Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Drunk in Duluth

Last week I had the chance to take my first quasi-vacation in the last, well, long ass time. I only had a couple of days off from work (2 to be exact) but combine that with the weekend I had a solid 4 straight days... 4 and a half actually, off from work... sorta.

I took those days to go up to Duluth with Kristin and some of our friends to hang out in a cabin and totally decompress. By totally I mean moreso than if I was at home, but it was still good to put work down for a bit and just feel free. It's amazing how much work can hover all around you even when your job is supposedly only supposed to affect your life from 8 am to 5 pm. It never works out quite that way, though.

Our trip started out interesting enough in that the directions we got from Mapquest (which is a site I will no longer use--ever) led us down a road that simply ended in the middle of a forest. I kid you not. We were driving down this swerving road that was about one lane wide when it suddenly just ended in a gigantic pile of snow. Thank you Mapquest.

After calling the cabin owner a couple of times we thought we had the correct directions to where we were supposed to go. That, however, was completely wrong. What happened is that their directions were just as bad. Worse, actually. We ended up going down another crappy, little road but this time instead of it ending in a snow bank, both our cars ended up in snow banks from which we had to not only push ourselves out of, but had to get our vehicles turned around as well. Let's just say we had tons of fun pushing cars around in the snow.

Once we got there, eventually, after talking to the cabin owners yet again, things were not nearly as stress filled. We all settled in quite nicely and the next few days were filled with plenty of movie watching, reading, ice fishing, Uno, cribbage, and pool.

The only other really out of the ordinary thing that happened (that would interest anyone reading, at least) was Kristin and my encounter with a wonderful character at Jitters, a coffee shop in Duluth, a really nice coffee shop by the way. We went there so that I could get my internet fix and send off some emails as well as do a few other things I needed to do.

As we were sitting at a table in Jitters a woman came and sat down by herself at the table next to us. She was calmly drinking her coffee and eating a muffin when a slow moving, unshaven, middle aged man in a black leather trench coat wandered in slowly through the door. He sort of stumbled a little as he came towards the woman's table but didn't quite fall over.

He sat down, lazily looking around at his surroundings, and the woman looked over to Kristin and myself with an expression that couldn't read any other way than, "What is he DOING?" Personally, I didn't know what to do initially. He wasn't doing anything too out of the ordinary other than sitting down in a drunken stupor.

I was busy doing some work on my laptop so I wasn't fully aware of the sheer uncomfort of the woman at the other table, but I became aware when our drunken fool thought it would be fun to lean over and start reading what I had open on my laptop (which, at that point, was a personal email I didn't really want some looney bum looking at). As I looked at him he didn't even register that I was gazing at him. He was that far gone into drunken la-la land.

He continued to sit there, at times mumbling to the poor lady sitting across from him, his alcoholic stench slowly taking over our area of the coffee shop. Both Kristin and myself didn't really know how to approach this. I should have simply told him to leave the area, but I wasn't totally "into" the situation since I was working on my laptop. Eventually, and thankfully, a worker at the shop asked him to leave.

It was unclear as to if he understood, however, as his glazed over and drooping eyes groggily wandered around as he was being talked to. It took about three or four repetitions of the request to leave before it registered with him. Once it did he got up, started mumbling about God knows what, occasionally throwing in an f-bomb for good measure, and left. For a while he sat outside the shop, obviously confused.

As we sat there taking it all in, I couldn't help but wonder over and over again what would drive a man to get totally sloshed on a Monday before wandering down Superior Street. Especially since it was only about 2 in the afternoon.

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