Published on March 5th, 2012 | by TLV News0
Day 121: Wodka and Wine (White Collar Criminal)
One of the true pleasures of travelling 40 weeks out of the year is meeting the other weary travelers. Unless you’re staying in some motel in Sardis, the lounge is bound to be hopping at any hour of the day. They usually house a few sleazy dogs, coasting in from a long day at a client’s office. Occasionally you’ll eye locals, hoping to poach the lonely, underappreciated bread-winners who are just in town for a few days and wanna enjoy a week away from the hysteria known as “home.”
On a recent trip to the Kentucky border, I settled down in front of the bartender and ordered a steak salad pretty rare, and a Fat Tire beer, which is also pretty rare around our parts. To my right was a married manipulator, crooning to the middle-aged adulteress sitting to his right. Their topic of conversation ranged from his affinity for Malbec Mondays and Admiral Sailboats to her gas-guzzling rental car costing the climate a fortune. My ears started to hurt when their conversation skipped to the subject of health insurance carriers. Blagh. I’m too young to worry with death. My eavesdropping was finished here.
So, to my left was another type of engineer with a Midwestern accent. He and his fellow co-workers were in town for a training seminar, and their appreciation of top-shelf scotch proved it. Under no other circumstances would these hastily-clothed men purchase high-flying spirits unless it was on the company dime. I grew interested in their back-slapping and shrieking laughter as one after another regaled the group with horror stories set in exotic locales.
Hudge, the portly, flat-faced walrus plastered to his stool, explained to anyone within earshot that you couldn’t find a better steak than in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“The best I ever had, I swear to you. Not sure why in Minnersoda, but it was the best,” he said. The others debated him as if he’d pledged the Earth was rectangular. Omaha, Chicago, Brazil, etc., were all places with better steaks, according to the flock. Even Delaware sneaked in for an honorable mention.
“Maybe so,” he retorted. “But it sure would beat whatever meat that kid is eating,” he said as he pointed at my bowl. The group howled with laughter and offered their condolences. I quickly raised my beer and offered an even quicker toast.
“What brings you to these parts?” one of the men asked. I summarized my existence, took a small bite of my inferior red meat and asked them the same. They were in town for a quality control seminar. They each spoke at once and they each had a different duty at work. One was a supervisor, one was a manager, one was an inspector, etc. And yet each had an engineering degree and each attended a university that sounded more like an industrial prison camp. Of course, each one sounded smarter than the next. I knew I was a mental midget around these parts, so I snacked on my salad and listened.
As they ranted about government regulation and the lack of sufficient math and science curriculums in public schools, their words stumbled over to more exciting venues. Hudge talked about the time he went to Poland in 1993 to meet with potential suppliers. Fresh off the plane and crippled with jet-lag, he hopped into a rented limousine, provided by the Pollacks, and was rushed to a large, concrete building on the outskirts of a dilapidated town. Once inside, he was shocked to see buxom, blond women hustling to each entrance to open the door for him. He was escorted into a massive board room and was placed at the head of the table. In his own words, he was about to make the biggest presentation of his career. To convince these Polish men to alter their business strategy and focus on supplying his American company’s machines was a huge task. As he removed his laptop from his carry-on bag to plug into the wall, he noticed one of the blonds pushing a wooden cart into his view. One-by-one she placed a large glass in front of each man and poured a clear liquid to the brim. One-by-one, each man took a sip and nodded. Exhausted from his flight, Hudge wrapped his massive hands around his glass and took a strong pull. The burning sensation of vodka stung his throat and punctured his stomach at an agonizing rate. He nearly fell backwards until he realized every eye in the room was staring at him.
He says he doesn’t remember much of the proposal, but that his boss called him the next day to congratulate him on making the pitch. He also called to inform him that he’d missed his flight and that the company would not pay for his return trip.
“So I quit,” he barked. “And never went back.” The men, shockingly, back-slapped and laughed.
“So let that be a lesson to you, young man,” he said while pointing at me. “Never quit while you’re drunk, because you’ll forget why once you’re sober.” Cackles. Lots of cackles. And again the men back-slapped. And again they ordered a round.
P.S. THIS STORY ACTUALLY DID HAPPEN LAST MONTH AT A HILTON. They then told me another story about the time a few of them went to Japan but it is rated XXX and is also kinda depressing. We take America for granted. I have a few other HOTEL BAR stories that ACTUALLY HAPPENED but I’ll lay off the alcohol for my next edition.