Today I went to Baltimore. Baltimore, for me, has a special meaning. It’s urban decline fostered by civic neglect, and absolutely gorgeous at the same time. Pittsburgh, too, has this feeling. Milwaukee as well, if you’re keeping score. I’ve never been to Detroit, aside from the airport, but I hear there’s a Whole Foods there now, so, as you can imagine for a white 30-something, I’m enamored of that city, too — just from afar.
The Wi-Fi didn’t work for me on the way down from New York. It seemed to work for a lot of other people, but not for me. As a consequence, I couldn’t really do any work. My work is now the Internet. That’s my job now. I use the Internet and hang out with librarians. Occasionally I sell something, but I don’t really care.
That’s kind of a problem in sales; I’ve just gotten away with it so far.
My friend Peter lives in Baltimore, and I texted him yesterday to see if he was available during my five-hour stint in his fair city. I figured, “I went to your wedding in the middle of nowhere last summer and milked your open bar, so you OWE me this shit.” To no avail. Peter, like most of my friends, had work. When my visit with my customer was over, I looked in vain for a taxi stand, and then a Marriott — both recommended by the librarian I had just met with (who was also, I might add, dressed in a fucking suit, which, Jesus. I’ve had librarians dressed better than me before, and that’s fine, but I had khakis, sweater-shirt combo, and desert boots. That said, the thing about being in sales and having a prescription to anti-anxiety meds is that you don’t really care if someone looks better than you do. Your job isn’t to engage in formality — at least, not if you want to do it well. Instead, your job is to become professional friends with your clients, because people buy shit from people they like, respect, etc. As I once said, “Rule number one for selling me shit: you must make me like you.” This is the salesperson’s job. I remember some of my best haggles pretty fondly. Professional and personal.) — and the Marriot, of course, wasn’t there. There was a Hilton, but no cabs. Every corner I approached there were cabs, but the trouble was that they were moving. Past me. So I couldn’t be like, “Oh, hey cab, please pick me up and drive me to the train station so I can change my ticket and cost my company money.” Instead I ended up walking. I called my boss and it was windy and I stepped into an apartment complex’s gray, gray vestibule, and we chatted for a while. It was nice. We hadn’t spoken in a while, and this is probably the best boss I’ve ever had, so it was no nonsense and pure kinda-awesome.
Today I went to Baltimore.
On the way I wrote this letter:
You’ll probably never get this, and that’s okay. It might simply be the case that some things will always remain unsaid between us.
I’m on a train to Baltimore for the day. I’ll go and chat with a librarian and see what he says, and then I’ll come home. There’s a man who can’t stop coughing. The sun is in my eyes and the bumpiness is fucking up my handwriting. Also, the awkward position. That, too.
Today I went to Baltimore.