Californy Bound

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:40 pm

Due to a series of events of the SNAFUesque variety with our upcoming fall catalog, I will be spending three glorious days and two nights in an industrial suburb of beautiful Los Angeles, starting next Monday.

This is a real yawner of a news flash for many of my readers; trips to various parts of the country—or world—are standard fare for a great number of you. But for myself, a person who considers it a serious adventure to hop in the car and drive three hours straight down Interstate 5 to Portland, this is a trek tantamount to leading an expedition canoeing down the Congo River in search of diamond deposits. I know jack-over-shit about LA, having gleaned the entirety of my lore from episodes of The Shield and from playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. So based on that, I imagine that I can reasonably expect to be shot to death by an insane crackhead during a botched carjacking while trying to stop a corrupt cop from beating a prostitute to death—or something like that.

On the other hand, if common lore is to be believed, top-grade sushi just rains down from the sky every afternoon around three in the City of Angels. And if at all possible I’m dying to go to Pink’s. Maybe I’ll see Harlan Ellison there, discussing Dostoyevsky with the grill man (don’t bother trying to understand the reference; you’ve either read “Prince Myshkin, And Hold The Relish” or you haven’t).

In reality, I’m not at all worried about going to SoCal; just irritated. This is going to take a sizable bite out of my work time, which I really can’t afford right now. Not only do I need to get everything in the new catalog ready to be rolled out on our Web site, but I also have to establish a support infrastructure for our new server environment at work. There are also print advertisements to be created, instruction booklets to update, and the whole upcoming Xmas season to start girding ourselves for. Oh, and an armpit-high stack of images that I need to convert to PowerPoint slides for the boss. Really, I need the distraction of a business trip like I need….well, like I need to spend five collective hours crammed in a metal cigar tube full of recycled air in the company of a hundred other business commuters with a bad case of the Mondays.

Hurricane Ike is the reason for my trip. We have our catalog printed by a company called Northwest Web. They’re a pretty big operation, with presses up and down the coast. Our catalog normally gets printed in Eugene, Oregon, and I go down there for the press check (see my previous report on the thriving fleabag hotel industry in Eugene). This year’s press check was going to be even closer to home: Forest Grove, Oregon, only a bit south of Portland. Then Ike took a big ol’ gusty shit on the greater Texas coastline. Our load of custom-ordered, 100% recycled, 85% post-consumer-waste, FSC-certified paper from Germany got stalled in a 30-barge backup at the port of Houston, and it only got off the boat about two days ago, some three days after we planned to have the first of the catalogs already out the door and clogging people’s mailboxes.

As weather-related human tragedies go, this ain’t one, to be sure. But it certainly put a hitch in our getalong.

Our contact at Northwest Web had a—well, what’s the opposite of a brain fart? Brain sonnet? Brain potpourri? Brain coquettishly-covered sneeze? One of those, anyway—and had the truck dump our paper at a subsidiary of theirs in Los Angeles instead of hoofing it all the way up to Oregon. They then offered to pay my air fare and hotel to come down and do the press check there. Mighty clever of them, I have to say, and quite civil as well.

If only it didn’t require me to get up at four in the morning to make a 6am flight, brave a total four trips through a post-9/11 airport security system, two two-and-a-half-hour sojourns via a mode of conveyance whose reputation for customer service has come to be synonymous with that of a Khmer Rouge reeducation camp, and the serious likelihood of navigating an unfamiliar vehicle on the streets of a wholly alien city, surrounded by drivers whose aggression and maniacal predilections are legion the nation over.

No, really, I’ll be fine. I’ll buck up and hold my head high. Travel helps to round out the individual, and adventure is where you make it. There are new sights to see, people to meet, and (hopefully) hot dogs to chew. So I will greet this little side-trip with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Besides, rumor has it that Angelinos can smell fear. 😯

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