Sunday, August 28, 2005
Stuck in the Storm
I love my job – although I don’t love the management. What do I love about my job? One of the things I love best is the travel I get to do. Now don’t get the wrong picture, my travels don’t take me to the “hot spots” of the US – unless you consider traveling to Dumas, AR; Atmore, AL; Colquitt, GA; and Tallulah, LA as glamorous. And if these names aren’t familiar to you – count your lucky stars. This is now how I judge the “quality” (i.e. amenities) 1.) Is it big enough for a Day Inn and 2.) Do they have a restaurant besides a Sonic or Waffle House/Huddle House? Some of my customers have commented on the attractiveness of the next town I’m going to by saying, “Ohhhh, tha’s a nice town, they got a Super Wal-mart”. I must confess, before traveling in the south I never considered the presence of any of these three things as requirements for a “nice” town. My list would have been different. I think the top 3 would have included: 1.) Restaurants that weren’t chain restaurants using local produce, 2.) A good art or history museum, and 3.) A vibrant music scene. There’s another thing I’ve come to realize about my travels … I travel during the sh**yist weather. My first year out on the road? I ended up in a church basement with complete strangers because a tornado siren went off in the middle of the service. Did the congregation panic? No. In fact the minister just paused in the middle of his sermon and said, “I think we should go downstairs and I’ll finish the message down there.” Being an obedient sheep, I followed everyone else. I finally got my nerve up to ask the young woman standing next to me, “Why are we down here?” “Because of the tornado” she responded. Although I was in my late 30’s I can tell you I wasn’t too proud to say, “Can I hold your hand, I’ve never been in a tornado before … and I’m not from around here.” She was gracious and acquiesced. Shortly after church was over we had the all clear. I returned to my hotel. Only to have the hotel manager come by about 45 minutes later and ask me if I’d like help dragging my MATRESS to the BATHTUB as there was no place else to hid from the NEXT TORNADO that was heading our way. I thought that experience was an aberration. The following year I ended up dodging a string of tornados from southern Alabama through Jackson, Tennessee. I was lucky and stayed in Decatur, Alabama in a stairwell – where we waited out the wind. How was that lucky? I avoided the tornado that tore through Jackson the night I was to be there. This year? Yep, I was in Pensacola when Dennis showed up this year. Do you know how hard it is to train people when they’re trying to count numbers of windows for plywood? I also discovered you can’t call Hertz and try and get on the “fuel” contract after you’ve picked up your rental car. So I got to stay in line with all the locals trying to get gas for my rental car so I could fly out that Friday. The hurricane showed up Saturday morning. Which brings us to this week. Guess where I am? Yep, Louisiana! And guess where I was going to spend the upcoming 3 day weekend? Bingo – New Orleans. So what am I doing on this Sunday night? Hanging tight with dear customer/friends in southern Arkansas. They have so graciously opened their house to me. What will I be doing for the rest of the week? Trying to figure out if any of the places I’ve booked have electricity – and if anyone will show up. Once again I’m reminded how good God is to me. I’m here this week – not in New Orleans huddled in the Super Dome with all those other stranded travelers and city dwellers. Last week was my week to travel through southern Alabama and central Mississippi. So now I’m waiting the storm out in comfort and safety. Lucky me!