Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons learned on a Road Trip...

Recently I took a road trip to Dallas, Texas for a job interview.  It was an amazing trip, sort of one of my hikes on the trails around here, but on a bigger scale.  Now, granted, I would much rather see the scenery of this great land by foot, but since I haven't won the lottery yet (and won't, since I don't play), I saw the short, quick version.  Absolutely magnificent, and the lessons I learned while doing it are well worth mentioning.

Never take "Not Exactly."

And that's not just on Rental Cars.  The only thing that non-brand names are better and more
satisfying are the store brand jars of jelly.  And mayonnaise.  But not rental cars.  I understand that there's not an option sometimes, and cheaper is the only way to go.  Turns out, this time, it was definitely not cheaper.  I chose SixT Auto Rental (it's a European thing) because the online quotes were much cheaper than the more recognizable brands.  Turns out... that's because the other costs weren't even on the website... they added them later...

The additional fees made the rental the same price as those of the other national rentals, whose prices were clearly stated on their websites.  Also, the additional $250 deposit was not stated at all at the website.  Finally, the employees at the return/pick up lot were friendly, but not particularly professional, with one of the workers saying that the car they had picked out for me was one that she was going to use later.  The driver that brought the cleaned car to me stepped out of the vehicle eating a bag of cheetos, with all that orange dust on his hands.  Not at all what a customer wants to see.  The car was fine, as was the return process itself afterwards.  I still don't know how the deposit situation shook out, as the invoice said nothing about it, and the additional $100 I had to pay will have to come out of that, since the credit card I used only had what I thought I was actually paying on it.  Next time, I will not go with "Not Exactly."

Then, when I got to the motel (I used Super 8), the very kind front desk person informed me that the credit card I used wouldn't work.  So I pulled out my debit card.... it wouldn't work either :O (that's me making the big Macaulay Culkin shocked face!) Out of money in a big city 1000 miles away, and at Midnight.  So I call my brother (1:00 AM Eastern) and woke him up and explained the problem.  Fortunately, he was able to re-reserve the room and I walked into a musty, smoke-filled (it was not supposed to be smoked in) room which I cleared out by turning the AC on.  Unfortunately, the AC went into the curtain which blew out when I turned the air on.  And there was no way of keeping the curtain from doing that.  So I used, for once in my life, the Gideon's Bible to trap the curtain against the window (I'm going to Hell, I know). I went to sleep using my internal alarm clock (which always works) knowing that I'd probably have danishes and maybe even eggs in the breakfast room that was right next door to my room.  Next morning, I find cold cereal, pancake batter, and packaged cinnamon rolls.  I just took a pastry and went back to my room.

AudioBooks Rock!!!

By the time I reached Birmingham (after a wonderful breakfast buffet at the Shoney's in Anniston (everyone stop there on the way out on 20, keep the place in business!), my music had failed me, and I was feeling my eyes unfocus and me getting droopy.  So, I decided, that wasn't going to work, and I popped in the 1st CD of David Weber's Off Armageddon Reef I stayed awake throughout the rest of my trip, all the rest of the 1,721 miles.  I never thought that Audiobooks would keep me awake more than singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite songs, but it absolutely delivers.  It's a completely different part of the brain, and I could easily "read" while driving, keeping alert and focusing on the road while my inner "eye" focused on the images being formed in my head.  It kept the people chained to the cave wall busy while the real person traveled topside (Plato).

Book Review: Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber

The book itself is the start of a series that takes place on a island-covered world, post human destruction by a formidable, but slow, alien race.  David Weber constructs an entire sociological structure, religion, economy, everything, and while some people probably are going to criticize Weber for page after page of describing the tenets of The Church of God Awaiting, I found it fascinating. Pausing the plot to build a world makes the best books, in my mind.  Some of the books I've loved, I'd rather get rid of the plot entirely. See Neal Stephenson's Ananthem where the plot basically gets in the way of amazing philosophical dialogue. When I travel back to Dallas to begin my new job, I will put the sequel into my mp3 player and will stay awake the whole time.

Everyone! Go to Braums!

It has the best everything... fries, burgers, ice cream... because it's all fresh.  They only exist within a 300 mile radius of Tuttle, Oklahoma.  I won't deny that being in the "Braums Zone" had some influence on taking the job in Dallas.  And the food was as superb as I remember.  My friend C., whose house got flattened in the Moore tornado, is the head of Public Relations for Braums, which makes me insanely jealous, and is so ironic since her main love is training and running marathons across the country.  The nearest one is about 5 minutes from Brookhaven College, which is where I'll be working as the Assistant Manager of the Bookstore.

Dallas has it together!

The transportation system in Dallas is complex, and while things are constantly under construction, they have a plan to better the transportation around the city. The HOV lanes are actually on bridges above the interstates, and they have their own exits and such.  The buses run everywhere throughout the city, and passes are affordable (especially if you take into account gas prices nowadays).  With my apartment being next to various stores, I won't have to drive much of anywhere except 5 minutes to work, so it will save on gas, and if I want to go someplace, I can hop on the bus system and travel anywhere.  Or drive out to the lakes, the parks, or to any number of places in Texas and Oklahoma where my friends and family are living.  The Lakehouse my grandmother used to own is only 1.5 hours north, on the Lake of the Arbuckles.
Vicksburg, MS over the Mississippi River.

I'm so excited to be taking this new path in my life.  Everybody wish me luck, and I'll blog again on from the Lone Star State.  Farewell Georgia (which isn't true, it's only a 12 hour drive), and Hello Texas!!


  1. Oh my goodness, the very best of luck to you!
    Now, will your PROMISE me that you will take photos of the Bluebonnets that bloom there? I THINK they bloom in that part of Texas. Heck, I don't know, I have only been to Dallas ONCE. I saw the Falcons play the Cowboys and an ice storm closed the airport just after we flew out! (This was in the early 80's, I'm an old lady!)
    Goodness, I am very happy for you. Hope you will have lots of trails to walk on. Enjoy your journey through life and keep up with your blogging!

    Your blogging friend in Conyers, Georgia....KAY!

  2. I am so happy for you, Denzil. I have heard nothing, but good things about the beautiful state of Texas, so you will feel right at home there. My parents went to San Antonio, Texas just over a month ago, and they felt like they were in heaven. My mom wishes that she could live there. While you're there in Dallas, you need to go visit San Antonio . . . they have some really nice places there from what my parents have described to me.

    I know a good church in Dallas, Texas, but it's a mega church, as it has over 30,000 active members there. It's called The Potter's House, and Bishop T.D. Jakes is their pastor, and has been for nearly 20 years. You can at least try to visit that church once . . . Bishop Jakes is an amazing pastor, who really puts a lot of thoughts into his sermons. He's such a good preacher that even TV personalities like Dr. Phil have sought him for advice.

    Again, I hope you have fun in Dallas. A new city means more breath-taking views and moments, new journeys, new paths to trail and of course, create. I know how much you love books, so this will be an awesome job for you. Maybe you can tutor some students while you are in the college facility.

    Wishing you a hearty God bless,
    Jacob Huffman