SXSW’08, part 4: Lost in the ghetto…

March 14th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

Lonely Rider - Timo in TexasPheow…

I just got back here to the hotel after wandering in the latin suburbs of Austin for few hours. This morning I woke up, gathered my gear, had some skype meetings and then went of to Austin Convention Center to meet a great guy called Mark who works for O’Reilly. We had a good chat over Wreckamovie, I showed it to him a bit, gave him a copy of Star Wreck, and then left to find some software and electronics to buy. Right now it’s an awesome time to buy stuff, € being so strong when compared to $, and electronics and software being so cheap in the States compared to Europe.

Ínstead of hailing a cab and travelling to the mall that way, I wanted to save some bucks and decided to use the bus. It’s way cheaper than taxis around here – with $1 you can travel as much as you want. It’s also a transportation method for the lower middle-class folk, so no rich-ass white beings in bus, only me with my mohawk and laptop. But by bus, you get to see around, and see how the people actually live here in Austin.

As all my friends and the guys at Energia know, I’ve been blessed with an infallible sense of direction and +35 Skill Rank Bonus to Map Reading and Urban Survival Skills – that means: I never get lost.



So I suck at that. But still, I never admit it to myself. Just like Ryoga from Ranma ½, only that I don’t know kung-fu…

Somehow, after being lost in the downtown for a while, I ended up into AT&T store, and the nice people there gave me very clear directions on how to find a Target store in a shopping mall some 10 miles away from the downtown, and what bus to take. It was a sunny day, I was listening to Disco Ensemble and feeling very alive when hopping on a bus and travelling through the city to a huge shopping center somewhere in the city borders. At Target store I shopped some iPods and Cars stuff for my kid, and then decided to go out and find a WalMart or some place where I could get couple of Adobe Creative Suites.

Without thinking, I just went across the massive highways, almost got hit by a car and finally ended up on a small forgotten bus-stand, where I for some reason thought a bus to the WalMart would go. Well, it didn’t. Actually, after stepping on the bus and driving some stops, I asked the bus driver if there was a WalMar somewhere close, and he said that yes there is, but you are going the wrong way, you need to step out and go to the other side of the road and pick a bus from there. So that’s what I did, got off the bus somewhere in the suburbs.

And then, instead of going to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road, for some reason I had a brainfart of a thought and decided to go out and find a computer store somewhere in the suburbs. Don’t really know what I was thinking. And it was getting late, sun was casting it’s last rays and I had changed to Deftones in my earphones, feeling still great and self-confident on my infinite urban skills.

Not a big surprise, I didn’t find anything. Just some huge shops with strange objects, a restaurant called Twin Peaks and a interstate highway which I tried to get across but found luckily soon enough it was impossible. So when the sun finally got behind the horizon and the darkness fell, I went to a bus stop to wait for a bus. And I waited and waited and waited… Nothing came, just cars and cars and cars.

Finally, the bus came. It was already pitch black, and I drove few stops forward, then decided to jump out in a streetcorner where I thought another bus would come soon, a bus that would take me close to my hotel.

But it didn’t. I waited like fourty minutes, sitting in total darkness in a small bu sstop, with my laptop, a big Toys’R'Us bag full of iPods and toys, and my white face and mohawk screaming “come and mug me”. All the time huge pickups stacked with latino thughs you see in movies were passing by, and people looking me like I was mad. I was really starting to feel like Bruce Willis in the beginning of Die Hard 3… But I knew that I was no Bruce Willis, had it come to that.

No bus was coming, that was quite sure. I was in the middle of nowhere, with *no* idea on where to go, how to get back or anything, and feeling every minute more that soon I would get killed. So I chickened out, and went to a small 7-11 shining in darkness, explained to a Mexican who knew just enough English to understand me, that I’m from Finland, and I’m totally lost. The shopkeepers laughed, but were very nice and called a cab for me.

So that’s my story. Nothing dramatic, but ultimate bracks were shat, as they say on the Internets.

And I didn’t get my Creative Suites, so I need to get on the same bus tomorrow, and hope for the best to find a CompUSA or Best Buy or something like that… And get the hell out of the suburbs before the nightfall.

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10 Responses to “SXSW’08, part 4: Lost in the ghetto…”

  1. Crusader says:

    :D :D

    Nothing is better, than getting lost in a strange city with no idea where you are! Of course the only reason I think that it’s great, is that unlike Timo, I have a boosted my map reading and urban survival skills, and have sense of direction chosen as a perk.

  2. Being surrounded by hostile natives just adds to the excitement of being lost! (Talk about urban survival!)

  3. Next stop: Africa. We’ll ask Timo to bring us a big bag of bloody stakes and see if he’ll go wandering off to the savannah at feeding time…

  4. Crusader says:

    Good idea! Timo hints his urban survival skills are pretty bad but I bet that his wilderness survival skills are through the roof!

  5. Atte Joutsen says:

    Remember to put the experience points gained in Texas to boost the urban survival skills.

  6. I guess the Google adsense algorithms are more intelligent than anybody thought. Just saw an advert for “taxi service in Kirkkonummi”.

    Yes, we all know people that need taxis even in Kirkkonummi. Um, if they ever go there.

  7. EV says:

    Hi, this is your dear father hoping not to get lost again :-)
    I wrote you e-mail.
    Greetings from Reija also.

  8. Teemu Savolainen says:

    Just yesterday I came back from one week trip to Philadelphia and Seattle. Don’t you hate the jet lag?

    Friendly hint for the next time: rent a car, with GPS, and set it to prefer highways. Much safer, much faster, but still enables possibility to get into trouble with natives:-) (and lost – just turn off the GPS;)

    In US, I once set the GPS to avoid-highways to see more natives. Well, saw enough for my taste. Afterwards I got hint from local colleague: you just should not get off from highways..

  9. Tiia says:

    Timo… one word: TAXI :D

  10. EV: Hi, pops! :) I try to come back to Finland in one piece! :D

    Teemu: I know, that would be the only good way to move here, and I would’ve taken it… had I a driver’s license :D

    Tiia: One word: $50 :D Travelling via taxi is damn expensive on longer distances here