Monday, March 30, 2015

I am Dubious about You, Kansas City

You might feel compelled to ask, for form’s sake, about my time in Kansas City. As you know, Kansas is a fly-over state, so why were my feet planted upon flat flat earth? And how exactly did I manage to get locked in a stairwell so shortly after arrival?

KC happened to be the second stop on a client tour. We are from the Eastern Time Zone, where all the magic happens, yet these Kansas City people refuse to change their watches to accommodate us. So when our flight landed and our iPhones reset, we realize the client meeting is an hour earlier than previously suspected and we are going to miss half of it. We hail a taxi using a weird little midwestern landline and tell the cabbie to step on it.

The client’s building is your classic office park surrounded by a sea of asphalt. We grab our luggage and hustle into the elevator. Out of the elevator. We roll up to the client receptionist. She tells us our meeting is in a conference room on the floor below. Back into the elevator. And. We can’t press the button for the floor below. You need a key card. All the way back down to the ground floor. And all the way back up to the floor with the receptionist.

She’s flustered, this receptionist, trying to figure out how to find someone with a key card to escort us back into the elevator. This is a conundrum since apparently she can’t leave her desk. I say, “Is there an ensuite stairwell we can just dash down?” 

The receptionist smiles. She’s so happy someone solved her problem. She points to a door and we race toward it. With our luggage. We bump down a flight of stairs. And cannot open the door to the floor below. Because it requires a keycard. We drag our luggage back up the flight of stairs. And discover a key card is needed to get out there too.

Options Discussed:

1) Walk the whole way back down to the ground floor. (We discard on account we’d probably exit by the dumpsters and getting back in the building will prove taxing and involve patches of bare dry earth and people staring at us from their ground floor office windows.)

2) Google the number for the client front desk and call the receptionist and tell her to fucking let us out.

3) Text the client, currently conducting the meeting we are now incredibly late for, and ask him to rescue us.

4) Wait until someone looking to score fitbit steps enters the stairwell.

As it turned out, someone entered the stairwell while we calculated our odds that someone would enter the stairwell. And she let us out on the right floor.

I flew back to New York City as fast as possible and the very next day ate a meal prepared by a chef from Kansas City. Immediately, I became dubious. But then he served some delicious carrots roasted with a beaver. I remain somewhat dubious.

A platter of beaver for dinner.

Just for Show.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Mini-Van Experiment

“Are you kidding me? I didn’t even do anything yet!” Tom barks, his hands ten and two on the steering wheel. We'd been on the road for exactly eight seconds when the guy beeped at us. Vigorously. It’d been happening all week, the flagrant and promiscuous honking.

We make sure to flick a really respectable Jersey salute, as you do in such situations, and move on. Or at least I move on, but Tom continues to ruminate. He sorts out the facts. “I think it’s this mini-van,” he says finally. “And the Pennsylvania plates. The combination makes people around here go ballistic."

Aha. Now I’m paying attention.

I snap into immediate action. This is an experiment with my name on it and a short window of opportunity. We’d been left in charge of my parents sky blue Honda mini-van while they hike around Ecuador. We only have a few more days to collect data. All I want to do is drive in and out of the Holland Tunnel with a spreadsheet entitled, “Are New York Area Drivers Spasmodically AssChafed by Mini-Vans with PA Plates?"

You shouldn’t be surprised. I’m a trained non-scientist. I apprentice under my father. He has a well-deserved reputation for haphazard and completely unrigorous scientific examinations. For example:

  • After my nephew climbed up a ladder, Pop set a mousetrap at the bottom of a ladder and told Jack not to step on it. (I strongly suspect this may have been an experiment to see what I would do, more than a check on Jack’s survival skills.)
  • When I was three, Pop followed me around with a clipboard and counted how many words I could say. Occasionally, he references the final tally.
  • He hid toys from us and observed our attempts to find them. If you cottoned onto his ploy, he would blandly tell you that he was merely “watching to see what you would do,” and walk out.
Most recently, my pop sent this animated GIF to all of his children and children-in-law:

Let’s take a closer gander. Upon inquiry as to the purpose and nature of the communication, Pop replied that he was “experimenting with his new iPhone.” If a normal person said this, you’d think he meant investigating the functionality of group messaging. 
But we’re talking about my father here. So I suspect he hoped to reveal how we all might respond to a lavishly epileptic meme.

All I’m saying is that as a family, we demonstrate remarkable perseverance in the pursuit of genuinely bad ideas. And I’m squarely in my dad’s calvary.