Once again I crawled out of my hole in the wall in Athens, Georgia, and ventured forth into the world at large in order to experience new things that I had never even dreamt of before... mostly because my boss wanted me to go to a web conference in Seattle so that I could learn myself how to make prettier web pages and maybe update his side-business website "Chuck's Used Panties and Escort Service Emporium (cupese.com)" for him for free. Anyway, I accepted (I'd never been to Seattle, but knew that many companies' world headquarters were there, along with that Space Needle thing, Frazier Crane and his crotchety, old dad, and the good parts of Ken Griffey Jr.'s career, so I figured why the hell not?), and soon found myself flying across the country, and then dodging the shittiest drivers in the world, all so I could bring you this... thing.
A COMPARISON OF SORTS
I hate Atlanta. Always have. I love the Southeast though, despite the monstrous humidity in the summer that can cripple a rhino. So, I like living in Georgia, but avoid the capital like Paris Hilton's crotch avoids hygiene. As a matter of fact, comparing Paris Hilton's crotch to Atlanta would be an even better analogy than placing me in that position, what with all the moisture, disease and stink. Ugh, I just got a mental image there that's going to make me have to drive needles into my eyes over later; but anyway, I loathe Atlanta. Passionately. So when I was originally informed by my large and burly boss that I was going to have to fly out of Atlanta Airport (a mere 60 miles away from me, but on a path that led directly through Hell itself) I think I may have said some things to Chuck that I shouldn't have; things like "you are a douchebag," "fuck you, and the horse you rode in on... yeah, I mean your MOM!" and "I will skull fuck you and then shit in your skull if you make me fly out of Atlanta!" Chuck took it all in stride though (he hates Atlanta too, with its endless traffic jams [seriously, drive through Atlanta — any highway, at any time of day or night — and you'll come to a bumper-to-bumper parking lot at some point], every other road named "Peachtree" something, and the courthouse), and as he crammed me into my car and attached the satellite tracking system to my person (via Total Recall) to make sure I didn't make a run for Cuba again, he sent me on my way. This was at 7:05AM on Wednesday morning.
I made it to the Atlanta Airport at 9 fucking 30AM (at least it wasn't PM). 9 goddamn 30, to drive something like 60 miles. On supposed 65 MPH highways. I stupidly drank a half gallon of OJ before leaving, and my back teeth were already floating by that point... but I wasn't quite at the point in which I was safe yet. See, not only is Atlanta (the city) shitty, but all of its affiliates (meaning its sports teams, the colleges within the city limits, and most especially the airport) practice ball sucking and taint-tickling as well. The airport parking lots were completely full.
I was seriously pissed and cursing and screaming like a castrated banshee at this point (even had to turn off my radio so that I could hear myself yell better), but I kept my wits and followed a procession of other wannabe travelers as they caravanned around the area looking for a non-full, off-site car lot. The one around the corner: full. The one two streets down from there: packed since Monday. Oh, how about the one... Nope, that one even had a person out in the fucking street waiving us away before we turned in to their front gates. Then I got desperate and tried to sneak into the Delta employees lot -- they had TONS of open spaces. I knew better than to impersonate a pilot (I've seen enough Simpsons episodes to know that that's only a recipe for hilariousness when you have the time to follow it through till the end), so instead I punctured my right earlobe with my house keychain, and thtarted thpeaking with a lithp when I got up to the guardhouthe, pretending I was a male stewardethhh.
"Why hello there, thweetie! Hi, I'm a little late for my flight, tho if you could jutht be a dear and let me in I'll be on my way to Honolulu. I know! Hawai'i! Can you believe it?! Oh! I'm tho exthited!"
Didn't work. Bitch saw through my sassy facade and called me on it.
"Whaaaaat?" I said. "Oh don't be thilly...... Janet (reading her name tag). You know how the naughty pilots can get their pantieth in a bunch if not all of their crew ith there at take off. I'm really in quite a hurry, peacheth." She stared at me with the look of someone who just doesn't give a fuck anymore. Over the course of her 30 second stare my fruity smile slowly melted into a frown. "What the FUCK, lady?! Are you going to let me in or... Oh fuck, is that security? Did you press a button or something and call security on me?! GYAAA! I will fucking rape your dog over this! Fuck you!" Then I threw it into reverse and tore out of there.
After that I drove past 2 more completely packed parking lots before finding Wally Park. All I could think of was "Wally World," from National Lampoon's Vacation, and that made me think everything was going to be alright. The time was then 9:50AM.
After a ridiculous time parking and then finally having my shuttle driver get the fuck out of the lot — people were driving the wrong way down parking lanes, shuttle drivers were taking up both lanes and stopping every 3 meters to pick up new, frantic passengers, and there was one little lost girl who was bawling and running all over the fucking place while trying to avoid a desperate lot employee's grasp, who in turn was trying to avoid Impalas and Mustangs — my fellow passengers and I found ourselves on the road back to the airport and hopefully back to our regular, previously postponed journeys. At that time most of my fellow travelers were on cells moaning "Yeah, I JUST got a parking space... No, it looks like I'm going to miss my flight in 10 minutes.... I KNOOOOOOOW! Tell... yeah, TELL Marty that I'm gonna try to catch the next flight." or "It took a while to find a parking lot, but I think I'll still be able to catch my plane. It doesn't leave for another 15 minutes..." Oh those deluded fucks.
