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Spilling The Tea, Part 5: The Worst Tea Job I've Ever Taken

Spilling The Tea, Part 5:

The Worst Tea Job I've Ever Taken


Hello hello! 

Thank you for returning to this week’s Spilling The Tea! Last week, we went over the dangers of meeting internet strangers. Well, not just meeting them, but staying at a stranger’s house that you’ve never met before. However, instead of a person, what if you were invited by a company to come out to another city, and let someone else plan your trip? 

Yes, this sounds like a recipe for a disastrous time already. If the story has made it to the series here, it’s probably a clear indication that something went wrong.

Well, it did. 

Today, we'll be going over the worst job I've ever taken in the tea industry.

This all started when one morning, I woke up to a message from a colleague, Stacy. To keep a long story short, Stacy was part of a social media platform that worked on a viewership system, and the system also worked on a ranking system. After a while, Stacy ended up winning a contest on the platform and won a placement on a billboard in Chicago. She contacted me and invited me to fly out to Chicago to write an article about her billboard winnings. She then connected me with an editor to a publication (where the article would be posted), and booked airfare. 

After organizing logistics, the plan was this: Given I couldn’t take time off work due to short notice, I would fly out of Denver Saturday morning, arrive at the billboard revealing Saturday night, and fly back home to Denver early Sunday morning. Given it was such a short trip, my friend Chris would pick me up from the airport, meet another friend named Mike have tea with Mike at a local tea shop, and would let me stay the night with him. We also planned on getting pizza together and would hang out before flying back home.

Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this story is on my site, so you know the drill. 

First, I got home Friday night and packed my bags. After getting home from work and packing, I didn't really sleep. Stacy booked a 4:55 am flight from Denver to Chicago. Given I live an hour from the airport, that meant waking up after only two hours of sleep. It didn’t entirely matter, because ultimately, I would just sleep on the plane and nap at Chris’s place. 

That wasn’t until boarding the plane at 4:00 am, that I received a text from Chris that read, “Hey man, I just got an emergency call from family. I had to leave Chicago this morning, and won’t be around. Good luck!”


Chris was my ride and Chris was who I was supposed to stay over with. 

In a panic, I sent a message to Stacy and explained the situation to her. However, the flight attendants announced that we’d be taking off. I placed my phone on airplane mode and closed my fingers so that I’d receive communication back from Stacy whenever I turned my phone back on.

Two hours later, I arrived in Chicago. The entire flight was turbulent, and given so, I didn’t get the chance to sleep on the plane. After arriving at the gate, I quickly turned on my phone and looked for any communication from Stacy. 

Then, I got a notification. 

I opened my messages to read a reply from Stacy that read, “Hey! Sorry to hear that your plans fell through. We rented an Airbnb and you can stay the night with us. However, we’re driving up from St. Louis and we won’t be at the Airbnb until 5:00 pm. Check-in isn't until 3, but here’s the address...”

Ok, crisis averted. Thank God Stacy was understanding. However, that left me with one issue: The Airbnb was twelve miles away, and It was 8:00 am. I was still supposed to meet Mike for tea at 1:00 pm, so what I now had to figure out what to do for the next five hours. 

I didn’t have money for Uber, and like before, I wouldn’t have been able to afford this trip on my own. 

So next, I looked up a restaurant near the tea shop where I was supposed to meet Mike, decided to eat breakfast, and then meander around that part of town. After a Google search, and after receiving help from another internet friend on how to navigate Chicago public transportation, I was on a subway and on my way to the tea shop.

Two hours later, I finally navigated to the tea shop. In my 27 years of life (at that point), I had never used public transportation before. Like, ever. I’ve also never stepped foot in Chicago, so navigating public transportation in a new city on two hours of sleep proved to be, challenging to say the least. After switching lines several times, and after having to travel-back to one of the stops that I had missed, I finally found my way to the tea shop. Now that I was several hours away from meeting Mike, I crossed the street and grabbed breakfast while waiting for our tea date. 

