I woke up on Pam and Joes couch to a Pensacola sunrise. Only this sunrise was plagued with gloominess and clouds. The mission for the day was to take the Goose and go be a tourist in downtown Pensacola. Pam was also up early and she fixed me a tasty cappuccino before I hit the streets. Joe got moving a bit later and I briefly spoke to him right before I went to town. They had to work and I didn’t want to hinder their plans. I rode to town despite the dreary weather, knowing that my rain gear was in my side box. Can’t let a little water stop me. I made my way to the local welcome center for a free map and some advice about things to see. The nice lady behind the desk drew up all the routes on the map and my first stop was going to be the Cordova Mall to get my cell phone screen finally fixed. It has been severely cracked since I dropped it in the Outer Banks and now the touch screen would only respond part of the time. The night before, Joe called a place in the mall and got a quote for me. Just as I was about to take off from the welcome center, I realized that I left my money back at their place. I hurried back there in hopes that Joe had not left for work yet and locked the gate. Luckily for me he was still there loading his trusty van full of tomatoes for the days deliveries. While there, a thought hit me that I should ask to ride around with him as he makes his deliveries to get a more local feel of the area. He agreed to let me tag along, the rain was approaching anyway and I’d probably spend the day walking from place to place in that bulky rain gear.
Joe is a pretty well-known fella in the Pensacola area. His business consists of buying the best quality tomatoes and then, hand sorting the absolute best tomatoes from that group and delivering them to Pensacolas nicer dining establishments. He’s known to the grocers and the restauranteurs in the area as simply, Tomato Joe. He has a basic white cargo van with no advertisements on it. All of his business is strictly word of mouth and his track record of being in business for over 20 years speaks for itself. His model is, only the best quality, and if you’re eating at a restaurant in Pensacola that works with him, you’ll not be able to find a better tasting tomato anywhere. With that, we were off to make some rounds. We stopped by a few places to fulfill some orders and then he mentioned that he could take me to the mall to turn my cell phone in for repair. I dropped it off and they said it will be a few hours. Back to work we went. Stop by stop Tomato Joe would unload, greet the employees of the restaurant with his extremely friendly personality, fill the order, and head off to the next place. I really enjoyed watching a sole proprietor in action. After my trip around the states, I hope to work for myself also. I just have no idea what field of work to pursue yet.
Back at the Cordova mall a few hours later, we stopped to check on the progress of my cell phone. Fifteen minutes they said. Joe and I decided to hit up the food court for some free lunch. The mall has about seven fast food joints sitting in a circle that give free samples away. As you walk by they bombard you with some sort of meat or bread on a stick. Being the nice guys that we are, we didn’t refuse their offers. At the seventh stop I was full, so we made our way back to the cell phone repair store. Fifteen minutes they said again. Damn! This time we just sit on a bench and waited them out. Fifteen minutes passed and we went back in to discover that the repair guy tried three different screens that were not made for my phone and when he put the original screen back on, my phone was officially useless. Something happens to these touch screen phones when you lift the screen off for repairs. They don’t always work when you put them back together. Joe realized that I was phoneless and that I’d need a phone to travel with, so he offered to take me to the local sprint store and find a fix. Well, the fix turned out to be new phone, new phone number, and $150 down the drain. The repair shop was going to charge $130 to put a new screen on so all was not lost. It feels good to be back in business with a responsive phone. I have to mention that when we were at the sprint store, the customer service rep., Paul, was the most helpful person that I’ve come across in years. If you have an issue with a sprint phone or account, call the sprint corporate store in Pensacola and ask for Paul. He knows his stuff and is incredibly friendly. Even if you don’t live around there call him anyway, I’m not joking. That was the first time that I felt good about dealing with the sprint corporation. All other times have been a complete pain in the ass.
Our work day eventually wrapped up and we made it back to Joes. He whipped up a huge pot of jumbalaya, which turned out great. I got cleaned up and ready for a night out on the town after dinner. Pensacola has this place called Seville Quarter. It’s not just a bar or nightclub. It’s seven large rooms under one roof, with a slightly different theme in each area. My brother and his wife went there a while back and have been on me to make sure that I don’t miss it while in Pensacola. Being the bar fly that I am, there’s no way I would. The place is huge. From what I can remember, it has a billiards room, karaoke room, techno dance club, dueling piano bar, blues bar, an upscale looking lounge, and I think I’m forgetting one. I had a great time checking the place out. It’s full of rustic character that blends in perfectly with old town Pensacola. Really could’ve used some of my wild and wonderful West Virginian buddies to get the full experience though. I met just a few people and had a relaxing time chilling out to some good music. I will go back there again.
Earlier in the day Pam and Joe told me that they’d be in Las Vegas on January 16th with my brother Shane and his wife April. I’m going to attempt to meet them there. Once again the plan has been modified, but I love it. It would be great to see them.