Friday, March 20, 2009

My Phoenix Trip. Weekend at Springfield MO

I arrived friday night at freezing SGF, MO. Wearing jeans a polo shirt and a thin wool sweater. Good thing I didn't have to stand outside the airport waiting for my friend to pick me up. However I did went out just to get a feel of what 1 degree celcius felt like. IT IS COOOOLD! I mean not inmediately but soon my head and hands would ache from the cold. Strangely my torso and arms never did feel cold. That sweater is good!
So my friend picks me up and we head to his house to...well actually nothing because I only had carry on. My notebook backpack and a small bag with a couple of boxers, socks, a jean and a thicker polo shirt. So he called his friend and we went to eat sushi.
This was my first time eating sushi. And it's probably going to be the last. I ate octopuss, squid and tuna rolls. The octopuss was chewy and bland so I didn't like it. The squid was too sweet and too juicy. The real bad one was the tuna rolls. I mean the tun and the rice were cool but the seaweed was awful. It was too much flavor in the wrong direction. I ate one roll with the seaweed and then unrolled the rest to eat them. Note to self, skip the seaweed always!! I had some other thing called pink panther and that was ok, I don't know what it had but I tasted ok.
With a mildly satisified tummy we went on to my friend and his friend's hang out bar and talked with some locals. SGF main population is generally wealthier that the average american, but even they feel the economy crisis. I talk to a guy that buys and sells cars and he gave me great insight into his situation. He used to make a great living by charging $500 to look for a car. His service is apparently good because, unknown before to me, buying a car in the US is a pain in the ass. If you go to buy a car, salespeople hassle you and pass you to managers and plead and beg you to leave the lot with car under the worst possible financial conditions they can give you (means more money to them).
So instead, if you go to this guy you tell him what kind of car you are looking for, your price range and flexibility. Off he goes and he calls you when has some cars to show you from someone else who is selling a car that you might be interested in. This goes on until you find the car you like. He even helps you find financing for the purchase. He makes $500 from the buyer and $500 from the seller.
Well, he's had to sell his house and move into an apartment, not party so much, cut down on several things he had going and he doesn't even have kids or a wife! He was going to buy a bigger tv and he had the cash for it, but he is so concerned right now that he stopped that purchase. He says he might be able to live this way a few more months but he is very worried that he might have to look for another line of work. Specially since he is specialized in luxury cars.
All thru the weekend, the economy was a main topic of conversation among the people there. Not only about the problems but also about the opportunities. Every time I go to the US I feel like I have all the opportunities in the world that I don't have in Honduras. In Honduras if a business doesn't work for you in Tegus or SPS, you have very few other places to go and make it. The US is so huge that you can have a very specialized business and still atract enough nationwide customers to make it a good source of income. Specially so when the USPS, and Fedex and UPS and others make deliveries so easy and you can set your business online relatively easy because almost everyone in the US has a computer, has internet access and has a a credit card. The total opposite is in Honduras so getting to your customers here is much more difficult and the payment and delivery options even more so.
I had to take a call from home and I went out to escape the bar's noise. Wow! 15 minutes out in the open really froze me. I could tell my wife or the girls to hurry up just because I was cold so I was out there pacing back and forth, covering my hands with my sweater sleeves and moving the phone to the cold ear every now and then. When I got back in my glasses frosted on me.. funny. It was time to do something about my clothing.
I was wondering how I would do to protect myself from the cold without having to spend money for winter clothes for only three days. Well I didn't have to worry. My friend was ready for me and had a...a...a....well I can only remember the word parka but I don't know if it's the right word in english. It was a heavy piece of clothing that was lined with wool inside and a hood. It worked very well. My hands were uncovered and so they hurt every time I would stay outdoor for more than 5 minutes but I could put them in the pockets and get some comfort.
The only cold weather item of clothing I bought was a cap like the one that rappers wear on their head. The hood limited my visibility at times. We looked long and hard to get a cheap one at Walmart for $2 instead of the NASCAR branded ones for $15.
For my friend and I it was mostly a weekend for relaxing, as much as I could on such a cold place, enjoying dining with him and his family and helping move some of his stuff into storage. That was almost my way to pay for the ticket, quite the workout to haul furniture and a portable electric generator up to a storage area in the second floor of a building. By the second trip I was already shedding off the parka!
Monday morning we reported for the daily standup conference call and worked from his house almost all day as I would work from here. Even though he was inviting me to all meals and beverages I felt it was right to invite him and his family (wife and daughter) at least once. Now I don't remember were we went the time that I invited them, I think it was Taco Bell because I had hunger for it and I had passed it on to them (NO Taco Bell in Honduras!!), so I spent about $30 on that I think. Sure I could've been very frugal and just let him pay for everything but I really felt bad to be a total burden on him so I paid that one meal for them.
Monday evening we got ready for our trip back to Phoenix and he let me drive his car to the airport. He got a great deal on the Mercedes he has, and yet I still prefer the Toyota Siena he also owns (and that costs more than the Benz!!).
The ride back was uneventful as usual, and as we made our way to my rental car we called our houses to let them know that once again we were ok. We drove back to our hotel and then we went out for drinks and playing pool, which is just an excuse to have something to do while we drink and talk.
I have very few friends, and most of them don't live in Tegus. So when I'm with my friends, it's like a relief valve to just go out every night we can, drink some (either beef or just soft drinks) and talk about everything. It's one of the things that it's bitter sweet about comming back to Tegus, that I go back again to a set routine. Particularly so because i'm trying to keep my money for as long as I can.
So that's how that weekend ended.
On a fun note. Remember that I had packed only a couple of clothes for my weekend trip? and remember that I left my large suitcase at the office? well I had totally forgotten about that. So there I was monday night with two pairs of jeans and two shirts that I had worn alternatively friday, saturday, sunday and monday, and wondering what to wear to work tuesday. Good thing that the office dress code is VERY casual.
On a funnier note!!! Tuesday came around and we worked all day at the office and I FORGOT MY SUITCASE at office one more night! ....
The conclusion of my trip will come soon...
The cold weather and the snow was free to enjoy, glad I had the experience, happier that I could get away from it quickly...and this blog is also free.

No comments: