Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Combinbe: Day 0

The day started off on a bad note. As I checked my bank statement before leaving town, I became enraged at my fascist bankers that had inexplicably overdrawn my account twice, leaving me with a balance of negative sixty dollars. I went over the transaction ledger three times and could not figure how my account had dropped in the red. I needed to visit this fine establishment but thanks to all the other shit I had to do that day, my venting had to wait.

I did, however, manage to make it on the bus to Indy. The only thing I forgot at home was one glove—could be worse. I found a seat that appeared to have significant leg room and stared out of the window. I watched a family unload out of a van—two large women, a young man with jeans clinging around his thighs and a toddler—perilously cross the street forcing cars to stop and blow their horns at them and struggle their way onto the bus. Somehow, I knew this family would effect my travels.

When they first got on, the toddler and the larger of the two ladies, sat in the two seats in front of me. Not so bad, I thought. Then they changed seats to the one behind me and the kid immediately began kicking my chair. Twenty minutes later, the kid had fallen asleep, but the two women did not cease speaking. Not once. If they weren't talking with each other they were fielding the numerous phone calls that inundated their cell phones, causing obnoxious ring tones to fill the bus every eight minutes or so. It was lovely.

We came to a rest area and I decided that I must change seats. I found another empty seat with signifcantly less legroom but assumed it would be more peaceful regardless of its comfort drawbacks. It took nearly 10 minutes before I realized that the bus driver was looking for me because I wasn't in my seat and he wanted to make sure not to leave me in an Indiana rest stop—a kind man.

I waved to him and reassured everyone that I was present and that we could move on.

Finally we reached Indianapolis. Being on the top of the double-decker bus I obviously had no idea what was happening a floor below. After some time, I meandered downstairs to find the bus driver letting on passengers on their way to Chicago. Working against the grain, I reached the bus driver and asked him if I should get off now.

“You're getting off?” he asks.


“Well then, get off.”

I walked outside to the back of the bus, unlatched the luggage container and removed my bag. Anyone could have done the same thing; I could have taken all the other bags too. The Megabus must be a river of drugs.

The Indianapolis chill had more bite than Cincinnati's and it was snowing and the snow was sticking. I had just left a city that had finally thawed to the point where the word “treacherous” was no longer synonymous with the word “sidewalk”. Seeing flakes dust more sidewalks here in Indy was repulsive at the time.

With bags in hand, I moved up the street uncertain of my next move. Looking around I suddenly noticed an enormous structure peaking out around the corner. It was Lucas Oil Field and it looked like a space freighter. It reminded me of stumbling upon just the head of a sleeping dragon; you know the part you can't see is even bigger. I didn't spend too much time on it, knowing I would get my fill soon enough.

I needed a warm spot with a beer. Being a sucker for a good stout, I rambled into Rockbottom Brewery and threw the hostess off guard. She gave me her best smile, but she was concerned with my bulging backpack and duffle bag and my Raiders sock hat (yes, Raiders. A hat is a hat.). I told her I intended to visit the bar and she was relieved.

The first really good news of the day came when the bartender told me my beer cost $2.17. I gluttoned the first one and savored the second. In the process, I was also haggling with my hotel about their shuttle service.

Earlier in the day, I inquired about the shuttle service listed in under 'services'. During that call, a young man with a lifeless tone explained through a dozen of my questions that the shuttle service is available to go anywhere I need within the city limits between the hours of 7am and 11pm as long as I give them at least a half hour notice—for $10 a ride.

So while enjoying my delicious and affordable stouts, I called to see if I could get a lift back to the hotel before I even checked in. At first Captain Monotone said it was cool, but then told me to hang on and returned to say that the shuttle doesn't go downtown. Considering I needed to work downtown for the next three days, this was unacceptable—not to mention a breach of contract. So I explained what was told to me, knowing it was this jackass who told me all of it in the first place. Every time I would bring up the rules, he would tell me to hold on and then tell me it couldn't happen. Finally I asked to speak to whomever he was speaking to.

“Yeah?” said the gruff, aged voice.

“Hello, is this the shuttle driver?”


I explained the rules again.

“Listen, this is for business, okay?” he asked me. “This isn't for playing around at the bars, you got it?”

Playing around?

“Fine,” I said. “I can meet you at Lucas Oil Stadium if that is professional enough for you.”

“That'd be alright. I'll meet you at the East end, alright?”

“No, I don't know which end is the East, I'll meet you on Delaware and Washington at nine.”


He drove past me the first time looking right at me. I nodded and pointed at him but he kept going. I was relieved to see him return two minutes later.

I decided to be extra gracious and really poured it on thick.

“You're a lifesaver,” I told him.

“Well, we just don't like people playing around with our shuttle is all.”

He was a smallish white man with scruffy hair under a worn ball cap and a unkempt mustache. He wore a polyester college jacket and slumped in his seat.

I explained to him that I was here to cover the NFL Combine and how I didn't know the city much at all.

“Well, that sounds like business,” he said.

I asked him if he lived here in Indy and he said that he lived at the hotel. He said that he doesn't like picking people up in the company van if he doesn't have to because there's so much to work to do. This man did whatever needed to be done at the place in exchange for a place to live. Crazy.

We arrived at the Knights Inn, and I tipped the driver. He said he didn't want to take it because he got “huffy” with me on the phone; he took it anyway. The man at the counter was a shaggy adolescent with a peace-sign medallion and a long-sleeved t-shirt under a short-sleeved t-shirt. He was a very cliched young man. I was also very nice to this guy but I didn't have to. He was frazzled with our phone exchange and he forgot to charge me for the ride.

I slid the key card into the slot and opened the door to a dingy oasis. It was warm (too much so, honestly), it had two beds (and I decided to alternate each night) and it a place to relax. The room was strangely similar to many of my former apartments: basic on the edge of bootleg. Nothing about it was nice. But it didn't matter. I could sleep.

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