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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Good morning crew,

For those of you not intimately familiar with downtown Chicago geography, it boasts an unusual feature in the double-decked street known as Wacker Drive (named after a long-dead planning commission chairman). The upper level is called Upper Wacker and the lower level, cleverly enough, is called Lower Wacker.

The idea was conceived in the early 1900s by a fugitive from an insane asylum who wanted to relieve traffic along the Chicago riverfront by building a rat maze below street level that would relentlessly trap any drivers foolish enough to turn down the wrong ramp and spit them out a mile or two away on the opposite side of the city from where they wanted to be.

The reason for this history lesson is that I fell victim to Wacker Drive last Friday, and I'm still suffering from the post-traumatic stress.

It all started with a 'contest' I entered last month at our local Oktoberfest. I've done this kind of thing before. You enter your name and address, and then a promotion company will call you up and tell you that you have 'won' a prize. All you have to do is come and listen to some sales pitch before you can claim it.

Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. This time they were offering 4 round-trip airline tickets to any of 50 different destinations both in the U.S. and internationally. I thought the 4 tickets would be worth spending a couple hours hearing about a vacation or a timeshare or whatever they were hawking. I'm pretty good at saying 'no'. So I recruited the wife to go with me and we headed downtown.

The problem with the plan was that the hotel where the presentation was taking place is located on notorious Wacker, and we were relying on the wife's GPS to get us there.

The stupid GPS software could not differentiate between Upper Wacker and Lower Wacker, so it kept taking us to Lower Wacker, and there is nothing down there but loading docks, garbage, graffiti and people who are lost. Of course, as soon as we got underground the GPS lost its signal. We drove around blind for a few minutes until we found a ramp that took us back to the surface, where the GPS reacquired the satellite and took us around in a big circle, right back to Lower Wacker.

I'm embarrassed to admit we did this four times.

In my defense, we kept emerging on different surface streets, so our route back to Wacker was different each time, and each time we were hopeful that the GPS would get it right. It didn't.

Eventually we abandoned the GPS and just started navigating by line-of-sight. We knew we wanted to be on the river, toward the lakefront, so the wife started yelling out directions while I did my best not to kill any pedestrians. And after turning down a few alleys and one-way streets (the wrong way), this strategy finally got us onto Upper Wacker.

By the time we made it to the hotel we had been driving for 90 minutes, we were 20 minutes late for the presentation, and I was on my last nerve. We valeted the truck, got some quick directions from the doorman, and hustled quickstep through the lobby.

In the elevator the wife asked, "Do you think they'll still let us in when we're so late?"

"They're not going to throw away a chance to make a sale over a couple of minutes," I told her.

As it turned out we were both wrong. When we finally got to the conference room where the presentation was supposed to be held we found a notice posted. It said, "Event Cancelled".

Laugh it up,

Joe

joe@gophercentral.com

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"According to a new study, children who are spanked are twice as likely as those that aren't spanked to get into fights and destroy things - which is probably why they get spanked in the first place." -Jimmy Kimmel

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The first woman asked, "Did it help?"

Her co-worker replied, "I don't know. I haven't seen him since."




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