Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Boiling Out, Part I

While I was in Hot Springs, Arkansas for SABR's Deadball Committee's Boiling Out meeting, I kept a diary of what went on, what I ate, the research, etc. I'm going to transcribe it exactly to this blog. Pretty long so I'm going to write about it throughout the week and break it up with some book reviews and anything else that comes up.

There are times when I think I'm a little too "fly by the seat of my pants". I really had no business making this trip from a financial standpoint but the last one was a blast, the end of my final full semester is almost here (which one could argue would be a reason NOT to go) and I thought it would be nice to get away. I've not really been anywhere since last year's World Baseball Classic.

Which brings up the whole issue of traveling. I'm a homebody. I miss the familiar aspects of what I call home. Granted, until a couple of years ago, no where I called home really felt like home but that's another story....

When I do know I'm going to be away I get this panicky feeling which never really goes away. So already the trip is feeling like a bad idea, even before I leave.

I fly out to Chicago from Philly and that goes smoothly. I have an aisle seat with a space between myself and another person. The flight attendant and I talk about diet colas and she comes back and refills my drink later which was very nice. Almost finished an entire book on a flight about an hour and a half long.

Land in Chicago and I'm looking forward to seeing some fellow SABR members. Last time we had a handful of people who came in from Chicago. I figure there'll be 3-5 of us on the flight and we can share the cost of a shuttle to Hot Springs from Little Rock. Last time a bunch of us ended up at the airport all at the same time and did that. Figured I'd be all right. I get to the gate and no SABR members. The good vibes from the first flight go away. Hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast so I grab an Italian sub from Potbellies, a reprise from my last visit to the Chicago airport a year before. Nice toasted sub and an awesome value for airport food.

Board the plane and the feeling worsens. Definitely no one I recognize. I get an aisle seat but we're three in a row this time. Unbelievably, someone at the back of the plane had brought her terrier and gave no thought as to trying to sedate the dog before the flight. For the most part, the dog handled the flight well but during takeoff and landing it went nuts yipping. That in turn disturbed the one baby on the flight which was at the front of the plane. Dogs yipping, babies crying, crammed seating. Add to that a pilot who was playing Dodge the Clouds and it was an awful flight. No turbulence. The pilot just seemed like he wanted to go up and down and turn a lot. I spent the flight motion sick and got no reading done.

Land in Little ROck and I stagger to the shuttle service. No one, SABR or otherwise, is there. Uh oh. I get quoted a price to Hot Springs that would probably be enough to rebuild Haiti. My panicky, upset stomach somehow gets worse. I sit outside a bit and try to relax. Check the incoming flights and see there is a flight from Chicago in 45 minutes. Cool. That'll be the other guys. I wait and still nobody. Go back to the shuttle and there is a guy in for the basketball tournament who wants to go to Hot Springs but he has sticker shock, too. We're able to split the cost but he wants to go off and think about it. I go and check on a flight from Charlotte (no one) then track down the guy. He called a cousin and is going to spend the night in Little Rock and have the cousin drive him the next day.

Running out of options. The cost of a rental car could fix Haiti and Chile. A taxi cab fare would provide food to all the homeless in the world. I finally give up and pay for the shuttle. No available drivers by this time so I have to wait. The counter person wanders off and a cab driver comes in and offers to take me to Hot Springs for the cost of the shuttle. I've already paid for the shuttle so I'm out of luck. The cabbie scampers off as the counter person comes back. Her panties are all in a bundle about the cab driver coming in. Apparently it is against airport rules for the cabbies to solicit fares in the airport. The manager (who is one of the drivers) shows up and joins the Bundled Underwear Club. They start calling everybody and complaining about this driver while I wait.

I finally get fed up and ask for us to go. The manager takes me but is on the phone trying to resolve the cab issue. He updates me on every call as if I care. I'm just exhausted and want to get to Hot Springs. Finally he tells me that the cab driver is suspended from picking up fares at the airport for three days.

To add insult to injury the shuttle driver decides to stop for gas. He goes inside which baffles me but he comes back with bags of chips and sodas for both of us. I'm feeling awful and return them to him then doze off for the remainder of the ride.

Get to the Arlington Hotel, go in and recognize no one in the lobby. What the hell?!?! Check in, go to my room, unpack, go back down and finally see a couple of familiar faces. Sit down and chat for a bit then had a late dinner of the hotel's market salad (a standard but tasty Chef salad with very strong red onion) and a pear vodka and tonic. The salad costs less than the drink. The conversation somehow stuck mostly on football and college basketball, two topics of which I know little and am interested less. Finally we call it a night and I head off to bed feeling very dejected.

Will the trip become better? Will I taste red onion for the remainder of the trip? Did Haiti get any of the money from the shuttle fare? Yes, no and probably not. Tune in next time for the next installment of BOILING OUT 2010!

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