Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Notes from the road ...

-- In Mississippi one morning at a Fairfield Hotel, there was a group of about six guys eating breakfast. Two of them had blue shirts that said "FEMA" on the back.
"FEMA!" I exclaimed. "I'm surprised you guys wear those around here."

The head FEMA guy (or at least the one who did the talking), said, "Most of the guys won't wear them."

This guy had been there since two days after the Hurricane Katrina, he said. He lives "up north" and had been home twice. He checks damages to property. Then what he checks is checked three more times by three different people before the damage estimate is forwarded up the line. Then, the money doesn't go directly to the property owner. It goes to the state. That's what he said.

The storm damage, he observed, was like nothing he'd ever seen. And those affected by it are more emotional than any other storm victims he'd ever encountered.

Up Interstate 59, which slices up the middle of the Mississippi, tall pine trees that line the wide interstate median and both sides of the highway remain toppled and are not yet cleared away.

-- Another morning, another hotel. This in Augusta, Ga. A young woman, mid-20s, nicely dressed, walks out the hotel entrance, where a big SUV is parked. She sets down her bag, then kneels down at the back of the vehicle and the front of the vehicle, looking under the car. "Do you suspect bombs," I said. "Pardon me?" she said. She had a European accent. "I said do you suspect bombs." She said, "Nails. Sometimes in our business, they put nails under your tires." "Nails? Really?" Before she should elaborate, a man at least twice her age came out. He was bald, nicely dressed and was wearing one of those Blue Tooth phone devices on his ear. He said something to the young woman and she answered, then he cast a dirty look my way. I went back into the lobby. The man suddenly re-appeared and marched up the front desk. "I left a piece of paper here. Is it still here." It wasn't there, the clerk said. "Shit!" he said, and he marched back out to his car.

-- Regular readers might recall the travelogue I posted about my trip to Oklahoma. That was about a week ago. I described a meeting with my niece, 4, in which I put on a king's crown and told her I was King Olaf. (I hadn't seen her in a couple years and she didn't really remember me; she's at that age when she's captivated by princesses and such as that.) ... Anyway, the imagery and fantasy apparently stuck with her ... Her parents took her to Disney World this week, where she and other kids were to have brunch with all the various princesses in the world of Disney. The princess known as Belle approached her and said hello. My niece stood there in awe, shaking with excitement, eyes as wide as saucers. It was as if she was struck speechless, her mother told us, until finally she blurted out, "I met the king!"

-- as Leon Hale says, see ya on down the road ...

1 comment: said...

I'm headed for Flroida in a couple of days. Maybe we'll pass each other on I-10! :^D