Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SO much "excitement"

Alright, I promised a few tales from my trip, so let's get to it. Buckle up, it's a coaster ride.

The night before I have everything in place and ready, I get to sleep not quite as early as I'd hoped, but certainly early enough. Everything had been settled and booked, and it looked like smooth sailing. Most of my bazillion trips before and after I got over here have been. I was also a road trip monster back home in the States, been to 44 of the continentals, many numerous times.

So... Thursday morning, I wake up by biting through my tongue exactly one minute before my alarm is set. While super prompt and all, that was a new and particularly jarring experience for me. But okay, let's shake it off and proceed.

Everything moving according to my inner schedule, the one that has never once seen me miss a train, I walked out to the tram stop for my quick shoot to Centraal Station. The trams are awesome because they are never late. You'd have to be more concerned they were a minute early. This one, this damn one was late. Five minutes late. Ten minutes late. And finally, 12 minutes before my train in early morning traffic, we're moving. And I'm whispering to myself 'Just give me 30 seconds to make it to the platform' - which just so happens to be at the farthest point from where this tram stops. It is a full diagonal traverse.

We pull up and my mind is telling me that I have 20 seconds. I zoom. I zoom and weave and I'm like Torry Holt, except Torry Holt didn't tote a laptop-filled backpack and medium-sized rolling soft bag. I'm on the platform and I see the train. I am yelling 'Attend! Attend!'. I am 40 meters from the train and the sounds goes and the guy looks right at me.

And then, he turns and gets on and the train rolls away. I'm sorry, did that just happen? Am I awake? Yes, the tongue. It happened. This trip sucks so far and I haven't even left.

Containing my curses, I go to the ticket counter and switch to the train two hours later. I make my journey and easily Metro my way to the street where my rented flat sits. Only... I've forgotten to write down the address of the shop where I collect the key. Oof. I quickly head down the street, not realizing I'm actually going right toward it. Because of the delay, it's time to get in and get to the stadium or I'll miss training and the interview window. I call Greg Lalas and ask him to break in to my email to get this info. Success. Into the flat and back out quickly to catch a cab to Stade de France. I have plenty of time and saw cabs all over while outside.

Small problem. Every last single one of them apparently will not go to Stade de France, for some unknown reason. One after another for 30 minutes, no less than eight. Maybe double digits. For the first time, I've missed a work stop. My curses are now un-contained. Hoping to fit in seamlessly, I curse in French.

Walking back to the flat in disgust, I stop for some grub and holler at the US press officer to finagle a quick call with Tim Howard. The netminder is gracious enough and I can re-contain my curses because actual work gets to be done by me. Almost not being able to do so, though not necessarily my fault, is making me luxuriously angry at myself. I owe that guy a nice gift and I have the perfect one packed. I'm not even sure why I packed it, but hey look, something worked out finally and I'm not boat rockin' it.

After finishing up all of my work, I back-and-forth-ed over whether I "deserved" to go meet defending world b-boy crew champs Jinjo Crew, including the one and only Hong 10. Finally I said screw this noise, I'm going. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they did not show where they were meant to be. Maybe they all bit their tongues and missed a train, maybe who knows what. There are some local crews and one from Germany, and the freestyle cypher sorta turns into a workshop. I was showing the b-boys a few basics from housing and jerking, they tried to teach me how to do a backflip (don't worry, I'm not ready for a solo try at all).

Losing track of time, I didn't get to bed until 3-something. When my alarm buzzed to make the media game against French scribes, the exhaustion and soreness from the night before quickly convinced me to sleep in - which I did until after 2. Suitably French-fed, I headed out to the stadium somewhat early for me, not wanting any potential mishaps along the way to make a problem.

Most everything went normal at the match, though I did nearly get electrocuted unplugging my computer at the press seat. That was also quite jarring, took me a moment to gather my breath. I got to hang for a bit with a cool little group of American scribes, and it was especially a pleasure to see one of my World Cup 2006 buddies in Luke Cyphers.

Shortly after arriving in the press lounge, I was grabbed by Germany's ARD1 and France's Canal+ for TV interviews. The former did not use my segment, while (from what I'm told, as I have not seen it) the latter use the wrong name graphic. So, to the French, I was a mystery someone else. C'est la vie, huh?

