Technological difficulties have been a regular part of my life, generally due to laziness and improper care on my part. However, Gateway's products seem to be one step ahead of me, breaking on their own before I have a chance to do it myself. In this case, it was my laptop charger, which finally bit the dust after only a few months of pretty mediocre service to me. Note to self: Gateway products are for losers.
Unfortunately, I can't afford to scrap my laptop and start fresh with a Mac, as I would love to do. So as we coasted into Miami, I located a shoddy, corner electronics store downtown for a new charger. I didn't bother taking photos, but the place looked something like this.
I was greeted by a fellow behind the counter - here's a sketch of him at right. I'd called ahead and asked about a replacement charger, which they'd quoted at $79, which drew us here instead of Office Depot, where they were $99. I asked the guy if we could test it on my laptop, and it was good to go.
He then asked me for my credit card. I said I was paying in cash, and he kind of shook that off and said I should pay with a credit card.
My eyebrow raised, I asked how much the charger was. "249," he replied.
"No way, dude," I shot back. "You guys said 79 on the phone about ten minutes ago."
"Yeah, but those ones don't work," he replied.
My face twisted. "Why would you be selling something that doesn't work?"
At this point he doubled back, and asked, "You got cash?"
"Yes," I said cautiously.
"Hundred bucks," he said.
Rather than driving to Office Depot to pay the same price in more legitimate, less ridiculous circumstances, I forked over the cash and walked out, bringing Joey to a full belly laugh with my story. I'd love to see someone try to pull this on him.
Now we'd been expecting Miami to be an expensive city, both for lodging and daytime activities. So a few days before our visit, I jumped onto Priceline
and threw a hail mary. I named my price for a room in downtown Miami and the nearby area, setting it at a measly $28 for a two-star room for the night. The website threw a page at me saying my price had next to no chance whatsoever of being accepted, but I went ahead with it anyway, since we still had some time before our arrival. And sure enough, that price was accepted by the Hotel Shelley
in Miami Beach.
Needless to say, I had low expectations, but those turned out to be unwarranted. The main lobby was colorfully decorated and featured something we hadn't encountered during any of our hotel visits thus far - a lobby bar, open until 5 a.m. Joey, practically leaping out of his shoes, ordered three margaritas before we started bringing our things upstairs, so they'd be ready when we came back down.
Those drinks were prepared by our new friend Izzy here. He was a fun bartender, with lots of energy and an accent we couldn't quite place. He gave us a few hints and even offered us shots if we could guess his country of origin. Eventually we guessed Israel and got our shots, but it wasn't an easy guess, as his "Middle East" clue only left us trying not to offend him with a guess that was way, way off.
He informed us that later in the evening, the hotel featured a complimentary happy hour for guests. All three of us are ardent supporters of free drinks, so we made a mental note.
Given our location, the most reasonable course of action involved about a two-block walk to the beach. The skies were somewhat overcast but the temperature was perfect, and once again, the water was perfectly clear and blue. It's not easy getting used to.
We scampered onto the beach and waded in, eventually drifting further into the water than anyone in sight and letting waves smash into us incessantly. We probably could have stayed there all day.
Alas, we had prior obligations. We returned to the hotel for showers and headed back down to the bar just in time for their "free drinks" special. I found it to be rather hilarious that the $28 bid on Priceline (plus about $13 processing fee) got us a room for the night and an hour worth of free drinking, which we made the best of for sure.
...A little too well, in fact. I'm kind of surprised that we haven't encountered more of the Sleepy Joey Syndrome (SJS) on this trip, which is sometimes waiting to strike at even the most innocent of moments. Thus far, we'd done a very good job of pushing ourselves in order to experience the most of everything and everywhere we've been, knowing full well that we may never be back to enjoy what we might have missed. But tonight, Izzy's happy hour took Joey (and Sarah and I) out of commission. Sarah and I managed to walk two blocks away for some Cuban food, but beyond that, we'd reached the end of our night.
So we kind of missed out on Miami. Oh well. In doing so, we saved what might have been a bundle of money, and got very well-rested for the remainder of the drive south to Key West the next day. More on that very soon.