After eating breakfast, I sat at the table and immediately felt a wave of exhaustion and fatigue hit me hard harder than the subway I was on. I looked at the clock, and although I was still early, I went over to the tea shop and waited for Mike.

While sitting at the tea shop, and waiting for Mike, I closed my eyes and felt myself falling asleep sitting up. “If I could just get five minutes of sleep, it could help my energy,” I thought to myself. However, right as I was about to nod off in my seat, I got a message from Mike.

“Hey, I’m walking up!”

Damnit”, I thought to myself. 

I then stood up, looked at the door, and in came Mike. 

Seeing Mike for the first time was a drunken-magical haze. Previous to this trip, I had known Mike for over six years of my blogging career. We have had several tea sessions during the pandemic and grew relatively close. He had always been supportive of my tea blog and was someone who I always associated with being a part of the greater tea community. Anytime I talked to Mike, I always felt like I was talking to the entire tea industry at large. Warm, fuzzy, and heart-felt, would be the top three words I’d use to describe Mike.

Oh, and paranoia.

Mike walked through the door, and when he did, I had two thoughts running through my mind: First, seeing him in person after only virtually knowing him for six years, felt weird. He was in person. I could reach out and touch him! Second, my eyes grew so heavy that I began to feel dizzy and disoriented. Drowsy wouldn’t explain the feeling. More or less, 'drunk' was the feeling that settled in. The more I was awake, the more pain I was in.

I can’t entirely remember what was said between Mike and me during this meeting, but, I remember at some point, Mike mentioned that he had come to the tea shop from the University. Somehow or another, I got it in my head that Mike had driven from the university to the tea shop. At some point during our conversion, Mike pulled up a map with me to see where the Airbnb was. Although meeting everyone was still a few hours away, I was anxious about how I was going to make it from this part of the city. It was still over ten miles away. With public transportation, it would take an hour and a half to get there. Given how exhausted I was, it felt impossible. 

While having the map pulled up, I heavily hinted to Mike, “It’s too bad that there’s not a way I can get a ride over there. It would be a twenty-minute car ride compared to almost two hours in public transportation.”

Mike looked at me, nodded, and proceeded to show me how I’d need to take the subway, the bus, and walk 5 city blocks to get to Stacy’s Airbnb. He gave me great detailed instructions on how to navigate public transportation. We eventually hugged, before he sent me on my way to navigate the city.

While he walked off in a different direction, I intently became paranoid. 

How dare he not offer to drive me, I’ve known him for 6+ years!” I thought to myself. In an angry drunken sleep-deprived paranoid rage, I quietly followed him. 

I’ll catch that lair in his car! I bet it’s an SUV, too!” I said to myself as I proceeded to follow him for four city blocks. 

Then, as Mike crossed the street, he started to turn his head around. In a last-minute panic, I dove behind a truck that was parked on the street. I peered through the window of the said truck and watched as he looked around. 

Shit, he almost caught me! Pull yourself together!” I said to myself as I turned around, and went back in the direction of Stacy’s airBNB. 

An hour and a half later, I got off the subway and walked across the interstate. After trekking into Stab St. and Murder Ave., I was just five blocks away from the Airbnb. While looking at my phone, and while crossing the interstate, a rugged-looking man walked up to me and asked, “Hey sir, do you know where the subway entrance is? It’s just a few blocks up, right?” 

I immediately shrieked as every hair stood up on the back of my neck, and shouted, “I’m not from here and I don’t have any money! Don’t shoot me!” 

The man gave me a dirty look and flipped me off as I hurried across the interstate. 

Thirty minutes after wandering around this random Chicago neighborhood, I arrived at the Airbnb. 

I got a shower, found a bed, and laid down. However, right as my head hit the pillow, and right as I closed my eyes, I got a call from Stacy. 

