Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/.

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<





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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?


"50 First Dates"






Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
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or Search by State

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Contact The Media
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Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)

Quasar
Hyperbole
Amenable
Taciturn
Ennui
Prophetic
Tawdry
Hubris
Ethereal
Syzygy
Umbrageous
Twerp
Sluice
Omnipotent
Sanctuary
Malevolent
Maelstrom
Luddite
Subterfuge
Akimbo
Hoosegow
Dodecahedron
Visceral
Soupçon
Truculent
Vitriol
Mercurial
Kerfuffle
Sangfroid




























 







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Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue

Slanglish

It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations


Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"


















 
Mail Trillian here





Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)

CellStories

Alliance for the Great Lakes


Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras


The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.



Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.

Shag

Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto

Jotto




Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.





Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.


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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains





























Life(?) of Trillian
Single/Zero

 
Thursday, June 24, 2004  
The pool. As many stories as there are people.

The pool boys continue to distract me.

For reasons other than their physiques or aquatic feats.

What has become the larger distraction is: What is it these boys (and girls, yes, there are women there, too) do for a living which allows them to swim and lounge poolside on the rooftop pool of a swank metropolitan condo building? A building in which one bedroom units are available (oh lucky us) for a mere $450K.

Well. The wondering is just the tip of the iceberg distraction.

The bigger distraction are the stories I find myself making up for them.

One, will call him Little Boy Blue, arrives at 3:00 PM every day. Set your clock by his arrival.

Here's his story as I've written it: Little Boy Blue was a child prodigy. He took his kindergarten graduation money, told his parents what stocks to buy with it, and has been making a killing in the market ever since. He graduated Harvard Business School at age 18. He traveled, for a while, but soon got bored. Now, at age 24, he's enjoying his first passion, the market. He's a trader. His friends call him Midas because he's golden. Can't lose. He's up before the sun, a crazy day on the floor, finished by 2:00 and in the pool by 3:00.

He knows the money will only get him so far, though, so he is ritualistic about his fitness and tanning regime.

Every day he enters the pool at 3:00 PM, swims 25 laps, does 40 pool side pull-ups and 40 leg lifts (each leg) before exiting the pool.

He likes his blue trunks because they remind him of the color of the late afternoon sky on the coast of Madagascar. He also knows this cut accents his physique. He has several pair of these trunks.

He also likes to arrive at the pool at 3:00 PM because Little Pink Bikini is always there then, sunning her back side, head facing the pool. This gives him the opportunity to view her back side, and gives her the opportunity to view his aquatic routine. He performs his pool side pull-ups and leg lifts strategically in front of her deck chair.

He likes Little Pink because she is a challenge. She already has everything. Everything that is, except a choice piece of USDA certified Little Blue. She will be his, oh yes, one day, she will be his.

Little Pink Bikini. Hers is a tragic tale. Her mother died when she was very young, leaving her bereft but wealthy father to care for her. He was so bereft and so wealthy he left Little Pink in the care of a team of staff. Governesses, private tutors, cooks, maids...a specialist for everything her mother would have done for her.

Now she's trying to find herself. Trying to figure out what she wants from life. Trying to make it on her own, stand on her own two feet. She's left the comfort of her father's North shore estate for the modest confines of her pied a tierre. (It's a whole four blocks to Versace!) She is multitasking. She is working on her tan while she figures out the meaning of her life. She will get a job as soon as she figures out what she wants to do. Her days by the pool, high above the city, give her the peace and relaxation she needs to really think.

And there are all those cute boys around, too. She times her tanning so that she is on her stomach when Little Boy Blue arrives at 3:00 PM. He's not like a lot of the boys she usually likes, and that intrigues her. But she's not sure if he's the right sort of boy for her. She is watching him, waiting for him to make a move so that she can discern his net worth. Meanwhile, she spends her early sunning hours with The Agent.

The Agent is a real estate broker. He's purchased investment real estate around the world, some of it risky but he's got a feeling about it, and some of just because, gosh darn it, he likes it. And sometimes it's how he scores with the ladies.

"I'll buy you a condo if you sleep with me."

"I need someone to stay in one of my properties in Mustique. I only go there once or twice a year. It's virtually yours if you perform deviant sex acts with me while I'm there."

He's so successful with his buying and selling that he doesn't have to lower himself to the rudimentary tasks such as going to an office. When he needs to buy or sell, he is a mere mobile phone call or two away from the deal.

He was in town for a little charity shindig, and is keeping an eye on one of his best client's daughter. Little Pink. Oh yes. He's keeping an eye on her. He can't help notice how much she looks like her mother. He and her mother spent a wild and deliciously wicked Summer together before Little Pink was born. He looks at Little Pink and remembers that Summer. Her mother. Wild. Wicked. Oh yeah. Little Pink looks just like her mother.

