I found myself in New Mexico on a research mission and it was taking forever to get clearance (ultimately 6 weeks and 3 interviews). I spent a good deal of time scuffling in the desert and the mountains but poverty was closing in fast. I needed some sort of income to tide me over. I decided to find a job in marketing.
My first interview was with a giant man operating some sort of cult who sent his young acolytes out to pester people in malls into buying coupons–for what, I didn’t know. I wasn’t paying attention because the gentleman was huge and angry and I suspected he might just want to kill me for sport. Thankfully, he never called back and I never called him and he stayed out of prison and I lived on.
My second interview was with an energetic young man who was opening his own ad agency. He had a second floor office and a secretary but only one account at the time. The encounter was going quite well with a lively back and forth and I had a sense that this could work for both of us. It was then he brought up ‘the satellite.’
I was vaguely aware that a broken satellite was scheduled to re-enter and that maybe some of the pieces might survive and crash into the earth. I had no idea what any of that had to do with opening an ad agency unless there was some marketing opportunity I was missing. I told the man that I liked my odds of not getting hit which proved to be a huge mistake. He stood and glowered at me. He ordered me to come around to his side of the desk (and I began to wonder what it was about marketing people wanting to kill me). He pointed to his monitor and told me he had created the program I was watching himself. I was awestruck. It was an animated map with what I assumed to be the orbits of the satellite plotted in real time. Next, he called up a screen that showed a map of the city with a large red splotch covering the northeast heights of Albuquerque with 2 ‘X’s’ near the southern edge. Stupidly, I asked what I was lookinig at. He explained that the splotch was the debris field and the ‘X’s’ were his condo and his step-father’s house. And he triumphantly proclaimed the big event was set for the following night.
It was at that point I realized the secretary had slipped out. It was at that point I began pondering how many bones I would break by escaping through a 2nd floor window. It was at that point the entire interview process deteriorated–I don’t even remember driving back to the hotel though I’m guessing it was at a fairly brisk pace.
The next night, I heard the satellite fell harmlessly in the Atlantic. Just to be safe, I confirmed this with Yahoo News and CNN (always get confirmation from 2 sources: cabbies and off-duty cops work just fine). I was certain nothing was about to come through the ceiling but somewhat less so about the door. I double-checked, double-locked and slept the sleep of the dead.
I awoke before dawn and wondered how the aspiring ad man had dealt with his disappointment. I then saw on the local news that a man, in the south near the Mexican border, had heard a loud noise overnight and found that something had plunged through the roof of his garage. That the area around the garage was littered with empty beer cans and the objects that “fell from the sky” appeared to be rusty auto parts didn’t seem to matter.
It was New Mexico.