In my culture, Chattanooga is a word that translates as nostalgic. One of my bigger public affairs clients a few years back was based in this Tennessee hamlet and my first Wi-Fi Guy blog took me through “Nooga for a few hours. Most nolstalgic, my second visit to the home of Krystal hamburger joints, was so fly by night – a quick in and out (to make a hamburger pun.) — the way I used to blog. “The Dirty Gig”* brought me to Tennessee, but I only had one free half-day and a couple of hours one evening to explore. This is the way I used to do Wi-Fi tours … as fast as I can go, seeing as many Wi-Fi hotspots as possible.
So, my one free Saturday morning I was up before dawn, walking from Downtown across the Market Street Bridge over the Migh-T-Tennessee River — over to a hip little retail area along Frazier, near the bank of the river. Previously, in a drive by, I had spotted a very cool little coffee shop … but in the evenings, I could never catch the thing open.
Saturday morning after a few river/bridge photographs — with temps in the low 40s, at 7.a.m. — the coffee was hot and the Wi-Fi was heating up at Revelator coffee shop. Also, like the old days, I met a very cool store manager, Adam, a Syracuse, N.Y.-transplant who managed the ’Nooga shop.
I think we shared a love of bicycles, coffee, Wi-Fi and travel blogging … potential friends for sure. OF course, I had to ask him about the name. No Christian connotations, he assured me (although I think he and I differed on whether or not those connotations were a good thing.) Also, like many before me, I had to ask him if he knew the song “John The Revelator.” He did, but he DID NOT know the version by my Facebook friend, Lubbock’s Jay Boy Adams. I assured Adam that Jay Boy Adams’ version is the best.
“Joe The Revelator” in Chattanooga is very cool but friendly … a modern, minimalist design — lots of bare white walls and concrete counters and such, with a simple coffee menu and a great brew from its own beans roasted at the Birmingham, Ala., location.
Revelator would get a perfect score, if it only stayed open a little later in the evenings, for us working stiffs. You’d think it’s New Orleans roots would influence it to go all night … alas … 6 pings on the scale of seven. Maybe, just maybe, a bit too much Dave Matthews on the sound system too:)
The first time I was snooping around the closed Revelator one evening, I hit up its neighbor — Clumpies Ice Cream. I can’t say I was impressed by the name, but their treats had been highly recommended by a guy on the job. I concur. But before I rave about the Mayan Spice Chocolate creme, let me say a little about my new small-world friend at Clumpies. Another virtual BFF. Micah is the kind of person you want working at a store … So outgoing and confident, she said “hi,” launched into the company’s spiel — all conversational and sunshiny, and started a convoy of sampler spoons headed my way. One hit of her recommended favorite — The Mayan chocolate — and the other samples were just me being greedy. The decision was made. The Mayan and a little coconut cream (with real coconut flakes) to buffer the Mayan’s peppery burn. Yum!
Oh … this Micah! … she lived in Fort Worth for many years, a few block from my old place, and attended the same church as my friends. She is a self-described preacher’s kid and a great ambassador for the Faith and the cream. Best of all … she “would love a PingWi-Fi t-shirt” … and one is indeed on its way to her … even though she wouldn’t arm wrestle me for a Clumpies t-shirt. I guess I am a better sport than her …
Clumpies – nice tunes on what Micah assured me was their very own Spotify channel — Foo Fighters, Weezer, perhaps some Faith No More … antique ceiling tiles, patched in places … and what has become the norm for cool places — a sliding barn door motif to hide and/or display all the cool t-shirt reserves. Hmm … the place kind of smells like cookie dough … a good thing … (but it’s actually the ironing of waffle cones).
Overall … Great place … who don’t love a nice sliding barn door and some peppery cream with an afterburn? It was looking like a perfect score, but their station played Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.” If you want a perfect score, and you’ve just gotta play Petty, it better be the first LP – 6 pings.
Other than those Wi-Fi quickies, I spent most of my ‘Nooga time at The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga, or UTC …. The Mighty Mocs. What a great campus … seemingly almost all new, but buildings with some classic styling to them. The students … perhaps the most polite I have ever encountered … saying thanks and opening doors for “adults” and stuff like that. They were even conversational with strangers, unlike most in today’s fearful and/or attitudinal society.
But like I was saying, it was “The Dirty Gig” that brought me to Chattanooga this time. A leak in a sprinkler system had flooded onto some book in the library.
