There I was.
Sitting in the back of a London taxi cab last night with Lisa Marie Presley.
We were racing across town in the midst of a rainstorm, hoping to arrive at the restaurant before the maitre d’ gave our table to another soggy tourist couple. Our taxi driver—contrary to the myth surrounding “The Knowledge”—had never heard of the street on which Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” restaurant was located.
Perhaps London cabbies need a little less Knowledge, and a little more Tom Tom GPS.
We made it to the restaurant fifteen minutes late—which, by Spanish standards, is fifteen minutes early—and were seated at our table without fuss. The food at Fifteen, BTW, was fabulous—each course being adorned with fresh mint leaves.
Lamentably, not a single course was adourned with coconut
Now, you may be wondering why I was hob-knobbing about London with the King of Rock & Roll’s
No...it’s not what you think. I could never fill Michael Jackson’s shoes. The truth is...Lisa Marie is, like me, a long-term employee of Acme Low Carb Tongue Depressors, Inc.’s
Legal Department. And we were in town for a seminar entitled, “Managing Legal Risk.”
Did you know that 14,000 deaths each year are caused by the improper use of tongue depressors? Well...yesterday we learned how to manage that legal risk: Print “INSERTING INTO MOUTH MAY CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH” onto each tongue depressor. In both block letters *and* in Braille. That alone was worth the price of the plane ticket, don’t you think?
As is often the case with business travel, however, the journey wasn’t all smooth.
I left the seminar at 4pm. This, theoretically, should’ve given me plenty of time to make my 7:50pm flight. I say “theoretically” because my theory didn´t include one fundamental assumption—that my Heathrow Express train from Paddington station would be indefinitely delayed because someone in the next station got clobbered by an on-coming Tube train. How inconsiderate some people can be!
You can probably guess what happened next. All six million travellers on my Heathrow Express train picked up their bags and bolted to the taxi stand. As did Lisa Marie
and I (aka, Travellers #5,999,998 and 5,999,999).
And, oh yeah....this all happened during rush hour.
Heathrow Airport is only ten miles outside of London. That’s an extremely comforting thought. Unless, of course, you’re riding in a taxi cab that’s cruising at only eight miles per hour.
We arrived at Heathrow at 7pm. I managed to check my bags and collect my boarding pass fairly quickly and—momentarily breathing a sigh of relief—rounded the corner into the security zone.
I say “momentarily” because there, in the security zone, were at least 100 travellers waiting to pass through two—TWO!!!—metal detectors.
It was a full 45 minutes before I found myself standing before a metal detector. To be honest, I’m not sure why they let me pass. The signs clearly said that no liquids would be allowed on the airplane. And by that point, all the clothes that I was wearing were clearly liquid.
Fortunately, my plane was delayed an hour and I arrived at my gate with twenty minutes to spare.
My plane landed at Madrid’s Barajas Airport at 12:15am. I arrived at the baggage claim area at 12:45am. And when do you think my bags finally appeared on the conveyor belt?
Apparently, all the baggage handlers were still eating dinner. Welcome to Spain
, God dammit!
If my evening had a lone bright spot, it occurred when I pulled into my driveway at 2:45am and opened my mailbox. There, in a yellow envelope posted from England, was a gift from our good friend Euro Trac
It was an Elvis Presley air freshener.
I dropped to my knees and—weeping with joy—tore open the plastic wrap and pressed the six inch cardboard figurine to my nose.
I inhaled deeply and pondered the irony that this Elvis Presley air freshener smelled so strongly of flowers—whereas Elvis himself smelled so strongly of B.O. and fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Or, at least, he did in the 1970’s.
Anyway...I hung Elvis from my car’s rear view mirror and went straight to bed. One of the perqs of working from a home office is that you don’t *really* need to get out of bed until one minute before working hours begin. And this morning, I cashed in that chip.
I muddled through the workday as best I could and—after logging off of my computer—hopped into the car and drove to the grocery store.
And I was stopped at a red light, something caught the corner of my eye. It was my Elvis air freshener dangling from mirror. Or, more specifically, the back of Elvis’s right leg. There, printed across his thigh in block letters, was a message.
“INSERTING INTO MOUTH MAY CAUSE INJURY OR DEATH.”
That Lisa Marie! She’s one helluva lawyer.