Travelling Salesman

29 Nov 2012

I spent more on the car than on the room. A lot more.

Shattered, in a thin-walled room just metres from the rowdy bar, I'm not regretting that - yet. Six hours ago I was in a flat in San Francisco. But I'd promised some business contacts that I'd "drop in for a coffee" since I was "in the area", the area being "the United States" and their office being in "Los Angeles".

So I got the metro to the airport, which is how a civilised city works, and then I hired a car at the far end, which is how Los Angeles works.

Not just a car. A bright red corvette. I'm not doing this half-assed.

Getting into it, I felt a bit out of date. I fumbled for the ignition (it doesn't have one; you start the engine by pressing a button). I looked for the headlight controls (they're automatic). I tried to find a flat-ish surface to attach the GPS (the windshield is curvier than cockpit glass). Eventually I took it out for my first encounter with LA's freeway system, at 10pm on a drizzly night, still jetlagged.

The trip was actually surprisingly easy. I'd not have liked to have attempted it without GPS, but perhaps my previous experiences have hardened me to this kind of 'arriving drive'. My predominant feeling was not terror but outrage, approaching junctions muttering ".. the hell thought of this?"

And yes, when I accidentally lanechanged a little too close to someone, I did floor it, and it was awesome.

So now I'm in a low-rent room in a city I won't have time to see, having spent a few hundred dollars on flights so close together that I received the check-in reminder email for the return flight before I'd boarded the outgoing one. Perhaps this is madness. Perhaps nothing will come of it. But to really travel, you've got to think like a local, and over here that means big dreams, fast cars, boundless optimism and never pausing for thought, or for regret.