“Hey Cody! We’re just a block away from the Airbnb. We’re going to swing by and pick you up, and we’re going straight to the billboard reveal. See you five!” 

Fuck!!”, I shouted into the airBNB. 

I got dressed, went and met Stacy, and rode over to the billboard reveal. Despite being on the verge of a mental collapse, I actually had a good time. Stacy was fun to be around, and all of the people she invited to the reveal party, were very pleasant as well. Everyone was kind, sweet, and above all else — warm and welcoming. After being at the event for several hours, I announced to Stacy that I was exhausted, and simply couldn’t keep going anymore. I needed to go back to the Airbnb and go to sleep. She was understanding and arranged for one of her guests to take me to the Airbnb. After riding back to the Airbnb, I laid down, went to bed, and set my alarm for my early flight back home…

Except, an hour later, I was awakened by the sound of loud music. Although I was in a room by myself, the Airbnb was old. The walls were thin, and the loud sounds of people cheering, partying, and blasting music, jolted me awake. 

After tossing and turning, and after an hour of trying to get comfortable, I gathered the nerve to go into the living room of the Airbnb and ask for peace. 

I walked into the living room, and when I did, Stacy and her party were all drinking/smoking. They looked up at me, and before I could say anything, they announced, “Hey, Cody’s here! Come get a drink with us!” 

As I began to fight the tears behind my eyes, I took a deep breath, composed myself, and said, “Hey, it’s Saturday night and I haven’t slept since Thursday night. I’ve been all over Chicago today, and I’m flat out exhausted. Please, can you keep it down just a little? I have to be up in a little bit for my flight home and I’m just flat-out exhausted.”

Stacy and everyone nodded, agreed to keep it down, and I went back to my room…

Two hours later, I was still wide awake. The party was still going, and the noise didn’t change at all. 

Around 2-3 am, guests finally left, and the Airbnb finally became quiet. I was able to close my eyes, and after dozing off, my alarm went off…

While feeling drunk, I packed my bags, met Stacy in the kitchen, and she called me an Uber to take me to the airport. 

We hugged goodbye, and I was off.

While at O’Hare, I waited in line at TSA for almost two hours. And after two hours, and after making it to the front of the line, I unloaded my pockets and noticed something was amiss: My keys (car keys and apartment keys) were missing. 

In an instant panic, I dumped the entire contents of my suitcase on the TSA conveyor belt and manically sifted through all of my stuff. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me. I remember placing my keys on the in-table of the room I slept in. I re-sorted my belongings, got out of line at TSA, and went back to the airport lobby.

After calling Stacy three times in a row, she didn’t answer. Then, in a last-minute panic, I remembered that one of her guests was on Instagram. I pulled up the app and saw he was online. In my last-ditch effort, I called him through the app. 

And on the last ring, he actually answered. 

“Oh thank god you answered! I left my keys in the room I slept in. Can you please drive them up to the airport? I’m begging you, I will be stranded when I arrive back home in Denver.”

He then responded, “I’ll gladly drive them up! However, it’ll take me an hour to get them to you.”

As I broke out in a cold sweat, I exclaimed, “An hour?! It took the Uber 15 minutes to drive here! My flight leaves in 30!”

He then replied, “I know, but I borrowed this car when driving Stacy to Chicago from St. Louis, and I’m not allowed to drive on the interstate. I’ll have to take backroads to get there.” 

I hung up the phone, accepted that I was not going to be flying back home on my flight, and waited in line at the ticket counter. 

When I got to the front of the ticket counter, I vaguely explained the situation to the airline representative. I explained how I left my keys behind, and how I’d now miss my flight. The woman at the ticket counter searched in her computer, and after a moment, replied, “So Mr. Wade, it looks like for your class of ticket, the next flight we’d be able to get you on would be Wednesday night. You can upgrade your ticket and leave in three hours, but it will cost around $300.00” 

My eyes widened. I did not have an extra $300.00, and I could not miss work for the next three days either. I’d be fired. To add, I’d be stranded in Chicago and would have nowhere to stay. Chris flaked las minute, I was still paranoid at Mike, and Stacy was leaving later that evening. 