The Boys show up around noon every day. They like to have mimosas by the pool, and they know only alcoholics drink before noon, and They. Are. Not. Alcoholics. (Alcoholism is so '80s. And They. Are. Not. So. '80s) So at 12:01 PM The Boys hit the deck with Sonoma Wine Tote, freshly squeezed (oooh! squeeeeeze this, darling!) orange juice and the best fruits they picked up at that cute little farmer's market last Sunday. The boys are a very committed couple, but they are also very open and sharing of themselves. They regularly entertain houseguests on the deck. Some days it's a right old party down there! Other days it's just a quiet time for The Boys to relax, recharge and reconnect. Have a little alone time together. Sipping their mimosas, working on their tans. Reading People and Metropolitan Home. Sigh. Life is good for The Boys. It's especially good around 2:00 PM when Is He or Isn't He shows up.

Is He or Isn't He is a strapping young buck of a lad. He works out a lot and it shows. He is one of three men on the planet who can pull off this look and still leave the question of his sexual preference an open debate.

The Boys are working on Is He or Isn't He. They watch him, they tease him, they offer him mimosas. Sometimes Is He or Isn't He accepts their offer. The three enjoy drinks and conversation, but Is He or Isn't He is evasive about his lifestyle. What he does for a living, who he dates...

The Boys are certain they will find out and win him over with liquor. They are not threatened by Jenna and Haley.

Jenna and Haley are best friends. They do everything together. They especially like shopping and hanging out by the pool. Jenna's parents have a place in town, where Jenna's father entertains business associates and her mother hosts the bridge girls a few times a year. Jenna and Haley are enjoying their last Summer of freedom together. People often compare them to Paris and Nicole, and they're okay with that, they think it's funny. And they admire Paris' fashion sense so they see the comparison as a compliment. Later this Summer they're going to do a road trip just like Paris and Nicole except they'll have money. They're going to squeeze every ounce of life out of this Summer before they graduate college next year. Jenna will be starting her career in communications, and Haley will be so busy with her wedding. Haley very much wants Jenna to have the same love she's found in Brad, so she's hoping Is He or Isn't He will turn out to be on their team. Is He or Isn't He likes to talk with the girls, and he does seem interested in Jenna, he's even mentioned that he might like to go on their road trip. But he likes The Boys and has lunch with them a lot, and that's vexing for Haley and Jenna. Jenna's really hot, especially when she wears that one red bikini. Is He or Isn't He was visibly "taken" with her when she was wearing it. But he was also visibly "taken" that one day when one of The Boys was putting lotion on his back. In fact, Is He or Isn't He seems to be in a constant state of being "taken" which is very vexing to all on the deck.

Except Leatherette and Nip.

Leatherette is the matriarch of the deck. She looks to be about 80, but it's possible she's 45. She has devoted her life to the perfect tan. And smoking. For Leatherette, a perfect day is lounging by the pool from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM (peak sun hours) with a copy of Vogue and a pack of cigs. Her husband is very wealthy but boring, but that's okay. She really only needs him as an escort to the Opera or fundraisers or gallery openings. They've been together so long, they've worked out their routine, and she's got a great tan to show for it, so why change now?

This Summer she is joined by her niece, Nip.

Nip is her brother's daughter, raised in France. Nip is very European. Nip has had a difficult year. Nip has been a regular on the island party scene since she was 15. Last year at St. Baarts Nip was involved in a bit of a scandal involving some high profile celebrities. She was quietly admitted to a rehab clinic, and is spending this Summer cloistered away with her aunt. She is having a difficult time adapting. She is bored. She sun bathes topless.

No one cares.

Oddly, she and her nips blend in to the deck scene. Except for an occasional glance from Unemployed Guy, no one notices Nip or her nips.

Unemployed Guy was laid off in a brutal downsizing last year. He was VP of marketing, but with outsourcing and a lack of any actual job duties, the company had no choice but to eliminate his position. He's taking time off to write. He's lucky, his wife has a good job and the severance package he got was very generous. He always thought he could be a successful writer, but is only now taking the time to cultivate his ideas. Early mornings see him down on the deck, lap top charged and ready for action. He swims several laps, does his pool side pull-up, does a few crunches as he dries off in the sun, and then hits the keys. He doesn't miss the daily grind of the office at all. Especially when Nip shows up at the pool. Sometimes he feels a little guilty. Especially when he sees Urban Mommy League. He knows his wife wants to have a baby, and he also knows she'd like to quit her job. But that would mean that he'd have to find a job and go back to work. Fortunately the pangs of guilt subside quickly. As soon as the Urban Mommy League leaves for Toddler Symphony he feels good about his life and his writing.

The Urban Mommy League are young mothers devoted and determined to not giving up their life in the city. They do not want to be suburban. They want their children to be exposed to the city firsthand. They want them to be real. To be urban. To be free of any stifling narrow minded keeping up with the Joneses in the suburbs. So they get together with other like minded young mothers for play dates and Mommy and Me swimtime at each other's building pools. They all bring items for lunch. The mom's commandeer two umbrella tables. They want to work on their tans, but HEALTHY TANS! They use sunblock and limit their exposure and be sure to stay under the shade of the umbrella when they've had their dose of sun for the day. The toddlers play in a pop-up playpen or in the pool when the mommies are in the pool doing their aquasizes. They think it's just great The Boys can be so free, but take special care to keep their young sons away from The Boys. "You can't be too careful. After all, we don't really know them."

