2013.07.03 Don't travel without me


I wonder how early it was Sunday morning when I received a call from my wife asking about the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. It wasn't early by my standards, but by hers it sure was. This must have been important business.

She was in Chicago when she called, attending the annual American Library Association conference, and and she spoke Friday about a parade she wanted to see.

She prefaced her question about the parade with this question: "Do you want to be my internet?"

That was her gentle way of broaching the subject. Usually the phone rings and she starts right in. "I need you to find something. Where is the closest Hobby Lobby to downtown Ann Arbor?" "When does Target close on Sundays?" "How about Sofo's?"

Aside from the time of day, the really strange thing about her Gay Parade question was the emptiness of my mouth. Colleen has such an uncanny ability to time her internet questions with my dinner. Almost every time. And on the other times, I will have finished whatever miscellaneous chores that needed attention and sat down for the first time all day. The phone rings: "What's the traffic like on 475?"

I probably shouldn't complain as much as my children because they might have been abused by her demands much more than I. But I will complain. She never really goes traveling alone because at least one of her family members will soon be with her providing information and guidance.

She called from Chicago earlier in the weekend asking me to find a good restaurant for her to try out near her hotel. I really wasn't interested. I had eaten and washed dishes and was about to watch a snippet of a movie. I'm sure my annoyance was obvious as it often is when her dinner-time calls come in.

I didn't look for a restaurant that night, but of course the next morning I felt a little guilty and searched for "restaurants near the Palmer House." A link appeared that was just what she needed, or so I thought.

She didn't want it sent by text message because she doesn't use her phone for internet services. So I sent it to her e-mail account where she read it later on a hotel computer. Even that wasn't enough. I still failed. The next time we spoke, she asked: "Did you pick out a restaurant for me?" I don't think my response was all that friendly sounding.

The obvious solution is one that she mentions every so often: get a smarter phone. She could handle all of these searches on her own, but that's only a partial solution. She can't do it while driving, and since she's generally hopping from one store to another before closing time—there's always another library program coming up—she has no time to search. She needs a personal assistant. I don't know how often that's one of the kids, but I do know that many times I fill the role.

There was a third request from Chicago. She needed to quickly find out when the Cultural Center closes. I wasn’t on duty, but Ben was covering for me and came up with the answer.

I never did find out what parade she wanted to see in Chicago, but I learned it wasn't the Gay Pride Parade. That parade was merely a possible obstacle as she would be rushing from her hotel to the conference location. When she called, she just needed to know the parade route and whether or not it would impact her journey.

It was hoped to be more than 800,000 people strong, followed by lots of reveling in Boystown afterward. I think this could have become the highlight of her weekend, but it wasn't on her agenda. She had library business to attend to, and she even had to serve on a panel discussion.

And to think of all the reveling she missed. As she often says to me: You should have been there. You would have had a column.