"Waterfalls" by TLC was the only song that came to mind as I was literally chasing down Wi-Fi.
Picture this: I'm dressed in a business-professional dress and blazer, my work bag hanging over one shoulder, my carry-on bag on the other (you know … for balance), and I'm blindly walking, waiving my cellphone in the air like I'm trying to catch the alien signal of the century -- except I'm in a mall … in Dallas, Texas. Got the visual? Great.
Let me back up a little bit. I had an important client meeting that afternoon so I booked a quick day trip to Dallas (I don't know who made day trips a thing, but I don't like that person). I took a 5:40 a.m. flight from Chicago and got in a few hours before my meeting because, you know, that's responsible. I had three hours to kill, so I did what anyone does -- track down a Starbucks to set up shop (remember, day trip, so no hotel).
So I Google the nearest Starbucks to the client-site, get in my Uber and I'm on my way. And my eyes are glued to my phone the entire ride as I fend off emails left and right. Twenty minutes later the driver goes "we're here."
I look up. "But this is a mall."
"Yep, I think the Starbucks is in the mall."
"Great, thanks." I mutter sarcastically.
You learn so much the first time you do anything. My client is located in northern Dallas, which apparently looks more like suburbia than it does a city. So here I was, at the closest Starbucks to my client (5 miles away), at a mall, at 8:30 in the morning. Have you ever been to a mall at 8:30 in the morning? On a Tuesday? Me neither. Are malls even open that early?
The answer is yes. The doors to the actual mall are open, but as you'd expect, everything's closed and it's deserted.
They say everything's bigger in Texas, and it is, it really is. This mall was huge and I gave up tracking down this Starbucks (which probably wasn't even open). So instead, I got a brilliant (stupid) idea -- maybe there's free Wi-Fi covering the whole mall, you know, like they have in airports and stuff.
So there I was, roaming the mall, cell in hand, literally chasing Wi-Fi. Go ahead and laugh; I mean I was, out loud, alone, in an echoing mall. It's actually more peaceful than sad.
Then the unimaginable: By some force greater than me, radio waves from a wireless adapter. I had found free Wi-Fi with no password protection -- wait for it -- right outside of Sephora. They say good things come when (and where) you least expect them. This was no different, my friends.
I mean the actual store was closed, but I was getting a signal! And there happened to be a nice little bench located right outside of the store. So I did what anyone would do: I set up my little workstation right there, mooching off of Sephora's Wi-Fi for the next couple hours.
People passed. They stared, they judged, I'm sure. How many, I couldn't tell you. I mean, when was the last time you saw someone in business professional attire plugging away at his or her laptop in the middle of a mall? The irony of it all was that I felt completely normal, completely comfortable -- like it was the only place I could really go to get a good few hours of work in.
Moral of the story -- don't go chasing Wi-Fi. But if you have to, Sephora's got you.