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Router ain’t woiking no more. Hours on the phone with nice gal in the Philippines. Result: “Your router is defective. You are out of warranty. Good luck.”

Second result: I’m on the 120 bus, 7:30 at night, then the 928, heading for Fry’s, top of Mission Valley.

Consequence: I had to abandon the lovely Carla jes’ when she was setting out a kind of chicken tikka, rice combo. She's on an Indian gig right now. Not a happy camper. I love it too, but this place closes at nine.

“Go, go!” she says. Because actually we both realize we have become total internet slaves. Chat, news, checking facts to win bets. When online goes black, you feel like your cat’s gawn missing.

The 928 drops me and a few more desperate shoppers oudside Fry's at about 8 o’clock.

“Last bus back, 9:03,” he warns.

One hour. I scuttle down across the parking lot and into the ginormous gray barn, get myself pointed towards the routers, get persuaded to go for the $40 one because it’s got a stronger signal than the $30 one, then screw around typing longingly on the razor-thin Apple laptops, then – because it’s twenty to nine – make for the check-out.

That’s when I see something even better than an Apple laptop: a no-name cafeteria, open, right beside the check-out.

Hmm. Maybe time for something real quick. They have the whole sandwich, salad, baked goods thing going. Plus specials like Frito pie (which just sounds yum, whatever it is) for $4.99, and a meatball sandwich for $6.29.

But I’m thinking: no time for them to make anything. It’s gotta be ready to eat. That’s when I spot the other special.

“Soup of the day: Azteca chicken rice, regular, $3.59, bread bowl, $4.99.”

Denise comes up, black uniform, pulled back hair, big smile. “I can do it quick,” she says. “Just cut the top off the loaf and pour the soup. It’s a meal.”

She’s right. Lotsa rice, of course, but plenty of chicken chunks too. Plus tomato, onions, and all the bread they ripped out to make room for the soup, to soak up the slop.

’Course this is all done in rapid slurp mode. Ten to nine, I get up and run to join the check-out line to pay for the router.

Five to nine, I come back and take my last ten slurps and head for the doors. Nine-oh-one, I’m back at the bus stop among shadowy shoppers loaded with bags.

Two minutes later, I’m aboard the 928. Whew. But still, feeling uneasy. Know I forgot something. Oh yeah. Forgot to eat the bowl. All that soup-soaked bread! The best part!


Lesson: Next time, eat first, shop second.

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