Saturday, May 13, 2006


The past two days, I have been on a baseball trip. Regular readers may remember that my son Adam (who is now 20) and I have been working through a pact we made 8 years ago to see his favorite baseball team, the Atlanta Braves, play in all the National League Stadiums. We fit them in with my work, his work and school, and family events. sometimes, though, like this week, we just go off and go to a game.

We went to Miami Thursday to see the Braves Marlins play at Dolphin Stadium. It was a beautiful South Florida evening, not a particularly large crowd, but a very fun and friendly one, even given the fact that probably 40% of the attendees were Braves fans. People from all walks of life enjoying a sporting event together. Great stuff.

The next morning, we hit the airport way early; Adam headed to D.C. to see family, me headed home. How early? By the time the planes left, USA Today had not made it into the airport yet! The early morning crowd was groggy, but also friendly and chatty as we waited for the plane. Many people seemed to know each other, and I learned that about half the plane's passengers had spent the night unexpectedly in Miami after their flight had been cancelled. Bad weather at O'Hare.

So, I get to Chicago, and my commuter to Springfield is cancelled. No problem, just rent a car and drive the 3-4 hours, since the next flight was not for 4 hours and I only could get standby tickets. Ooops. No rental cars at any agency: the prior evening's cancellations had wiped out their inventory.

Plan C: Cab downtown to Union station to take Amtrak. Now, those of you who fly regularly AND take Amtrak (particularly if its not on the East Coast) understand what I'm about to say.

I made a lot of new friends.

The train crowd is hugely different than the plane crowd, but on the whole, a lot more fun. Chatty, friendly, odd, wonderful, and intensly interesting is how I would describe my 3 hours in the waiting area. Then the four hour train trip was a combination of sleep, a bit of work and listening to the conversations between passengers about Harley's, Medicare, Amtrak, family troubles, being on parole, serving in Vietnam, and on and on.

My point? Three places: Dolphin Stadium, Miami International, and Union Station. People brought together making community where they were, helping each other, enjoying each other, seemingly (or at least temporarily) ignorant of race, class, income level.

It gave me hope.

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