Hitchhiking to Vegas

After putting in a 16 hour power nap I finally woke up at around 4:00pm. The PPT event in San Jose started at noon so I guess you could say I slept in. Since Travis my personal assistant flew out and drove my car home, he also took a load off my back by bringing my big suitcase with him. So all I had was a little one with a couple days worth of clothes since I’d planned on flying to San Jose. Well that plan changed when I decided to put in a 30 hour session of poker. That might not sound like a great way to spend 30 hours but I thoroughly enjoyed the delirious state, I’d hadn’t been overtired in quite some time and I kinda missed the feeling. When you are overtired, somehow everything seems funny to you. Phil, Gus, and I were laughing at the most silly things. So I head down to the valet where I figured I could find a cab. “Where do I get a cab?” I asked. “Oh I can call you one but we need a $40 deposit first.” The valet guy told me. “Ok whatever, but what for? Don’t you guys have a cab stand outside?” “No sir, we have to call a cab for you.” “Ok, well how long will that take?” I asked. “Oh, should be about half an hour.” Now I know what that means. “About” half an hour quickly turns into 45 minutes, an hour, and then an hour and fifteen minutes. The valet guy went on to explain that a cab needs to drive out from another city and that takes a good half an hour. “So you mean nobody here can take me?” I started to think calling Travis to drive out here and pick me up was an idea! I asked again, “They don’t have a limo here? Nobody here can take me? How about one of you guys? I mean, I’ll pay you for it, I just can’t wait that long for a cab.” They looked at each other puzzled, until the one guy who was just getting off work volunteered. “Ok, I can take you. Just meet me out front right there and I’ll bring the car around. I waited a few minutes and finally saw the valet guy pull up. He was driving a 1999 Acura Integra. I was surprised when he told me it was a 99′ because frankly it looked like it was in rough shape. He tried lowering his car for performance reasons through the mountains, but it seemed like all that really did was make for a bumpy ride. Whatever, I appreciated the lift nonetheless. The valet guy was a 23 year old black kid who was born in Puerto Rico. He had a Spanish sounding name but I forgot it sometime during the ride. He told me about his goals in life- he wants to be a medical fireman or something like that and is still in school. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy with a good head on his shoulders. About 15 minutes into the drive we were zooming down the left lane when I heard a strange sound and smelled some rubber, “What the… what was that?” The valet guy said. He then pulled over to the right and when we got out we noticed that his right tire was totally blown. I noticed behind me that there was a gas station and a Subway. I hadn’t eaten all day and figured that I could grab a sub and call a cab from there. I grabbed my stuff from the car and told the kid not to worry about it. I paid him for the ride anyway and then headed to the gas station. To get there, I had to climb a fence and walk up a grassy hill with my knapsack on my back and my little suitcase. I felt like a kid again. I used to love playing in the ravine. I think that all started when I first saw First Blood with Sylvester Stallone. I’ve literally seen that movie over 50 times and was fascinated by the scenes where John Rambo was running through the woods. So that was me up over the hill and over the barbed wire fence doing my best Rambo impersonation. I got to the Subway and asked the kid working to call me a cab. He looked at me like ‘uh, I don’t know how to do that, but I can make you a sandwich?’ So instead I asked the gas lady to help me out. She pulled out the yellow pages and called the cab company. After starting off the call she handed the phone to me: “What is your name sir?” “Daniel.” “And were are you going?” “I’m going to the airport.” “Ok we should have a car out there for you in about 45 minutes.” 45 minutes? I was in an actual city now, wouldn’t you think they could do better than 45 minutes? “That’s not going to work for me. Is there any way you could have one out here like.. now? I’ll pay double, triple, whatever. I just need a ride.” I yelled. The lady on the phone told me she could try getting one there in 20 minutes. Just when I planned on waiting a while and grabbing a sub I heard, “Where you goin’ man?” I turned around and there was this huge back dude at the other side of the counter. He was dressed well and had a kind face. Picture Ving Rhames only a little bigger, taller, and stronger. “You serious man? I replied, “That would be awesome.” So I hop into his white Ford Bronco (seriously!) and we head to the airport. This dude’s name was Milt, seemed like a good guy that was just down on his luck. “Man this is a blessing here. I’m short on the rent for tomorrow and could really use the money. I asked all my friends for help and they acted like they don’t know my name no more you know what I mean?” “Yeah I hear ya. Ain’t that always the way with people.” I said empathetically. As we kept driving Milt told me a