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger garrett provided this enlightening comment...

When I first saw that entry, I was confident it was too long to be worth reading. But I was wrong.

Good stuff!

That PHX airport is confusing.

When I went to the Scottsdale office of that same law firm on my first trip there by myself, I didn't save the firm a few bucks.

I took a limo.

It was in the morning, and limos in the morning aren't tidy or well-stocked, at least this one wasn't. I had the unpleasant feeling that I was sitting on one of Dongley's maps.

9:24 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Dongley Shlongford provided this enlightening comment...

You don't just sit ON one of my creations. Had I been in the back of said limo, you would have known it. My maps would have been on the ceiling, the seat-backs, the seats, the driver, behind the pull-out arm rest, in the ash trays, on the roof, all the liquor would have been gone and I'd have probably even signed my map. Sometimes I'm able to do that.

9:34 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Femi-mommy provided this enlightening comment...

i would have kicked his fat ass to the curb!!! is he an idiot?! omg people are fucking stupid... your story pissed me off and i wasn't even there!!

9:52 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

And on your face Shlonglord, you forgot to mention on your face.

10:01 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger garrett provided this enlightening comment...

All the liquor was gone ...

To Femi's point - it's funny the misunderstanding that developed there. Per our Hero's recounting of the tale, the driver apparently assumed the guy was heading home. He answered her question - "where do you live?" - honestly. Albeit unintelligibly.

Note that the driver asked our Hero a question with less implicit (?) assumptions - "where are you heading?" - leading to Flamingo's providing an honest answer that was also produtive.

Just another example proving the rule - assuming is dangerous and ill-advised.

10:21 AM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Dongley Shlongford provided this enlightening comment...

The Shlong doesn't go for snowballs, but I imagine in Canada you all swing that way.

12:12 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

Bada bing, bada bang, bada bingo!

12:14 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Complete Game provided this enlightening comment...

I remember that trip, G. You showed up late at the firm's new office for that deal in a limo and the boss man was PISSED. That's a classic. Even FD was pissed. Even Brent thought it was obnoxious. Well done.

1:01 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Complete Game provided this enlightening comment...

I remember that trip, G. You showed up late at the firm's new office for that deal in a limo and the boss man was PISSED. That's a classic. Even FD was pissed. Even Brent thought it was obnoxious. Well done.

1:01 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

Which boss man? MRN or PAR or Mike?

1:06 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Dongley Shlongford provided this enlightening comment...

Nicely played Spliff.
That would be the way the Shlong would roll it.
Hopefully you arrived sauced from Bogarting some Hennigans from the limo.

1:11 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger garrett provided this enlightening comment...

I can't remember if I was already a short-timer at that point or not. I think I was at least committed to abandoning ship at that point. Nevertheless, I was embarrassed a little bit about it. Especially since it was gross and there wasn't any booze in there.

2:36 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

Bye pinky. Going home.

PDD

3:09 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

Booze would have certainly reduced the level of embarassment somewhat.

3:50 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Complete Game provided this enlightening comment...

It was Mike. Per Weill, he was not a happy camper. I had just come from a wedding and was hung over bad, but your move cheered me up.

4:27 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger Erin O'Brien provided this enlightening comment...

*in a hushed whisper*
You're every wish is my command, master. E-mail me off-list for mailing details.

7:26 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger MsAmber provided this enlightening comment...

That was Excellent storytelling Flamingo. Very nice.

MsAmber

BTW: I finally dyed over the flamingo pink hair.

8:40 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger FLAMINGO1 provided this enlightening comment...

Too bad about the hair MsAmber. Flamingo Pink is HOTTT!

10:14 PM, November 30, 2005  
Blogger PDD provided this enlightening comment...

I knew it! You see how psychic I am?

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