I’ve got a client based in Cambridge, Mass., and when they learned that I’d be spending a year out in New England, they invited me to come down and have lunch with them. As a freelancer, I have never met any of my clients. I’ve spoken to them on the phone, emailed back and forth, sent notes with the copyedited files, but I haven’t met any of my current clients face to face. We didn’t get our schedules to match up until recently, so I drove down to Boston on Friday to have lunch with these folks.
It’s a 2.5-hour drive, and I didn’t want to show up all wrinkly and road-weary, so I had a Plan. I would drive down in my comfy clothes and sneakers, then pop off the highway a few exits early and change in the restroom of a fast-food place. What a great Plan!
Except, not living in a big city, I had forgotten that the shift from suburb to downtown comes fast (as do the maniacal Massachusetts drivers!), so before I knew it, I had to take my exit. “No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just get my bearings, find a gas station, and change there!”
I got my bearings, then was pulled along by the city traffic. I didn’t make too many turns, because I had to be able to find my way back. I also realized that gas stations are few and far between within a real City. Huh. Then, I spotted a Sunoco station. Victoire! I parked, ran in, and asked the guy behind the counter if they had a bathroom where I could change.
Uh, OK, is there somewhere nearby I could change? Sure, there were restaurants all along the street. Could I leave my car here while I went to change? … Well, for 5 minutes maximum! He has a business to run, you know! (Damned mean Bostoninans.)
So I went to the one open restaurant (it is 10:30 am., so most are not yet ready for customers). The woman inside tells me, yes, they do have a bathroom, I should just go out and around the building.
At the back?
Yes, at the back of the building, she tells me.
I walked around the building, but there isn’t an entry that I can see. All I see are the service entries for deliveries. Well, that was a creative way to get rid of a stranger! (Typical Boston nastiness, alright.)
I got back on the street and noticed the MIT museum just a few doors down. Time is running short at this point, so I go in, a bit flustered (and looking kind of crazed with my windblown hair, sneakers, and jersey skirt and wrinkled t-shirt combo), and explain to the ticket seller (you have to pay $7.50 to learn about the history of MIT) that I just need to change. He waved me in, directed me to the nice clean bathrooms, and I was able to make my big transformation.
I get back to my car, drive back to the parking lot for which my client had sent me a parking pass, search my entire bag three times, and realize I must have left the permit on the table at home.
I drive up to the attendant, explain to him that I have an appointment with the Press, ask if I can pay to stay in the (private) lot, and he says to me, “Go park over there and then don’t let me see your face!” He winks. I thank him profusely, and drive in.
I don’t know who is responsible for giving Boston folks such a bad reputation. Some of them are really nice.
Oh, and lunch was a blast. The folks I work with at that Press were fun to spend time with.