Friday, January 04, 2008

A few of you have told me how great my job is. I know, I know, working for the Bulletin is about as good as it gets. But to cover sports is a treat. Not many people get paid to watch and report on something they love. That, my friends, makes me lucky.

Now that the travel-heavy portion of the schedule is upon us, I figured a little insight into what a sports writer experiences while covering the Huskies would be fun.

One of my favorite aspects of my job is the travel. Whether I see new places, meet new people or have the opportunity to experience something exclusive to a location, I find it highly interesting.

I've been to Philadelphia before Thursday and it was significantly different. For starters, my two previous visits included local guides. Then again, attending Phillies games shouldn't be seen as a visit.

I boarded a train in New London, and after reaching New Haven, I didn't have anyone sitting next to me. "Great," I thought. "More leg room." I fell asleep and by the time I reached New York's Penn Station, a conductor woke me up with her screams alerting me to the need for the seat beside me and how I shouldn't be using two seats. Yes. I'm that guy.

No sooner do I move my bag does the train depart, and to no one's surprise, the seat next to me remained empty. Maybe this was too good to be true. It was.

A conductor led a lady to the seat next to me shortly before stopping in Trenton, N.J. She had numerous bags, a big blue hat with a flower on the front and a neck brace, which was quickly discarded. These are the moments when my iPod comes in handy. The lady began swinging elbows into my chest and left arm as she fought with her bags. At one point, she tried to feed a straw into a pill bottle. Don't ask me why because I don't know.

She chats up the lady directly in front of me, who surrenders too much information. She's a paralegal and my seat neighbor begins to tell her the best way to make herself more efficient is to wake up an hour early every day and spend time telling herself how good she is. Great. IPod back on.

We cross into Philadelphia and she started leaning over me to look out the window as if she were on Meerkat Manor. Sorry, but I could only wish I had a meerkat next to me. Besides, meerkats don't begin to tell you the story of how they sustained a psuedo neck injury that comes with a stylish, yet completely unneccessary brace.

I was thankful when I de-trained. At the cab stand, I found a friendly driver, who because he took his time reaching the stand, had the customer take the cab behind him. Insulted, the driver stepped out and began cursing and screaming at the guy, who now couldn't hear or see the driver. This cab driver didn't lose a fare and couldn't be heard or seen by his target. But the elderly women getting into his car must have been excited to have a driver with so much vigor.

The rest of the trip was normal except for the pimp who drove me back to the train station and managed to get the gas station attendant in Villanova to re-open for a quick transaction. I don't know if it was the 1970s style Kangol hat or the three-quarter length leather jacket or the gold chain going across his neck on the outside of his suit, but something made me think of Huggy Bear.

Oh, and the lady behind me on the train home, who was in the midst of the Amtrak All-You-Can-eat buffett at midnight. All I heard was crumple, crumple, smash, crunch, chew, slack, slurp. Until she began moaning while eating her chicken salad, roast beef and whatever else was there. It was like when Harry met Sally, but it was just Sally meeting Chicken Salad.

So when you think life as a sports writer is glamorous, consider yourself right on the money. What other occupation allows you to interact with dumb luck, meerkats, jovial cabbies pimps and food enthusiasts?

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