Monday, February 27, 2012

Trapped Across State Lines

I once dated a guy whose family invited us to join them for a “surprise” weekend.  They lived in the country and were outdoorsy, so I figured they were taking us to spend the weekend in a cabin at the lake or something similar to that.  I envisioned us riding jet skis, swimming, cooking out and enjoying family time together.  Since I convinced myself that this is what they had set up for our surprise, I began getting excited—they told us to pack casual with a swimsuit and towel.  Yay!  Weekend at the lake!

Saturday morning, we loaded up in his sister’s car—it was him, his sister, his brother, his 6 year old niece and me.  His father and step mother were in front of us in their truck, leading the way.  None of us in the second car knew where we were headed; we were just told to follow the parents.  So we did.

Just over two hours later, we entered Shreveport city limits.  When we pulled up to the hotel casino and got out of the car, his parents excitedly announced that they brought us there to gamble and enjoy spending a night in Louisiana.  I had never been to a casino before, and it might have been fun to play the slots and see what all of the brouhaha was about, except for one little thing—I was only 20.  His parents did not confirm that I was of legal age before having us follow them to Shreveport to gamble the weekend away.

When we entered the lobby, his stepmother asked us to wait over by the elevators.  A few minutes after, they joined us and we went up to our room—our one hotel room—with six adults and one child.  They wanted us to wait by the elevators so concierge did not see seven people checking into one hotel room.  One hotel room.  Seven people.

When we got settled in the room, cash was given to my boyfriend, his brother, and his sister—his father took them downstairs to enjoy playing in the casino while his stepmother and the two minors [his niece and me] hung out together.  The three of us went downstairs to go swimming for a bit, but we mostly stayed in the dark hotel room for the duration of the afternoon.  I thought that my boyfriend would have felt badly for me and decide to come back to the room sooner rather than later so we could spend time together—and so I wouldn’t feel completely abandoned—but I was wrong yet again.  He and his siblings didn’t return to the hotel room until that evening for dinner.

I wondered what restaurant they would take us to—I was excited to finally get to leave the room and do something besides watch cartoons with his niece.  I have no idea why I thought that people who would reserve one hotel room for seven people would actually spend money on taking us out for a meal.  They unpacked a bag containing Wheat Thins, Summer Sausage, Easy Cheese, and other processed foods that came out of bags and boxes which did not require refrigeration.

I might have had a minor breakdown and insisted that my boyfriend take me downstairs for a while to get some air [and actual food!].  After paying for my own dinner, we went back up to the room where we all watched television and eventually went to sleep—I had to sleep in a bed between my boyfriend and his brother.

The next morning, while we were packing up to head home, his parents announced that they were going to “donate” the gambling cash that they were going to give me towards taking all of us out to lunch.  I wondered what they would have planned for us for lunch, had I been of legal age and spent that cash in the casino the day before.  Now I am not one to be ungrateful; however, I believe I earned that cash fair and square for what I had put up with in the last 24 hours.  We then went to a restaurant where I sat through lunch, counting down the moments until we could head home.  I wanted nothing more than to be home.

The way that weekend actually played out is almost unbelievable—it was one ridiculous and unpleasant surprise after another.  After being stranded in a hotel room while my boyfriend went out to have fun, watching six people devour Easy Cheese for dinner, then being crammed in a bed between my boyfriend and his brother, I never agreed to travel anywhere with them again.  I don’t believe my damaged psyche could have handled it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Collisions with a Traffic Reporter

There is a woman who gives the morning traffic report on a local network station.  I never really cared for her—and I couldn’t put my finger on it as to exactly why—until I was told by a close friend that her father was in the waiting room at his Ear, Nose & Throat physician’s office when in walked Traffic Reporter.  He overheard her ask the receptionist if there was a separate waiting room where she could sit away from the general public.  He actually heard her ask if they had a waiting area for celebrities.

My mom and I thought this was hilarious and completely off-putting; Traffic Reporter must have been concerned about the swarm of people who were about to beg for her autograph.  She was not even a meteorologist who required specialized training or an anchor, but she had convinced herself that she was an actual celebrity and deserved star treatment.  My feelings were now completely validated.

A year or so later, I found out that Traffic Reporter had been putting together her wedding invitation order at the stationery store in which I was working at the time.  I was grateful that she had come in on my day off.  I don’t know if I would have been able to wait on her and hold back from telling her how ridiculous she was—and ask her who wears red lipstick at 5:00 a.m., really?  She ended up not placing the order at our store and going somewhere else, after wasting hours of my co-worker’s time.  Typical.

A couple of years later I was working as the director of customer service at the catering/gift/floral company, and it was my job at Christmastime to issue replacements if anything went wrong with a gift or if it never arrived, etc.  Sometimes cookies would crumble in transit or someone would be on vacation when their turkey was delivered, and it certainly wasn’t edible upon their return.  I actually had to issue a replacement gift to Traffic Reporter because she claimed she never received a fruit basket, even after I was able to track down a signature of the person who received it at the network downtown.  Now, there is a possibility that she didn’t really receive the basket—someone could have signed for it but it never made its way to her.  I bet she received it, though.  Celebrities are entitled to two fruit baskets after all, right?

Not long after that, Traffic Reporter had a baby and they gushed over her on the news.  They showed photos of her [and her hairy arms] holding her newborn.  It was almost too much—and then they announced that you could go on the network’s website to sign her “guest book” and send her well wishes.  I called my mother immediately and told her about this amazing opportunity.

I wrote an overly-elaborate, flattering message about how much I enjoyed her traffic reports, I told her that no one delivered the traffic like she did, and I hoped she would hurry back to give me more.  I waited patiently for the site moderator to push my message through—for some reason he wouldn’t post my first draft where I threw in a friendly suggestion that Traffic Reporter possibly consider laser hair removal for her gorilla arms—so I changed my approach and moved forward with one that they might let through.  I couldn’t bear to sign my own name on the gooey message, so I threw my mom under the bus and signed her name instead.

I sat in anticipation and laughed maniacally when my over-the-top kiss ass message [from my mom] popped up.  I thought I was so clever and witty and was just about to call my mom to see if she had seen what she wrote, when a very similar message from ME popped up in the guest book.  We had had the same idea—and now we both looked like a couple of goobers who had just publicly professed our love to someone we mutually loathed.  Brilliant.

It has been years since my last run-in with Traffic Reporter.  I became pro-active and now get my morning commute information from a different source.  And I think she finally took a hint and decided to quit popping up at my various places of employment.

Thank you, Marm, for letting me tell this story.  xo