Over the weekend, I went to visit Albuquerque's brand new Balloon Museum. Each year, Albuquerque hosts the world's largest balloon event, which we lovingly call the Balloon Fiesta. Eight solid days of fun, bringing in balloonists from all over the world, and thousands of tourists. Yes, we are hot-air balloon fanatics. And now we even have a museum to prove it.

When I went to the museum, I approached the building slowly, not sure whether it was open yet, and gaping at its size. It's pretty huge. As I gawked, I heard a voice. I was suddenly aware that the there was someone talking to me, and the mysterious voice had no body. It was coming from the building. In fact, it was coming from the ticket window, which I had thought were not open (all the blinds were shut, you see).

I followed the sound of the voice, and found that the ticket both curved around the bend, and the reason I did not see it open was that this particular window, to the inconvenience of the customer, was out of direct line of sight when you approached the building.

Naturally, I was excited to see that I had come when they were open, and the fact that a person was present meant that I would be able to inquire whether the group I was to meet was also present. I proceeded to do just that, and here's the conversation that followed:

Me: "Hi."

Ticket Lady: "Hi."

Me: "I have a question for you."

Ticket Lady: [silence]

Me: "I'm supposed to meet a group here."

Ticket Lady: "[kkkkthch] group?"

Me: "This group." (I mentioned the name of said group.)

Ticket Lady: "Oh. That [kkkkthchk] will [silence for approximately 5 seconds] 2:30."

Me: "What?"

Ticket Lady: "[kkktcchk] will [silence for a few seconds]."

Me: "Huh?"

It was at this point that I became annoyed with Ticket Lady, who apparently didn't think I was important enough to (1) annunciate clearly, (2) actually speak directly into the microphone for, and (3) even bother to look at me so I could have some hint of her lips to read. She just sat there with her mouth directly below the microphone, which picked up none of what she was saying.

Needless to say, this made the communication situation rather difficult. I was focusing so hard on trying to comprehend the words coming out of her mouth, the thought never enter my mind to actually tell the woman that I couldn't hear her. Instead, I found myself mimicking her, only saying a few pertinent words and staring down while I talked. Looking back on it, I think it was certainly justified, and I hope she got a taste of her own medicine. But somehow I think she completely missed the lesson I was teaching her. Here's how the rest of the conversation went:

Me: "Well, they [silent for a few seconds] meet at [more silence] restaurant. Where [silence for a few more seconds]?"

Ticket Lady: "Oh, it's [kktcchck] down [more silence] there."

Me: "Do you [silence] I [silence] walk?"

Ticket Lady: "[kkktccchkk] you [silence] drive." *she nodded her head seriously*

Me: "Oh okay. I [silence]. Thanks."

Ticket Lady: "You're [kkkccchhttk]."

In the end, I somehow managed to finagle the information I wanted out of the Ticket Lady, never having anticipated what a chore it would be. Looking back on it, I think the lady was convinced that she had to practically make out with the microphone just to talk into it, rather than just speaking normally with her mouth pointed in its general direction. Perhaps, if I see her again someday, I'll try to clear up her misconception.

But then again, it might not be worth it.