Monday, September 24, 2007

So where in NM are you from? (Madison, WI)

So Madison. I love college/government towns. This year, because I didn't stay right by the university, I got to see a bit more of Madison. I personally, could so see myself living here. Robert, not so much. He'd suffocate from the size.

So...I finally got to switch back to my Hilton family hotels. It sucked. In hindsight, I can say that. I stayed at the Madison West Towne Mall Area. Which, like I said...different. There was a chinese buffet (wait for it) in the parking lot and a scrap store across the street. Score right? Yeah. No.

So I checked in and God forbid anyone know how to work the key coder. I'm exhausted (not quite a 3 hour drive, but it has been a long day) and I just want to get in my room, check email, go to sleep, adjust to the time change. I go upstairs, key doesn't work. I'm pissed, but remembering Robert's advice that you get more done playing white than playing black. Okay, he doesn't say that exactly...I paraphrase. So I'm nice. I gently tell the nice sweet thang at the desk who managed to get me in EVEN THOUGH my reservation were actually for OCTOBER (yeah...hence why I should always do my own travel arrangements) that my key doesn't work.

"Oh sweety" she says though I've probably got 10 years AT LEAST on her, "Let me get that fixed right up for you."

She swipes it, does her magic, I go upstairs with the lady across the hall from me who ironically enough was also visiting with friends in Chi town who told her the 94 not the 90 was the way to go. I slip my key in the slot. No dice. She's trying to slip her key in her slot. No dice. I start to wonder if this whole upgrade to the top floor was a bad idea. We both head back down the elevator. I'm a bit pissed at this point.

"Really?" asks the sweet little thang who just cannot believe that I would take the time to come all the way back downstairs and play games with her about the key not working. "I guess I'll just have to go up with you" she says with my keys in tow. The sweat beads start to pop out when the second lady says she is having the same issue.

We get upstairs and of COURSE she can open the door in one fell swoop. Whatever. I get in, open the laptop, do my thing. Get up to take a shower. Come back, start typing and the thing shorts out. Just goes blank. Huh. I turn it back on, it starts, shuts down. Black screen of death. I start it again (cause clearly, I KNOW it wants to be on already) and this time I get asked if I want to start in regular Windows mode. Of course I do. It starts, shuts off. Then it won't start at all. I'm remarkably calm given that the business plan I worked on for like 3 weeks is on that damn thing. And all of my fave pics. And I have a project due for a contest.

For once, my mind clicked over to "well, I guess I'll just do x" mode. The plan became to find stuff to do a "real layout", find a walgreens to upload the photos on my camera to disk so that I can use the hotel computer to upload said layout and find some LSAT books and use my time wiseley to study. I go to sleep.

Next morning, I damn near break my neck getting out of the shower again cause the stupid shower curtain is too short and I might well have taken a bath on the puddle next to the shower. But it gets better. I go to the front desk. Check out, am ready to leave when I remember that I should have a package waiting for me. I ask, they claim they don't have it. I assure them they do. They claim they don't. I whip out my cell to make a call for a tracking number and like magic, the package appears. I'm pretty close to livid at this point. I ask where the computer for guests to use is..."Oh...we don't have a business center." Yeah...fine, but there's a computer here for guests to use...says so here on my reservation slip. Yeah, we don't have a business center. I explain the little power surge sitatuation that fried my laptop the night before in the room that I couldn't get into for 30 minutes. She says "oh really" and that's that. I'm done with this place.

Go back to campus, do the fair, get to see Brian. We catch up on such important things as Notre Dame vs Michigan's win percentage records (he's good for random tidbits like that) and then go back to our alphabetically separate but geographically kindred corners of the world to convince the great people of the midwest that the pacific northwest is where it is at. At least most people KNOW where Seattle is (smile).

Finish on campus and after the "3.5" hour drive of last night, convince myself that I have more than enough time to:

2. Buy an lsat prep book
3. stop by the scrap store
4. have dinner

And really, that all worked out just fine. Except that I also needed to find the post office because in the morning, when I stopped by Wal Greens to get my postcard, the woman took half of forever to tell me they didn't have any stamps although they were advertising for them all over the store. Go. Figure.

Get a couple of prep books from Borders, really nice folks tell me that the post office is right across the street, then I head over to the scrap store which shall remain nameless.

Decent selection (it has been close to forever since I've used an LSS as my main source of supplies) but what was more important was the attitude of the workers. I walked in. In a suit. As a black girl (imagine that). In Madison. I didn't look local I'm pretty sure. When I walked in, right past the front desk, right past about 3 employees, no one said hello. No one walked up to me 15 minutes later when I was still walking through the store holding just about everything in my hands because I didn't get a basket (helps me to keep the spending in check) to ask if I needed help or even to promote the use of a basket that probably would have gotten them much bigger sales. I was invisible.

On the positive, I LOVED their wall of alterable wood products and their crop space looked HUGE and very well stocked.

Just when I finished shopping, I walked up to the counter, laid it all down and came the usual "Do you want to be on our mailing list?" I noted that I wasn't local. Didn't say no or yes, just that I wasn't local. So she says "Oh" and then just rings up my purchase. I pay her with cash and as she is handing me back my change, she starts up a conversation with the decidedly local shopper behind me. Not so much as a thanks for coming in, or safe travels...she didn't even ask where I was from or try to sell me on why being on the mailing list would be a good thing for the next time (yep...I do this trip every year) I was in town. Nothing.

I walked out of there feeling like I was unimportant and especially because I wasn't local and wouldn't be back (so they thought) I wasn't worth any of their time. I really believe that the only way Local Scrapbook Stores are to survive is by us shopping in them. I won't be back to that one. I hear there is a great Archivers in Madison...

Anyhow...back to real life. I went across the street to the Chinese Buffet which implored me to vote them one of the top 100 buffets in America. Yeah. No. The food was...deplorable. But then again, who eats "Sushi" in Madison really? Not to be a Seattle snob, but you don't go from the coast to middle America to get sushi. Lesson learned. The rest of the food wasn't "bad" so much as all very similar. The Seafood Delight was kinda scary and the Kung Pao was just...yeah. So no, they will not get a vote for the top 100, BUT I know a place in Olympia and a place in Seattle that will. Thanks for the heads up!

But in closing, Madison was not at all all bad. On the way out of the Buffet, this guy pushing a white Benz rolls his window down and shouts out:

"Where in NM are you from."

blank stare.

"Uhhmmm...your plates??"

"Ohhh...this is a rental. But where in NM are YOU from?"

Turns out, he owns a business in Albuquerque on a street corner I know very well. No...not like that. From my recruiting days at New Mexico State. I told him I wasn't from there, but I used to live in Las Cruces and I lived right across the border in that better state. He got a chuckle out of that. I got to leave Madison feeling like all was not lost.

3 hours to Iowa. This should be fun.

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