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More airports, more planes Monday, May 19, 2008

After shooting golf Monday and Tuesday last week, Wednesday was a welcome day back in the office—buying some groceries, charging batteries, answering emails, making phone calls.

Thursday was supposed to be basically a day off. All I had to do was take a case of camera gear to the FedEx outlet around the corner from my place. I had visions of taking a bike ride, doing some shopping, and maybe doing some housework. I slept in a bit, did laundry, and arranged some personal travel (Yay! more airplanes!) in the morning. The call with the address for the camera case finally came around noon. Just as I was about to walk over to Kinko's, I got another call—the powers that be decided it was more important to ship the case to California instead, so I had to drive to the airport to ship it "next flight guaranteed."

After getting that taken care of, I spent the rest of the afternoon arranging this week's travel a
nd packing. So much for a day off.

Early Friday morning it was back to the airport for a flight to Newark.

This weekend's trip had its own challenges, but the travel itself was reasonably sane. I flew out to Newark via Minneapolis on Friday. Both of those legs are only about 2.5 hours in the air, and they were only about 1.5 hours late on the back end. My hotel was right at the airport, so that was convenient, and I got there at an entirely reasonable 8:30 p.m. I went down to the hotel restaurant and had a huge plate of chicken Parmesan on linguine, and went back to my hotel room.

For these overnight trips, EPG sets us up two to a room, and so you never know who you're going to be rooming with. Actually, I have the name of the person, but I haven't been sharing a room with anyone I've ever met before. For my night in Newark I was sharing a room with ... let's call him Jack.

Jack is from Seattle. He appears to be in his mid- to late-30s, but he said he's been shooting grads for 25 years, so who knows.

When I got back up to my room after dinner on Friday night, Jack was just moving in. We introduced ourselves as we consumed every outlet in the room with our various battery chargers and ironed our well-traveled shirts.

Jack—who had been on the road continuously for more than a week—raved on about this girl that he'd been on a self-imposed 6-week timeout with, but who was now asking when he would be back and then there was this girl he visited up in Toronto last week and how he wasn't properly expressing his emotions and this and that and whatever.

As I booted up my computer to check my email before bed, Jack warned me that he snores loudly, and also mentioned that he likes to go to sleep with one of those ambient sounds things playing. Tonight's track had a subliminal inspirational message, he said. Figuring that it could only be better than the sound of the air conditioner and that I was tired enough to sleep through anything, I said it wouldn't be a problem.

Jack turned on the sound, which began with crickets chirping, and then added another track of some electronic tumbling sound with deep strings behind it. Two chords in a descending major second, which then repeated. At that moment—about two hours after he had checked in—Jack realized that he'd left his car parked in the hotel entrance and went to move it.

He wasn't back for nearly an hour. When he came back into the room, he was again raving about his girl, who had called him "at just the right time" with, apparently, just the right news. So he went on about that for a while.

Meanwhile, the "sound" has been playing the whole time. Two chords in a descending major second, over and over and over again. I left it playing while he was gone, in an attempt to acclimate to it.

We turned out the lights around 11:30 to the sound of tumbling electrons in a descending major second.

An hour and a half later, Jack was fast asleep and I was not. Thankfully, I heard it fade into the distance as the track ended.

Just as I was slipping into a badly-needed sleep, the crickets came back. The track was on repeat. Damn.

Half an hour later, as the music box continued its eternal descending major seconds, I decided that politeness be damned: Jack was snoring and I wasn't going to get any sleep if that sound kept playing. So I got up and turned the infernal thing off.

Fifteen minutes later, Jack snored himself awake, got up, and turned the #@^% thing back on! I rolled over and buried my head in the pillows.

I guess I fell asleep somewhere around 2:30. The alarm went off at 5:40 with the inspirational sound still playing. I don't know if there was a subliminal message in that tape, but I didn't feel particularly inspired.

I shaved and showered and came out of the bathroom to hear the alarm going off again. "I keep hitting the snooze button so it keeps me on time," said a well-refreshed Jack, who had gone to the trouble of writing out the morning's schedule.

I turned on the TV to get caught up on the news while I dressed.

"Do you mind if we don't watch news?" asked Jack. "I don't want to see anything bad."

Well OK then. I turned the TV off.


ajg said...

now we know why you sounded so tired yesterday M