Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Road Trip

Did someone say “Road Trip?” (Ok, so my friend Amanda http://deemarie917.blogspot.com/ is having a contest to win Jess Riley's new book but this trip really did happen!!)

I’m a recruiter for a large jewelry retailer, and as said recruiter, I am required to travel all over the United States to help recruit managers and sales associates for the 15-20 stores we open each year. Here’s the cliff notes version: My job is GREAT. Really, I’m a single and fabulous female and I get paid to travel to places like San Diego, Ft. Lauderdale, Las Vegas, New York City, and Chicago and also get to go to the malls! See dad? All that time I spent in the malls when I really should have been in class really DID pay off!!

Ok, so I don’t get paid THAT well, but what I do is shop the mall stores and jewelry stores and look for top notch sales people and then try to recruit them out of their current job and work for our stores. So that, in a nutshell is my job. Of course, I have other duties but this is about a road trip right?

Every year I attend a job fair that is held in San Diego – see my job is FABULOUS! About two years ago, I took my BFF, Kelly with me. I have loads of frequent flyer miles and hotel points so it was just a no-brainer. And really, what best friend, with a 2 year old, and one on the way, she had just found out, wouldn’t want to be invited to San Diego? Her life was about to change dramatically and we took this opportunity for our last “girls weekend” for awhile. Her husband Matt goes hunting with the boys for a week every year, so she had to go! She could lay out by the pool while I worked the job fair on Friday and then we’d stay the rest of the weekend enjoy the West Coast life. That was the plan.

Here’s how that plan worked out. We left our lovely town of Akron, Ohio reeeeealy early Thursday morning. Kelly spent the night at my house and even though we’re in our thirties, we giggled and acted like 12 year olds at a slumber party. At 4 a.m. we dragged our 30+ year old bodies to the airport but our 12 year old brains were giddy with excitement for our upcoming adventure. Once on the plane we make ourselves comfortable, knowing that as soon as we take off, we’re going to fall asleep right away. Fast forward five hours and we’ve landed in sunny San Diego.

While on the plane we concur, from the map in the back of the Continental In-Flight magazine, that Los Angeles doesn’t look like it’s that far from San Diego. Magellan, just call me Magellan since I'm so good at reading a map! We immediately decide that we have to go to L.A. It’s a vacation right and on our first day, we’re going to see and do everything. After all, Thursday is my travel/free day and I really had to do was set up everything for the job fair and that wouldn’t take more than an hour, with Kelly there to help, it would be more like 30 minutes. Los Angeles here we come!

After getting our bags, car rental and grabbing a bite to eat in downtown San Diego we head to the hotel to check in. We get to our room and change from our “Akron” clothes to our more fun “San Diego” clothes. (It was October, in Akron, that could mean snow suits and since it’s 70+ degrees year round in San Diego, this required a wardrobe change.) An hour or so later, new clothes, makeup and job fair booth set up, and a quick stop at McDonalds for the $1 BIG GULP size Coke (we may be in California, but we’re pop drinkers and on a budget) we’re on our way to Los Angeles.

Ok, remember when I said we are from Akron, OH? Well, the definition of traffic in Akron has a completely different definition in California and we were about to be schooled. We get on THE 5 and head north. Side note here: I have been traveling to California for several years now and I will NEVER understand why Californians refer to the interstates with the word THE. Nowhere else in the US (or at least in Akron since I can’t be sure of the entire US) do the interstates start with the word THE. Maquest simply states Interstate 5 North. Not THE 5.

Whatever, we begin our journey. We’re off to a great start because there are so many lanes to choose from! I think I counted 7! We’ll make it there in less than 2 hours with the way I drive I think to my self. WRONG! Wrong, wrong wrong, WRONG!!! We started out at 75-80 miles an hour for about 20 miles and then abruptly slowed to about 30 for the next hour and a half. No wonder books on tape were invented. Oh well, I’m with my BFF and we make the best of it. We’re singing to all the songs on the radio. Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back was the song of the moment and we sang it like we REALLY WERE bringing Sexy Back. To this day, every time Kelly or I hear that song we call the other on the cell phone and play it into our voicemails and reminisce about San Diego.

As we continue our slow trip north, Kelly says that we need to think of a name for the baby. She tells me what she and Matt have tossed a few around, but they don’t have a favorite yet. So, being the 12 year olds that Kelly and I are, we start looking around and notice signs like “Escondido” and “LaJolla” and we start saying them out loud as if they may make the cut. “Escondido Sanders” or "LaJolla Sanders" (pronounced LA – J-O-L-L-A instead of the correct La-Hoy-ya pronunciation). The three and a half hours, instead of the two stated by Map quest, went by quick since we were so busy “Bringing Sexy Back” and coming up with a name for Kelly’s new baby. Honestly, if it would have been a boy, I really think Escondido Sanders had a nice ring to it!!

We finally get to Beverly Hills because we decide in between singing and name making that what we really want to do is see “Reege –Bev- Wil” (if you haven’t seen Pretty Woman by now, I’m not EVEN going to explain this to you). We also want to go to this store called Lush because Kelly’s been there once in Washington DC and they don’t have one in Akron or Cleveland, OH. And really, that’s all it takes for the two of us to make this decision.

