Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Football Game

The first hint of a problem with our plan was the total absence of both people and signage at the Carlson school pick-up point. We were early, but not that early. In the unseasonably cold temperature of early November, we waffled about what to do.We asked two other men; they thought the shuttle to the stadium was still running. We decided to try hoofing it to the stadium. I was game, but barely.

“Are you two going to the game?” John shouted to a couple who had left the same sidewalk we were on and were walking down a grassy knoll to a road.

“Yes," one of them shouted back. John rushed up to them, and she continued, "We’re going to catch the campus ‘connector’ inter-campus shuttle just east of us on the road down there,” pointing up a bit from where our walk would bring us to the road. “It makes a stop at the stadium.”

“We were going to take the stadium shuttle,” John told them, as I caught up.

“They abandoned that one at the beginning of the year. There were 5 buses initially; then 3; now the only one is from the State Fair Grounds – that one still runs."

When we passed the stadium without anyone getting off, our new female friend pulled the “I want to make a stop” cord; I heard “You passed the stadium,” from a number of young mouths.

“I said the last stop was the closest to the stadium,” the driver retorted as the bus continued its run to the Agricultural Campus.

"This would have been quite a hike from the hotel," I observed. “I like football and everything, but I am not sure how that would have gone for me. I am very glad we got this bus!”

"Me, too," he nodded. He also said, “I know I wanted to pick you up early, but I didn’t know this was why. Sorry.”

No apology was necessary; I knew we’d circle back to the stadium in plenty of time. Suddenly … a light bulb ... a story … . “You know what John? There’s a story here. No matter what else happens.”

“You mean how this knucklehead friend of yours took you to a college football game, with no hint of how to actually get to the stadium?” he suggested, with a hint of a grin.

“You read my blog, John; I wouldn’t say such a thing where you might read it!” I replied. This was, in my view, well below the threshold of a knuckle headed operation. And  John was no knucklehead.

The bus came back toward the stadium. We got off, made our way to the stadium, found our seats, put up with forty degree temperatures featuring a cold, gusty north wind ( “Where’re your gloves?” “Don’t you have ear muffs?” “OK, I’ll stop being your mother!” ), walked around a bit at half-time, ate bratwurst, shared some salted in the shell peanuts, and confessed, "I'm cold.”

After, we returned to where we had gotten off the bus. We noticed, in the crowd, the couple with whom we had boarded the incoming bus earlier in the day, and we exchanged pleasantries. 

“They’re waiting here, too; must be the right place,” I said, as an aside.

Time crawled by, as if it, too, were frozen up by the unseasonably cold weather.

“I’m not too impressed with the shuttle service,” John muttered.

Eventually a city bus pulled to the curb; much of the horde with us, like a wave in the sea, made their way to it. Behind it, another bus pulled to the curb. Its marquee: "Connector Shuttle.”  

Our new friends and John and I scooted to it. The four of us exited at a stop they told us their driver had skipped several weeks previously. We were astounded to see that this stop was just a bit further than a long pass from the entrance to the hotel where John and I had parked. We bade farewell to our new acquaintances.

As we walked, “Well, that was quite the adventure.”

“All’s well that ends well, no?”

Oh yeah … our team won, extending its conference winning streak to four games and improving its overall record to 8-2.

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