Just Another Day at the Office, Part III

March 24, 2008

I managed to get in a pair of games in St. Paul the next week, which was a hop, skip and a jump compared to the other two. Granted, this assignment came with about three hours notice and I arrived in time for the second half of the first game, but other than writing a crappy story for game two the night went off without a hitch. The next day, however, the Bonneville got another big job with a section final in Elk River – 35 miles away.


Once again I spoke with the AD before making the trek north and found out to my delight that wireless internet would, in fact, be available. He just had to plug it in before the game. So I show up about 15 minutes before tipoff to find precious few seats available and no power outlets in sight. Good thing I charged my batteries. I managed to talk a radio guy at the corner of the gym into letting me share his table, where I fired up the computer and managed to get the internet up and running. Again, my Outlook does not work, but by now I’m used to this. I discovered the previous night in St. Paul that my Web email actually would work as long as I did not include attachments. Apparently I have some setting screwed up, but the U of MN helpline should just be called the U of MN line, because they had no good answers for me.


Anyway, I’m treated to another pretty good game that turns out to be an upset and I throw together a solid story and accurate box score – thanks to the radio guy who announced the score one last time before signing off, allowing me to catch the fact I missed a pair of free throws in the final seconds while I was typing. With an hour to spare before deadline I open up my web browser only to find an error message. I check my wireless internet – no signal. I frantically search for the AD, who it turns out is now gone and apparently has taken his internet with him. The good news is I still have time. The bad news is, I live too far away to risk driving home to send. So I peel out of the parking lot and hit the gas on School Road, noticing as I burn through a light that there is a police officer waiting to make a left hand turn. I glance at my speedometer to see I was only going 6 mph above the speed limit and then watch in my rearview mirror as the officer slowly turns left. Fortunately, he doesn’t make it a U-turn to chase me down.


After verifying I hadn’t wet myself, I recalled that I saw a Caribou Coffee somewhere that I could use for their internet connection. So I hop on the highway in search of this place, growing more and more concerned by the second as I run out of civilization en route to the interstate. Finally, the last place before oblivion is none other than the Caribou. Unfortunately, the right-hand turn I take leads me into a trucking facility with no access to the coffee shop. I quickly turn around and get back to the stop sign and look left to see myself with five seconds to beat the oncoming traffic to double back towards Caribou. So I slam on the gas and cross the two lanes. A quick reminder: I’m way out in Elk River, so it’s extremely dark on this road. Also, I was in such a frenzy looking for a place to stop, I failed to notice that I was on a divided highway. About a half second before I would have ended up in the ditch, I realize my error and take a hard right onto the shoulder. With traffic fast approaching behind me I slam on the gas and make it to a turn-lane in time to not get rear-ended. I’m sure I was flipped off, but it was dark out so I didn’t notice.


I make it the rest of the quarter-mile without incident and pull up to the coffee shop at 8:56. I burst through the front door and find a pleasant young lady standing behind the register without another soul in sight. I whip out my wallet and ask what is cheapest on the menu, blabbing about how I figured I needed to buy something in order to use the internet. She tells me to forget about it and go ahead and hop on the information superhighway for free, but reminds me they are closing in three minutes. I once again burst into a panic-induced sweat because my stupid computer takes a good five minutes to fully boot up. But after pressing the power button I find out that I’m finally in luck. I left the gym in such a hurry that I didn’t fully power down – leaving me computer running on battery power. I send the story and confirm with the desk they’ve received everything with 30 seconds to spare.


Another young lady strolls in from the back room and thanks me for not ordering anything because she didn’t want to wash anything over again. So I leave my final two dollars in their empty tip cup, stroll back to my car with my health and vehicle still intact, and thank the high school basketball gods that March comes but once a year…


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