I had a pre-printed boarding pass, and so I thought that by getting to the airport at a quarter after 10 meant smooth sailing for me to make it to my 11:05 flight. Then of course reality had to come around and slap my nuts around for my unwarranted optimism — the line for the security check was like a winding intestinal track that filled a gym-sized area with people marching forward one step maybe every minute like almost constipated rabbit pellets out of a hare's heinie. Fuck. Some highlights of the security line were: when they had apparently run out of line-forming extendable barriers the airport people just left gaping holes between the two main wrapping lines, thus allowing sneaky assholes (like myself) to cut in front of large portions of the drones who had so far played things by the rules; the woman with the golden retriever puppy (that she was BRINGING ON BOARD THE DAMN PLANE WITH HER in nothing but a flimsy, canvas carry-on) — that everybody was "ooooing" and "aaaaaahing" over — that made a run for it when she took it out of its suitcase so it wouldn't be x-rayed, thus fucking up the line for a good 5 valuable minutes while security imitated the Keystone Cops while trying to re-bag the damn thing; and the 2 year-old puke who wouldn't shut the hell up about leaving his Big Bird toy at home — and who everybody in the whole building knew was named "Sammy" because his beat-down mother kept begging him by name to stop crying — who I gave 75 cents in change too when his parents weren't looking (I did this to shut him up, and to make the security guards use the wand and frisk the ear-bleeding tyke when he went through the metal detectors. Honestly, that was worth the extra 5 minutes there).
I finally made it through security (and with no frisking! Bonzai!). At this point it was 11:07, and I thought I was fucked. I still ran like a juiced up Olympic athlete for my gate (figuring "what the fuck have I got to lose?", though dropping my cell phone 3 times in the process [so apparently I had a working cell to lose]), cursing the underground train to Gate A for being slow, and cursing the large, smelly hippie in the week-old "Save the polar bears, eat a republican" T-shirt (that didn't even make a goddamn lick of sense... are the polar bears dying because Cheney and Condi are hunting them and gobbling them all up?). I made it to gate A16 at 11:17 — just as they were closing the doors to the plane. That was a sign to me: Oh yeah, God was on my side. That meant I was so going to get some this trip. Guaranteed.
The flight kind of sucked, what with the dickhead, whitehaired "gent" in front of me, shoving his seat all the way back into my knees (I'm 6'4" — my knees were 1/2 an inch from the chairback before he did that, FYI), but the cute, elderly Indian couple next to me kept me going with how excited they were about traveling to Seattle to see their son, and with all their stories he had told them about how he once crippled an "Eye-talian" with his bare hands (that Roman cow had it coming to him), killed Sadam Hussein with a bullet to his brain, via sniper rifle, right before the noose tightened around his neck (just for the satisfaction of knowing that he himself did the deed), and how he single-handedly stopped Mt. Rainier from blowing up and killing millions of orphans. They were so sweet though that I just didn't have the heart to laugh at them to their faces. My GOD did I want to though.... Taking credit for my actions like that... Oh well.
So, we finally landed and after getting my car (and a really shitty, undetailed map of the city [basically only highlighting two highways and bodies of water larger than 2 square miles]) I was let loose on Seattle! And it was then that I got my first experience of just how godawful some drivers can be. Polite as hell, yes, but really fucking terrible commuters nonetheless.
They'd drive halfway in two lanes for 3/4ths of a mile before making up their minds and putting on their blinkers to choose the right lane, only to then move fully into the left lane 5 seconds later. They'd also cut in front of you, despite the fact that you're only 5 feet behind some blue-hair in a giant Chevy SUV, causing you to slam on the brakes and curse them out while they wave at you and thank you for letting them in. There was weaving and swerving galore, but they always used their blinkers; I never once saw an angry scowl outside of my own rear-view mirror, and they always, ALWAYS, let me in if I needed to get to an exit in 100 feet on the far left side of the I-5 or 520 — even if I had just flicked them off for accidentally scraping a 12-inch gash of paint of my door because they were doing the crossword puzzle just minutes before. Nobody ever honked their horns (except for me of course. I honestly honked mine for the first time in Seattle before I even left the parking garage for Avis), nobody ever flicked me off (despite my flagrant flipping at them), and pretty much everybody I saw in a car was smiling — even when they were stuck in bumper to bumper on the bridge to Redmond with me with no escape at all. All smiles. It was like everybody was hooked up to an invisible one of those oxygen masks that pops down from the ceiling when a plane's going down. Hmmmm, do those things even exist? Nobody has ever seen them outside of those illustrations on the "How to Fly" flyers in the pocket of the seat in front of you on any given plane, or in movies of plane crashes. Has anybody ever seen them in real life? If they DID exist, I guess they'd only be discovered by those just about to die in a fiery pile of scrap in the side of a mountain. I like hot, melted wax....
Aaaaaanyway, I made it to my hotel and checked in quickly before running back down to my car to then tear across Lake Washington and into Redmond proper — in search of the US headquarters of the greatest video game manufacturer IN THE WORLD.....