My 2001 Boeing internship required me to take a semester off from my college education as a trade off for the work experience I would receive on the job. In hindsight this was more than a fair trade, especially since I met Dan during that particular internship. That event alone changed my life, not to mention that the internship laid the groundwork for my future employment. But getting back to the subject at hand, I was going to miss the fall semester at UF so I had to find somewhere to stash the contents of my room at the sorority house while I was in California. In an extremely scientific process, I opened up the phone book, called the first place listed under “storage” in the yellow pages, and rented their smallest storage unit for the months of May through January. Not to state the obvious or anything, but hauling armfuls of stuff from your car to a barely air conditioned storage facility in Florida in May is miserable. I thought the five trips for just my textbooks would kill me. Anyway, after filling that tiny 5′ x 5′ space with everything I didn’t plan to take to California with me, I locked it up (using the padlock that I was forced to buy when I signed the lease agreement) and said goodbye for eight months. Or so I thought. Sometime in December I got an envelope in the mail from the storage facility. I hadn’t forgotten to mail them any of the monthly rent payments so I didn’t think it was a bill, and I was hoping it wasn’t a letter to inform me that the place had burned down or anything. But in the end it turned out to be a Christmas letter! I’m not sure how the storage facility got my address in CA, maybe from the return address on one of my rent payments, but in the spirit of the season they had sent me a letter that pretty much said, “Merry Christmas from the place you store your crap!” I found this very amusing. It was something you would only get from a small business in a tiny town like Gainesville. I think I still have the letter around here somewhere. I should look for it.
When I was in Tallahassee visiting my parents (and my cat Bob, of course), we decided to drive down to the beach for one night for a change of scenery…and outlet mall shopping! Destin is a resort town on the Gulf Coast between Panama City and Pensacola with beautiful white sand and a great outlet mall. Can you tell the outlet mall is the main reason my mom and I wanted to go? My dad was a good enough sport to drive us down there and not complain when we spent most of our time wandering around the outdoor mall in the 90+ degree heat. And my mom was a good enough sport to buy me whatever I picked out at the mall. I do my best shopping with my mom. I’ve got great parents. Anyway, I got us a room at the Hampton Inn in Destin that was closest to the water so we could get there for a walk on the beach without too much trouble. It wasn’t the nicest Hampton Inn I’d stayed at and I had to sleep on quite possibly the worst sofa bed that ever, but it wasn’t too expensive and I earned Hilton Honors points for our one night stay. Plus, were were fortunate to visit that part of the coast before it was affected by the oil spill in the Gulf. After a great visit with my parents and my cat Bob, I flew back to Los Angeles last Wednesday. (It was nice to get off the plane at LAX and not be hit by a wave of hot humid air when I stepped on the jetway, like in Charottle and Tallahassee.) On Thursday I checked the mail when I got home from work and found a postcard from the Hampton Inn Destin in the mailbox. It was handwritten with something like a Sharpie and said, “Thanks for hanging out with us!” It was the first thank you card I’ve ever gotten from a hotel so I was a little surprised. I guess a lot of folks have been canceling their Gulf Coast vacations due to the impending threat of the oil spill, but the Destin beaches were beautiful when we were there. (However, President Obama was in Pensacola assessing the damage to that part of the coast at the same time were were in Destin so the oil wasn’t too far away.) It’s nice to know that the Hampton Inn appreciated the guests who did show up, and I’m more likely to go back to that hotel because of the thank you postcard. I’ll avoid sleeping on a sofa bed the next time I’m there, though!