After several failed attempts at finding the store with our own navigational powers “go this way, it looks like cool shops are down that way.” We called 411 and got Lush on the phone for their address. We learn that we’re only about 10 minutes away which is great, because I really have to pee, but they close in 15 minutes. Are you freaking kidding me? We just drove three and-a-half hours for this place and we’re only gonna have FIVE minutes to shop?? I speed up and we finally find it in on Beverly Hills drive only to find NO Parking. So, panicked that we’re going to miss out on all the fabulous hair and skin products (and WE are PRODUCT whores) I drop Kelly off and tell her to let them know I’m on my way!!

I drive up and down Beverly Hills Drive about four times and see only one spot available in front of The Gap and it’s a “loading zone only” spot. I figure I’m going into a store (ok, not The Gap, but still) and I’m going to buy stuff that’s going to need “loaded” in my car right? Right. I park the car, what do I care? It’s a rental, give me a ticket! We’re talking BEAUTY PRODUCTS here that I can’t get back home! I race down the block and literally long jump over a homeless man with a cardboard sign asking for spare change. I know, I know, it’s pathetic, I’m going into a store to purchase $8-$12 bars of shampoo/soap and this poor soul just wants to eat. (Or buy booze, I tell my self.) I can’t help myself and plus, I’m parked in a “loading zone.”

Out of breath, I walk into Lush and the aroma of all the soaps and lotions and bath salts quickly make me forget parking/moral dilemma and my unexpected cardio activity. I’m surrounded by crates and shelves of Fresh Handmade Soaps with names like Bath Bombs and Bubble Bars and Shower Jellies and I just float from one area to another. Hair, face, body and fragrance products, oh my! Luckily the sales gal was loads of fun and thought we were cute and hilarious (umm... hello?) as we told her about our plan to bring sexy back to Akron. Forty-five minutes after closing time and $150 of soap and shampoo later each (mom don’t read this) we were on our way back to the rental and thankfully no ticket. We were so excited about our purchases that we totally missed the “Red Carpet” event at Gucci that no doubtably had A-list celebrities there. (Of course it did, because we were RIGHT there and WAY more excited about handmade SOAP!!)

It’s now 8pm and we are STARVING! We should head back to San Diego because I have the Job Fair in the morning and it’s going to take us three hours to get back. But, how can we go back now? We’re on such a high and we haven’t even seen anything yet, and we’re paying attention now. So, we drive by the Reege-Bev-Wil just to say we did. Then we head towards Hollywood of course saying in unison “Welcome to Hollywoood. What’s your dream?” We drive up and down Hollywood Blvd and mock all the street walkers and weirdo’s that we don’t normally see in Akron, OH and decide our hunger is more important than sight seeing. We have cable. We’ll watch Rachel Ray’s $40 a Day or something. WE ARE HUNGRY. We decide on the first restaurant we see that has outdoor seating. Again, it’s October and there is NO outdoor seating in Akron, but in California there is! We’re seated at Chin Chins on Sunset Blvd and we start talking about Melrose Place because the opening credits had a picture of the Sunset Blvd Sign. Dork Girls Who Don’t Get Out Much is now our new official title.

We scan the menu and decide that EVERYTHING looks good so we order like eight appetizers. (What? We’re going to share.) We have so much food that we need an extra table to hold it all. Apparently nobody in L.A. eats or would ever need two tables to hold their food, but they hadn’t met me and Kelly yet! The food was fabulous, and the people-watching (mostly them watching us gorge) was super fun.

It’s now 9:30 and we are FULL and so OVER the L.A. scene. We hop on THE 5 and head back to San Diego. Since it is so late, I figure it will only take us the MapQuest 2 hours to get home. I think wrong. Did you know that October is when all those fires take place in Los Angeles and San Diego? Yeah neither did Kelly and I. Our trip back consists of more singing, name making, and smelling . . . not our soap purchases but smoke, heavy, dense smoke. Not only does our drive back take the full three and a half hours, but we have to smell like a camp fire for the entire thing. Guess what we did? Sang camp songs of course!!

The rest of our weekend went pretty much like our trip to Beverly Hills. It was the best Road Trip ever and we still talk about it to this day (almost two years later). Regretedebly, Kelly and I only have our memories of this trip (and more than likely soap products because she hoards them – seriously girl, how can you not use them right away?) because after our first and only picture with the digital camera we decided that we were too fat for pictures deleted even that one. (So, in our memories, we’re HOT)

Kelly had her baby, a girl, that following June and guess what she named her? No, not La Jolla or Sandy Eggo Sanders, but wouldn’t THAT have been great? (C’mon Apple, Coco, Suri? Is Sandy Eggo really so far off?)

Ok, she named her Jillian! I of course, didn’t get that she named her after me because my name is Jill, I don’t have the “ian” on my name. Once I figured it out I was like “awwww. . . she’s going to be the coolest kid!”

Told you I was a Dork Girl!