Another gig with books threatened by their mortal enemy – water … one of those deals. For five days straight — 10 hours a day, I moisture tested as many library books as possible, with a funny little electronic probe.
As always on one of the more mundane Dirty Gigs, there has to be some effort put into mental entertainment to pass the hours.
Some readers recall at the Missouri book job — in the infinite abyss — we maintained our sanity by writing Japanese haiku poetry about the fork lift … I digress:
Our team relied on the books. At first, I was telling everyone that out of 200,000 books, hard to believe I had not read a single one of them. But sooner or later, I knew I would hit a pocket of Ping Culture in the books. Day five … I hit the mother load. First, I stopped to listen to a co-worker’s story, looked over, and there on the shelf right beside my head was Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead (side by side with Atlas Shrugged). This is a cool coincidence because of all the books on the planet and in this library, that is the one I am reading on my iPad currently, as of about two weeks ago. Ayn Rand — interesting stuff, and said to have been a major influencer of rock group Rush’s lyrics by Neal Peart … I digress …
Ha .. showing the age of the collection, I also saw Mein Kampf and Uncle Tom’s Cabin although not in the same section, with different authors. And for the record, neither of those are on my iPad.
Ha … I nearly spit my frappuccino out when I looked over and saw another book, titled Turning Girls To Women by some author, whose name printed on the cover is Kent. Oh the ramifications!
I didn’t check the Wi-Fi at the UTC library, I was too busy probing the books. And if I had any spare time, I would have been checking out their 3-D printer up on the third floor, anyway. But no, Kent was all work and no Wi-Fi, in that regard.
However … however, lunch was a different tune. UTC has a great student union with a food court up on the second floor. Light years above and beyond the student cafeteria of my ancient food fight days … There was Dallas Texan Jeff Sinelli’s Which Wich sandwhich shop … the Christian-oriented Chick-Fil-A … The Atlanta-based Moe’s … and mo. And yes, UTC’s food court has guest Wi-Fi.
Faith-based fast food for every palate, and Wi-Fi … The Wi-Fi splash page apologized that the system is in its beta testing iteration … so it was not expected to blow me away. But pretty good, once I was on-line. The college Wi-Fi network kind of “sniffed me out” first. I had to submit some information about me and my device, then they sent me a text message with a temporary password. Probably a good, secure plan, to monitor campus visitors. I think it took about 15 minutes before I was up and running on their Wi-Fi … 5 pings.
UTC also has a very nice Starbooks … er …. Starbucks on campus, adjoining the library where I saw the book by the author Kent. Everything was perfect, although they didn’t have the scanner to charge my account directly through my iPhone app. No biggie. Most interesting, this Starbucks makes the male baristas wear hair nets over their beards. Interesting. A contact at the health department in Fort Worth told me all bearded baristas — of either gender for that matter — are supposed to do so. Most don’t. I can only speculate on how my education might have benefitted from a Starbucks on my campus:) … I digress.
’Nooga time not spent at the library was usually at The Holiday Inn Downtown. That was not a bad thing, for anyone who had a negative opinion of the HH. This location in Chattanooga was brand new and definitely had the feel of some of the most cool boutique hotels … cool colors, modern lobby, over-eager valet parking … and free and easy Wi-Fi. I liked it.
Yes, this hotel is new and any facility takes “a minute” to work out the kinks … But, who cares how the hotel looks if they don’t change the sheets, as requested. I don’t buy that crap about re-using towels and sheets to save the planet. It’s a ploy to cut expenses, and you can quote me on that:) Also, a hint to the housekeeper. IF you notice that the decaf Keurig coffee containers are unused, and stacking up, it does not mean I am building a pyramid with them. It means I am using only the real coffee Keurig tubs … so you might want to replenish the real coffee variety. Pretty simple math, really. Also, the reason I trade out certain pillows on the bed … is because … get this, it’s how I want them. And, if you check and find that the tissue dispenser is empty, it is probably advisable to replace with a fresh box of your generic-brand, rough-ass Kleenex. Always helpful, I put out the international signal for needing more Kleenex … I stacked the empty tissue box next to the pyramid of decaf Keurig containers – 4 pings.
OH … almost forgot to mention the bleak beginning of the Chattanooga experience … My bad (on all accounts). The truth is, that I was in such a hurry to get away from the creepy dude in the seat next to me on my Delta flight to Tennessee, that I hopped off the plane, drove to the Holiday Inn, and then remembered my iPad was stowed in the seat back in front of my airline seat.
