Feb 17, 2011

My (Almost) Dinner With Ken Scholes

I jetted out of work today at a quarter to five with the intention of driving out to Schaumburg to participate in a little meet and eat with fantasy author Ken Scholes.

He's excited for pizza.

Now, I was looking forward to it. I've never really done the convention thing and "local" book signings always seem to be out of reach. (Note To Publicists: a book signing in Oak Brook, IL is not a book signing in Chicago.)

A two hour drive (each way) is not "local"

But when I went to retrieve my car, it apparently had gotten a head start. After a few frantic moments, my wife and I discovered that, fortunately, it hadn't been stolen. It had just broken THE CHICAGO CODE.

You see, after the snowpocalypse a few weeks back, the snow never melted. It just got pushed to the edge of the road, sharing the room that us Chicagoans use to park our vehicles. A fortnight and a few sixty degree days later, some of that snow has melted - apparently enough to free up a space between my tires and the curb. Even though I was parked in line with all the cars on my street, that curbside gap made us "road obstructions" and earned every car on the steet a trip to the local impound lot. Bear in mind, my car had been parked in the same spot for over a week: I didn't start to obstruct traffic until yesterday.

The orange color means it's full of vitamins.

So instead of an enjoyable evening spent conversing with one of my favorite authors over pizza and drinks, I journeyed to Lower Lower Lower Lower Wacker. For those of you familiar with Chicago, Wacker is the street next to the river. Lower Wacker is the street below that, with garage parking for high rise hotels. It's also where the car chase scenes for The Dark Knight were filmed. Lower Lower Wacker is the street below that, where hotels receive shipments of food in exchange for dumpsters full of refuse. At this point, the pigeon to pedestrian ratio is borderline incalculable.

He's was just trying to reach sunlight...

[As an aside, you should have a relatively simple way for pedestrians to get to a towing yard. For some reason, I can imagine a lot of people going there sans cars. Just a thought. Or you could space your stairways blocks apart with no discernible direction between them. Your call.]

I'm pretty sure James Cameron just made a movie about this.

Flash back to the pedestrian yeti, black with grime and weary with travel. One level below Lower Lower Lower Wacker is hell. The level below that houses the impound lot. I suspect Orpheus had an easier time with retrieving Eurydice.

How much? I thought Sisyphus had it bad.

As ridiculous as the whole situation was, I didn't take it out on the unfortunate minons. The employees at the impound facility didn't deem my car to be obstructing traffic, they didn't schedule the towing, nor did they tow the car itself. They're just doing their jobs in a city where not everyone has one. So I was polite and friendly, despite my irritation at missing my dinner with Scholes. I got my car in a relatively quick amount of time, probably about 45 minutes (only about 2 hours in DMV time) which is more than can be said about the divorcee whose driver's license didn't match her credit card, the middle-aged man whose credit card didn't have room for a $190 charge, or the probable illegal immigrant whose only form of ID expired in 1996.

The only thing worse than being here is working here.

At least my $170 towing charge (in addition to the $75 parking ticket x2) earned me a renewed respect for the relative financial security I'm fortunate to possess. There are a lot of people out there for whom getting a car towed would be much more than an inconvenient adventure.

Yeah, kind of like that.

So I didn't get to meet Mr. Scholes or return home with a signed book or two. I'm a bit disappointed but at least I gleaned a story out of it. There's no denying it was an interesting experience, albeit one I'm not keen to repeat.

How was your Thursday? Anyone make it to dinner with Ken?

1 comment:

  1. I dunno, Mr. Yeti...this story is far more entertaining than any sci-fi story I've ever read. When does YOUR book come out? :) I'd like a signed copy, please?
    your MIL


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