Posts Tagged ‘I-94’

Twice In One Day

March 19, 2013

Sunday March 17th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   What would life in Mr. Lucky land be without an unexpected crisis coming every day or two to make sure my tension levels are always at their highest? BORING, that’s what. Believe me, I am craving a boring life more than a vampire craves blood, but it’s just not in the cards for this chap.

As if I needed more car trouble, I popped a tire on the freeway on my way to teach my Sunday afternoon comedy class at Zanies in Chicago and am lucky I didn’t kill myself. It happened right as I was arriving in the city and I was in fairly heavy traffic in the middle lane. That’s dangerous.

I’ve had so many things go wrong on this ‘free’ car I got from my friend Rich that I assumed it was out of ways to torture me. It’s already emptied my wallet and self esteem, and like a woman scorned it has done so with a heartless vengeance. I thought I had gotten out of her line of fire.

WRONG! I had the presence of mind to keep both hands on the wheel and stay in my lane, but slowing down too much would be dangerous as I’d have a good chance to get road sodomized at high speed. I wouldn’t mind at all to get hit, but not by a semi going 70. I would be human soup.

I did manage to get out of traffic safely, and checked my trunk to find a spare little donut with no jack or lug wrench. I know I should have checked this when I got the car, but I go through so many vehicles sometimes I don’t get around to it. I get confused, and assume I have everything.

I called Bill Gorgo to cover the first part of class, and drove on my shredded tire probably two miles at slow speed until I was able to make it to the parking lot of a hotel. I asked the desk clerk if maintenance might have a tire jack, and sure enough a guy came out and helped me. I’ve tried to help people my whole life, and having it come back when I really needed it was appreciated.

I even tried to slip the guy $10, but he was totally cool about it. I’ve done things like that many times for other people so I didn’t feel guilty at all. I sincerely thanked him and made it to Zanies to finish the class. I thought my car problems were through for the day and focused on comedy.

WRONG AGAIN! I needed to be in Kenosha to host ‘The Mothership Connection’ radio show on AM 1050 WLIP by 8pm, but just as I crossed into Lake County on I-94 the donut popped and I was back to trudging along at five miles an hour. I knew I didn’t have a jack, and tried to make it to a spot that wouldn’t require a tow in the morning. Nothing was going to be open on Sunday.

It took a long time, but I nursed the car to a tire shop in Waukegan where I have done business before. I turned on my flashers and rode the shoulder all the way, feeling the piercing looks from everyone who passed me as they gawked at my ratty two tone car with ‘URANUS 2’ plates and a ‘I (heart) URANUS’ bumper sticker. Being the center of attention this way is not what I desire.

So to review, I had two flat tires in one day. That doesn’t scare me. It’s typical for Mr. Lucky’s odds. One time I got two speeding tickets in the same day – in WYOMING. No joke. How many cops are patrolling Wyoming? I found them both. I’ll get past this, but for today it was a hassle.

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #1

Flat Tire #2

Flat Tire #2

The Stress-O-Meter

March 13, 2013

Sunday March 10th, 2013 – Chicago, IL/Kenosha, WI

   The stress-o-meter has been cranked up extra tightly in the last few days, and none of it has any redeeming value. It’s always a constant struggle to get somewhere, and no matter how hard I try it always seems to come down to the wire and become a car race. I feel like a one man pit crew.

Yesterday it was driving up and back to the U.P. of Michigan – much of it fighting the weather. There was sleet, snow and freezing rain, and that always slows down any trip. Today it was a trip in exactly the opposite direction as I needed to be in Chicago to teach a comedy class at Zanies at 3pm. I didn’t get home this morning until 3am, and I lost another hour to Daylight Savings Time.

It’s always a matter of getting to the next place, and even if I do it well 95% of the time there is still plenty of stressful time wondering if I’ll make it. I’m caught in traffic in a crappy car and it’s absolutely hell on Earth having to wait for lights to change and people to drive with any skill set.

There’s always some pinhead blabbing away on the phone clueless to the fact he or she can be a total pain in the ball joints of every other driver on the road. They miss lights and that backs up the rest of traffic and everyone ends up getting to their destinations late. It drives me up the wall.

I know I should leave earlier, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. I needed to get sleep and a shower in, and I wasn’t able to eat a breakfast or take my exercise walk. There’s just too much going on right now even though I’m enjoying all I’m doing. At some point I have to slow down.

I wasn’t planning on teaching this session of comedy classes at Zanies, but Bill Gorgo has been falling behind in his own work as a high school teacher and needed a session off. Fair enough, as he’s been doing a fantastic job with beginner classes for a while now.  I understand his dilemma.

It was a fun class with a solid group of nice people, so that always makes it worthwhile. Class lasted until 5pm, and then I needed to drive north to Kenosha, WI for a dinner with my co-hosts of ‘The Mothership Connection’ paranormal radio show on AM 1050 WLIP. Today was our 5th anniversary broadcast, and also my birthday dinner. I didn’t want to miss it, so I left promptly.

It didn’t matter in the least. Instead of rain and sleet, today’s weather condition was severe fog.  It was thick and everywhere and nobody could see more than a couple of car lengths ahead and it backed up the traffic on I-94 to a standstill. I was stuck in it and there was nothing to do but wait.

I watched the clock tick and stewed in my own juices as a fun and relaxing dinner with friends turned into a stress filled two hours of wondering if I’d make it in time for the show at 8pm much less the dinner in my honor. I ended up getting to the restaurant about 7pm, completely frazzled.

