Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Wah-Fy Connections

If I had a list of things I thought would surely never happen but then they do, I could cross a one big one off today:

#47: Sit on a bench outside a motel in Yellow Springs, Ohio, use my computer to call my office in
         Beijing, China and interview a woman for an accounting job – CHECK.  DONE.

I had wanted to interview this woman from my office in Cincinnati, Ohio last week, before I went on vacation.  Sitting in a multi-story office building in a large city such as Cincinnati, makes more sense for Skyping across the globe with our subsidiary in China.  Cincinnati is a city that exists in the 21st century.  Yellow Springs is a semi-rural area straddling US Route 68.  I feared that my vacation here in YS would put me too far outside the reach of the world wide web, seeing as the village also straddles the 1950s and 1960s.

 Also, I admit that I just wanted to concentrate on the writers’ conference I am attending and not have work obligations.  The problem was that our HR person in Beijing got sick and so I had to arrange the interview for this week.  Beijing’s time zone is 12 hours ahead of Ohio’s, so the best arrangement was to make the meeting for 9 a.m.  in Beijing, which is 9 p.m. here.

A futher complication is that I am staying in the Red Roof Inn in Springfield, Ohio, a bustling metropolis north of Yellow Springs that has at least two more traffic signals than YS and twice as many gas stations (two in total). 

Just past the check in desk, this Red Roof Inn has an indoor pool, filled most afternoons with a gaggle of children playing Marco Polo. Directly across from the pool is the elevator, into which the wet children troop when their parents bring back dinner. The lobby air is a pungent mix of chlorine and damp, moldy carpet. Each time you enter the elevator, it reeks of the signature scent of whichever fast food the parents just got from the drive thru cluster at the corner. Exiting the elevator you inhale the residual cigarette stench of previous visitors; but your smoke free room has been washed clean by Fabreeze. The view from the window is a dead lawn burned by the Ohio heat wave and beyond that a road and then the Comfort Inn where all the Red Roof residents wished they had stayed.

What I’m saying is that this is not a high end place.  And their wifi connection is less reliable than the non-smoking policy.  I know, these are First World problems and I shouldn’t complain.  I’m just explaining why staying in this particular 2 star joint was an obstacle to my interview plans.  I could not even get to my Facebook account to find out what my friends were eating, so Skype was definitely not going to work.

I was explaining my internet interview dilemma to Mary Thomas, one of the board members who run the conference and a long-time friend of mine.  I said, “Really, what I’d like to do is go back to my room and just have the internet connection fail and then we’dhave to postpone the interview.”

Mary Thomas cocked her head and said, “Well, our motel has quality wah-fy, so you can come on over to mah room and make your call.” It is only Mary Tom’s charming Kentucky accent that made that sound like a slutty come-on.  She cocked her head, not to be seductive but because, at 5 feet tall, she needs to get a better angle to see MY head, a foot and a half above hers.

The Yellow Springs motel is a very quaint little roadside motel with only 12 rooms in a line at the back of the parking lot, right on US route 68.  Mary Thomas took me to her room and said, “Would you like a cold drink?  Maybe a gin and tonic?”  I think she knows me too well.
She grabbed some Cheezits to provide sustenance and said, “Let’s go sit in the gazebo until it’s time for your call.” 

“You’re a wonderful hostess, I said,”

“”Well, it’s not much.  As my sister says, she’s the one who puts the ‘ho’ in ‘hostess’.”

Again, this was all just southern hospitality. There was no flirtation going on; nobody bothers to flirt with me.  Besides, Mary Thomas is good friends with my wife (as I am also) and MT’s daughter was right in the next room. 

Nevertheless, to avoid any appearance of impropriety between a conference student and a board member, when the time came to call, I sat outside, alone on a bench, logged into  Yellow Springs Motel’s very reliable wah-fy and brought them into the 21st century.

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