Sunday, September 27, 2009

Friend of Bill G. (or is it Al G.?)

Thursday night, I left my happy home to spend a weekend in Oak Brook, Illinois, at the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association annual convention. ISTA is a tremendous opportunity for speech and theatre teachers like myself to connect, share resources, find new ideas, and even just have a good time. In addition to packing the usual stuff like, oh, clothes and shampoo, I also made sure to pack up my trusty ol' laptop. I figured that there would surely be some downtime during the convention (I remembered that being the case when I had gone before) when I could deal with e-mail and get some work done in terms of lesson planning, for which I would need the Internet. Surely the hotel would have WiFi, I thought, remembering the lovely hotel I visited for State last February and the hours I spent on Facebook one evening. We reached the very lovely Oak Brook Marriott (located conveniently right across the street from the Oak Brook Place mall) a little bit before 8:00, so I checked in and headed upstairs to get settled in. The first thing I did was sit down at the desk and plug in my laptop.

And that's when my world fell apart.

At first, my computer quickly located a network connection and I began my attempt to navigate my way to Hotmail, thinking I might spend a little time working on my farm in Facebook after checking my e-mail. Suddenly, my browser took me away from Hotmail and off to a site asking me to select my payment method. I found out that, if I wanted to use the Internet at this hotel, I would have to pony up $15 a night for the honor. Ummmmmmm, nooooo. $30 seemed a bit excessive, particularly since a large part of what I wanted to do on the Internet involved work. I was not going to PAY to do my JOB.

And so began the longest 48 hours of my life. While I managed to function without the Internet for those two days in Oak Brook (and it probably helped that Friday was so busy that I was utterly exhausted that evening and fell asleep within seconds of stating my intention to do so), the first thing I did when I walked through the door of my house was get the laptop out and get online. In that moment, I realized how integral the Internet has become in my life. It's how I communicate, get information, entertain myself, and even do my job. Fifteen years ago, I didn't even know it existed, and now, I have a hard time existing without it. Addiction may be a bit strong of a word to use, but it may be the closest to describing how I felt in that moment last night when I finally let out a huge sigh of relief as I checked email, harvested my crops, and downloaded a couple Phish shows. While I recognize the addiction, the problem is that I'm more than happy to wallow in that addiction because I also realized this weekend that life can get a little boring without the beautiful distraction of the Internet.


NICKI said...

The Hyatt in Seattle charge $10 a day for internet, and had no breakfast. The Hampton Inn in Raleigh had water and cheetos on the bed each day, free breakfast and happy hour including drinks and food, and free internet. Why is is that "fancy" hotels aren't fancier, they just cost more?

Danielle Mari said...

That's why God made Panera Bread!