11:36 AM

Wednesday, June 23, 2004  
Reality Wednesday
Baby You Can Drive My Car
A new reality show sponsored by Hertz.

Contestants (unsuspecting business travelers) are given the challenge of arriving at a distant city, procuring the rental car they reserved and driving the car for the duration of their visit.

If you've seen Trains, Planes and Automobiles or have ever rented a car, you might want to see what's happening on that new Summer smash hit reality show on FOX.

Three "contestants" arrive at the airport rental counter. Two agents are on duty. One is busy with an existing customer. Who appears to be very tired and very angry.

The three arriving contestants are polite. They have one of those polite arguments. "Go ahead" "No, you were here first, you go ahead." "Ladies first, insist." "I'm in no hurry, go ahead." The guy who undeniably arrived last goes first. He steps up to the counter and all the usual takes place. The agent types thousands of characters on a keyboard which is out of site. He looks at the monitor and makes that, "hmmmmm, this doesn't look good" look. The contestant at the counter stiffens his back. The contestants in line exchange a glance. They roll their eyes. They all know what this means.

"I've got a car which is much larger and more expensive that the car you reserved for you today, Mr. Contestant."

"No, thank you, I reserved an econo small, and that's what I'd like. Price of gas is too high, that car gets horrible mileage."

"I'm afraid we had a few extensions yesterday so we don't have your econo small available."

Ah yes. The Few Extensions Yesterday So We Don't Have the Car You Reserved Two Months Ago Available ploy.

The contestant at the counter sighs and slumps his posture. He has already given up the fight. Before it even began. He is obviously a seasoned player. He knows what this means and knows there is no point in arguing. "Fine, but I want it at the rate I reserved the econo small." he counters.

Ah yes. The Fine But I Want It at the Rate I Reserved the Smaller Car ploy.

This is a good move. There's a 50/50 chance it will work. It's early in the day, so the odds are good he'll win this round.

The agent types in thousands of characters before responding.

"Alright Mr. Contestant, we can do that for you, if you'll just give me a moment I'll enter these details and we'll get you on the road."

"What the *#%! was he typing before? What other details could he possibly need to enter?!" Contestant 2 says to Contestant 3.

"No kidding. I have a long held belief they are actually sending email or text messages to their friends. Even if their system is still DOS, there's no way they have to type in that many characters before they even have your driver's license or credit card." Contestant 3 agrees.

Eventually Contestant 1 is finished, brandishes his rental agreement and car keys, waves good bye and gives a good luck over his shoulder as he leaves the rental desk.

Contestants 2 & 3 resume the polite, "No, I insist, go ahead" argument.

Contestant 3 says, "I'm going to have the same problem as he did, you might as well go first."

Contestant 2 relents and steps up to the counter. He supplies his name. The typing begins.

"Good morning Mr. Contestant 2, we've got a (big SUV) for you today, at the preferred prestige gold club rate of $XX.XX."

"My preferred prestige gold club rate should be $XY.XX." Contestant 2 counters.

"I'm afraid that rate only applies if you rent in state of license issue in the months of October, January and March." the agent condescendingly explains.

"But when I booked the reservation online I was quoted this rate." Contestant 2 counters.

Ah yes. The Booked the Reservation Online I Was Quoted This Rate ploy. Unfortunately this move rarely results in a coup for the contestant. Online bookings or rates are meaningless to rental agents. It is in fact surprising the agent is able to locate a reservation at all.

"I'm sorry Mr. Contestant 2, those rates are not offered at this location." The agent insists.

Contestant 2 realizes he can't win this round. He sighs and accepts the rate.

More typing. Lots more typing.

"I thought my preferred prestige gold club membership eliminated all of this check-in delay." Contestant 2 inquires.

Ah yes. The Preferred Prestige Gold Club Membership Hassle Elimination ploy.

The agent ignores this ploy and continues typing.

(Perhaps he has to reply to an urgent text message from his mother.)

"Okay then, Mr. Contestant 2, here we are, here's your rental agreement." the agent offers the contract to Contestant 2.

Contestant 2 reads the rental agreement.

All of it.

"Wait a minute, the rate on here is $XZ.XX. You said it would be $XX.XX, which is not the rate I reserved online, and now you've got a different rate on the rental agreement. I want to speak with your supervisor." Contestant 2 (rightfully) angrily demands.

The agent looks over to the other agent, still assisting the original customer.

The other agent looks at Contestant 2 and tells him he'll have to wait until he is finished with the original customer.