little bit about himself. He spend 10 years as a Marine over in Okinawa and had three kids. Two daughters that were fully grown and a 15 year old son that he was now raising on his own. Originally from Texas, he moved to California when he and his wife split. Since then he’d just recently got out of a nine year relationship with a woman who left him. He told me that she’d come from two past abusive relationships: one where her ex-husband cheated on her, and the other guy abused her physically. According to Milt he treated her great. He didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, and he didn’t mess around with other women. Yet he was paying for all the mistakes other men had made with her. “I hear ya Milt. Women… can’t live with em’ can’t live without em’.” At this point I did little talking. I was just trying to lend an ear to the man. He continued explaining that he had surgery on his leg from an injury he suffered in the military. He is on 70% disability pension right now which makes it tough to make ends meet. When he gets to 100%? He’s going to head back to Texas and live a peaceful life. He isn’t happy in California. Price of living is too high and jobs are scarce. However, his son is 15 years old and has lots of friends there, so Milt is going to be a good father and wait a few more years till his son is fully grown and tell em’, “I’m goin’ back to Houston son, you comin’ or you stayin’?” That’s an admirable quality for sure. The whole time I’m driving I should be worried that this man is going to rob me. If you watch the news all you will hear about is “Black man does this, or Black man does that.” If you saw Bowling for Columbine you’d know what I’m talking about. The media in this country just wants to scare you all the time. Be afraid of this, be scared of that. I just recently listened to a Chris Rock CD where he says something like, “The government wants you to be scared of Al-Quieda but I’m scared of Al-Cracker!” But anyway, back to the drive I’m realizing how much of an effect the media has had on race relations in this country. If you are from certain parts of the south and have never seen a black man in real life, all you would have to go by is what you’ve seen on TV. If all I watched was the news in this country who knows, maybe I’d be a racist too. So Milt, this big, strong, intimidating, “black guy” dropped me off at the airport with no bruises to speak of. He didn’t rob me, or ask me for anything more than what we agreed upon. In fact, Milt is one of the funniest people I ever met. He told me all kinds of funny stories and kept me laughing most of the way. So, as a token of my appreciation for the ride and the good humor I decided to pay his rent for the month. He was happy with that obviously, and I think the whole ordeal benefited both of us. *************************************************************** So I made my 7:40pm flight and Gus was nice enough to pick me up at the airport in Vegas at around 9:00pm. I threw “my” bag in the back seat and we hit the road. About two mile from the airport I get a phone call. “Excuse me is this Daniel Ne… Neg.. Negrrr… ENU?” “Yes it is.” “Daniel you just left the airport and took the wrong bag. We have your bag here at C4.” Wow, how stupid can I be sometimes? Well in fairness I don’t normally travel with that bag and I had it in the overhead compartment. The guy sitting right behind me put his bag next to mine so it was an honest mistake. “Gus, we gotta turn around dude. I took the wrong bag.” On the way back I played back seat driver and told Gus exactly where to go. Ok, so after making two wrong turns Gus finally said, “I think I’ll find it on my own if you don’t mind, you’re advice hasn’t been too good over there.” Gus said mockingly. I head back there, we make the swap and we are on our way when i remember something else… oh no! I left something REALLY important at the hotel back in San Diego. So now I call the hotel and speak to housekeeping. “Hello, I just checked out today but nobody has been up there yet and I left something very important in the night table.” I said. “What room number sir?” she asked. “1682.” “Ok hold on please.” I hear elevator music for a while and then she comes back. “Ok sir, can I help you?” It’s the same girl. “Yeah, you just spoke to me like 30 seconds ago?” “Oh ok, just hold on a minute we have to check room 1671.” “1682!” I said, how do you get 1671 from 1682? “Ok sir, hold on please.” Now this time I’m waiting for a long time. She finally comes back and says, “I’m sorry sir but we didn’t find anything in the lost and found.” “Of course you didn’t find anything in the lost and found! It’s in my room right now, nobody’s been up there yet! It’s in the night table right now. Hello, am I not making myself clear here?” “Ok, I’m sorry sir, I will call my supervisor to help you.” So I finally speak to someone with some sense and they make arrangements to send it to my house. Then she gets back on the phone and says, “Ok they have to go check the room and they will call you back soon.” “Do you have my phone number? How are they going to call me back if they don’t have my phone number?” I inquired. “Ummm… your phone number is 286-555-6328?” she guessed. “No that