I wolfed down my food, and we went over the plans for the evening’s broadcast. We wanted to plan out the path for the coming year, but there was no time for that tonight. We ended up having a fun show as we usually do, but it took a while for me to settle in and relax enough to enjoy it. I couldn’t wait for midnight to roll around so I could get some rest. Stress like this wears me out.

Warning In The Morning

April 14, 2010

Monday April 12th, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI/Chicago, IL

It’s not too often I end up in the downtowns of both Milwaukee and Chicago in the same day, but today was one of them. I had business in both places and it all ended up on a high note. I’ve been known to complain about living in the sticks as I do, but on days like this I catch a little break. On this day I happened to catch a big one and I’m extremely grateful.

I had a lunch scheduled with my old friend Chris ‘C.P.’ Peppas in Brookfield, WI and it saves a few miles if I take US 45 north instead of going all the way east to I-94. I’ve made the trip countless times and I know the route extremely well by now. It does go through a few towns where the speed limit drops considerably, but in the long run it’s a shorter trip.

Today I had a lot on my mind as I drove through the Milwaukee suburb of Muskego on my way to meet C.P. in Brookfield. Right off I-45 and Highway 36 there’s a road that’s a shortcut, even though I can’t think of the name of it offhand. I do know it saves me time.

I was zipping along and saw a cop parked in a lot where I don’t usually see one. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police car on that road before. I saw a speed limit sign of 40 MPH about a quarter of a block past the police car and I hit my brakes to slow down right away. I saw the squad car turn around and start following me and I knew I was in trouble.

He ended up following me for almost a mile before firing up the lights. It’s never fun to drive with a cop in the rear view mirror, especially when he won‘t flash any lights. That’s a great way to induce paranoia, and when they did finally flash I actually felt some relief.

I was in an upbeat mood and enjoying the beautiful weather but those lights put me in a foul mood in a hurry. The last thing I needed today was a speeding ticket, especially with my new comedy CD on the way I need to pay for. I saw the cop get out of the car with his cop mustache and slow cop walk, and it didn’t look good. He didn’t appear to be jovial.

One thing I’ve learned to do over the years is always hold my hands up to show that I’m not carrying any weapons, which I never do anyway. I’ve got my license and insurance in my left hand with my right one up in full view right under the rear view mirror. I’ve heard this is a good way to show there’s no surprises, and it’s a sign I’m not looking for trouble.

He asked me if I knew how fast I was going and I really didn’t. He snarled “55 in a 40” and took my license back to his car and sat there for a good twenty minutes. I was late for lunch and getting more pissed off by the minute, and really thought I only deserved to get a warning. I might have been going fast, but I saw him and slowed right down after that.

I watched him get out of the car and do that slow cop walk to mine with no expression at all on his face. I bit my lip and prepared for the worst when he asked for my telephone number. I resisted the urge to make a smart ass comment and I told him. He then gave me a document which he said was a warning, and told me to watch my speed next time. That put me in a jaunty mood in a hurry, and I thanked him and drove away feeling like a king.

I’ve always thought it would be hilarious to yank my license back in that situation and totally spin the tires and lay rubber right in front of him as I flip him the bird. It would be stupid, but still hilarious. Maybe if I find out I have a terminal disease and can’t do a long sentence I’ll think harder about it, but for now I’ll just let it remain my deep inner fantasy.

I caught a break today, and I know it. Mr. Lucky’s stage character would NEVER catch one like that, and it felt good to separate the character from me as a person. There are way too many times when I haven’t, and it’s been torture. For whatever reason, today I had my mojo working and I lucked out. It could have been a number of reasons, but I don’t care.

Maybe it was the fact that I held my hands up. Maybe it was because I didn’t have any outstanding warrants. Maybe he saw my personalized ‘URANUS1’ license plate and had second thoughts about calling it in. Maybe he recognized my name from somewhere and cut me a break. Whatever the case, I want to put a sincere thank you out into the universe.

Life is SO unfair, but this is a situation where I win out. I’m a dorky looking white guy who looks about as far from being a gang banger as humanly possible. I speak clearly and am not intimidated by police officers. I treat them with respect answer questions honestly, and more often than not I end up driving away without a citation. Today was another one.

I really do think it was the right call. There are times when I was speeding and probably do deserve the fine, but not today. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t have got it, and I’m not at all trying to tempt the fates. I caught a break, and was only a few minutes late for my lunch at The Emperor’s Kitchen with C.P. He was understanding about it and life goes on. Again.

C.P. ordered a DVD off of Public Television about Milwaukee things that are no longer in existence. He thought it would be a good resource for ‘Schlitz Happened!’ and I totally agree. I offered to pay but he said it was his gift to me. I paid him back with lunch but I’ll take care of him more than that. At some point I’ll be able to hire him for something paid.

C.P. is a talented writer and a super nice guy and he grew up in Milwaukee so he knows exactly what I’m going for with this. He’s a few years older than me so his references dig a little deeper, which is good. I want to include him on the team somewhere, and he could be a major asset. I can’t pay him right now, but he knows it and said he’d work with me.

I watched my speed on the way home and arrived just in time to shower and crawl right back in the car and drive to Chicago to host the Zanies Rising Star Showcase show. What a great night it turned out to be. The audience was medium in size but large in appetite to see comedy and they couldn’t have been any better. The lineup of comics was stellar too.

That doesn’t happen every time, but when it does it’s a blast to witness. It makes my job a lot easier, and it’s basically a night off. I bring up the comics who kick ass, and I tell the audience who the next one is. It’s a little deeper than that, but not al that much. I watched the show and was impressed by quite a few of the people tonight. Everything fell together perfectly and I got paid in the end. What could be any better? Avoiding a speeding ticket.