That’s pretty impressive…

So I got to go to Berlin for business and I was pretty excited about it – especially when I was allowed to take 3 days off and fly out to berlin early, on the company’s tab. Well, in all fairness, I saved the company about 100 bucks flying out early, but it’s both irrelevant and moot because I got to go out early.

Since I wouldn’t have a room for the first three nights, my supervisor was kind enough to let me crash with him for the first couple of nights until my room came through. Think about it… Berlin, three days, free room, free plane ticket. How sweet is that?

Well, we get in to Berlin Monday morning and that day is a complete waste because of the time difference. I ended up sleeping most of the day. Once Steve, my supervisor/good friend, came back from the office that night, I used his GPS phone to call my folks and let them know I got there okay.

My mom, who is adament about me not flying anywhere because of terrorism (because, you know, that would never happen in the US), was glad to here from me and basically told me not to tell anyone I was an American. In her mind, Americans are shot on site outside of the US. And maybe Canada.

I told my mom I was at a Mariott in Germany. I say this because it is important.

Anyway, I hung the phone, got the obligatory grief from Steve, and we headed up to the executive lounge.

Oh yeah, did I mention the executive lounge has free beer until 12ish? Free GERMAN beer? Yeah, it does. Life was good for that week and 1/2.

After walking around the city, I went to work on Thursday and took a break around 3 to go check into my room. I walk over to the hotel and proceed up to the desk, praying ot God I get the hottie that’s on the left to help me, and not Franz, the big dude on the right. He just wasn’t as attractive. God smiled down on me, because I did indeed proceed up to the hottie on the left. But, the thing is, God wasn’t smiling down on me because he was doing me a favor, he was smiling down because he knew the punchline.

I’m getting to it.

So I smile at Helga (not really her name, but all German women are Helga, all Russian are Olga – everyone knows that) and start the check in process, making small talk the whole time. See, I’m trying to get myself a tour guide. Trying being the keyword, but, hey, she was making small talk back, so I thought there might be an in.

Right when I was about to make my move, she says, “Oh! I almost forgot Mr. Redrum, we are supposed to tell you as soon as we see you that your mother called.”

“Really? Wow. That’s interesting. She didn’t even know what city I was in.”

“Well, that’s pretty impressive because I don’t know how many hotels we have, but I know we have over 17,000 beds.” She said. Smiling.

Without another word, I took my key, went to my room and wept.

I’m 32 years old. I’ve been out of my parent’s house for 10 or 11 years. I’m in another country. And mommy still manages to track me down.

Thank God for that free beer in the executive lounge.

Maryland to Pennsyvania – the scenic route…

When I was 21, I thought I was King Dingaling.

I had a brand new truck.

I was an assistant manager of a major retail drug store (I shudder at that thought, now).

I was making good money (still shuddering).

I was getting the attention of two women, one of which would be my girlfriend in a month.

And it was Christmas.

For the first time in many years, I was able to get a Christmas vacation. Working in retail, that is something that doesn’t come easy. Hell, it rarely comes at all – especially when you are in management. And since both of the women I was pining for were with their families, I decided to go see my family in Pennsylvania.

Seeing how my parents and sister were going up early, and I couldn’t leave until after 6:00 PM Christmas Eve, I was to take my truck (6 months old!) up seperately and be at my uncle’s house just in time for the traditional one-gift-opening the night before Christmas. Since I had only driven up once or twice before, I had to get directions from my dad, as my aunt and uncle had moved since I had last been up. The directions were simple, or were supposed to be…

“Just get on 95 South. 95 is a big circle. Just stay on 95 until you see 66W (or whatever it is) and take that to Breezewood. There you can get on the PA turnpike and you should know your way from there,” he told me.

Piece of cake, right?

Not quite.

I followed his directions to a “T.” Well, more like an “I.”

I got on 95 and drove.

And drove.

And drove.

Granted, I wasn’t paying too much attention, as the only thing I was looking for was 66W (or whatever it is). I was jamming to a little Stone Temple Pilots (Core, if you care) and just driving and thinking ahead to New Years Eve (when I would see the girls) and driving and smoking cigarettes. And driving.

After about four hours of being on 95, I pulled over to a rest-stop to call my dad as this was the pre-affordable cellphone age. You know, it just didn’t feel right. I had been driving forever. The drive to my uncle’s takes about 5 hours TOTAL, and nothing was looking familiar.

I gave him a call…

“Where are you? You lost already?” He asked when he picked up the phone.
“I don’t think so, I’m following your directions, but nothing looks familiar.”
“Where are you? Are you at Uniontown yet?”
“No, I’m still on 95.”
“Because you said to take 95 until 66 (you know) and I haven’t seen 66 yet.”
“Wait, wait, wait.” He said, “What is the last exit you saw?”
“Charlotte, next exit.” I told him. Still clueless.
“Son, listen to me. Turn around. Get on 95 North. Go home. Get up tomorrow and try again. You’re about to go into North Carolina. And get yourself a map before you leave.”

He was laughing as he hung up the phone. Confused, I hung up the phone and went into the convienience store and bought a map. In my truck, I figured out what went wrong.

Contrary to what my father says, 95 is NOT a big circle. It runs from Florida to Maine or something. 495 is the big circle. It is the Washington Beltway.

So I drove home, went to bed, left the house at 6 on Christmas day and was at my Uncles by 10. Amazing what a holiday does for traffic.

To this day, 11 years later, it is still a running joke for my friends.

I still say it’s my dad’s fault for bad directions.