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Wi-Fi & The 2-Wheeled Impulse Buy: More Memphis Pings

June 13th, 2010 · Tags:Cities · Hotels · Wi-Fi

Well, I made it through Memphis In May and lived to tell about it – if only I had a little time to tell about it … Been way busy with my Dirty Gig (cleaning up flood damage). Ha … By what I hear on local media, it really is somewhat of a feat to survive here. There have been some terrible crimes – police shootings, pitbull attacks, bank robbers, etc., etc.

Today, one of the headlines is about a 70-year-old golfer who was attacked and robbed on a golf course. Ha! Memphis hypes its PGA event – The St. Jude Classic – in a slightly different fashion than my hometown Colonial. I can’t remember a single fairway shakedown back in Cowtown … but I could be wrong. I do know this, Colonial is all about plaid, but here in Memphis, I am about to experience seersucker Sunday. Fore! IF the tournament comes through with the press credentials, I will be tweeting as @CaddieChat.

Oh … before I forget it. They interviewed the elderly golfer and he invited the hood to come back for another round – one which will feature a new weapon in his golf bag. You go, pops!

I digress …

Anyway … there are more positive things going on here in MemphisTown – much more than the violent news reports I here over and over and over … Including two other sporting events that have been sitting in my stack of notes for several weeks.

As part of the annual Memphis In May celebration, I traveled only a few miles from my hotel here in Millington, Tenn., to catch the MIM Triathlon. Swimming! Cycling! Running! (and BBQ, of course) Who could ask for more? Okay, I could do without the running … but anyway it reaffirmed my faith in humanity. There are large gatherings of people without cancer-causing smoke in the air!

Talk about motivational – the cycling and such – not the little spandex suits … After a few hours or representin at the Triathlon, I rushed out and bought a spare bicycle, since I have been missing my Giant bike, left back in Texas. There was only one place to buy – Walmart – which I think IS the center of the universe here in MillingTown. More on that in a second.

Was there Wi-Fi at the MIM Triathlon? Well no, but one of the event organizers assured me that although she doesn’t “ping, she does Wi-Fi.” Congratulations to Start2Finish Events for a great day.

Start2Finish

Oh … and I was quite pleased that two strangers approached me and complimented me on the design of the PingWi-Fi.com t-shirt. Ha! In the sweltering heat, I think they thought the sweat rings were tie-dye. They were computer guys, so I am relatively sure they didn’t mistake my use of “ping” for another sport:

A Ping By Any Other Other Name

So about Walmart. Mark this on the scorecard as a total impulse buy. I watched all those sweet bikes at the triathlon. I couldn’t take it. I rushed out and bought a bike to ride here in Memphis … or at least I tried.

What is it about me and retail? I now have played a significant role in two of the worst experiences ever in retail. See what I mean, by first reading about the day Target sold me a rock, packaged as an iPod, from my “Blogs About Nothing” section. That day I killed one day with two stones:

Rock My World

Bicycle day at Walmart wasn’t much better. Remember, this was to be a Memphis only bike, so I was going cheap. I chose a hybrid, which of course had to be on the top shelf. Fifteen minutes went by before a nice young dude on a “scissor lift” came by and plucked the bike from the shelf. Yes … it had two flats. The sales associate told me they keep the tires un-inflated so that customers don’t ride the bikes around the store … or possibly, out the door. “I’ll buy that,” and I would buy the bike too – IF they would air up the tires.

I was directed to the automotive department … where the young woman at the counter looked at me as if I were insane. “Air up your tires? The air pump is right over there …” Fine … I am a farmboy, and I paid for my first two years (totally wasted in college) by working at a trucking firm. I have pumped some air in my day.

Quickly, uber quickly, the tires were so tight I couldn’t squeeze them in at all – just like I like them. I started pushing the bike to the door – the front door with cash registers, not the back.

BANG!

A tire blew, but there was so much noise in automotive – along with total apathy – no one seemed to care. I started pushing the bike back to the bike department, where I would ask for a new tube.

BANG!

The second tire blew a few seconds later, in the middle of the store – kind of a delayed explosion. I kid you not. I thought everyone in the store was going to hit the floor. Apparently these Tennesseans have been watching the local newscasts too. It sounded just like a gunshot and everyone knew what to do in that scenario.

If you know me – or if you don’t – you may have guessed that I was getting pretty irritated by this point. I stood there for a minute to see if any sales associate would come out of hiding to help me. Finally, I laid the bike over in the center of the busiest, widest aisle and stood beside it. About 5 minutes later, a clerk came over.

They would not put new tubes on the bike, nor would they give me some tubes to fix the things myself.

Fine … They found a similar bike, even higher up, sort of hidden on the other side of the rack. “Edward ScissorLift” snatched it for me. Good Honk! This one had air in the tires – what was left of them. Apparently customers (or more likely sales associates) had been riding this bike in and out of the store. The tires were worn, with mud, and the bike had lots of scratches.

Finally, I chose yet another bike – slightly more expensive – and called for “professional help” to properly inflate the tires with one of those mamby-pamby gauges and everything.
Now I have this bike that I have ridden twice in three weeks. Oh well, it makes a really nice laundry rack in my room at the Hampton Inn.

Does the Hampton Inn have Wi-Fi? Yes it do!

I like this hotel … but oh my, it has absolutely the slowest Internet service I have encountered in my travel (65 cities and counting). Videos are reduced to slow moving slide shows, more or less. And listen up hoteliers. Lose the access code for long-term guests. I have been at the Hampton for more than 30 days, and yes, I have entered the code every day. Ha! They changed the code every week … typically just after I finally memorize it. Plus … You can’t be pre-emptive to enter the code. You have to wait for the 24-hour ticker to tell kick you off – so the code is usually due right during the middle of an important download. Hey .. But the oranges and bananas and free peanut butter are stellar – 3 pings.

Back to other sports. In 2004, for my blog The Wi-Fi Guy, I pinged Memphis. Peabody Ducks – been there ducked that. Beale Street acrobats – check. I even checked out Wi-Fi at a little multi-brew tavern that is based in Texas. Me and my laptop were drawn to The Flying Saucer, like nerds to a keyboard. Yes, The Saucer has Wi-Fi in addition to “billions and billions” of different beers.

But … but … I somehow missed the AutoZone Park in the heart of Memphis! A new acquaintance assured me that he helped in the construction of the ballpark, before 2004. Well … I didn’t see it last time.

This trip, I made up for it and talked my way into the park with my media pass.  What a great ballpark … lot’s of firepower too. The Memphis Redbirds won in a lopsided game, over a team that sports one of my favorite names in any sport – The Albuquerque Isotopes. ( Insert your own uranium-238 joke here.) I have been to a few baseball games, but never seen this before. The Redbird pitcher was going to bunt, and the opposing pitcher tagged him in the head with an inside pitch. Cooler heads prevailed.

Did the home of the R-Birds have Wi-Fi? Yes and (mainly) no. There was a Wi-Fi network, but it was not for public viewing. No wonder I didn’t detect this ballpark last time. No score.

Where Redbirds Kick Some Isotope

The highlight of the day? “Kent! Hey Kent!” I thought, “Now who in the world would know me at a Minor League baseball game in Memphis, Tennessee?” And for a second, after I turned around, I still didn’t know. But some large, brawny gentleman in cargo shorts, t-shirt and a ballcap knew me. OH! Ha! “You’re out of uniform.” It was one of my new friends in Millington – a military police type from the Naval Air Station.
And how cool is this? It was Memorial Day, and his son threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the ballpark that day. Ain’t that America!

Know what I sayin?