I live in an area affectionately known as the “tri-cities,” for reasons that should be obvious: we are three cities. Okay, the name is a misnomer because, quite frankly, we’re more like a cluster of seventy-niner cities, which means you can’t spit without hitting one city or another. Therefore, we’ve accepted the more appropriate moniker of “Chicago,” which runs about forty miles out from the city and abruptly stops.
That dividing line is called “Not Chicago.”
Everything that happens outside of Chicago is, effectively, “Not Chicago.”
Now, I’ve lived here in Saint Charles for as long as my three remaining firing synapses allow, which means that I’m accustomed to suburbia. I’m not exactly a city girl gone country, because, to be honest, Chicago is the most wonderful city on earth, but I like my wide lawns and mornings without seeing seven or eight people peeing on things.
Considering the size of Chicago, it’s probably (like most things that make sense to the rest of the world) just me.
(pointless and non-pithy aside: did you know that “East Chicago” is actually in Indiana? That, my dear Pranksters, is a hot pile of bullshit).
After spending my formative years creating a massive carbon footprint, tooling around in my wee del Sol, playing Summer Car,* smoking cigarettes, and getting lost on the long winding roads, driving just to see where we’d end up, I assumed that when I got the job in a town so small I can’t even tell you the name because you’ll be all, “whaaa-huh?” in the same way most people assume I’m from St. Charles, Missouri, which I assure you I am not, that I’d be well-suited to both the locale and the commute.
(holy run-on sentence, Batman)
The commute, well, there’s no better form of therapy than a fresh cup of coffee, a full tank of gas, and miles of open road. I use the time to compose hilarious tweets I never end up sending because I’m fucking driving. This whole “texting and driving” bullshit confuses me. I may be able to make a sandwich, chug a coke, and paint my nails while driving a stick, but texting (or Tweeting) while driving? It both baffles and annoys me.
It’s the locale of the hospital I can’t quite understand.
I walked into my office on my first day and noted that the mysterious filing cabinets had disappeared while a desk had appeared in its place. Win! There was no computer on the desk. Not Win!
The very next thing I attempted to do baffled me further. I grabbed my i(can’t)Phone and went to tweet something about a time-warp and/or my lack of computer making me feel as though half my body had mysteriously disappeared, when I noted something I didn’t even know existed.
My fucking i(can’t)Phone was roaming.
Pranksters, I didn’t even know phones DID that anymore. I’d honestly thought that roaming charges went the way of Friendster. When I mentioned this to my boss, she said, “Oh yeah, I have to stand in the middle of the road to send a text.”
I’m almost entirely certain that I amassed a large collection of flies as my mouth hung dumbly open.
“No…cell phone coverage?”
She just laughed. I shuddered.
Later that afternoon, as I was leaving, I realized the old tank was on empty so I pulled off to a tiny gas station chain that I’ve only ever seen in the deep south. The wind howling outrageously around me (no buildings around = wind blows sharply from the plains), I tried to grab out my debit card to pay at the pump because, well, duh. You have to do that shit here.
It was then that I noted that for the first time in probably 7 years, I had the option to pump my gas BEFORE paying for it. Underneath that shocking revelation, a sign said neatly, “Only In-State Checks Allowed.” As in, you could pay for your gas via check.
And here I was thinking I was the last person on earth to both take baths (which is neither here nor there) and write checks. I’d always thought it was nearing time for my Murder She Wrote marathons, tripping young people with my cane, and chugging a mysterious substance called “Geritol.”
Apparently, Pranksters, there exists a world OUTSIDE of Chicago that allows for personal checks while banning cell phones.
I also learned that I could buy a shed the approximate size and shape of the FBI Surveillance Van with a free metal roof, which just plain old seems like a bad idea. I mean, metal attracts lightening and shit. Or at least, it does in Chicago. Not Chicago, though, maybe that’s how they cook the wild boars the mens hunt all day long.
All I need is a midget dressed as a hot dog and a diner with a creepy waitress to make this a full-on David Lynch movie.
And the oddest part? I enjoy it.
*A game in which you remove most of your clothes, crank the heat, and attempt to confuse other drivers, who are, no doubt, bundled and shivering from the cold January winter.