Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Long Ride Home

(This is where I pretend I haven't been absent from writing for 2 months)

January 4th
I pick up Don, my boss, at about 1pm from O'Hare. We drive back into Chicago to see a store or two before making the 3 hour trek to Davenport.
Don has a certain adaptability and affable-ness about him. But then he should. He's the VP of Sales for a company I rep for. You usually don't get a position like that otherwise. Although I believe I've witnessed the contrary.
From time to time he has to hop on a plane and insert himself into someone's business. For the next couple of days it's my business he has inserted himself into.

I'm not notorious for small talk but I manage to dredge up some mundane snippets. Enough to fill in some of the holes of quiet while we toss around the agenda ahead. At the same time, Don has found the cigarette lighter/adapter to power his laptop so he can remain plugged in to the rest of the world throughout the long, dark, early evening stretch of the plaintive westbound I-80 we will soon be riding.

But first we stop at Akira and talk to Jon, one of the principals there, about the winter that wasn't as we can't help but stare at the rack of duffle coats in front of us that have not been selling. But being the wary, jaded label representative that I am, I gleen for other possibilities before I am to ever willfully accept responsibility. Is a mild temperature really the culprit here? I mean it's January in Chicago for cryin out loud. It's not exactly balmy. Is there at least a remote chance his customer just doesn't...alright, best to stop right here before I let loose with the full-on snobbery.
Next, we pop in on Tony from Belmont who almost seems a bit put off by our surprise arrival. Don is good with the chatter. Keeps a smooth flow going and we abreviate our visit.
On our way out of the Big Shoulders, on 55 toward Joliet, we beat the late afternoon slog of traffic as we high-tale it west for the Quad Cities.

Somewhere along the way and amid a lapse in witty banter, I stop for gas and we each down a truck-stop hoagie, washed down with a diet pop while sitting in my van in the parking lot. It's obvious Don has been in this seat before. Not mine but many like mine. It's that "Road Trip" adaptability thing I brought up earlier. Any tension or bordom that might ordinarily come with spending hours with your boss in close proximity is somewhat quelled by each of our salesperson's natural, or in my case, unatural ability to bullshit with a vengeance. Hey, fake it till you make it I always say.

It's after 7 pm in Davenport, Iowa. I want to throw my crap into my hotel room and kick my feet up but Don wants to grab dinner. I thought the hoagie was dinner. BUT the boss is buyin.
We walk over to an Irish American pub that's light on the Irish except for the Guinness on tap. Throughout dinner, I'm on my phone and Don is on his. I find out Henry, my grandson, is pretty sick and my daughter, Alex, is taking him to the hospital. Not at all something I want to hear when I'm 7 hours from home. But the attending physician sends Henry home with flu symptoms. Don and I walk back to the hotel and I hit the hay.

January 5th
It's an early breakfast and then on to our10am appointment with Von Maur. A very nice, Nordstrom-esque 25 door, midwestern department store chain.
I throw my bag into the van and wait for Don to check out when my wife calls and says Alex has taken Henry back to the hospital. This time his temp is up there and he is complaining of a bad headache and the doctor's are going to check for Meningitis. FUCK, fuck fuck fuck. I can't stop asking my wife questions. I don't even know what questions to ask I just want to know all there is to know right now. But she says I better come home.