Saturday, May 19, 2007

Smoking or Non?

Excuse me? Did I hear that right? I had not been asked this question in years. Living in California has spoiled me. All restaurants and bars in California have been smoke free for years. But I am getting ahead of the story a bit…

I am safe and sound in Cincinnati. To be honest I am really in Florence Kentucky. The airport that serves Cincinnati is in Northern Kentucky and the hotel is a few miles from the airport so needless to say I have not been to Ohio yet. The conference is going well and the speakers have been great. I have met a bunch of people and over all I am satisfied. It is not life changing like the Origins conference I went to last year but I wasn’t expecting that. Now the real reason for this post…

We were all on our own for dinner and after my last session I went to my room, clicked on the TV and promptly fell asleep. About an hour later I woke up and realized that I missed any opportunity to meet up with anyone for grub. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and gave some thought to what I was going to eat. I did not really relish the thought of spending $25 on a steak in the hotel restaurant so I headed out the front door and started walking. I guess it is a bit of culture shock for me because at least in this part of town there are no sidewalks. So here is this fish-out-of-water from SoCal walking down the side of the road on my way to Applebee’s. I decided to pass up the bar and grill next to the hotel just because I wanted something I could count on. So I walked about a quarter mile down the road and looked at the front door and half of tri-state area was waiting for a table. So I look over and there is a Cracker Barrel right next door. I had heard that this place was awesome so I walk on over and the same thing. I think to myself OK, no big deal I will just go across the street and see what I find. As I walk to the intersection I see another strange sight. A mom puts three kids in the back of a pickup with a shell and closes them in. She proceeds to say, “Hang on back there and be nice to each other”. That would get you in so much trouble in CA. I make it to the light and there is no crosswalk. Now this is a big intersection, a quick dash could be dangerous. I look down the road and see another light leading into to a shopping center with a few stores and eating establishments. So, off I go again. A few minutes later I am standing at another light with no crosswalk. Hunger is now setting in and I wonder to myself, “How is a guy supposed to get something to eat around here?” I decide to make the dash for it and once safely across I find a Steak and Shake. I think what the heck, I haven’t had a burger in months and I will walk part of it off running back across the street and walking back to the hotel. I walk in and am greeted with, “Smoking or Non?” Here is where we started. I said, “Excuse me?” He repeated and I said, “non”. He led me to a table about five feet from a guy who was smoking while he was drinking a chocolate shake. My stomach nearly flipped. By this time I am hungry and order right away, eat my double burger, wilted salad and fries in haste, leave some cash on the table and bolt out the door before my clothes start reeking of smoke. Now I have a decision to make, go back to the hotel the way I came or play frogger on the big street to get to Target. By the way, did I mention I forgot my toothbrush? I decide to put my quarter in the machine and I take my chances dodging the bevy of fast moving American made trucks and cars. Safe on the other side I make my way to the entrance and count no less than five used cans of Skoal tobacco. Once in Target I almost feel at home. The same smells of popcorn and new clothes filled the air. Then I look to the left and what do I see? Fireworks, yes you heard me right, FIREWORKS in Target! We are definitely not in SoCal anymore. What a country!! I half considered how I could get a case of sparklers back to California in my carry-on but then quickly considered how poorly I would look on CNN Sunday afternoon. Now I am about a mile from the hotel and off I go again to play in traffic. With a full tummy and a tooth brush I make it back to good old room 508 to watch Deadliest Catch and catch some shuteye. So lets review:

Seth’s adventure in Northern Kentucky:

No sidewalks- check
Kids in the back of pickups – check
Long lines at Applebee’s- check
Gobs of chewing tobacco- check
Smoking in restaurants- check
Fireworks in Target- double check

I will be back in SoCal on Sunday night. Until then…

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