Liz Erk (lizerk) wrote,
Liz Erk

Time travel of the mind...

This past Sunday I traveled to Pittsburgh for an all-day client meeting on Monday. I was thrilled about the trip because it gave me a chance to FINALLY meet vagynafondue and Hoover. (Though I swear vagynafondue wasn't stoned, even though she appears to be in this photo!)

We had tried twice before: exactly a year ago when I made the same trip and this past Spring when she and Hoover were in town here. It was great to hang out with them and talk talk talk. >:-)

When I got back to the hotel I thought about past trips I've taken. Exactly 3 years ago I had begun working in-house at a DISASTER of a CRM company. The first thing they had me do was fly to Vegas for the COMDEX trade show.

Now, because this company was cheap as hell, they only flew employees (with the exception of the owners) on red-eye flights. So I received an itinerary, looked it over and discovered that not only was I flying to arrive at 3:30 a.m. West Coast time, but that I was going to be sharing a hotel room with someone I'd never even met before. I didn't necessarily have an issue with sharing, I was just a little leery on doing it with someone I'd never even so much as spoken to. Plus I was going to go barging into the room at 4:00 a.m., which made me feel awkward. The woman had already been there for at least 2 days before me.

Also, I was informed that I was not to take a cab to the airport, but that I had to park my car in Somerville and then take a shuttle van. Ooookay. I never had anyone tell me I couldn't take a cab before. I had come from a PR agency where they encouraged us to take cabs. They wanted travel to be as comfortable and convenient as possible.

So I packed my bags on a Sunday morning in October 2000, went biking with Mike that afternoon, then drove my yellow seXterra to a really ghetto parking lot in Somerville that I got lost trying to find. When I did finally come across it, I had to park my car in the very back, close to pricker bushes so I got all scratched up when I got out. Fabulous.

Then this rickety van driven by a guy that seemed so out of it, I was afraid he was going to croak at any second, drove me to my gate at the airport.

After a long flight in which I pretty much slept the whole way, I got out and walked to a line of cabs parked at the curb. I hopped in one, looked at my itinerary and said, "Uh, the Circus Circus, please."

The cab driver dutifully drove me to the Circus Circus and when we pulled up, I almost begged him to take me back to the airport. I do not have a fear of clowns, but I almost developed one upon arriving at that hotel. The marquee was a giant clown with a menacing smile and crazy eyes that subliminally said, "I will eat your children while you are sleeping..."

I pulled my suitcase out of the cab and wearily wheeled it into the Circus Circus lobby. As soon as I got through the doors I almost gagged. The place was SO smokey! And the people walking around... YIKES! Red-neck central!!!!!

When I got to the front desk to check in, I told the guy my name and what not. He said, "Ah, yes. There's a woman already checked into your room as well. You're in room 270E."

"Okay," I said, taking my key card from him. "Do I use the elevators behind me?"

"No," he replied. I could tell he was trying not to laugh. "Go back out the main doors-"

"Back out the main doors???" I asked incredulously.

"Yes," he said. "Go back out the main doors, take a right, cross the street, follow the row of buildings until you come to building 'E.'"

"What??" I asked, baffled. "Is there a shuttle or anything?"

"No, you just walk. Have a pleasant stay."

So I went back to the main doors, leaving the cancer-inducing fog of smoke behind. I swear, I felt the tumor growing as I stood in line for check-in. I exited the building, walked down the block, crossed the street, then follwed the buildings on the left... A... B... C... WHOA! To the right of me was a HUGE RV park with a big sign with an even scarier clown that read, "Circus Circus RV Park." It was the scene right out of a movie! Even though it was dark, I could see beaten-up lawn chairs in front of a few RV's (complete with people that appeared to be passed out on some), make-shift clotheslines strung up between some RV's, dogs tied to stakes, etc.

To my left was a sign that read "Circus Circus Manor." I finally came to building E. Geez, it made Motel 6 look good! I stumbled into the room after lugging my suitcase up several flights of stairs (the elevator was broken), hung up my suit and crashed into bed.

At 7:00 I woke up because my roommate, who turned out to be a nice woman, was up and dressing for the trade show. I was going to report there at 11:00, so after she left, I went back to bed.

The trade show itself was fine, although strange... everyone attending the show from the company was staying at the Circus Circus Cell Block E (which was what we nicknamed our digs because it really was like a jail cell), but the CEO, CFO and CTO were at the Bellagio. It wouldn't have been so bad if they hadn't spent an hour bragging about their rooms.

At one point I looked down and saw a salesguy on his knees picking up dirt from the floor with a piece of cardboard that had tape stuck to it. The company wouldn't rent him a vacuum!

I'll skip other boring details, but let me tell you, the hotel was BRUTAL. We had bugs, sand in my bed, noisy neighbors, you name it. And to think, when I attended that conference in the past with my old agency, I stayed at the MGM in my own room and had complained that the room service was slow!!

The first night we were there the woman I stayed with and other sales people decided to go out. While we were out we met this cab driver named Doug. Doug was actually a REALLY hot guy and spoke perfect English- rare for cab drivers. (Sorry, call me any name in the book for this comment, but it's true) And on that note, I'm going to start a new entry regarding Cab Driver Doug because that's actually the more entertaining portion of the story...
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