June 27, 2005

Contagion in the City. Part 1

Ahhh, it’s good to be back. Did any of you even notice I was gone? No. I rather figured as much. After my trip into Chicago, I have so many stories to tell all of you, but to keep this from turning into an overly annoying long post I’m going to break it down by days.

Tuesday, June 21. Day 1

This was the least eventful day of my trip, I would have skipped it entirely except it sets up the mood for my time in there.

The drive in was interesting. I was heading into Chicago. I left my office at 3:30 and hit the road. I was hoping that traffic wouldn’t be that bad. I should have known better. Even though the vast majority of people were leaving downtown, there were many people heading in. It still took me two and a half hours to go 90 miles. I had one of the company cars to drive. This thing had some serious issues with the brakes. Every time I would depress the brakes, the car would vibrate violently. It was like driving over bumps in the road before a tollbooth or along the side of a road. The car stopped fine, but it was nerve wracking. I kept waiting for the brakes to go out. Personally, I think it is the rotors on the vehicle. When my van had the same issue, it was because of warped rotors. I will tell you this, whatever the problem is it was annoying during stop and go traffic.

I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. I had never stayed at this particular hotel before so I used Map Quest to get directions. I knew how to get to corporate headquarters; however, I was not exactly sure how to get to the hotel. I usually walk or take taxis when I am in Chicago; I’m not familiar with the one-way streets or the street names. For my own comfort, I felt it would be in my best interest to have the directions just in case. I looked at the directions once while in the stand still traffic to make sure I knew where I was going. Map quest told me to take Michigan Ave to Lake St. Then it told me to turn left off Lake onto N Columbus Drive. I followed the directions, turned onto lake and noticed that it ended at Stetson. It doesn’t go through to N. Columbus. It took me a little bit of driving around in a circle, due to one way streets or uncrossable medians. It was just more annoyed that Map Quest would be that wrong on whether or not a street connects. I’m sure at one time, it did, but it has since been turned into a plaza.

After getting to the hotel, everything seemed to go well. I had a small scuffle with a bellhop over my luggage. He wanted to carry it, and I wanted him to leave me alone. I can carry my own damn luggage. I’m not that lazy. He offered to carry my suitcase for me. I politely declined his offer. While walking to the check in counter he insisted on carrying it and tried to take it from my hands. As he grabbed the handle, I stopped walking and jerked him to a halt. He almost fell to the floor. I looked him in the eye and said, “I can carry my own luggage thank you. You might not want to try that again.” I then gave him one of those smiles that were more a baring of the teeth then actually friendly.

I checked in easily enough and made my way to my room. It was a decent room. I’d had much better. In fact, I used to stay at the Swissotel when I’d go in. They had really nice rooms. Work no longer will reimburse for the Swissotel, which is why I changed to the Fairmont. Although the bathroom in my room was huge, it had two showers, one stand up and one in a tub. By the time I was finished checking in, it was almost 6:00. It was time for me to get something to eat and drink. Not feeling like leaving the hotel nor did I want room service I decided to eat at the hotel restaurant.

The restaurant was called Aria. I walked in, told the hostess I needed a table for one. I received the first of many, “God what a loser looks”. She showed me to a table, gave me a menu and listed off the specials for the day. I was the only person in this restaurant. Upon opening the menu, I didn’t really see anything that looked good to me. It all seemed like odd combinations. However, something about this tickled my mind. I just couldn’t place what it was. I placed my order for my entrée and a Jack Daniels, neat. I get my drink and then a different waiter brings over a basket of flat bread with a tray that has four different “dipping” sauces. Except these sauces where in fancy square containers with a small spoon for spreading the “dipping” sauces onto the flat bread. I tried a piece of the bread to see what the sauces where like. My brain was telling me I should know something about this, but I couldn’t place it I tried the first sauce and it was okay. I tried the third sauce and it was again okay, but the taste was very familiar. I tasted the third sauce and a memory came slamming home. I know this taste, I recognize the bread and sauces, and I remember the strange combinations on the menu… THIS IS AN INDIAN RESTAURANT! That is Indian as in from India, not as in American Indians. I hate Indian food, and it hates me. They say they are “culturally inspired, comfortably American”. I say bullshit; my gut wasn’t comfortable at three in the morning after eating there! I’m trying to get the taste of curry out of my mouth. I’m near gargling my Jack Daniels. It was too late to cancel my order. I resolved myself to choke it down and just hope for the best.

Before the main course comes, I order another Jack Daniels. It arrives just as the main course does; I take a small bite… more curry. Did I mention I hate Indian food? I finish off what I can, following every bite with a swig of Jack Daniels. Other then some potatoes in a horseradish sauce, I did not enjoy the meal at all. I really didn’t enjoy it when the bill came; I had a charge for $49.00. I look at the breakdown of charges; they hit me at $9.00 a piece for each drink. I took a reaming for a meal that not only did I not enjoy, but continued not enjoying it until the next day. I kept burping up the taste all night long.

After I left the restaurant, I decided I needed another Jack Daniels to get rid of the taste, Of course it still cost me $9.00. I decided to make this last one count. Sitting at the bar I just poured the entire glass into my mouth, swished it around for a couple of minutes like it was mouthwash and then swallowed it.

After purchasing a giant bottle of water and a diet coke, I retreated to my room to watch a movie and then get some sleep.

Tomorrow Day 2.

Posted by Contagion in Tales from the Work Place at June 27, 2005 03:52 PM

I don't like Indian food either. Thai food ranks at the bottom too. Don't know why... I guess it's their spices. I'm not a picky eater; I've eaten some weird shit in a 3rd world country, but I'll pass on Indian and Thai.

Posted by: Bou at June 27, 2005 04:57 PM

I'm with Bou!

Posted by: Sissy at June 27, 2005 07:49 PM

I like indian food, but there's not much food my garbage disposal of a gut doesn't like.

Posted by: Graumagus at June 27, 2005 08:23 PM

I LOVE Indian food am am always disappointed when others do not enjoy it. Damn, it sounded like good Indian food too......

Posted by: ArmyWifeToddlerMom at June 27, 2005 11:27 PM

Ya know, this is why fast food restaurants are a trillion-dollar industry.

Posted by: Harvey at June 28, 2005 06:36 AM

AWTM: good Indian food... that's an oxymoron. :)

Harvey: Fast food pretty much sucks, plus most of them don't serve Jack Daniels.

Posted by: Contagion at June 28, 2005 07:06 AM

Indian food is evil. I think it was voted our best-loved takeaway food. Certainly, our underclass like nothing better than to down twenty pints of lager and eat a good, "ring-stinging" vindaloo (if you will forgive the expression!)

What have the Indians ever done for us in my opinion? Mango Chutney. That's all. Give me Chinese food any day :-)

Posted by: Sally at June 28, 2005 02:29 PM