"You've been right here! You've heard all of this! I've been given the wrong rate on my rental agreement, which isn't the rate I was quoted online! I'm a preferred prestige gold club customer." Contestant 2 (rightfully) barks at the other agent.

"You'll have to wait until I finish with this customer. I cannot open a new screen until I am finished here." the other agent condescendingly admonishes Contestant 2.

Everyone waits.

And waits.

And waits.


Contestant 2, frustrated, says, "Just give me the car." and signs the rental agreement.

The agent smugly types in thousands of characters and then hands him keys. He asks for business cards from both the agent and his supervisor. He turns from the desk, wishes Contestant 3 good luck and disappears into the crowd of the airport.

There are now three more travelers/contestants behind Contestant 3.

She steps up to the rental desk.

The agent gives her a smarmy smile. He is deluding himself that she has not heard any of the previous contestant's conversations.

Contestant 3 produces an online reservation (ah yes, the online reservation), preferred prestige gold club membership card, her driver's license, a credit card and says: "I booked an econo small online, I'm a preferred prestige gold club member, and I know none of this means anything to you. I want whatever car you have available and I will not pay more than $XY.XX."

Ah yes. The beat them to the punch ploy. While momentarily satisfying for the contestant, this is not always a good tactic. Sarcasm does not generally go over well with rental car agents. They like to think they own the rights to smug. They. Must. Have. The. Last. Word.

The agent types thousands of characters. (Another email to mum?)

"Okay, Ms. Contestant 3, we had some extensions last night and we don't have your econo small available. Because you're a preferred prestige gold club member we can give you an upgrade at the same rate." The agent smugly smiles a smile which says "touché."

From across the rental desk, the supervisor, never looking up from his typing says to the agent, "Agent, we're out of those. Hank took one in to the garage and I just released the last one and Ms. Harried Traveler here."

Pointing at the monitor, the agent says, "But it says right here..."

"No, that's the one Hank took into the garage. He hasn't taken it off the field yet."

"So what should I give Ms. Contestant 3?" the agent asks, voice cracking, beads of sweat forming on his brow.

The supervisor sizes up Ms. Contestant 3. "You're a preferred prestige gold club member?" he asks of Contestant 3.

"Yes." she replies, leaning over the counter to retrieve her membership card as proof. The agent doesn't like this. No one, apparently, is supposed to see "behind the desk." He snatches the card and hands it to the supervisor.

"What's her rental history?" the supervisor asks of the agent.

More typing.

Lots more typing.

Contestant 3 muses as to what is appearing on the screen. She is musing over her rental car history. Trying to remember if she has any blemishes like a 2 minute late return.

The agent says to the supervisor, "Here, I've got her file up."

The supervisor gives a cursory glance at the monitor and says, "Give her the black Jag in bay 5."

"Whoa, wait. What will my rate be? I'm only allowed a certain amount of car expense, and with the price of petrol right now..." Contestant 3 interrupts.

The supervisor, never looking up from his typing says, "Same rate. $XY.XX."

The agent gasps.

"The econo small rate?!"

"Yeah, we're in a situation here, agent, she's a good customer."

Contestant 3 is suspicious. Why is he being nice? This is an unprecedented car rental maneuver.

The agent hastily prints the rental agreement.

Contestant 3 reads it. All of it. The rate is $XY.XX. She signs it. Quickly.

The agent hands her the keys and her license and cards.

She smiles politely, thanks the supervisor and agent and gets the heck out of there.

The next challenge is finding the rental car agency shuttle bus.

Contestant 3 steps out of the major metropolitan airport into the morning sun and heat and dust.

She looks up and down a boulevard for a sign telling her where to board her rental car company's shuttle bus.

She sees Contestant 2 standing in the boulevard. She risks life and limb in the crossing the crosswalk to join him.

As she approaches, she notices Contestant 1 sitting on a bench.

"Hi." she greets them.

"Hi." they both glumly respond.

"No shuttle bus?" she states the obvious.

"I just missed one, hasn't been another one since." Contestant 1 sighs.

Contestant 3 peers down the road. The only thing in sight are wavy heat lines are rising off the pavement.

She joins Contestant 1 on the bench. Which scalds her bum.

Shuttle buses for other rental car companies pass the group. Other contestants join the group waiting for the shuttle bus. Shuttle buses for other rental car companies pass the group.

Contestant 1 begins conducting business on his mobile phone.

As jets fly overhead.

Contestant 3 feels his pain and embarrassment.

"Hey! Look! Isn't that the rental car company's logo on that bus?!" Contestant 3 excitedly shouts.

"I think so!" another contestant excitedly agrees, gathering his luggage.

"I hope it's not a group mirage." Contestant 2 worries out loud.

Then, from through the wavy heat lines, the shuttle bus approaches and stops. Several shuttle bus lengths ahead of the designated boarding area. The contestants all gather their belongings and schlep to the shuttle bus. The diver never leaves the comfort of his seat.

