There’s very little to tell you about Friday’s daytime hours. At least you could differentiate between daytime and night-time hours; Wichita’s weather had been grumbly with occasional bouts of light snow since I’d arrived the previous afternoon. At last the sun was shining, which brought @joshdutcher and I no end of delight.
Having very little to tell you is actually a good thing, because it means I was working and earning money, not stuck in the never-ending, never-earning limbo of public transport. Instead I spent the day at the the offices of Naked City with Carrie and Josh, loafing about on the sofa trying not to fall asleep or get any fatter. A lack of sleep, long days chained to a MacBook and a diet deep fried in cow fat was supplying me with a rather doughy waist and a neck like George Lucas. I’d ate donuts for breakfast. Donuts. With sprinkles. But then Josh went one better, and fatter, by opting for donuts topped with maple syrup and bacon. Bacon on a donut. What the hell was wrong with these people?
It was also the day I broke through the £3,000 target for Charity: water. Finally. I was out to lunch at the time, and hearing the news was more satisfying than the double deep-fried chicken strips that were turning both my arteries and my arse to lard. If you’ve donated towards the Twitchhiker project, then read about the difference you’ll help make. If you haven’t donated yet, not to worry – the target has been raised to £4,000 so there’s still work to do.
The final highlight of my final hours in Wichita was the kind donation by @WichitaCindy of a set of clean boxer shorts. After leaving half my available underwear in Chicago it was exactly the sort of charity that I required at that point, but obviously the sort of thing I’d never have bought for myself, what with been a man and all. You can never, ever under-estimate the satisfaction of clean pants.
Austin was the evening’s destination, and Wichita new media kiddos Shea (@sheasylvia) and Tyler (@tylerstalder) were my companions on our nine hour road-trip south through Oklahoma and into Texas. Shea displayed exemplary driving skilled for a short sighted octogenarian with a head injury, less so for a 20-something able-bodied person. When you find yourself speeding down the freeway in the inky desert blackness and the driver comments “I can never see where I’m going in the dark,” you tend to wish you’d arranged a will before leaving the house.
It was a long nine hours. Not because of the company, but because nine hours is a long time to drive anywhere, especially to Texas. At least you know when you’ve crossed the state line, because suddenly the roadside is filled with giant fizzy neon shouting about liqueur stores, stetsons and adult entertainment. Every single one of the signs had letters missing, so it made for several minutes of entertainment guessing what sort of business might advertise HOT OWLS and the like. Not nearly as entertaining as discovering what Shea will do for $50, however.
Shea and Tyler dropped me off at the Austin Hilton shortly before 4. I was staying in the room of a Norwegian called @arcticmatt, who had begun following @twitchhiker on the very first day back in February. He’d offered support all the way through, and since he was at SXSW he was happy to ask the Hilton’s manager to have a travel bed assembled in the room.
None of this made knocking on the door of a complete stranger at stupid o’clock in the morning any easier. And he was foreign. What if his English was worse than my Norwegian? Was that even possible?
It didn’t matter. Matt was in fact a married Manchester United fan from Cheshire who emigrated to Tromsø, Norway several years ago. When we met we clicked immediately, as if we were old friends who’d stayed in touch with one another but not met in the flesh for an age. Thanks God for that; awkward social relationships with a stranger in their bedroom are rarely welcome. Especially when you’re sober.
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