Friday, February 10, 2006


What a trip.

I’ve been back down in Little Rock this week and it’s certainly living up to the high standard I’ve set for trips to the south. You may recall my adventures of the last trip I took down here about a month ago, car fires, ripped off bumpers, etc… I’m not totally sure, but I think I may have topped that. By the way if this writing seems rambling and bad, it’s due to a severe lack of sleep this week, you’ll understand if you make it through the whole story.

I was down there for an installation of equipment in the plant. A three day install of several small systems which had plenty of issues on it’s own merit, but I won’t bore you with any of those. Let’s get down to business, craziness that happens in Arkansas.

I’m driving home (to a hotel) across town Monday night, and I happened to be talking to my lovely wife Beth at the time on my cell phone (don’t worry, on my hands-free set). She asked if I had any crazy automotive tales from the road on this trip yet, to which I replied a calm, cool, no. Not 10 seconds later a crappy mid 80’s Chevy Impala passes me going at least 85 mph (in a 60 zone). The guys gets about 200’ in front of me, but still in the left lane when I see something happen, but I can’t quite tell what. He hits the brakes hard, almost skidding to a stop while sticking his head out the window. His hood latch had released and apparently the secondary safety latch was an optional feature on that car ‘cause the whole hood flew up and smashed in his windshield! So much for a non-eventful trip!

You would probably think that’s the strangest thing that would happen during the week, but my friends you would be wrong. Or maybe your right and this story was just more annoying, frustrating and tiring than the hood-latch incident, I dunno but it’s a good story nonetheless.

Wednesday was a terribly long day for me. I worked nearly straight thru from 7am to midnight with one half-hour break in there for lunch. I spend almost 7 hours straight drilling precision holes in some structural steel for a strain gauge installation. I won’t talk about the details but I basically spent 7 hours on ladders 15’ in the air trying to drill various ½” plate steel beams (damn I love engineering). Needless to say by the end of the 17 hours I worked that day I was beat, or maybe more accurately a zombie. I was also hungry as was my partner on this project, who shall be named J for our purposes. So we decided to grab a bite to eat on the way home, but it was after midnight in Little Rock AR on a Wednesday night. The only thing open was the IHOP across from the hotel. So we went in and got a table. I went to the rest room to clean off 17 hours of dust, grease and rock that was covering me, and upon my return John told me he ordered coffee and the waitress was coming back to get my drink order. A guy came over and took my order and brought J’s coffee. Then a gal came over and brought my OJ and coffee as well. Hmm, oh well, just crossed communication. She was kind enough to leave us a couple straws though, one for my OJ and apparently one for J’s coffee…

I ordered some French toast and J ordered the Banana nut pancakes. They were out of bananas but that didn’t stop them from offering banana nut ‘cakes, they put fake banana flavoring in the cakes, and then provide banana syrup (?). Whatever. The food came some time later, seemed like an eternity and it was about as good as you would expect from an I-hop in AR at 12:30 am. Pretty much everyone working at the restaurant disappeared after that. We waited till 1am for them to actually let us pay, which sucked since we knew we had to get up by 6:30 the next day. We walked out of the restaurant, went to our cars, got in and started them up. Then, J noticed that I had left a couple of wrenches on the front seat of his car. He walked around the car to open the passenger side door and get the wrenches to had them to me, but somehow his driver’s side door closed. Of course the keys were in the ignition since the engine was running, and somehow the doors were all locked. So now we’re at the I-hop at 1:10 am with a running rental car inside of which the keys are locked! To make it worse, we’re in Arkansas. Damn.

There happened to be a group of about 8 police officers eating inside while we were there, and two of them happened to be leaving just after us. We flagged them down and inquired about getting one of them to pop the door open with a slim-jim. Unfortunately the Little Rock police force has been required to stop carrying slim-jims because too many people were suing the police department for damage to their vehicles while trying to open them. Again, damn.

So J calls the rental car place. Lemme tell you, 1am in Little Rock, there’s nobody at National rental car. You’re lucky if there’s a person working there in the middle of the day much less the middle of the night. He got through to an 800 number which was about as useful as the police force, kindly informing him they would call a locksmith for him, but he would have to pay for the service as they don’t have any spare keys for their cars. It was a great customer service experience to have in the middle of the night. So finally he got a 24 hour locksmith willing to come out, but it would be 30 minutes before they could get there… At this point we had gone through my whole car trying to see if there was anything we could use to pop the lock, but didn’t find anything. The car was brand spankin’ new (4 miles on it when he picked it up) so we really would have felt bad smashing in a window for this. So we went back inside and waited. J decided there was nothing I could do to help, so I took off to go back to the hotel and told him to call if he needed me to come back over and get him. He waited and finally at 1:50 the locksmith showed up and popped the lock. I had made it to bed by about 1:45, J made it about 2am. We both were back up at 6:30 the next morning.

I’m going to sleep.

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