I could feel the blood pressure in my veins; it dropped a notch after the dinging sound. The fasten seat belt sign went off, and the plane was now cruising at thirty-five thousand feet toward my new life.
I could barely wait to get there and meet the people already on the inside, the ones who’d made it. I was on my way to a new life in the rapidly growing tech industry, which was shaping the world after its own agenda. By working at the most powerful tech company in the world, SHOW, I would help shape that agenda.
It meant I now belonged to the best of the best. I would rub shoulders with the elite and be part of changing the world for the better. I was a dreamer. Although SHOW’s main business was online advertising, they were aiming for the stars, and so was I.
“Hi there, sir. Coffee or tea?” asked the flight attendant.
She smiled like it was her birthday, but her eyes looked stressed and angry. Her hair was messy, and I had never seen a woman blink as fast as she did. Maybe the clumps of mascara on the lashes of her left eye bothered her.
“Whiskey on the rocks,” I answered, giving her an even bigger smile.
“Sorry, sir, we’re out of ice.”
“Already? Must have been some thirsty folks in the front rows.”
“Broken ice machine,” she replied quickly.
“Then I’ll have the whiskey without the rocks, please.”
The lady in the leather seat on my left followed the glass with her eyes as the flight attendant leaned over her to hand me the drink. The flight attendant was no longer trying to smile. Her painted red lips made her seem like a sad clown that nobody was laughing at.
I took a sip of my straight Jack and gazed out the small round window at the clouds. They looked like soft cotton candy. Whenever I fly, I imagine how it would feel to walk out on the wingtip, step down, and stroll around on that cloudy cotton candy field with a drink in my hand while looking down at the world to see what humanity is doing. This time, I felt closer to the clouds than ever. I felt like a rock star, like someone more than special. I felt like God herself.
I decided to celebrate that feeling with another whiskey and pressed the “Service” button. The lady next to me glanced at me nervously. A few minutes later, the flight attendant was pouring more Jack into my glass. I examined her closely, wondering why she was doing this job. For some reason, her eyes made me think of a sleepy koala bear that had overdosed on eucalyptus and was as high as the Empire State Building. She clearly didn’t enjoy her work, so why did she do it? Why not have a career you love? Like the one I was headed toward. Maybe she had no choice. Maybe she had a kid to support and her husband had left her for another woman—or man. What a sad and miserable woman, wasting her life up in the sky serving Jack. At least the view was good.
My blood pressure skyrocketed, and I knew it was time. The fasten seat belt sign went on, and the plane started its descent toward the city of innovation, the city from which the world was being reshaped: San Francisco.
I chugged my whiskey as the lady next to me gave me a dis- appointed stare, the look she probably gave her drunk husband during Christmas dinner.
“Cheers!” I said loudly and buckled up.
The show was about to start, and I was certain it would be a good one.
I woke up in the middle of the night and looked around the room in a panic, trying to remember where I was. I was staying at the Hyatt, and the bed was so pillowy that I was afraid I’d drown in the mattress and miss my first day of work. I started to think about the clouds I’d seen through the airplane window, and I imagined they were my bed. As I came to my senses, I found the TV remote and flipped through a few channels, all showing reruns of shitty sitcoms from the late nineties.
I thought about the miserable flight attendant and her red lips, wondering if she could sleep. Maybe she was having martinis with the captain, searching for happiness. Maybe not. I didn’t really care. I sank back into the mattress and fell asleep.
I woke up again around six thirty, fought my way out of the squishy bed, and went to the bathroom. I checked myself out in the mirror and observed my facial hair for a couple of minutes before I started to shave. The disposable razor I’d bought at Ralphs back home in Los Angeles the other day was dull, making the experience slightly different from the TV commercials in which they get the perfect shave every single time. There was no fresh and cool feeling, no smooth, perfect skin, and definitely no sexy woman wiping my face with a clean, soft white cotton towel.
After a lousy shaving job, I showered and washed my hair using the tiny bottle of shampoo from the hotel bathroom. The white towel provided had clearly been washed too many times; it felt like sandpaper. I put my underwear on, combed my hair, and took out a blue shirt from my bag. I put it on without ironing it. It was wrinkled but good enough. In the tech world, you’re supposed to have an “I don’t give a fuck” attitude anyway, or so I’d read in magazines. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to become a suit guy like my friends who worked in corporate banking. I looked in the mirror and listened to “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito on my iPhone while I eye-fucked myself.
This was it—they’d get what they’d get. I was ready to stride into that office and become a part of history. I was excited and proud and, at the same time, scared as fuck.