My Day in Denver, Part I

I stopped in Denver mainly to find what may be the biggest comic shop around, the Mile High Comics Megastore. I wasn’t quite sure where it was or how to find it though, so I checked in an ad in a comic book I had in the back seat. Problem was, that comic was from 1993, so I wasn’t sure if they had moved.

Denver’s roads in the northeast are fairly straightforward. They have a numbered avenue system that gets lower as you drive south. But it’s not so straightforward, the avenues frequently aren’t connected to one another, so you end up driving down a short dead end which begins at 1008 and finishes up at 1039 and looping around to find the other piece. This realization would come back to haunt me later.

I found the address I was looking for, in a residential suburb, and predictably they had moved. I ended up driving around the city for a while, going downtown and just circling around watching the college girls go by. Finally, I was compelled to stop at a gas station and I found a phone book inside.

I jotted down two addresses: the first address of three for Mile High Comics, assuming that if it was not the largest they would at least be able to tell me where to go. The other was an Internet cafe so I could update the blog.

The address for Mile High brought me to a place called Commerce City. This was aptly named, as the area was populated by massive offices and stores, truck loading, warehouses, and not a soul as far as the eye could see. The avenues had the same problem of not connecting, but far worse, to the point where they ran into each other, avenues were frequently skipped, or roads were called “W. 49th Ave.” but were no more than a residential cul de sac.

One avenue continued going and suddenly dropped at a 30-40 degree angle. I thought my car was going to crash when I went over it, and it barely avoided bottoming out. For sure I had driven off the road, and would not be able to make it back up the treacherous incline. But to my surprise, the drop was a legitimate area of the road, and an intersection appeared ahead for the next avenue.

Finally I found the address I had written down: a single unmarked door in a warehouse with a few telltale comics boxes that told me this served as some kind of office for Mile High. I tried to open the door, at least the persons inside may be interested in hearing my plight and directing me to the proper location. It was locked. I decided I’d move on to the Internet cafe. At least then I could be sure of where I was going.

The cafe was odd. It was fairly easy to find, in a suburb just to the west of Denver. I walked in and two small children look up and scream “HI!” Rarely do you get such an enthusiastic greeting at any establishment.

The woman at the counter was a disinterested Asian woman in her early thirties. She looked at me, with my laptop bag in hand, as if she couldn’t imagine what I possibly wanted.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hello,” she muttered back, with a keen eye on the children behind me.

“Do you have wireless here?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied tartly, apparently unwilling to volunteer any extra information.

“Well… in that case I’ll have a cup of coffee and uh… these blueberry muffins look pretty good.”

“Okay,” she said. I paid her, then she said very frankly, “you get half an hour with your coffee.”

It seemed a little rude. Many coffee shops, with the exception of Starbucks with its needlessly complicated payment system, allowed you to sit for an undetermined amount of time if you bought a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.

“Oh. Do I get anything for my muffin?” I asked, wondering if she’d catch my sarcasm.

She told me no, but I could pay a reasonable price for extra time. I sat down and plugged in my computer. The kids were playing a game and becoming quite loud.

The coffee was terrible. Really terrible. It was weak, flavorless, and she didn’t offer me any cream or sugar. And since she was busy calming down the screaming children, I didn’t feel inclined to ask her for any. Besides, it was so weak the cream may have extinguished any coffee flavor remaining in the drink.

My laptop booted up. The Internet wasn’t working.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of how we tried to do it, but she and I tried to get the Internet running on that computer for the next half and hour, going through my software, her equipment, odd devices to plug into my computer, whatever. For someone who snapped payment limitations at me she wasn’t prepared for someone to actually use her wireless Internet.

I finished my terrible coffee.

Finally, we got it running, and I managed to check my e-mail, write a couple addresses down, and do some blog postings. Meanwhile, the kids were becoming louder and louder, and a friend of the woman behind the counter had come in and they were chatting, so she wasn’t so inclined to calm her children down any more. The whole thing was creating such a racket it was impossible to get any work done, and I’d left my headphones in the car. I yearned for some kind of light jazz music playing, and a relaxed comfortable working environment.

Finally it seemed that my half an hour was up, although I couldn’t be sure as I wasn’t sure how long it took us to get the damn thing running, so I left, without saying a word. The kids screamed “BYE!” behind me.

I went to my car door, right across the street, put my laptop bag down next to me, and shoved my hand in my pocket for my keys.

Oh no.

Part II later!

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