Thursday, July 30, 2009

Road Hazards

So my thought that I would update the blog from my vacation obviously went kaput. Sorry. The quick recap--eight days in California, four baseball games, one totally surreal version of the "Star Spangled Banner" from this guy: Grandpa Elliot, who wailed out that song for over five minutes, effectively icing the Dodgers' bats. It was awesome. For ballpark enthusiasts, PETCO Park in San Diego is ideal, but I was surprised by the experience at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. It's a great place to watch baseball...too bad that American League baseball is fairly strategically moronic. I did indeed visit Disneyland, and unlike my last trip to Disney World, I wasn't asked to leave any buildings at this version of the happiest place on earth. The most surprising experience of the whole trip involved elephant copulation at the San Diego Zoo, but attempting to keep this blog PG-13, I won't include the photos of the elephant with two trunks (wink, wink). Here's one of a giraffe with two heads instead. I did have a great vacation and escape from the hot hell of Texas in the summer.

Back at work, back to the adventures of selling books. As hopefully you are already aware, Kathy Griffin, comedic genius and fame whore, has a new book coming out this fall called Official Book Club Selection. Gianna managed to get tickets to Kathy's show in Austin and I joined her and a few booksellers at the performance. Why do I love Kathy Griffin? Reason #1: she'll make fun of Michael Jackson within two weeks of his death. She glided onto the stage in full moonwalk to start the show. Reason #2: In shameless and brilliant self-promotion, she handed out fans with the book jacket printed on them before the show started. Reason #3: she'll mock her aging, boxed wine-chugging, "Law & Order SUV" watching mother in front of millions of people. I make fun of Attila, my mother, all the time, but my audience never really exceeds the tens. I didn't even hesitate to drive the three hours to Austin for an 8 pm show, even knowing that I would have to drive back to Houston after the show because I needed to help with an event in Houston the next morning. I am a road warrior. I am also an insomniac. "Getting home at 1:30 in the morning isn't so bad," I thought. "I'm up anyway at that time so I might as well be driving," I thought. "It'll be a quick trip, there and back," I thought. Sigh.

I neglected that I am Liz, and part of the deal with fate when I was born was that nothing would ever be simple or hassle-free. After dropping off a bookseller at her house, I hit the road at 11:15, which would have placed me walking through my apartment door in Houston at 2 am. And then half a mile from that bookseller's house, my car suddenly sounded like a Harley Davidson in need of a tune-up and I struggled to steer or accelerate. I pulled over into the parking lot of the Victory Christian Center, the karmic oddity of the location not lost upon me, and jumped out to examine the exterior of my car. Flat tire. On the one hand, at least I was still in Austin and not somewhere between cities on the side of the road. On the other, it was 11:20 and I was in a vacant parking lot at one of the busiest intersections--I-35 and Hwy 183--in Austin and alone. Because I drive a Random House fleet vehicle, I have 24 hour roadside assistance, and I found my paperwork and started calling people. Three calls and Dave from Pop-a-Lock was on his way, but I had time to kill. I sat under a street light and tried to read manuscripts for the upcoming spring season on my Sony Reader, but was mostly distracted by shadows and cars and possible threats. My favorite, though, was when the sherriff's deputy drove by TWICE without stopping to see why some random woman was sitting in the parking lot of the Victory Christian Center at midnight. I felt well-protected.

Dave showed up and changed my tire. As soon as he turned over the flat it was obvious why my car sounded like a Harley--a metal shard was hanging out of the tire. Every time I drove over the metal bracket it dug into the pavement, making a terrible clatter. Dave the tire-changing guy was helpful and fast, and I was on the road again, but it was then 12:45 am and I still needed to drive 3 hours. I set off down the road, but about 20 minutes on down the road my cell phone rang. It was 1:07 in the morning?! It turned out to be a computerized survey to rate the quality of my roadside assistance. I'm driving, it's dark, I'm tired, and I'm trying to punch in numeric responses to the computer voices commands, but Eunice (my name for the generic compu-woman's voice) absolutely would not accept one of my answers, to the question of "What time did your assistance arrive?" I entered 11:45 pm, but Eunice snarkily informed me that time had not yet occurred. Thoughts of time warps entered my mind as I retyped it, then again, and then I thought about throwing my phone out the window. It took me far too long to realize that it was after midnight and thus a new day. I entered 12:01 am and thought that would be the end of the call. I was driving, after all, and should have been focused on the herd of deer on the side of the highway looking at my headlights. "What you like to take a short survey to rate overall satisfaction with the service provided?" ARGH! NO!

Home arrival time: 3:45 am. Number of times I heard a Taylor Swift song on the various radio stations between Austin and Houston while driving home: 8. Amount I dislike Taylor Swift: my loathing is like the sands of the Sahara. Number of expletives uttered on the trip home: possibly under 100, but not by much.

I solemnly swear to update this blog more frequently, or make Gianna throw in a piece about hiding from a tornado under an overpass or working an event with Buzz Aldrin. But more soon, I promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment