Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Ol’ Robbo had to go up to Philadelphia on biznay yesterday.

I generally try to find some kind word or other for the various places I’ve visited in my work travels over the years, but Philly presents a real challenge.  It’s filthy and disgusting and full of people who look like they’d willingly shoot you out of pure spite but for the cops standing around every ten feet (and maybe even then).

And that’s in the nice part of downtown.

About the only positive I can come up with from my visit at the moment is the Reading Market, where Ol’ Robbo had an obligatory (and very tasty) cheesesteak sammich for lunch.  Seems to me a fellah could make many, many visits to this place without getting bored by the food selection, all of which looked pretty fabulous.

But other than that?  Brrrrr……

We went up by train, by the bye, something I haven’t done in about ten years.  Ol’ Robbo doesn’t mind train travel a bit, as I never get tired of gazing out the window and watching the landscape roll by, something I can’t do while driving (for obvious reasons) and won’t do while flying (for reasons well-known to veteran friends of the decanter).  Of course, on the run between Dee Cee and Philly, this is more rewarding in the rural reaches than otherwise:  the crossing of the Susquehanna is far, far more aesthetically pleasing than are the burnt out slums of Baltimore.  But ne’er mind: the latter have educational value, at least.

And speaking of education, on the way home I found myself sitting across the aisle from a young lady who spent almost the entire two hours on her phone.  I couldn’t help overhearing, and gathered that she was a college kid engaged in complicated negotiations with her roommates and her mother over some Rube Goldberg scheme to collect and forward everybody’s share of a summer rent payment on what I assume to be off-campus housing.  It seemed to involve a lot of wire-transfers, priority mail, and passing on of account and routing information, and to be complicated by a lot of logistics concerning who was going to be where and when.

It made me smile because it brought back a memory of one of my own idiot college kid (but I repeat myself) schemes.  One year (my sophomore, I think), I turned up at the airport to fly home toting three enormous duffle bags containing everything for which I hadn’t managed to find storage space.  When I got up to the ticket counter (this was long, long before computer kiosks, kids), the attendant took one look at my tonnage and said, “Well, looks like I’m going to need a big ol’ check from you.”  I had known this ahead of time.  I also knew I only had about ten dollars in my account.  (And I didn’t have a credit card in those days.)  In my idiot college kid reasoning, I reckoned I’d just write the check anyway: By the time it bounced, my bags would already be home and I could get the ‘rents to pony up the deficit.

The only problem with my scheme (aside from its illegality)?  When I opened up my checkbook, there were no checks in it.  I’d used them all up and forgotten about it.


Somehow or other, through a lot of smooth talk and some soulful looks, I managed to persuade the ticket agent to hold my bags in hock behind the counter.  When I got home, I promised I’d get the fee paid and then they could put my bags on another flight.

Believe it or not, the thing worked.  I’m not saying the Old Gentleman was exactly pleased when I explained it to him, but as soon as I arrived he went to the desk at our home port and ponied up, and my bags turned up a couple hours later.

For what it’s worth, I both knew I was being an idiot and was ashamed of it as well.  I smiled now in part because I have long since quit having to do such things myself, and also because the torch seems to have been passed on.

UPDATE:  Ol’ Robbo got kinda lost in reminiscence in putting this post together and, as a consequence, badly burned the French fries that were supposed to constitute part of his din-dins so, well, please clap.

UPDATE DEUX:  Not really related to anything above but sitting out on the porch this evening, just saw my first firefly of the year.  Shiny!  Ol’ Robbo loves him some fireflies.