Contestant 2 helps the other contestants with their luggage. (Huge, tremendous points for Contestant 2, this could catapult him into the lead.)

Once everyone is on board, the driver, over one of those tour bus microphone things, announces, "Jy benedd ju gremets"

Silence falls over the interior of the shuttle bus.

A brave contestant, seated closest to the driver, says, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

The driver doesn't turn from his seat, but reaches behind him and says, "ju gremet. Jy nedd ju gremet." as he grabs at the rental agreement in the contestant's hand.

An audible sigh of recognition fills the interior of the shuttle bus. One by one the rental agreements are passed to the driver.

He sorts and stacks them in a tray on the dash.

"Hang on a minute, there's a couple running up here!" another contestant, peering out the window, yells to the driver.

The shuttle bus lurches forward and takes off. The contestants on the shuttle bus look back apologetically at the couple standing on the boulevard until they become distant, heat waved specs.

Land speed records are set on the trip to the rental car lot.

"Why did we have to wait so long? At this rate, this guy could have made ten round trips in the time we were waiting." Contestant 2 says to Contestants 1 and 3.

The shuttle bus screeches to a halt.

"Yonsone?" The driver yells through the tour bus microphone.

"Johnson?" a hopeful contestant replies.

"Yonsone, jes" the driver yells through the tour bus microphone and holds up a rental agreement.

Contestant Johnson takes the rental agreement from the driver, collects his bags and exits the bus. The bus lurches forward, leaving a forlorn looking Contestant Johnson standing in the middle of the parking lot.

The driver continues this process until Contestant 3 is the only person on the bus.

He drives around the lot. Twice. Then he looks at the one remaining rental agreement. "Jur indygrag, ju schood say." he announces over the tour bus microphone.

Contestant 3 smiles and nods politely.

The shuttle bus pulls into a back garage entry.

An agent type person with one of those electronic clip board things appears at the door of the shuttle bus.

The door opens.

No one moves.

Looks are exchanged.

The garage agent finally speaks.

"Are you Ms. Contestant 3?"

"Yes."

"May I see your agreement?"

"The driver has it."

The diver sits, motionless.

"I need her rental agreement!" the garage agent barks at the driver.

Feeling sort of bad for the driver, Contestant 3 heads to the front of the shuttle bus and picks up her rental agreement from the dash tray. She heads back to the luggage rack, takes her luggage and hands the agreement to the garage agent. She then schleps her luggage off the bus.

"Okay, right this way. You're getting a deal. You're going to love this car." the garage agent says. "You ever driven a Jag?"

"Well, erm, actually, yes." Contestant 3 responds, "but not a Ford Jag."

"You don't like Fords?" the garage agent looks at her suspiciously.

"GM girl born and raised."

The garage agent leads her to a Jaguar. He points out the details of the car.

He hands her the keys.

She opens the trunk and places her broken suitcase in it.

She gets in the car, adjusts her mirrors, temperature and radio. She buckles up and backs out of the bay, into the garage and out into the now noon sun.

In a surprise twist ending, the audience is asked to vote on which contestant wins the honor of rental car sap.

Contestant 1 wins by a narrow margin. Contestant 3 says, "Yeah, he really got the short end of the stick. We were in the same situation, yet I ended up with a luxury sport upgrade and he got, well, a big clunky behemoth of a car. I know I got lucky, this sort of thing NEVER happens to me. NEVER. And really, it's just a Ford. A Jag's not really a Jag anymore."

Contestant 1, seen filling up the big, clunky behemoth car with gallon after gallon of gas, the price gauge escalating on the pump, rolls his eyes and says, "easy for her to say. I'll take that Ford over this."

9:44 AM

Tuesday, June 22, 2004  
I'm home, but the legacy of my life on the road lingers. Anyone who travels for business may know what I mean. When you're away from home, but working, there's this weird sort of feeling. A life in limbo feeling. It's not vacation, but you're away from home. It's work, but you're not in the office. This sets you up for an even weirder feeling when you return home and back to the office. You've been away but not on vacation. You have loads of laundry to do and there's nothing to eat. Just like when you come home from vacation. But. You haven't been on vacation. You've been working. If you're like me, you've been working 14 - 16 hour days, nonstop. So no, it's not been a vacation and you certainly don't feel like you've been on vacation. Yet there are the tell tale signs that you've been gone. The aforementioned laundry and food. Your pet is really, really mad at you. There's loads of mail to go through. Yet you're tired, you're cranky, you're heaving your suitcase into a corner because you have to dash and call the office and a client or two because, after all, you're working. To anyone who doesn't travel for business, it may look exciting, perhaps even fun. A change in routine, out of the office, "getting to fly and stay in nice hotels and all that." I suppose, yes, it might seem that way. But one real, bona fide business trip convinces most people that it's not exciting, fun or least of all, glamorous. It's tedious. It's tiring. It's long, long hassle filled days. Yes, yes, yes! I myself have enjoyed the reprieve from my boss and the nefarious creatures with whom I am forced to spend my days in the office. The past weeks have reminded me that I do actually like my job. It's the people with whom I work I don't like. No, not an epiphany, I already knew that, but being away from them, being out on the road doing my job and not worrying about boob jobs or men's rooms or IRA sympathizers or a woman who speaks in an untranslatable language cleared my head enough to regain perspective on what I do for a living and why I do it.

