Okay, looks like this one’s going to be presented in real time, since I’m a little short. Just imagine that I’m Jack Bauer, and it’s a filler episode.
I put off posting anything due to a very busy schedule, and at 6pm I find myself on the north side of Columbus at around Cleveland Avenue and County Line Road. It’s late enough that traffic is usually not very heavy, but it’s a bizarre stretch of hospital and corporate-type joints, with Sharon Woods park as well, and for whatever reason, the lights run like molasses on a good day.
So I’m thinking, a half an hour home, and that leaves me an hour and some change to get Future Tom up – the cutoff for the day at WordPress is eight.
Today it’s a parking lot, headed the same way I was going to, so I think, all right, screw it, I’ll turn right instead, head up to Polaris and get on 71 that way. Take an extra ten minutes but it beats an hour crawling up Cleveland Avenue.
Bold move – it’s the wrong direction, but I take it anyway, and five minutes later, I’m making great time to I-71, then I realize it’s been shut down. Both ways, from what I can tell. So that’s why all the traffic on Cleveland Avenue – they just shut down my alternate route.
Now, try turning around at Polaris at 6pm, when they’re emptying eight lanes of traffic onto it.
Okay, focus, Tommy C. This is where we normally freak the frank out and split a knuckle open punching the roof of the car. We’ll go right across to Old State, and then get to High Street and then turn left…
For crying out loud, thinking like that goes on for fifteen minutes and I’m still hanging out in front of Polaris Mall. Back at CTU, they’ve probably fired the field commander twice by now, and hired him back.
So I try cutting through the parking lot. I’ll get over to the other side of the mall, and I’ll sneak out Orange Road, and take that to High Street, then all the way over to 315, take that up north.
It’s a problem solving situation, Tommy C. Just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth – you got this.
Ah, but the other side of Polaris is some kind of weird second exit onto I-71 these days. I think I knew that, but Polaris is like a city unto itself. Now I’ve just wasted another ten minutes, and traffic is being diverted off of the weird second exit, and I’ll spend another ten minutes getting back to the point where I originally decided to cut through the mall.
Past six-thirty, now. Even if I get on I-71 in ten minutes, there’s no way to get home in time. There’s only one crazy, suicidal move to make – turn around and park. Get on foot, and dive straight into the black heart of Polaris Mall itself, try to find a bar with a Wifi connection.
Harder than it sounds. I start off at the wrong end of the building, and the California Pizza Kitchen has some icy cold beers calling my name, but no Wifi.
I have another brief conversation with myself, regarding focusing on the problem, cause I’m starting to think, let’s have one of these beers and get our bearings here, try and figure this out.
No, I’ve got to pretend I’m Jack Bauer and Chloe’s freaking out about something in my headset, even though I haven’t seen 24 in years. All I know is they suddenly decided at one point that Chloe was super hot, and they sent her to the gym and worked on her painful-bowel-movement facial expressions, and make-up, and then I forget what happened.
Suddenly there was a two hour special on and he was in a jungle country, and he had to rescue a bunch of indigenous folks or something, and I was thinking, you know, real-time isn’t always totally necessary or cool. Sometimes you want to turn that camera off if there’s nothing going on but toenail-clipping.
Snap out of it. Salute the frowning California Pizza Kitchen dude and thank him for his time, and plunge deeper into the mall.
Good lord, I’ve never seen so many shopping women in my life. There are maybe ten men in this joint and ten thousand women, towing kids around, carrying bags. What year is it?
Ward off an attack by some lady who wants to buff my fingernails, try and get me to buy a seventy dollar manicure kit. Sister, you’ve got to be kidding, look at me. I admire your pluck, though.
Fake to the left, spin around the other side. There’s a Starbucks – they want you to sign up for some crap before they let you use their Wifi and also they don’t have beer.
I consult the map – sweet mother of God it’s like playing an X-Box game for the first time. What does this thing even mean? Looks like someone got this off a pyramid wall and lit it up.
There’s an older lady who resembles the mom from Arrested Development. I put on a grin and say excuse me, how about directing me to the nearest cocktail lounge.
She snaps off the directions in one concise sentence, nodding, smiling – godspeed fellow traveler.
Outside. They keep the bars outside. I guess that makes sense, so they can stay open later than the rest of the mall. Got to think.
Hello Cheesecake Factory, hello Cheesecake Factory bartender, please give me a Stella and a Wifi connection – I’m a WordPress Blogger, and it’s an emergency.
Yes sir, she says – they have pretty strict protocols when it comes to bloggers. It’s like I own the place.
I start banging on the keyboard. Beer slaps down and we exchange culturally appropriate greetings. Laptop says, Tommy C., there ain’t nothing I can do with this Wifi connection, I don’t know what this Cheesecaker was talking about, except I guess she was successfully selling us a beer.
Can’t be mad at her for that. Going to have to type this thing in Word and then head over to Barnes and Nobles and send it. The clock is ticking, but you know what would be better? Some kind of automated announcement that said, “TEN MINUTES TO SCREWING UP YOUR BLOG! REPEAT, TEN MINUTES…”
I could probably get my phone to do that, but hell with it. Where were we? Chloe!
Cut the blue wire!
They’re all blue!
Beep, beep, beep….