I called Delta immediately and hit the wall with an uncaring, automated voice mail system. It’s only advice — despite every attempt to get around the automated system — was to go on-line at the Delta Web site and fill out a missing possession form. I did. But was I going to sit back and relax? No way. Next I called the Chattanooga airport, talked to security and the lost and found people, who in like five seconds connected me direct to the Delta ticket agent. YES, the Delta flight crew had found the iPad when they “turned” the plane and the agent was actually holding myPad in herHand. She made me describe the Swiss Army case before she would give up any info., but after that, she too had become an instant BFF. OH there is something to be said for traveling to a small city, with a mid-size or smaller airport. I drove from the hotel to the airport in 15 minutes, parked in one minute, and had the device back in my possession in another two minutes. Try that at a major airport. Ha … and get this … despite my courtesy e-mails to Delta, they are still sending me updates on their “progress” in locating the once-lost-now-found device. Hell … I may finish reading Rand’s entire catalogue before they catch on.
So, although Chattanooga time started a little shaky with the lost handheld, it ended on a pretty sweet note — because the local Target store had one of my new favorites — red velvet Oreos! Although one of my Fort Worth FB friends was quick to point out she finds RVOs at her local supermarket, I haven’t seen the since a gig in Oklahoma last year. After the Oklahoma sighting, in jest, I have said that maybe you can only find these red, round delicacies in states where they have limited teeth … but just kidding about that. (I actually love Oklahoma and the locals …)
No sooner had I snatched up some RVOs and some other groceries (that actually have nutritional values and smaller half-lives), that the job projections changed and we were nearing the end. “That’s a given” as we often say on The Dirty Gig. IF you buy groceries … chances are you will then be sent home unexpectedly. Well … this time, I made a stand. I ate as many turkey/tortilla wraps as humanly possible in my last 12 hours in Tennessee … and I made a commitment … to increase the weight of my carry-on luggage … no matter what it took, I was taking the RVOs back to Texas with me.
Although I left a few bucks and I picked out and left all of the dark chocolate Hershey’s miniatures for the unskilled housekeeper … she wasn’t getting any of my red velvety sweetness. They packed rather nicely … and I had forgotten that I was now an Oreo smuggler … until I got to the airport security checkpoint.
I kid you not. I had become “That Guy” at the airport. I was the guy who was holding up the line at the security checkpoint. It wasn’t my Apple iPad that caused the alert. It wasn’t my work Dell computer. It wasn’t the two iPhones I carry. It wasn’t the Apple Macbook Pro, nor the Nikon D7000 camera or the two Nikkor lenses. There even was no problem with the electronic, book probe moisture meter device. Are you ahead of me? Have you guessed it?
Oh my sweet lord. There was a crazy sounding laughter, kind of a nervous country-sounding giggle coming from the security team. “What in the world?,” I heard one security guard say. Narrowly, I escaped a strip search and there were no full-cavity searches. But, the team was quite fascinated with the stacked and packaged little round. wafer-like discs in my bag … the hold up was Nabisco’s fault … red velvet weapons of mass destruction for my toothy smile. I digress …
Upon take off, I said goodbye to another cool little city. Bummer … didn’t get to explore atop Signal Hill and didn’t get to see Peyton Manning’s Chattanooga mansion where he may or may not have ingested performance enhancing substances before this weekend’s Super Bowl … And I didn’t get to see Art Garfunkel in concert. The Tivoli Theatre was considering PingWi-Fi’s media credential request for “Garfarkel” at the time my plans changed. I cancelled the request. Oh well … they said if I did attend, I could not bring my camera in, at the performer’s request. What … Did Art think he might be having a bad hair day. Just kidding … love his music, for realz.
I said goodbye, boarded the next plane, a regional commuter headed to Atlanta for a connection and then on to Dallas. YES … both of the longer flights to and from Chattanooga had Gogo Wi-Fi …. and yes I so partook. But this one flight from Chattanooga to Atlanta had something which is so rare these days … a nice, charming, height/weight proportional, and presentable flight attendant. (Yes … I’ll say it … in spite of what the ACLU or politically correct might think of me …) But wouldn’t you know it!?! A friendly flight attendant and guess how long that lasted. The flight from Chattanooga to Atlanta was the shortest of my life … about 25 minutes gate to gate. Go figure.
Know what I sayin?
*Note: “The Dirty Gig” refers to the alternative career — disaster recovery — that keeps the PingWi-Fi travel blog on the road …