Yesterday, I had some time to kill before the Highland Park Town Council meeting, so I made like a good reporter/ Eagle Scout and I went exploring. As you know, all Highland Park town business has now moved to MacArthur Avenue, so the halls, offices, walls, and nooks are pretty empty, save for some boxes, George H.W. Bush-era telephones, and wire. A lot of wire.
I made my way through the darkened town court, out the back door, and into the space previously occupied by Highland Park DPS. Ghost town. Like the climax in Boiler Room, just a bunch of fax machines sitting on a floor.
One office (left), was covered in the remnants of dozens of police department stickers and pins. It looked like what happens when you leave a three-year-old alone with a crayon and little supervision. Granted, it would have to be a three-year-old with a pretty decent handle on firearms and tactical maneuvers, but still.
I worked through hallways and stairwells I never knew existed, and stumbled across mini-refrigerators still stocked with bottled water and old lunches. When I opened the fridge door I hoped for a gotcha! case of Budweiser, but the bottled water made me feel safer, if sadder as a journalist.
But let’s get back to the wire. My dad is an electrical contractor, so I know from wire. My parents’ basement is full of it, and my grandfather buys it cheap on eBay like it’s some rare baseball card. (He also does surprisingly well buying peoples’ timeshares for $1, then combining those timeshares — somehow — into European vacations, but that’s beside the point. Basically, I don’t really understand how he does it, or if we’ll be on the hook legally for his shenanigans in 15 years.) And Highland Park has a lot of wire. Telephone wire, varying telecommunications wire, loose wire. If you head toward the Town Council chambers, then turn right and head up a Hogwarts-esque staircase, you’ll find a server room. That’s full of wire. Which reminds me: watch this, and listen to this. Wire: probably the best cross-cultural name other than the Beatles and the Volkswagen Beetle.
After all the wire, I made my way to the old dispatch center in DPS, where a lovely dispatcher would greet you at the door, and you’d be forced to look at “What to do when you’re choking” brochures from 1978 while waiting. That may have come off as snarky, but I actually like those brochures. I have a very low threshold for what I enjoy, reading-wise.
Lonely chair, a bit of wire. I make my way back through the hallways, up a staircase, down a staircase, and I’m about to head back through the courtroom when I see DPS Commander Rick Pyle. He smiles, says hi, then keeps walking. A minute later, when I’ve already nailed my leg on the judge’s bench and I’m walking through the dark, I hear Pyle’s voice.
“How’d you get in here, anyway?”
I told him the courtroom doors were open, I flipped on my phone’s flashlight function, and made my way through. I didn’t tell him about the refrigerators, the dozen photos I’d taken, or the 20 minutes I’d spent snooping. But he knew.
After the meeting, I walked past the courtroom doors. Three city employees were trying to figure out how to jam them shut.