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20 February, 2011

Road Warrior? C'mon.

When I travel, staying overnight in a hotel somewhere, there is always the chance that I am exposed to TV. Nearly every time that happens, I find that one of the tiredest tropes of commercials lives on, the ad aimed at sometone ostensibly like me, the working traveler, salaried sojourner. Although the guy in the ad is almost always indistinguishable from the yutzy dork, the white father in most sitcoms, in this milieu he is the Road Warrior.

The first recollection I have of this mythical creature is OJ Simpson, running through airports, hurdling white yutzes, heroically meeting destiny, by which it is understood: getting a rental car. The genre elevates the mundanity of corporate travel (those public sector stooges are kept off planes for the most part, and make their way round the country in elderly motor pool rides), presents it as an ordeal, a test of manhood and acumen. Whatever product is being presented appears as the choice of the genius, the reward for a job well done. Depending on how you look at it, a tiny bit of swag due the corporate cog, or maybe the screct nirvana of the zen traveler. (But please, you don't really believe that the mothership doesn't know you got that free hotel night courtesy of nights they paid for, do you? They're laughing every time you think you're putting one over on them, happy to let you collect the odd freebie while they make you do the work of two people.)

Bejowled but young, the hero gets frontsies in every line, is greeted by models approved by focus groups, finds himself with the ocean view (never mind that he only sees it in the dark, and is more likely sitting inside watching commercials about himself). He does a convertible Mustang.

The ad strokes his ego--You, Mr. Corporate Traveler Man, are a Hero--while the product slips him a little bit of something, seemingly under the table. And the Hertz hottie is smiling just at him. Yeah.

Does the Road Warrior believe this? Is his world so lame that skipping a couple minutes of waiting, or getting some points (which he will eventually redeem for a subscription to Maxim sent to the office) represents Victory? Could be. People are stupid.

I don't think I am a road warrior, except in certain instances: righting truck and trailer from a precipitous skid on the ice sheet that passes for a highway on Elk Mountain, Wyoming, steering into the wind on a blustery Columbia crossing, finding my way out of dark and rainy north Cascades logging road labyrinths.

These pasty out of shape guys in ties? Nah. Not warrior material.

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