It was quite interesting to overhear what seemed like every other journalist asking US players why Sacha Kljestan was not called up. Not just the Americans, either, no no. French, German, what have you. It seemed like every 18 seconds, some journo would ask Clint or Jozy or even a French player or two something about the absence of Kljestan. They were all bemused and bewildered by it, so those of you back home dizzy wondering are certainly not alone.

After finishing work, I got what amounted to a three-hour nap before it was time to catch the train to Duisburg. Everything was going along fine, with me alternating between Planet B-Boy and dozing off. At one point, I woke up needing to use the restroom (welcome to the world of a heavy water drinker). I noticed a couple of German cops talking to someone for a few moments, kinda laughing it up and didn't think anything of it. When I got to the bathroom, it was occupado, so I waited happily with my earphones bumpin' the new Childish Gambino album again - it was a trip constant, heard at nearly every opportunity.

It's my turn, I go in and happen to catch in the mirror that I've picked up one of those little nicks you get without even noticing when, so I detour to the sink to inspect the blood-spot and wash it up. As I'm finishing to turn and do the #1 business (my apologies if you're eating now), suddenly the door busts open and the male German cop is barking something I cannot hear at me. I remove my earphones, showing him that obviously I did not hear him before, but he just kinda continues barking at me, and now I simply do not understand what he's saying. Frankly, I do not understand anything that is happening at this moment, on three hours sleep.

So I start to speak in English, being that he could realize harmlessly that I cannot understand him. He looks at me funny and mumbles something in German. I say 'Fine, but do you always bust into a restroom on people?'.

He looks at me like a waft of ammonia just shot up his nose and, honest to the world, says 'I'm a police. I can go in any door that's open.'

Okay, now I'm getting pissed. I tell him that obviously I didn't latch the door all the way properly, but it was absolutely not open. His little female partner walks up just then and I say that to her, and she says 'The door was open' with a straight face. Now, remember, I still have no earthly notion why they are even in my face at this moment to begin with. Finally, dude says he wants to see my passport, to which I reply 'Gladly' and lead them to my backpack.

He looks it over, hands it to his partner and resumes eyeballing me. Then, he snaps 'Be qviyyyet!'. I hadn't said a word. And I proceeded to say so, which he sooooo hated.

So I start eyeballing him back, I feel like the fed-up innocent person staring down back at Larry David in a typical Curb Your Enthusiasm episode. She starts calling my passport in to who knows what for who knows what reason, so I ask. He says nothing. I ask again - why is she calling in my passport and to who? By the time I'm umpteen levels of perplexed, she hands it back and they walk off without so much as a word to me. I'd heard tales of German cops that suffered from advanced little-man-itis, but this was my first time being confronted by one, for a reason that still eludes me fully.

There wasn't long to Duisburg, so I got my things and waited the last 20-odd minutes standing near the door. I wanted off the train, I wanted to just do my work. I caught the cab to their complex, where the also gracious press officer hooked me up with my three interview targets, all of whom were quite engaging. After a good interview, Charles Renken and I had that fun talk when you realize you both grew up around St. Louis. And just when it all seemed right... I slowly determined that my bag was left in the taxi trunk.

Fortunately, this was an easy fix as the same driver was standing right there when I reached the train station taxi stop. Alls well that ends, right? Well, I made it home and got some sleep. And now I'm sitting here, ready to watch the US v Slovenia for ratings at MLSS and pondering my grades for three Hope Solo dances from last night.

There ya go, hope it's not boring. If so, just be glad I didn't go into the macarons.

- Greg Seltzer


Mike said...

I am exhausted just reading that. Hope your next trip goes without problems

-D said...

1. I wish I was cool enough to call Greg Lalas up and ask him to break into my email.

2. Yeah...German cops are rather frisky. Especially to Americans.

3. I wanted to hear about your...getting hit in the face by a bike! Do tell, do tell!

Greg Seltzer said...

Oh, right... as I made my way up the stairs to the platform for initial departure #2, a guy carrying his bike let it slip and the back tire hit me in the face.

Alex said...

I've never had a problem mit der Polizei. It's unfortunate that you did.