Tuesday, January 2, 2007

the laptop thing... aka "My Own Personal Beautiful Mind"

a pitch black, cold, rainy night in Washington. I come out of the airport in a long old trenchcoat, carrying nearly every piece of respectable-looking clothing I own in two bags that weigh so much the plane skipped into town. Add to my load a satchel with my checkbook, an organizer that I've had since several jobs ago, directions to my new office, and a laptop with everything I've read, thought, or written for the past two years. I was about to begin a month-long special assignment in our DC office knowing almost nobody in the town and never having ventured more than about three blocks from any given monument before.

I walkstumblecollapse into a yellow cab, having deposited the dufflebags in the trunk and electing to cling to the laptop bag.

I should take a second here to interject that I am a borderline OCD traveler. That's not to say that I have problems with the actual flying/driving/busing etc.... rather I'm the kind who will check my ticket 5 times between the house and the airport, and have often arrived at the airport in excess of 3 hours early just because I'd rather be the first one sitting at the gate reading a book then have to Pink Floydesque Run Like Hell.

Alas, back to our story... I'm clutching a sheet of instructions half-convinced that if I put it down, it will evaporate. Of course I can't go straight to my new apartment --- that would be too easy. I have to go to an empty, closed office building in the night, go up the dimly lit path in the rain, and reach into an old-style cast iron black mailbox on the front steps and hopefully pull out a large manila envelope with my name on it in big letters that contains special instructions, a map, and my key. I have to do all this while the cabbie presumably waits patiently with all my earthly possessions.

So, being the manic traveler that I am, while in the cab I try and remember what I can --- the name of the cab, the time I picked it up, etc. I key the driver's permit number into my cellphone to have a permanent record. The notion of two stops in a cab just never set well with me.

I get the instructions and the keys from the deserted office's dropbox. I get back in the cab and go on to the apartment. After a few misses, we finally get to the apartment (honestly, how hard can it be to find 234 6th street SE in a town where the numbers actually correspond?) By now it's approaching midnight. I wearily get out, grab my two checked bags, and start thinking about how to get them up a flight of stairs. I'm not thinking about the fact that the cab is pulling away with my laptop bag in the backseat.

I'm standing there like a damned fool, half-expecting the guy to turn around and come back upon realizing I've left several thousand dollars worth of technology on his backseat. Without my bag, I don't even have the address of the office I'm supposed to be going to in the morning.

More in chapter 2... if I ever get around to writing it...

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