Then, I looked at the woman at the ticket counter and noticed that she had a lesbian pride flag pinned to her work badge. 

Then, I did what anyone would do in my position… I lied through my teeth. 

I instantly burst into tears and began to hyperventilate. While managing to get out words through my tears, I let out, “I don’t have $300.00. I just came out to my family this weekend, and they kicked me out and made me homeless. They’re Mormon, and I’m on my way to Denver to stay with a friend. I have no money, no home, and nowhere to go! I don’t know what to do. This suitcase is all I own to my name, and I’ve been wandering around the city for two days and haven’t slept since Thursday. I don’t know what I’m going to do!!”

While hysterically crying, the woman at the ticket counter called her manager over and typed a few things on her computer. Then, she leaned over the counter, put her hand on my shoulder, and said, “Listen, I’m a lesbian, and as a sister to a newly-out brother, I gotch’u. I talked to my manager and upgraded your ticket, and you’ll be leaving on the next flight to Denver in three hours. Stay strong, you will get through this.”

She then leaned over the counter and hugged me. 

I took my new tickets, and walked the walk of shame back over to the airport lobby.

An hour later, I got my keys back. Two hours after that, I was on the next flight back to Denver…

After taking a mental break from this trip, I learned several things. First, I learned that Mike never owned a car. I don’t know how I got it in my mind that he had one... I’ll just chalk it up to the fact I was delusional due to excessive sleep deprivation. I also realized that between Friday morning and Sunday evening, I only got 4 hours of sleep — especially after working all day Friday. Maybe that’s why my mind visited Crazy Town. 

I also learned that my friend Chris, is a massive flake. A year later, I booked a flight to fly out to Chicago to visit him, and he canceled on that last-minute, too. Safe to say, I quit being friends with Chris.

Last, it took me over a month and a half to submit my article on the billboard party. I had five drafts of the article, but all of them were angry. When I submitted it to the editor of the publication, he expressed disappointment in the fact the article was lifeless and didn’t have emotion. Well, to be fair, ‘bland’ is all that was left after taking out all of the anger from the article. 

A few months later, Stacy invited me out to NYC to join her in celebrating another contest she won. She also offered that I could stay with her in their Airbnb in NYC. I quickly declined. 

Throughout all of this, I learned three massive valuable life-lesson: First, fuck 5:00 am flights. Second, no greater career opportunity would ever justify you martyring your health and safety, just for the sake of adding it to a resume. In theory, the trip was a good idea. However, the execution was not. It was dangerous for me to wander around a new city while sleep-deprived, especially crossing over an interstate with no real protection.  To add, it didn’t help my career. In fact, it hindered it because the publication didn’t want to work with me again.

Lastly, when being hired to write for anyone, especially if travel is involved, I’ll need a contract. I can’t help but wonder that if I had some way of protecting myself on paper, such as hotel/transportation costs covered, I might have had a much better experience, and wouldn’t have been dumped in the middle of Chicago. Although I was supposed to rely on my friend Chris, I didn’t have any safety nets to catch me in case of an emergency either. 

However, now that time has passed, I’m now in a place where I am no longer angry at the trip. I can say, I have had many peaceful nights of sleep since then. Thank you, dear reader, for sticking by my side through this wild adventure through Chicago. Although I was alone on this trip then, I don’t feel alone in it now. With this, remember to bring earplugs with you on any trip you take. You’ll never know when you’ll need them.

Oh, one last thing. Although it might be obvious after last week’s post, don’t ever travel poor (for, obvious reasons).

Until next week,

~Cody Wade

The Oolong Drunk

“Blissfully Tea Drunk”

1 Kommentar

Samara Flink
Samara Flink
09. Juli

Ohhh my word!! YIKES!!! You need some GREAT travel stories now lol

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