Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Coyote Point

It was a brief encounter, a coyote sighting in the urban jungle
Just the other day on our walk, it was quite exciting
It brought to mind a time of my life that I'd blocked from my memory
A time, long uninterrogated, that I've thought best left forgotten

But once the beast darted out, I could hardly help myself
The memories of those 18 months at Coyote Point returned
The whims of memory lead one to arbitrary endpoints
And so let me try to recall the tale of Coyote Point...

There's a long line of hotel-like establishments
In the mile stretch that leads to Coyote Point
They range from the upscale Holiday Inn hotel
To the lowest of the low, the by-the-hour motel

As to the motels, suffice to say, there were gradations
I guess you could call it a full spectrum of cockroaches
Thankfully providence lifted me out of the worst situations
I eventually settled on the Best Western Plus

A correction, the high end was a Holiday Inn and Suites
Let me not, on this point, Dear Reader, mislead
I lost my driver's license at one of them,
   was it the San Mateo SFO Airport Hotel?
Or rather America's Best Value Inn,
   where the pimps had so many stories to tell?

The Best Western Plus was quite swank in reality
But the first time I arrived, my eyes were rather bleary
The Nigerian hotel receptionist took one look at me
And assigned me to room 419. Well played, young lady

The Plus in the name makes quite a bit of difference
As our now 9 year old observed, a couple of years ago
We made the mistake, one weekend, in San Antonio
Of staying at a vanilla Best Western. Lesson learned

Those 18 months were trying, it was hard to understand
I was dealing with the whims of a Never Never Man
Who seemed to sabotage my every want and desire
And enjoyed raising the specter of me getting fired

He wanted me, he was adamant, to work in person
Said he absolutely needed me in the office
Yet I was working with people in India and Boston
Why couldn't I go with the remote option?

It was a strange kind of life if you ask me
But you make your own bed, your own destiny
I'd run headlong into an immovable object
And all I could do was protect my neck

Tuesday morning before dawn I'd get on the SuperShuttle
And head to Austin Bergstrom airport before the morning bustle
Four hours on the plane, find a rental car, drive to the office
Then, to add insult to injury, mostly attend teleconferences

I'd call it a day getting to five,
   and make my way to my provisional home
It was always a gamble,
   for I could never remember which was this week's abode
I hadn't expected this to be a permanent situation,
   I didn't plan this contingency
Nevertheless, living on a week by week basis,
   I kept pushing on grudgingly

What is there to say about those 100 days of dismay?
The traveling salesman life I lead, groundhog day
Leaving The Wife with infant and toddler in a new town
33 trips, I counted, before finally I threw in the towel

But back to Coyote Point, I only observed the place after work
After checking in, I'd find the Chinese restaurant
   where I got my roast duck
Because the motel food was little to non-existent
   and, quite frankly, sucked
Some rooms had a fridge, and a microwave for reheating,
   at others I was out of luck

The Mother-in-Law visited once,
   when she was passing through the Bay Area
Checking in on her wayward charge,
   seeing how I was dealing with this hysteria
That week I'd missed a booking,
   and was staying at a rather low rent joint
She might have been less alarmed
   if I'd shown her the best of Coyote Point

Ah right, the lost license, I shouldn't leave that dangling
It's another sad story that doesn't bear remembering
Ever walked up confidently to the TSA counter and opened your wallet
To pick out your license only to realize that it's lost.
   Woe is me, instant regret

Was it in the rental car? Or at the motel?
   Which one? Or was it at the office?
I checked my bags and pockets ten times,
   goddamn, I must have dropped it
The panicked calls to the rental company and the low rent motel
No time to get back to the rental and no ID even then. Well, hell

I'm still surprised that they let me get on that Thursday evening flight
With barely any identifying document, save my company badge,
   what a fright
It must have been the doctor's note that I carried, and my insurance card
Or was it that I looked so broken by that stage, man, times were hard

True they did give me the full TSA treatment
Examined me more closely than my wife after ten
Quadruple searched my bags, my clothes,
   and damn near every orifice
Yet I was so grateful this agent let me on the plane,
   I could have kissed him

Thankfully at the motel, America's Best Value Inn, the one with the pimps
They'd found my driver's license - phew I had escaped an identity crisis
But they were cheap, Mrs Singh and son, they were fixated on getting paid for its return
Man, I sweet talked her, gave a massive reward, paid for the Fedex courier, talk about heartburn

Oh, and after I totalled my car coming out of Walgreens
   in Hyde Park one night
I scrambled and managed to rent a Zipcar for the week
   to placate The Wife
And, at dawn the next day, it was back on the SuperShuttle
   to get on my flight
Praying that Never Never Man and the insurance company
   would do me right (He didn't)

With hindsight this was all plainly ridiculous, the kind of life I was leading
For the exiled soul and the immigrant, diffidence reigns,
   it's a self imposed precarity
Pride and vanity is all,
   we hold on to whatever scraps we hold of the American dream
There's none of the boldness of the American, born-and-raised,
   unafraid to cause a scene

I never once ventured to Coyote Point proper,
   my life was quite circumscribed
Now with Google Street View available,
   I can behold the luxuries I was denied
The motels were only a few blocks south from the edge of the golf course
Virtually browsing vicariously, I daresay I missed out on pleasant walks

It was all work and no play,
   the motels were the extent of my event horizon
Thus I missed out on a good location
   for aircraft spotting and birdwatching
But let me not continue in this vein, I assure you there was only trauma
A liminal life as a theater of the absurd piece,
   or something worthy of Kafka

For whatever reason, perhaps the poorly equipped minibar in those joints
I didn’t drown my sorrows. I remained equanimous, and never got drunk
The only photo I took in 18 months
   was in the hotel parking lot at Coyote Point
It was of a curious normally nocturnal visitor,
   I believe it was a civet, racoon or skunk

civet, skunk or racoon

No Time, a playlist

A soundtrack for a strange kind of life (spotify version) Bonus beats: I Left My Wallet in El Segundo by A Tribe Called Quest


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

File under: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Writing log: May 6, 2021

No comments: