Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I am going to South America. I know I’ve already told you that. But now I have proof – a confirmation e-mail from Delta Airlines.

Since I’m sort of long on time and short on money, I opted to save $250 by purchasing a ticket that forces a 14-hour layover in Atlanta. I will arrive there at 6 a.m. and depart for Buenos Aires at 7:45 p.m. Rather than dreading a long boring wait in an airport, I’ve decided to welcome this as an extra leg of my adventure. I’ve never been to Atlanta before.

I’d love advice from those of you who know the town. For those of you who don’t, did you know that Atlanta is home to the world’s biggest puppetry museum? A quick visit to Atlanta’s Web site has given me 50 fun ideas for a day in the phoenix city. If I can squeeze it all in, I’m thinking I’ll do a Segway tour of the city, visit CNN and, of course, the puppetry museum. A Segway tour, that’s right. I know you’re jealous.

I do need to be careful not to spend the $250 I saved by getting the cheaper ticket. So I’d still love some help planning my big day in Atlanta.

I waited quite a while to buy the ticket for a few reasons – I wanted to make it possible for a friend to join me when she gets out of school in June. I wanted to give my knee a little extra time to heal and the medical bills time to arrive. I also wanted to spend some good quality time with my family, friends and that boyfriend I mentioned before. I’ve also frivolously planned a couple domestic vacations.

Delaying my departure has had a few side effects. Because I’m leaving later, I’m still in this country. This country is significantly more expensive than the ones in South America. That means the savings I built up to sustain me during four months in South America was at risk of dwindling rapidly.

So I have this job to keep the whittling to a minimum. I’m not waiting tables, but there are a lot of similarities between waitressing and getting people to sign up for Frontier Airlines Master Cards at the Denver Airport.

As in waitressing, there are good sections and bad sections and everyone wants the good section. There are also those people you work with who always make more money than you. It’s inexplicable. When you’re waiting tables with them, you wonder if they just turn their tables faster, talk sweeter, flirt more or trick their customers. You wonder what magic potion they’re taking. And how you can get your hands on it. The same is true in the credit card biz. There are those stand-out people who get twice as many people to sign up as I do and I don’t know why or how they’re doing it. I’m charming. I would sign up with me.

The airport, like a restaurant, is full of interesting people who are a delight to talk with. There are also a few rude folks. At least in the airport, the rude ones just walk past in a flurry instead of sitting in your section and complaining endlessly before stiffing you.

The feeling of working at the airport is also similar to that of working in a restaurant. I start the night worrying that I won’t make any money at all, that I’m wasting my time. I get to a certain point and know that I’m Ok, but still worry I won’t make enough to really make it worth it. Then I reach that magic number and start to wonder if I could leave at the end of my shift with a fortune, but usually end up falling a little short .

The biggest difference is that people go to restaurants because they want food. They don’t go to the airport looking for a credit card. That makes it a bit of a tough sell. Good thing I can handle rejection. Thousands of people walk past me shaking their heads every day. Only a few say yes. It makes me LOVE those people who say yes.

Another side effect of my late departure is that I’m homeless a lot longer. One of the most confusing questions people ask me right now is, “where do you live?” Nowhere, everywhere. In my car, maybe. At least when you’re traveling in a foreign country no one asks you such complicated questions. I spend a few nights on an air mattress in my friend’s house in Denver, another with a friend in Littleton, a few with Joe in Colorado Springs and some days with my parents. It’s exhausting.

I’m almost never alone except when I’m driving or taking a shower. And I know that when I’m traveling it won’t be much different. I will be in a different bed every few nights and on the road every few days, constantly moving. Though I will likely never be alone, I’m sure my chances of getting lonely will be a lot higher as I’ll be among strangers most of the time.

By the time I come back and try to settle down, I will have been without a regular life, without regular work or a regular place to live for eight months. Eight months. That’s a long time.

I’m not complaining though. Even though it’s exhausting, I’m loving this irregularity.


  1. I would sign up with you, too! What day are you departing for SA?

  2. Atlanta is a weird city. The downtown is sometimes scary and most Atlanta residents live north of the city and never even venture downtown. But if you're going to tour the CNN building, you should also hit up the aquarium a few blocks away, assuming that you do not think seeing a whale in a fish tank devalues the experience of actually seeing a giant whale up close. It is really a spectical. Do not go to the Coke museum. The High Museum of Art is really great. There is also world-class people watching at Lenox Mall in Buckhead, which is just north of downtown. Buckhead is like a second downtown that was built by rich suburbanites who did not want to go downtown anymore. Call me if you have any more A-T-L questions. Have fun. Good luck. We miss you back in Jackson. - Brandon Zimmerman

  3. Maybe you should put up a PayPal account. You know, so in case you get busted while working in SA and need us to bail you out. Or something. We all want you back, safe and sound.

  4. It's good to see that your DePauw education paid off in full. Kudos!