Douglas Coupland,

Girlfriend in a Coma

Tour 1998
Day 12
Raleigh-Austin, Texas

     I think Delta and United are having a contest for Worst Airline. As of today, Delta’s winning. Clapped-out old equipment and a Lord of the Flies mentality about seating, carry-on baggage, and food that would shame a high-school lunch program. I think airlines simply don’t want to be in the food business any longer. Everything they’re doing indicates this. And the flight from Atlanta to Texas was like Crackbaby Airlines Flight 1313. It was like flying along with a dozen gas-powered leaf blowers.      The smoker’s zone at the Atlanta Delta terminal truly resembled a rung of hell this morning. Hundreds of people crammed into a glass box joylessly puffing away. They can only have felt like a tourist attraction. It’s been 10 years since I quit, and it really is the only thing in my life that I’d change if I could. I never would have started. There’s just no point to it.      I flipped out in the Austin hotel’s lobby. I asked for a quiet room, and they kept putting me next to elevators and beside the atrium’s Muzak speaker, and I was ravenous and exhausted, and I finally snapped after changing rooms three times. They ended up giving me a condo suite, which is fine, but all I really wanted was a quiet room, not a condo. Nine-tenths of business travel is keeping your temper in check. If only hotel staff knew how close most travelers are to The Edge.      Dinner with Rich Linklater and his family at a place called Zoot. Gov. George Bush Jr. was there, and so the restaurant had that Secret Service aura. His local nickname is “Shrub”–it must be weird having famous parents. And he looks just like his father. It’s as if Barbara hadn’t been involved in the process at all.      The South by Southwest music/film/multimedia conference is on here, and every single person within three blocks of the hotel is wearing mismatched retro clothing and is in need of a good dose of shampoo. And the outdoor music everywhere is like perfume.      All in all, a très crappy day with a wonderful evening.