Not that I want to continue life on the road. Because weighing up the pros and cons, what I want, what I need, is a job doing what I do but without as much travel and with a better, more professional group of coworkers. The reprieve from travel was really nice. Really, really nice. I got out of the habit of business travel. Thanks to my ankle I got out of a lot of business trips, but I've milked that for all I can and now it's back on the road. And now I am dealing with Post Business Trip Syndrome.

Sunburn acquired through tights while working a fundraiser in Florida: Evolved to that disgusting shedding state by my second night in LA, where I was referred to several specialists, and then opted for "treatment" at the hotel spa. This stopped the shedding, but, um, well, my legs feel weird when I touch them. I attempted to shave them the other night and I found myself being, erm, well, aroused. This concerns me. While not an unpleasant feeling, it's one I'd rather not experience while shaving my legs.

Skewed fashion perspective: Okay! I admit it! Sometimes when in Rome one must behave like the Romans. I completely agree with blending in, nothing worse than a business traveler who looks like a tourist. They are easy marks for crime, among other things. And sometimes you pack hastily and neglect to bring enough or appropriate clothing for every function you are required to attend. And sometimes your suitcase is lost, damaged and otherwise maligned and some of your clothes arrive (if they arrive at all) soiled from being spewed throughout various baggage areas. Okay! I caved under the pressure! I went shopping in Florida and LA and acquired some less than Trillian esque clothing. A few items of which are in pastel hues. One particular item has flowers adorning it. It looked really cute and appropriate at the brunch reception on the deck overlooking the ocean. Now. Here. In Chicago. It's less than fetching. But still in my business trip stance, still half in LA, I donned the top and went to work as if it were absolutely normal for me to wear a pink top with flowers around the neckline. It seemed normal to me. And that's my point. The mindset, the when in Rome outlook lingers even after you've returned home. It will take a week or so for me to realize this top isn't me, that it isn't Chicago, and it certainly isn't me in Chicago. But for now it still seems normal and I still like it. And besides, I haven't paid for all of it yet.

Credit card bills: The business trip hangover. Traveling's expensive. Hotel, rental cars, business meals at really pricey restaurants (where no food is actually ingested), meals where food is then actually ingested, purchasing items lost or forgotten when packing the office for the road trip (try to find an Office Max when you are in the middle of the desert. I dare you. Shopping and spa treatments to kill time between work and work. There's an otherworldliness to traveling on business. You're working. You're working really long hours. You feel like you are working 24/7 (in my case that's actually true, like a brain surgeon or military general, I am on call and at anyone's beck 24/7 while on site for business. Emergencies arise, you know, like making sure a certain spokesperson has the right sort of bottled water.) right. You're working a lot. You're not on your usual schedule. You're not doing things you normally do. You're staying at a really nice hotel. You might even be driving a really nice car. You forget that you will not be reimbursed for everything. Like, for instance, that insane charge from a boutique named Merde Sainte. You think it's a mistake. You think your credit card number has been stolen. You demand a refund from your credit card company. They email you a copy of the signed receipt. "Forgery!" you claim, though you admit it's a very good forgery. You then read the detail on the receipt. "One pink top with flowers, very out of character for the purchaser but will look divine at that brunch reception on a deck overlooking the ocean." And then you wonder if you can justify this as an business expense. Because you would never, ever normally spend THAT kind of money on a slip of a top, a pink top, no less. Adorned with flowers. And besides, if you're going to be made to stay in very swank and posh luxury suites in very swank and posh hotels and drive very swank cars you can't wear just any old thing.

Receipts: When traveling for business, I have learned, the hard way, to get a receipt for everything. Everything. Period. It is engrained in me, etched into my fiber. When I make that final business trip in the sky, I am certain my dying words will be, "May I please have a receipt?" And yes, yes, yes! For general life and personal reasons, it's always a good idea to get a receipt. But. In real life, as opposed to business travel life, I am not concerned about getting a receipt for a bottle of water and breath mints procured at the local convenience emporium. Nor do I keep the receipt of transaction at the ATM beyond balancing by checking account (as if I do that on any regular basis, but I always think I will, I always intend to do it...) But on business those receipts matter. A lot. ATM fees are unbelievable. I was charged a $5 transaction fee at an ATM in LA. I didn't have time (or inclination) to chase down a lower fee (or free) ATM. And I am not paying $5 out of my pocket because I needed cash to tip a bunch of catering staff. I have a nifty little pouch/folder thing I use when traveling on business in which I keep all my receipts, separated by day. I also have a nightly, just before bed ritual of recording every expense on a traveling expense form. Yes. I even numerically correlate the receipts to the expense item. I told you, years of business travel have taught me to do these things. What seems obvious to you when in a situation on a business trip will not be obvious (or necessary) to an account manager back in the office. Especially if she doesn't get out much and spends her days processing business expense reports for people who travel the world over racking up a lot of expenses in very exotic seeming locations. It takes me several weeks to forget I am not traveling on business and therefore do not require a receipt for everything I purchase.

