Writ in potato chips

I have, until now, resisted writing about my birthday but Cathy changed all that when she sent me this with the message SAW THIS AND THOUGHT OF YOU.

I wrote back, "What do you mean you SAW this? SAW THIS? Where would you SEE this? Who made this? Talk to me."

I thought perhaps the universe had ensnared me in a wormhole whereby my spending my birthday arranging a potato chip display in Maryland sparked other potato chips to manifest themselves in different locations. This peculiar delusion of grandeur was squelched when Cathy owned up that she was the culprit.

On March 16, I woke up at 3am and drove to the Columbus airport armed for a business trip with six baskets and three steel basket stands. Some baskets fit in a giant suitcase and the rest were stuffed into/falling out of cardboard boxes I found in the basement the night before. I incurred wrath from the check-in lady who looked down her nose at me and said, "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BRING YOUR OWN TAPE." What I thought was, "Bitch, I wouldn't be standing here with bootleg cardboard boxes and shit falling out of them IF I HAD TAPE TO BRING." What I did was look at her plaintively until she produced a roll from behind the counter and handed it to me.

I flew to New York and then to Baltimore and got on a shuttle. My sad looking boxes and giant suitcase blocked the aisle, rendering me immobile, and the only way I could get off the shuttle was to push everything out the door in front of me, climb out after, and pick it all off the pavement.

I picked up my rental Hyundai and focused on my mission's destination: a travel plaza on the side of the Maryland Turnpike. More specifically, a deli within a travel plaza, a deli which wanted a stylish new way to display their chips. And that's where I come in because I may not be good at long-term planning or saving for retirement but am excellent at getting by with random jobs and opportunities.

Once I started driving, I noticed how unbelievably tired I was. I was so tired I wanted to hurl. Tears were shed. Yes, I wept as I drove north, letting my calls go to voice mail and cursing my 31st birthday. I definitely showed up at the travel plaza looking blotchy and in need of Visine. Somehow I managed to kick it into professional high gear and shook hands, chatted, filled baskets with chips, and took photos. I even managed to smile and looked serious or concerned when appropriate.

Note: This is not easy when the subject at hand is the display of potato chips. "Concern" was impossible to feel and really, really hard to fake but I did it because I'm a visual merchandising trooper. I left the travel plaza in good spirits, however, feeling successful. Time to celebrate! By having dinner alone at Ruby Tuesday.

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