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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Texas Cleanup Part 1: Arriving

They're never going to make it easy
Of this you can be sure.
I greet you from the wilderness,
I'll stay inside your door


I remembering waiting at the light rail station on Monday morning.  It was about 4am and I was slowly walking around my huge duffle bag wondering what the next two weeks were going to be like.  I honestly didn't have any idea so I anticipated the absolute worst case scenario which involved me and a coked up Ben Stiller locked in a cell with nonstop Maroon 5 being played over some hidden speaker.  Hell, even that would be an experience and give me some perspective that I was craving.

I had signed up for hurricane disaster relief through the Red Cross and I was about to be deployed for about 17 days.  I volunteered to help out last year for the 35W bridge collapse and I loved the experience.  I was doing very remedial work in building a database for 'in-kind donations' but I loved how everything was structured.  Everyone had ideas and everyone seemed to listen and there were no power struggles.  It was refreshing.  They also fed us Outback Steakhouse and that was so bitchin that, like a bear that has been fed by dumbass tourists, I wanted to come back for more. 

I remember laying in bed about a month ago wondering what I could do to make 2008 memorable.  I was getting sick of the predictability of life and the pattern that everything was falling in.  I didn't know what I was going to do.  Usually I just think of Sara Evans in a vinyl suit and I fall asleep with a smile on my face but really, it's not until Sara Evans is in your bed is when you are fully satisfied...right?  A week later I got a email from the Red Cross and that they were "desperately" looking for volunteers to help out in the hurricane Ike and Gustav aftermath. 

I was all over this.  I was going to actively try for this.  After all, the Red Cross would pay for nearly everything, I could take a 3 week break from work and recharge, and I simply like the idea of helping.  To me there's something very refreshing to travel in exotic places with the only task being to simply "help out".  Also the pranks that me and my roommate do to each other has escalated to her flat-out punching me in the balls and me trying to flick her chest.  Basically such a trip would give my testicles some time to heal.  Plus I get to take a back seat on managing and instead allow myself to be managed which would be a great change of pace from work.  I was all about this but getting 3 weeks off would be tough.  Especially since I only have about 7 days of vacation left.

I asked my bosses and surprisingly they were very supportive.  Not supportive enough to give me more vacation time but supportive enough that I could take three weeks off and come back with my job waiting for me.  I really didn't care, the worst case scenario of annoying ass Ben Stiller and the primate sounds of Maroon 5 seemed like the penance that I needed to pursue. 

I arrived in Ft. Worth at about noon and I called up the number that I was explicitly told to call once I got my bag.  The number led me to a voice mail to which I left a message,

"uh yeah, this is Tom and I was supposed to call this number once I got in.  Uh I would like to know what to do next."

I then waited a couple minutes and became very dissatisfied with my message and a little annoyed that the number they gave me led to a voice mail recording. 

I called again and I got this really irritated guy who told me that I called the wrong Red Cross number and he was nice enough to give me the correct number to call.  I was now playing my favorite game, telephone-go-fish in the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport no less.  On the fourth try I finally was given directions and soon I was on my way to the Red Cross headquarters which was an abandoned Wal-Mart in suburban Ft. Worth.  I was getting ready to do whatever it was I was that the Red Cross needed the most help in. 

I know, I know I haven't gotten to any juicy parts yet.  So far all I've done is fantasize about Sara Evans and talk shit about Maroon 5.  So to save you guys from one endless biblical post I'm going to split it up so I can get everyone's attention.  Not to mention it's 1:30am and I really need to get to bed because I have 3 weeks of email waiting for me at work.  I'll have more tomorrow and maybe even a picture or two.

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