Sunday, June 17, 2007

Adventures in the field, Installment #1

Well, I am officially in host city #1. It is hot, hot, hot. The flights were fairly uneventful, but the second flight, a puddle jumper, seemed to be a small oven on wheels. It never really got cool, which made for a very sweaty and stagnant climate, intensified by some rather strong bouts of turbulence and an annoyingly chatty seatmate who seemed to enjoy repeating the same stories again and again. Needless to say, I was happy to get off the airplane.

I got to the teeny tiny airport terminal, retrieved the baggage, and signed for the rental car with no problem. The nice young man brought around the car, a small sedan, and had the windows open and the air conditioning going full blast. "How nice," I thought, "He wants to be sure that the car is cool." Yes, that is what I thought originally. Then, after I dropped my stuff at the hotel and got back in the car to tool around the town, I started to smell something...smoke. Hmm.

I opened the ashtray to plug in the cell phone charger, and I found the source of the smokey smell. There were no fewer than 40 cigarette butts. Seriously. I am loathe to complain about such issues; I rarely return food, ask for a different room at a hotel, or quibble about taxi fare. This was different, though. After about 10 minutes in the nasty car, I called the rental counter at the airport and reported the situation. The guys at the rental counter were very kind and offered me an upgrade if I returned to the airport. (They promised the new car would be clean and smoke-free.) So, after a nice dinner at an air-conditioned restaurant (did I mention it was hot?), I returned to the airport (only a 15-minute ride from the hotel). As a result of my complaining advocacy, I got myself a hybrid SUV. Pretty cool... and (sorta) eco-friendly.

I came back to the hotel to find a sweet email from one of the folks I am interviewing, apologizing for not being more solicitous and offering to take me on a tour of local town. Okay, so maybe doing fieldwork is not so bad after all.

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