Coming back from Colorado proved entertaining. First off I had to get a plane from Durango to Denver. This isn’t so much of a flight but more an airborne rollercoaster in a small tube. After scoffing down a ‘Durango Scramble’ breakfast I felt a tad delicate. I had a good two hours and fifteen minutes before my connecting flight from Denver to Houston and figured I’d go shopping in the airport for holiday tat. Then I spied the airport security queue. I would have used the American equivalent word of ‘line’ but in my book, lines are straight and don’t meander around half of Denver with no end in sight.
Two hours. Two flippin’ hours stood like an Emperor penguin but at half the speed.
I finally reach the passport people who have mastered the art of resting bitch face to perfection.
My red passport with the British coat of arms spooks them into paying attention. I think it’s the unicorn that does it.
“You’re from England?”
I’m never sure if this is a trick question or not. What if I said no? I nodded.
“How long have you been here?”
“Well put it this way mate, I wouldn’t queue up this long for a date with Channing Tatum. Long enough to lose the will to live.”
“In the USA.”
“Oh….fifty-five days, two hours and four minutes.”
Then it’s belts off, bewwwts off, coats off, no jewellery, no laptops in bags and most importantly, no silly remarks and no liquids.
“My sandwich seems to have melted in my bag what with the wait and turned into gloop. Does this qualify as liquid?” ………..
I had five minutes to get to my gate which, naturally was the furthest away from where I emerged. What I particularly like are those moving walkways which are basically flat escalators. I love walking fast or trotting along them as they make me feel like a super hero next to the boring people who choose to walk normally on the everyday floor. On this occasion they were necessary for me to get my arse moving and to gate C43 and on my plane. But oh no. They were filled with stationary people just wanting a free ride. Hoards of them! Who in hell stands still on a moving walkway when you can run like The Flash?
I eventually make it to gate C43 and find a plane going to Las Vegas. Errr.. what? No, I can’t have missed it. I check my ticket to make sure I’m not misreading it. Nope. Definitely gate C43. I stare at the lying flashboard daring it to defy me. Panic. I rush back to the departure board. Houston…..FLIGHT CANCELLED.
I join another queue that is longer than an “Everything is free at Macy’s today” that has formed at the Southwest airlines desk with disgruntled Texans wanting to know how they’re going to get home. Like you do, I got talking to the people in front of me who had been on a business trip to Denver. Having an English accent is novel and makes people talk to you. Unless you read passports for a living. We all bitched and whined and wondered what on earth was going on and why we couldn’t get home. Whispers made it down the line that there were flash floods in Houston and the airport was closed. Phones got checked for other nearby places to fly to such as Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and even Louisiana. No flights available because guess what? It’s Memorial weekend and everyone’s going away! Yay!
There were no flights at all back to anywhere remotely near Texas until the following evening by the time I got to the desk an hour and a half later. However, fortune tends to land in my lap in mysterious ways and the group I had been talking to offered to get me a room in their hotel on their business rate.
I turned into a Victorian period drama lady as is the British way when people offer help. “Oh goodness, I can’t possibly. Are you sure? Thank you ever so. Let me buy dinner or something.”
“No sweat! In fact let’s see if the Rockies are playing,” they said. I wondered what that meant.
“You ever been to a ball game?”
“Errm…what kind of ball game? tennis..football…rugby?…”
“What? You’ve been all this time in the States and never seen a ball game?! Hell, you have to go to one! Right, lets get real good seats at the front!”
“Honestly, don’t worry about me. I’m happy to get my head down with a cup of hot chocolate and watch the commercials on telly. You lot go and have a great time,” I suggested.
Well that wasn’t happening. They insisted this experience was needed and bought me a ticket.
Everyone pooled into taxis and off we went downtown to the hotel. The cab ride went on expenses too. My room was a like a little house with a lounge and a bedroom and two telly’s. I didn’t think the $12 in my purse would be sufficient.
Off we all trotted to the game between the Rockies and the Giants.
The atmosphere inside was electric and I started to think this a good idea after all. Lots of merchandise, big hands to wave, tons of fast food places and even beer shops! Apparently it was imperative for me to have a beer and a super sized hot dog. Like I’m gonna argue with that?!
The seats were good, I was told, and right behind third base. I thought third base was a dating term in America but it’s actually a post that batters run to. I’ve since realised that a lot of everyday, American terminology is from the ballpark.
The group started to try and explain the rules to me like the invisible square, the catcher (Hannibal lecter in a face cage) a strike out, the short stop who isn’t necessarily short, the closer ( not a mafia gangster but a last minute bowler) innings and so on. As far as I was concerned it was a mix between rounders and cricket. I stopped paying attention because I got distracted by the food vendors who walked round shouting out names of delicious foods that they threw to you from the alleys. They had things on sticks covered in chocolate, candy floss, popcorn, beer, and then this bag of seeds/nuts or something that I noticed a lot of people eating. I noticed because they kept spitting them out on the floor much to my English disgust.
Then I started paying attention again when someone next to me nearly got knocked out by a baseball. If that’s going to happen to anyone, it’s going to be me.
What I found most odd was the fact that Rockies and Giants fans sat together in the same seating area. I waited for it to kick off into an almighty scrap but it didn’t. That would not happen in England. You sit the opposing fans together in my country and they’ll leave with missing teeth, a squeaky voice and an ASBO if they’re lucky.
Baseball goes on for ages which is why you have to keep eating and drinking. Near to the end I got told to stand up.
“It’s the seventh inning stretch song.”
Up we all stood and sung about popcorn or something which worked for me since I was part way through the biggest bag of popcorn I’d ever eaten.
Naturally, in any sports game the guys sitting in the stadium are way more knowledgable and professional than the actual players. They weren’t shy in shouting out abuse when someone didn’t pitch or bat as they would have if they were on the field.
Batters tend to do a funny little dance thing when they prepare themselves but one of them took it to the ‘nth degree. In fact I think his walk up song was longer than Bohemian Rhapsody. “Holy crap! How many Mississippi’s are there in a second! Play ball already!”
Or, insult of the night, “You don’t just suck, YOU SUCK FROM BOTH SIDES!” I have, of course stolen this one.
Near to the end the Rockies were winning (apparently unexpected)and the Giants were being pitched at by their closer. Somebody hit the ball out miles and all the Giants fans took off their baseball caps, turned them inside out and put them back on again. I checked my beer for evidence of narcotics.
“What are they doing?”
“They turn their hats inside out when they hope their team are going to come back into the game.”
“And you call the English eccentric….”
I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my first baseball game though probably for all the wrong reasons. I left with a Rockies towel that my group caught from the ‘sling the fans some freebies’ girls and let me keep as a souvenir.
The next day in downtown Denver just so happened to be Rock Festival day with several stages in the town featuring live rock bands and margarita tents. Win.
This fuelled me so full of confidence that I decided to go and ask a copper if I could sit on his police bike.
“No way. He’ll never let you. You’ll probably have a gun pulled on you so we wouldn’t advise it.”
Turns out that cancelled flights can be rather fortuitous. I didn’t pay for a single thing bar a few rounds of drinks as they kindly put all of my costs on their company expenses. They even sent an email thanking ME for being such good company. I am constantly astounded by the good nature and generosity of the people in this great country and turn my hat inside out to them all.