Damn, Houston is starting to feel like a second home. Once again, I am in this swamp of a city – this time for training for another contract gig. On Tuesday, after the holiday weekend, I will get to enter places of business while announcing that I work for the state of Texas. Excitement will undoubtedly ensue.
I flew down here early Sunday evening and ended up standing around the baggage claim area a lot longer than I should have. I packed two bags this time because I had to dress “business casual” during the day and I didn’t want to wear those same clothes at night in the humidity capitol of Texas. So I had a small rolling case filled with books, socks, shorts, boxers, and t-shirts as well as a garment bag with my slacks, dress shirts, toiletries, and dress shoes. And, after several minutes of watching the same four bags travel around the baggage loop, I realized that Houston Hobby had left me rolling the bag… because the one with all the frivolous stuff is the only one I left the airport with.
While in the lost luggage department, I was able to use their phone to call the guy who was picking me up. You see, I have no cell service right now. I was hoping to have my replacement phone before I left town, but things did not work out for me in that regard. So a huge cargo van kept circling the pickup area just waiting for me to come outside. I felt sorry for the other nine people in the van, but what was I supposed to do?
The lady at the airport asked me for a contact number. I had nothing to give her. I knew the name of the hotel I would be staying at, but I didn’t know anything beyond that. She gave me a sheet with a “help” number for me to call when I knew how I could be reached. I was ok with that. I have had luggage lost before and had it delivered to me much sooner than I expected, so I just went outside to flag down my ride. Soon, I was on the way to the hotel. Or WAS I?
The two guys coordinating the project and the pickup were evidently taking all of us out to eat… all 20 of us. Imagine how hard it is to find a table at a decent restaurant at 7pm on a Sunday. They already had a place picked out – Gringo’s – and when we got there, we had to wait forever. Plus, when we were finally seated, our group was split up, though that wasn’t a big deal. What was bugging me was that I had no cell phone to contact Dawn and tell her that I was safe, with the group, and being fed. I walked off the plane at 6pm but didn’t talk to Dawn until 9pm.
At the table, I sat next to a guy named George from Austin and near Oswald (from Dallas) and two cousins from El Paso (Sal and Maggie – male and female respectively). The El Paso contingent was rather quiet, Oswald was pretty cool, and George kept ordering margaritas on the rocks. Me? Diet Coke, and lots of it.
When we finally left Gringo’s, our host could not find our hotel. All he knew was the vicinity it was in, but not the exact location. When we started to get on the right track, one of the ladies asked to stop at a convenience store for smokes. Our gracious driver pulled up to a gas station and we all tumbled out like immigrants. I went inside and bought a six-pack of ‘Stones. George bought a sixer of Busch. I made up my mind at that moment that he and I would be roommates this week.
And we are.