Traveling with Mr. PeanutPosted: September 17, 2013
It was my first job out of college. I liked to think that it was the pay off for my work in school. The truth was that my uncle knew someone who knew someone. The PR guy in me re-phrases that into “it was the job I was born to get.”
I had a discouraging first week. Reading company policy, learning the mission statement and arranging my cubicle occupied my time. Then came Friday morning. It was the day I got my first big assignment.
The morning meeting droned on. It appeared I’d stay busy helping someone else with their projects instead of getting my own. I was wrong. A senior partner in the firm called my name.
“Michael, it is time for you to show us we hired the right man. One of our clients is traveling to New York to shoot an ad. We need him to arrive, on time. Make that happen. You and Mr. Peanut leave for the east coast on the red-eye tonight.”
I was thrilled! The boss had entrusted me with a celebrity client. It was time to make my opportunity count.
When the car service dropped him off at the airport, I was there at the curb. As Mr. Peanut got out of the car his height surprised me. I introduced myself. Mr. Peanut looked me over and adjusted his monocle. “Bags, Mike. Get my bags.”
Here’s something I didn’t imagine – someone who wears nothing but spats and gloves traveling with three bulky suitcases. Yet, there I was, lugging my carry on and Mr. Peanut’s three massive cases through an airline check-in line. My charge waited for me near the TSA checkpoint. He never lifted a finger to help.
Things got bad as we tried to clear TSA. Mr. Peanut doesn’t have pockets to carry identification. He walked up to the TSA screener and presented his boarding pass. The screener looked up at him and said “I.D.?” Mr. Peanut smiled, nodded and said “I’m Mr. Peanut.”
“I see that, I need it in writing.”
“Got ya. Look at my hat, it’s there.”
“That’s insufficient sir. Either show me proper identification or leave the airport.”
“But it’s right there”, Mr. Peanut said, pointing at his top hat for emphasis.
I spoke up on Mr. Peanut’s behalf. That was not one of my better ideas. I got a tour of the catacombs under the the airport. After some questioning by a guy with an earpiece and time in a holding cell with Mr. Peanut, they allowed me a call. I rang the bosses cell phone.
Calling the boss must’ve been the right move, but I wasn’t sure at first. He laughed as I told him my story, then told me to stay calm. Twenty minutes and a call from a congressman later, Mr. Peanut and I headed to our plane. I was starting to realize why people in the meeting snickered when I was given this “opportunity.”
We barely made the plane on time. There were first-class seats awaiting us; my first time on the expensive side of the curtain. Nothing to do but relax and enjoy the luxury until final approach. I should have known better.
“Sir, once again, you’re going to have to keep your legs out of the aisle.”
He’d been battling with a flight attendant since we sat down. “It is not my fault that your employer does not provide adequate leg room.”
Mr. Peanut has long legs. They’re spindly, but long. And he doesn’t have a bendable waist so it’s hard for him to shift in the seat to get into a comfortable position. It’s hard, but it isn’t impossible. He was just being a jerk.
“I’m not able to work safely with your legs in the aisle. You’ll have to move them or I will notify the pilot.”
Mr. Peanut pulled his legs back. “I’m not happy about this. I’m sure my agent will be writing a stern letter to your superiors.”
I liked being called an agent, but maybe not his. The guy even pointed at me when he said it, as if to say “my agent is right here to handle it.” I didn’t let him see me give the flight attendant an “oh no I won’t” head shake. As cool as it is to have a big time client, it is really unpleasant to find yourself on a no fly list.
The flight attendant brought us something to eat, Mr. Peanut insisted on kosher. Meanwhile, he got drunk. It upset me that no one in the office had told me to arrange a kosher meal for this pain-in-the-butt they’d stuck me with. A few moments later I realized what his game was when he leaned across the aisle and invited the woman sitting there to join him in the plane’s lavatory so they could “mix a little meat and dairy, if you know what I’m sayin’.”
After the slapping stopped, we got moved to other seats. Mr. Peanut was drunk and dozed off on my shoulder. It wasn’t pleasant to have him drooling on my shirt. I endured it because for the first time since I’d met him, I was the only one he was pissing off.
He came to as we descended for final approach. Mr. Peanut was complaining about a headache. It was tempting to let him know that he’d been a headache himself. But it occurred to me that he is almost all head. Most of his body is part of his head, so a hangover headache must be really painful. I could tell how bad he felt when he said he wanted to check his Twitter account and he didn’t protest when I told him that wasn’t allowed during the flight.
I hustled him down to baggage claim. There was another new hire from the firm waiting with a car to take Mr. Peanut to his photo shoot. I felt bad for the kid; he looked so eager. A jaded veteran like me could see he was just going to get used.
My New York counterpart had the client and his luggage. I was free. When I got back to L.A. I was going to have to explain why Mr. Peanut was in such bad shape when I got him out east, but I’d gotten him there.
Now freed of my “opportunity” I grabbed a cab toward my hotel. Maybe I should have passed on the client’s inclination to use a kosher diet as a pick up line. Sometimes it’s just better when people learn for themselves.