Housekeeping issues: I am not the sort of person who is comfortable leaving towels on any floor. Even if it's the expected norm. Even if there's a discreet little sign telling me to leave used towels on the bathroom floor as a signal for housekeeping. However. I do become quickly and easily accustomed to returning to my room to find the bed made, bathroom cleaned and the room otherwise tidied. It will take me a full two or three weeks to realize I don't actually have housekeeping staff in my apartment. For the next two weeks, every time I walk into my apartment after work, I will be surprised to see used towels and clothes precisely where I left them and the bed unmade. Funny, though, I don't feel the slightest need to leave a tip for housekeeping. Of course in the case of my apartment I wouldn't tip for such lousy service.

Television: I do not have a television in my bedroom. Nor do I have movie channels or pay per view. I do not want any of these things. When I travel I rarely utilize any of these things. But for some reason, when I return home I am surprised to discover I don't have movie channels or pay per view (or even cable).

Don't get me wrong. It's not as if I feel like some spoiled princess who now must adjust to her means. It's not as if I yearn for a posh suite or stylin' ride or housekeeping service. Seriously. I don't. I'm really glad to be home (true, I wish it were a nicer home) with Furry Creature and my regularly scheduled life (as pathetic as it seems to me at times) it's just that part of me still feels like I'm away. It's because I was away on business. I was working. A lot. Just in a place other than my office. So it's not that "I've been away on holiday" feeling. It's the "I've been working my arse off" feeling.

I mention all of this for the benefit of anyone who doesn't travel for business and is resentful of the people in their office who do. Yes, there are people who take advantage of the situation, I know it to be true. However, for the most part, if you ask anyone who travels more than a few days a year for business, they will tell you it's no posh holiday. Both while away and the week following the return, it's stressful and does things to your psyche. It can really mess up your life.

Cut them some slack when they return to the office. Remember, they've been working, not on vacation. They've probably been working much longer hours than usual. They've probably got a mountain of laundry to do. They've probably got an enormous credit card bill looming which is keeping them awake nights. They've probably got to deal with statements like, "You were right there in Florida, you should have gone up to see their studio..." because, yeah, they had so much spare time they could have driven 2 and a half hours each way to see a studio. They are trying to maintain tactful composure and not go into a rage at these sort of statements made by people who couldn't be bothered to spend as much as a day out of the office and on location. When you were living your life, going through your routine, going to your gym, spending the evening in with your pet and your girl/boyfriend all cozy on your couch watching your favorite movie eathing your favorite Chinese take away, they were working long hours, dealing with airports, rental car companies, demanding clients, idiot onsite staff, smiling and making polite conversation through meals at restaurants with "interesting" cuisine and calling the office every hour to manage the work they would be doing if they were in the office because no one "back there" is taking care of their work while they are gone.

Oh yes. The glamorous life of the business traveler.

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8:50 AM

Monday, June 21, 2004  
And there is much rejoicing.

I returned to my office today.

My actual, walled, not in front of the men's room office.

I'm off the cube farm.

My new office is far from perfect, but it's not in front of the men's room.

And that's good enough for me.

For now.

I could complain.

There are issues.

Serious issues.

But.

It's not in front of the men's room.

And.

I've got a great view.

I had been told I would enjoy the view.

My friend was monitoring the progress of my office while I was gone.

She kept me apprised with daily voice mail updates.

"They moved your telephone! And it works!" was the first message.

Two days later: "There's a desk in there! They've got the phone on a desk in there!"

The next day: "Boob Job and I moved your chair into your office. I tried it, and, Trillian, you've got an amazing view, way better than mine. You've got a clear shot of the swimming pool from your chair in front of your desk! It's perfect! I didn't tell Boob Job, I figured we'd keep this secret unless you want to share with her. Since you're on the lower, closer floor with an unobstructed view from your desk, afternoon nonsmoking breaks will now be held in your office."

She is referring to a roof top swimming pool. The view is the boys who populate the pool and deck. Talk of this view has been whispering around my company. Huddles of women can be seen around strategic windows on various floors. I've been too busy to really partake (and then not in the office) but I had a feeling my office would be the prime viewing area.

Two days later another voice mail: "Your computers are moved! Your office is ready for you!"

Today I move. Boxes will finally be unpacked.

Things will be sorted.

And yes.

The view is spectacular.

So spectacular that I had to close my blinds.

