Thursday, June 15

Travel Is Glamorous, Part 3

It's amazing how easy it is to fall back into a routine.

Doing something like flying 250 miles to another city, working for a few hours, then coming back the same day in time for dinner with Beta the Wonder Dog .. it's just so .. routine. I popped down to Houston yesterday; it was mostly uneventful.

The alarm went off at 5:30am, but I was already awake. Insomnia comes and goes with me, lately it just means that I'm operating on less sleep than usual. Not that I'm up for a few hours, sleep for a few. No, I've had those in the past. Now, if I can get 5 or 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, I've done good.

I let Beta outside to play (or whatever dogs do in the backyard), fetched the paper, and proceeded to Take The Pills then Feed My Face. I'd already stuffed my rucksack (the night before) with the toys I needed, so it was off to the shower, dress and go. I reached Love Field in about 15 minutes, parked Jack in The Parking Spot, and was on the shuttle. I noticed a TV news crew filming a stand-up shot (is today The Day that they'll settle The Love Field Controversy?).

I used Southwest's self-checkin machine (there are a lot more of them than the last time I flew from here, maybe 5 years ago) and was handed two boarding passes. Then, it was Off With The Shoes and the obligatory cursory TSA check. Onto gate #3, and since I was early I hopped on the 7am flight, which would land at Houston Hobby at 8am. Flights to Houston are every 30 minutes, so this shaved 30 minutes off my day.

I sat in a window seat near the back; the plane appeared about 2/3 full. I remembered to power down my cellphone. Only a few stragglers had to suffer The Middle Seat. I was offered coffee or juice, read one of my fellow travelers' USA Today ..
Deep Thought: why are passengers on Southwest friendlier than American's passengers? I suspect it's due to the formality of American's assigned seating, which is a joke since I don't get to choose my seatmates either way.
.. and then re-read some of the technical stuff I'd need at the customer, in downtown Houston.

Upon landing, I headed directly to Budget's van and found myself in their Fastbreak Shelter a few minutes later. The sales rep in Dallas had called me while I was on the shuttle, just checking in. Budget's "rapid rental" allows you to select your car from a few others (probably within a class) and then I just showed my license to the Nice Man At The Gate and was on my way.

Mostly ignoring Yahoo Maps' directions,
"Travel on First Street for 0.2 miles. Proceed onto First Street for 1.2 miles. Proceed onto First Street for 0.4 miles."
I moseyed over to I-45 and proceeded north to downtown. Exit at the Theatre District, locate the visitor parking area, go find the customer, get down to work.

At lunchtime, I was escorted downstairs to The Food Court, composed of a dozen-or-more mostly familiar names. I chose The Philly Connection, all the way at the end .. there was no line at 1pm. Several World Cup fans were there watching a game on the plasma TVs. For me, watching soccer football is like watching baseball: you know that there's an end a few hours away. The goal, as a spectator, is to simply stay awake until it's over.

As the ball was kicked from one end of the stadium to another, I couldn't help but be reminded of leisurely flicking a beachball from one person to another. My theory about Soccer and the lack of enthusiasm in the USA is because soccer lacks the thing Americans crave in their sports: the possibility that somebody's gonna die, or be maimed for life. Think Fiery Crash at NASCAR, or a man's knee going The Opposite Direction in American Football. When's the last time a soccer player was killed during a game (except by one of his own crazed fans)? Soccer's a lot like watching golf. Zzzzz.

Anyway, back upstairs to work a few more hours, then .. back in the car (they want $25 for parking??) and a return to the airport. If I drive less than 75 miles, there's a $9.50 refueling charge, so I stopped at a gas station and spent 60 seconds pouring $3.51 worth into the tank before locating Car Return. Then back on the shuttle, back to the terminal, Off With The Shoes, onto the gate, onto the plane (nearly full for the return leg) and back to Love Field. We landed at gate 5.

Onto the shuttle, back in my car, pay my $7.50 and receive a complimentary half-liter of water (Nestle's Pure Life), and aim for home. Since I was able to see (from the plane) that The Dallas North Tollway was stacked up, I took surface streets instead. Home again, let Beta outside to Do What Dogs Do in the backyard, and sit back to watch last night's TiVo offerings.

I wonder if I'll have to do this again tomorrow?

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