Monday, November 15, 2010

Bus Ride

This really happened.

I am in San Francisco this Monday morning attending a conference of the National Communication Association. I am taking the opportunity of this meeting to visit with my cousins who live just a 20 minute bus ride from the conference hotel.

This morning my cousin walks me to the stop and I get on the Geary Limited which will take me to where most of the sessions are held. The bus is jammed and I can't get a seat so, in a manner I'm familiar with having been reared in Brooklyn and having lived in Boston for the past 30 years, I am hanging onto a metal railing leaning over a number of riders fortunate enough to get a seat.

The woman below me and to my right is on her cell phone. And she is animated. Initially I think she is venting about some issue related to work, then I think it is not about work but some investment. But I realize it is not either of these areas. I realize this because I hear her say touchdown, and then quarterback, and then penalties, and then Singletary.

This woman is ranting about the 49er game played on Sunday--a game which the 49ers won. She is referring to plays from the game and then she comments about "the catch" a phrase that football aficionados know refers to a catch made by Dwight Clark in 1982.

When she gets off the phone I ask her if she likes the 49ers. Her answer is concise.

Actually, I don't she says. But, she continues, she loves the Ohio State Buckeyes. Then this woman who tells me, without solicitation that she is in her 50s, is off to the races. I hear about Troy Smith the quarterback for the 49ers who is a Buckeye. I hear so much esoterica about the Buckeyes and the 49ers that I, a fairly knowledgeable sports fan, feel like I know nothing at all. She is crazy about Singletary, upset with the referees for not letting the boys play, happy to speak with me (really all I am doing is listening) because she rarely gets a chance to talk about football.

I ask her if she is from Ohio. She says yes, from Columbus. I mention Woody Hayes the revered coach of the Buckeyes. To that name she reacts as if I have said Yahweh. She then produces a bit of esoterica that only a zealot could produce. She tells me that she would have done the same thing Hayes did at the end of the Gator bowl.

I know what Hayes did, but what are the chances a stranger in 2010 will know what Hayes did in the late 70s that got him fired. Hayes, when a fellow named Bauman for Clemson intercepted a pass in the Gator Bowl that ended Ohio State's chances for a victory, hauled off and punched Bauman when he came to the sideline. To this date, I have never heard anyone say anything positive about this action. Today, I met the exception. With no solicitation my neighbor says, "I would have punched that Clemson guy myself."

I hope I am not painting her as an unsavory character. On the contrary, while I think punching a player is reprehensible, as I write in the Madness of March, I believe anyone who has such a passion for anything--stamps, coins, or football, is someone who has a nourishing hobby.

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