He wasn't lying. The turbulence was the worst I'd ever experienced on this trip, and I never felt one of those little jets bounce around so much before. I originally had the last seat against the wall back by the bathroom, but the flight wasn't quite full so I was able to move to a window seat directly over the wing. I basically traded the smell of pee and a seat that doesn't recline for a view of the wing bouncing up and down like a diving board, so I'm not sure it was such a great idea.
The plane was making sudden dips from right to left and bobbing up and down so much that I was alternating between being pushed down in my seat and straining weightless against the seat belt. It was so rough on the final descent that when the flight attendant came on the loudspeaker and gave us her "final approach" speech, she sounded like she was being punched in the stomach after every few words. She said "Due to the turbulence, it's not safe for me to walk down the aisle, so please make sure your electronic devices are off and your seat backs are in their full upright position." You could tell by her voice that what she was actually thinking was "We're all going to die." It was also a blatant admission that both of those safety requirements have jack-shit to do with a successful landing of any kind.
We hit the runway a little hot, slammed on the brakes and coasted in safely. I was never so glad to be on the ground in my life. As we were leaving the plane, or "de-planing" as they call it for some unknown but surely ridiculous reason, I waited for the the old guy in the seat in front of me to work his way out of his seat. He shuffled down the aisle and then paused at the front where the pilot and the flight attendant were bidding people goodbye. "I'm wondering if you can help me," he said to the flight attendant. "Sure, do you need help with a connecting flight?" she asked. "No," he said. "I'm just wondering if you could tell me where the nearest underwear store is." I liked him immediately.
When I got to the hotel, I was once again pleased with the Hampton Inn's policy of giving not a single fuck about the type of room I actually reserved. They took my name and then told me that they had no more non-smoking rooms available. The same thing happened to me last time, and even though I am normally pretty laid back, it was late, I was tired, hungry, and pissed. I told them their no-guarantee policy was bullshit, and since I had no other choice, I'd take the room for a night, but I was checking out and going somewhere else in the morning. They offered to spray the room for me, but I declined, knowing that would only make the room smell like a french whore who smoked three packs a day.
It was worse than I expected it to be. Not only did the whole place reek like smoke, there was a connecting door to the adjacent room, and the person in there was smoking like it was their job. I could actually see the smoke haze in my own room. I rolled up a towel and put it along the bottom of the door, then spent the next five minutes jamming kleenex in the gaps around the rest of the door (sorry, housekeeping.) It helped, but I still woke up in the morning with red eyes and sore lungs and an almost irresistible urge to burn all my clothes.
When I checked out I got them to admit what their policy actually is -- they are owned by Hilton, and they routinely over-book the hotel. If you are a member of the "Hilton Club" and you want a non-smoking room, you get to bump poor bastards like me to the smoking rooms. I have no idea what the requirements are to be in their club, but I think I'm going to have to look into it because the only other hotel within walking distance was something called the "Extended Stay America" chain of hotels. I knew nothing about them, but I had to get out of the smoking room, so I called them and booked the next three nights sight-unseen.
If you've never stayed there, the best way to describe it is it's like staying in a dirty RV without the wheels. You have a kitchenette, a bathroom, a bed, a desk and a chair. People cook and eat in the rooms so the entire place smells like an old folk's home. A combination of dirt, onions, air-freshener and cigarettes. The rooms were slightly cleaner than the lobby and hallways, but unfortunately, even though the sheets appeared clean, the pillows and blankets smelled like dirt. Not like outside dirt, but like sweaty body/dirty hair dirt. I stripped it all off the bed in disgust and conducted a bed bug check just to be on the safe side. Surprisingly, it seemed ok, but I was still pretty careful to keep my suitcase zipped up.
I could immediately tell what kind of place it was. There are certain rules of thumb you can take to the bank -- two of which are the better the hotel, the higher the quality of the bathroom sundries and the quieter the toilets. Extended Stay America doesn't even provide shampoo. You have to bring your own, or hope they have some at the front desk. So I knew immediately that the toilets were the ramjet, suck-a-towel-down-without-even-thinking-twice type, and those bastards will wake the dead.
I've stayed in nastier places while I was spending my own money, so I guess it could have been worse. At least I could breathe the air without it burning my lungs, curry fumes be damned.
The training itself, I'm sorry to say, was hard for me. I am a bad programmer, and that's the hard truth. My brain just isn't wired that way. A lot of it was just a more in-depth view of what we went over in the first half of the training last month, so at least I wasn't completely lost. The worst part of this class was the language barrier. The instructor was extremely smart and a nice enough guy, but he was from Texas by way of downtown china. He spoke what sounded to my uneducated ear like engrish with a heavy cantonese accent. So he would say something like, "partial furball feud" or "doe sign pennesee" and I'd have to take a minute to translate that to "powershell variable field" and "dollar sign parentheses," He would also leave out all the non-essential connective words. It was strictly subject-verb-object with this guy. Granted, he spoke english way better than I speak chinese, but it didn't make for the best training experience, even though you kind of got used to it after a while.
I learned quite a bit in spite of myself, but I'm very glad to be home. Talking about the jet toilet in my 2nd hotel room reminded me of another post I have almost ready to go (so to speak) about the auto-everything trend in bathrooms. So that will hopefully be showing up here in the next few days. My boss and his boss are both in town next week, however, so there's no gaurantee. The way I figure it, I'll either have no time at all to write, or I'll have all kinds of unexpected time going forward. Wish me luck.
ps - I have a prize worth tens of dollars for the first person to guess what the cantonese-engrish title on this post actually means.