Greetings from Topeka! I must confess that is a salutation that I NEVER thought I would write. I am here on business. Of course, getting here was a quest. No direct flights. After a rocky transition flight from Chicago to Kansas City, I took a 90 minute shuttle ride to the Ramada Inn. (The choices were limited.)
I was the first to board. I was greeted by a middle-age bespectacled blond Richard the Roadrunner driver. He immediately asked me why I was standing where he picked me up. "Your dispatcher told me to stand outside and just wave when I saw the van." He assured me that he could drive through just about everything including tornadoes and flying cars. I assume he was kidding. I hope he was kidding. The next to board was a middle-aged man dressed in shorts. Richard asked him if he was military. Nope, he replied and retreated to the back of the van. A well dressed twenty something passenger hopped on board. He registered on line. Richard struggled with Raj's name. He looked at him and queried, "visiting our country I will not attempt to pronounce your name." Raj stared at him and said "No" and retreated to his seat. The final passenger was, how can I say this, an older woman. Without skipping a beat, Richard asks her if she is eligible for the senior citizen discount. She glared at him and said "NO." We rode quietly to Topeka with rap music playing in the background. I was surprised by the choice of music. The homes were non-descript. Mostly, browns and grays interspersed with farmland. Billboards advertising bus trips and casinos doted the landscape. The heartland of America.
The welcome to Topeka, Kansas sign is planted in the lawn of the local prison. The prison sits opposite of the State Capitol. Did I mention the other sign in the prison?
When we arrived at the drab hotel, I had to wonder if the prisoners got the better accommodations.