I just went on a business trip! Like an adult! I went to Atlanta for a total of 22 hours. So before you even think to ask me, “Hey, did you go to the-” unless the next words are “the Sheraton near the airport” or “the airport,” then no, that was the extent of my exciting visit to ATL. I had never been there before and I learned a few things during my time there. One, sweet tea. It’s big. So is fried chicken and biscuits. Up here in the New York emphasis is not placed as high on those food items, but down there it’s like the core basics. The most important thing that came to my attention during my almost-an-entire-day stay in Hotlanta was how unerringly friendly and gracious and chatty people are. And, more importantly, how much I hated it. Oh, I hated it so much. I’ll explain. I have lived in the New York area my whole life, and the way things work up here is if someone is having a long, one-sided conversation with you in the middle of the street, there’s a solid chance that person is not right in the head and you should move away, slowly. Down southerly, people share. Really share. It reminded me of this commercial.
I’ll give you some examples. At the airport (almost all these examples will involve people at the airport since that’s mostly where I was, but I imagine this is a universal trait) there was a woman herding us into two left and right rows. Simple, right? Here’s what her soliloquy should have been:
“People walking in this direction, please move to the left! People walking in this direction please move to the right! Thank you for your cooperation!”
Here’s what it was:
“People, c’mon now! I know y’all can hear me! If you’re goin’ this way, move to this side of the hallway! If you’re going that way, move to that side of the hallway! I should be the only person in the middle! Well, hello Captain, I bet you’re glad to be on the ground. Did you see that game, I couldn’t get over *some complicated sports reference that I did not understand.* Have a blessed day now, y’all. I don’t understand people sometimes. I know y’all have educations, it’s simple, just step to the side I’m pointin’ to. *to a co-worker* Sometimes I really rely on the power of prayer to get me through this job. Wow, that’s a cute baby. How old is he? My goodness, mine turned…”
I had walked out of earshot at that point, but I’m positive she had kept talking. I assumed she was a bit wonky and brushed it off. Then I got to the hotel, checked in, and went down to the conference room by myself to set up the laptop, projector and speakers. There I met the AV guy. He came in and asked me if I needed anything. I smiled at him, said I did not and thanked him for looking in on me. He then proceeded to talk about the Metro-North train crash, the fact that both his college-age daughters visited him this Thanksgiving, his last visit to New York and how much his five-bedroom house cost eight years ago compared to the real estate market in New York (it cost $290,000, it’s on a cul-de-sac). DUDE. I’m trying to get ready for a rehearsal meeting in fifteen minutes. The president of my company will be there. This is not happy conversation time. Shush yourself. Later on a hotel attendant came in and commented on these red carpeted walls we travel with to show boards on. “What are those?” he asked enthusiastically. I stepped up to the plate and explained them to him, how they fold down accordion-style, etc. He said he would love those in his home, it’s decorated completely in red and black, those are his favorite colors. I felt like he was waiting for some kind of, “Oh, really? My favorite colors are green and blue, but I mainly use neutral tones in my home decor,” and then we could have talked forever and ever until our mouths dried up or we used up all the oxygen on earth, whatever final outcome he was looking for. I just smiled at him and kept working, refusing to engage.
The meeting happened early in the morning, everything went smashingly, we all got in cars and went to the airport. I was standing in the security line where you strip off your metal stuff and get scanned. We were in three lines, and this time a man was herding us. This is, word for word, a chunk of what he said.
“Alright, y’all, the only thing you should have in your hand is your cell phone. We won’t need boarding passes or identification after this point for a while. Sir, you’re wearing a Saints shirt, I’m really hopin’ for them to lose in the next game. Now, everybody turn your head to the right. See that man holding up that line there with the buckets? He should have taken off his belt in here. We don’t want you to yank your belt out like Zorro, you might hit someone. Take your time, take it off here. Only vital blingy-bling, like tooth fillings. Take off everything that is metal. After you get past the security, you can get a snack. Last trip I took, I brought a whole rack of ribs on the plane. Wooo, the whole plane was mad. I was goin’ to Korea, and when I took out them ribs and all that maple and bourbon smell filled up the plane, people were so mad. But whatever. I had ribs.”
First of all, shut up shut up shut up. Secondly, what jerk-face takes a rack of ribs on a long international flight? It makes me think of Patton Oswalt’s piece on flying (from about 49:00 to 50:00 of this clip below):
Then (oh, I bet you thought I was done, didn’t you?) I had to get to Terminal A to meet my co-workers for a post-meeting drink at the airport P. F. Chang’s. I asked a nice lady driving one of those beeping golf carts where Terminal A’s P. F. Chang’s was and she said, “Hop on, I’m going there!” So I got to ride on the fancy beeping airport golf carts, which was nice. What wasn’t nice was her non-stop jibber-jabber the way there. “I once ate an entire appetizer plate at P. F. Chang’s, but that was before I knew there were all those foods in the freezer section of my supermarket. Honestly, though, those freezer portions aren’t big enough-” HOLY CRAP WOMAN, CLOSE YOUR CAKEHOLE. WHAT PART OF MY BODY LANGUAGE SAID TELL ME ABOUT YOUR APPETIZER-BUYING EXPERIENCES AND YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THOSE APPETIZERS BECAUSE I WILL CHANGE MY CORPOREAL STATE TO WHATEVER MAKES YOU STOP TALKING.
I got on the plane and went to sleep. When I woke up, we were approaching LaGuardia airport. We landed and I went out into the terminal and Glory be to God! Everyone was a dick! No one made eye contact or smiled! I could have cried, I was so happy.
Long story short: If I’m not in your will, I do not want to hear your boring-ass stories. And I’d like to actually see the sights of Atlanta sometime.
P.S. I thought I was done complaining. Then I remembered something. I don’t take a lot of non-international flights, but are the seats really really small? I’m a Chubby Chubstein, but I swear when I was in the middle seat going to Atlanta my spare tire o’ fat was trying to eat the armrests on both sides. I couldn’t stop thinking of the video of the ravioli can getting consumed by lava. Here, an animated gif for clarity:
It was ridiculous. If I had to fly all the time for work like some of the account people I know I would take a far greater interest in maintaining my physique only so I could fit in the tiny seats without feeling like I was wearing a corset of plane.