Oh sure, it's great to start the day watching nearly naked, fit boys swimming and exercising in a pool. But I have, you know, actual work to do. And call me hedonistic, but nearly naked boys swimming, exercising and lounging poolside is a serious distraction. I am weak and undisciplined in the face of such temptation.

I am not proud of this. It makes me feel immature, banal and a little dirty.

But there they are.

Asking for it.

Begging.

They want it.

See what I mean? This isn't me talking! This isn't me! I'm not like this! You know I'm not like this! You know I'm not that sort of person!

So the blinds will be closed during normal office hours.

Must.

Resist.

Temptation.

And issue a warning and establish rules.

WARNING!

NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.

SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK.

YOUR EVERY MOVE IS BEING MONITORED BY EVERYONE IN EVERY SURROUNDING OFFICE BUILDING. YES. TAKE A GOOD LOOK AROUND. THIS IS A ROOFTOP POOL, BUT THIS ROOFTOP IS FAR LOWER THAN OTHER ROOFTOPS AND EVERYONE IN ALL THOSE OFFICES ON FLOORS HIGHER THAN THIS ROOFTOP HAS A CLEAR VIEW OF EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING. AND IF YOU THINK BEING IN THE POOL MAKES YOU INVISIBLE YOU'RE WRONG. THE AQUA BLUE OF THE LINING AND WATER ONLY HIGHLIGHT YOUR TANNED, CUT, NEARLY NAKED BODY.

Risks of this pool include:
Drowning.
Ogling.

POOL RULES

  • All males in the pool must do those pull-up things guys do on the side of the pool to exercise pecs and triceps before being allowed to exit the pool.

  • No Speedos allowed unless you are British or German and only then if you are skinny, pasty white and weigh less than 130 pounds and in the process of perpetuating the stereotype.

  • Trunks must be mid-thigh length, roomy enough to add a little mystery, yet cling slightly, strategically suggestively when wet. No trunks which come to the knees and are so big they billow around the wearer even when wet are permitted.

  • The nylon-y, baggy, shorts basketball players wear are not allowed in the pool. Period.

  • No white trunks allowed in the pool. Period. Ever. Dry white trunks may be worn on the deck and pool area, but must never get wet. (Wet, transparent trunks clinging to a man's bum and other areas is not a good look on any man. Period. When dry they do look rather fetching on certain men, however, and are therefore allowed in the pool area as long as they remain dry at all times and the man looks like Bryan Ferry or Roger Moore in his Simon Templar days.)

  • Trunks may be snapped at the waistband by the wearer of the trunks only.

  • Prolonged stretching of the waistband and looking down to check to see if everything is still there before completing the snap is not allowed. Doing so will cause immediate expulsion from the pool area.

  • At no time should anything be publicly adjusted. Reaching into trunks for any reason will result in permanent expulsion from the pool area.

  • Thongs. No.

  • Deck shoes are allowed while poolside, however those red rubber thong flip flops sold at Walgreen's 2-pair-for-$1 are forbidden unless you are British or German and only then if you are skinny, pasty white and weigh less than 130 pounds.

  • Jewelry is strictly forbidden. Especially gold jewelry. Especially gold jewelry worn around the neck. Especially gold jewelry worn around the neck with dangly things tangled in chest hair. Ditto bracelets. Gold bracelets. Gold bracelets getting caught in arm hair.

  • Hair:
  • Must be short, however head stubble cuts are not allowed. Hair must be long enough to glisten when wet in the afternoon sun, but short enough to avoid clinging to your neck, shoulders, or Mark Spitz help us, your back.
  • Shaking hair a la a dog upon surfacing or exiting the pool is strictly forbidden. Unless you are able to slow the spin of the earth's rotation so that everyone will view you in a slow motion, every droplet of water viewed, moment, with Barry White introduction music audible to everyone who will see you. Under these circumstances only will one, possibly two shakes of your head be allowed.
  • Back hair: Every attempt to manage back hair must be taken. If you have as much or more hair on your back as you do on your chest, you are not allowed in the pool.
  • Arm/leg hair: If you can be confused for an exhibit in the primate area of the zoo, you are not allowed in the pool. You may lounge or exercise poolside, but your arms and legs are not to get wet.

  • Towels:
  • Towels are to be of the thick bath sized variety. No "beach" towels will be allowed. No towels adorned with cartoon characters or brand trademarks are allowed unless it makes an ironic (very, very ironic) statement. (For instance, if you are in fact dead and a friendly ghost, a towel displaying Casper is allowed. Ironicness will be determined and left to the decision of the management, all beach towels must be submitted for approval via an oral presentation of terms of irony to the management.) Taz, Scooby and beer (especially Budweiser) logos are expressly forbidden.
  • The drying off process is to be short yet sensual. Efficient yet enticing. Period.
  • No snapping of towels on bums is permitted. No matter how playful or discreet or nice looking the bum in question.
  • Holding a towel a la a two-year-old and his "bwankie" as you lounge poolside, while endearing to some, is not allowed.

12:04 PM

 
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