Thursday, March 8, 2012

Super Tuesday

We arrived yesterday in Detroit, a 2-hour flight from South Carolina, flying out at noon and arriving a little past 2 pm, landing amidst cold 32 degree Fahrenheit weather, driving out of McNamara airport headed for Temperance, also in Michigan, where the warehouse is located, but travelling further to Toledo, Ohio to the Hampton Inn where we are staying. The highway out of Detroit looked deserted, although there were some cars, it seemed desolate considering the largeness and quality of the highway, as if the roads where built for more traffic; my companion remarking that Detroit lost 30% of its population due to the decline of the auto industry, further distressed by the recent 2008 financial crisis that required Obama to bail out the car makers, but still not ending the departure of the population, forcing the remaining inhabitants in near deserted neighborhoods to move to more populated areas, a way to preserve public service cost and avoid the bankruptcy of the local government. We travelled through empty white fields, snow covering the ground and large distant houses with their roofs covered in snow, passing railroad depots, and shuttered building near the state line of Ohio, passing by the city of Dayton where the Republican candidates campaigned in the recent weekend.

Today is Super Tuesday for the Republican primaries; it was also a tough day at work, the existing software failed yesterday, forcing us to activate the new program a day earlier, rushing to complete the set-up in a cramped room, eager staff looking over our shoulders, the product piling up in the warehouse, fiddling with the printer set-up for an hour, finally connecting the cable and ‘voila!’, setup complete. It was a stressful hair raising afternoon, moving the go live forward by one day, a key support staff attending a meeting and could not help, issues cropping up in the software though addressed right away, but it was the time spent on the printer that was dreadful, trial and error to find the fix. The work was done near 8 pm, followed by dinner of veal, chicken and eggplant, spaghetti and Budweiser beer  at Rib Cage, a local restaurant recommended by the staff at the Hampton Inn. It was the second time for us to eat here, as yesterday evening’s dinner was also enjoyed here, where one had 12 oz. rib-eye steak with onions and mushrooms, medium well done, with baked potato, steamed tomatoes and salad with blue cheese; the first time a restaurant was favored 2 nights in a row, finishing at 9pm and back at the motel to be ready the next day at 5:30 am.

Back at the warehouse at 6 am the next day, a fast breakfast of sausages, scrambled and hard-boiled eggs, orange juice, chocolate and yogurt, dashing through the dawn darkness, arriving in the office with the first shift already working, taking out the old printers and computers, putting the new ones in, testing and letting go with the new program, purring like a cat as the reports started spewing out. Housekeeping for the local folks, a special favor considering the dirt and dust behind the equipment, wiping away the grime with tissue paper and a dirty rag, untangling the wires and cables, bundling them neatly into a box, watching the staff stick the labels to the product, walking around in the warehouse, when most of the major work was done by noon. Lunch at a Chinese buffet, the same look everywhere, especially the cheap diners like this one, food arrayed in tables with deep serving pans, unable to decide but digging in nevertheless; Maki rolls, fried rice, pork chop, roast beef, fried chicken wings, dumplings, pork rolls, cabbage, steamed salmon, ice cream, pastries, pudding, sweet and sour soup and diet Coke. The restaurant had wood paneling, private booths with glass dividers decorated with intricate Chinese landscapes in ivory; elegant pagodas and temples, mountains and trees like those painted in Chinese ink paintings; one feels homesick in the garish interior of a Chinese restaurant, hearing Mandarin spoken by the waitresses.

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