I’m traveling today and a road sign caught my attention. The sign read, Cooper Sch Rd, reminding me of a road trip I took when I worked at the University of Central Florida.
I was the Communications Director, which was the formal title for unofficial, underpaid athletics department graphic designer. The women’s basketball team was heading to New York city to play Manhattan College (located in the Bronx) and because of the common fall-winter season overlap for the team’s SID, I was asked to go on the trip.
I was tired of travel, I was somewhat bitter about ever being an SID, and, I had not done the job in a few years. But I knew the coaching staff well and it was NYC, so I agreed to fill the gap.
We flew from Orlando to Atlanta to LaGuardia and picked up our minivans. I was not driving but did sit in the front seat of one of the three vans the team used. I think that was one of the ways the coaches were showing their appreciation for me going – allowing me to sit up front, unlike most coaches who would force me (and any other SID) to the back between luggage and with a bag or two on my lap.
It may seem tough to believe, but I’m pretty sure we were lost before we got out of the airport parking lot. Rather than slow down and read signs, our driver (an assistant coach) went with her gut instincts, the opposite direction of the other vans.
Within minutes we were in standstill traffic, and that, for any coach, is totally unacceptable. So we took the first exit we could and followed the coach-gut-direction, which was fortunately the same direction we had been traveling.
When we got past the stalled traffic we made our way over to merge back onto the previous route, celebrating our brilliant decision to exit when we did. We sped down the road, chatting and singing along to music when our driver suddenly realized the other vans weren’t behind us. And we were passing Yankee Stadium, on our left, which wasn’t the direction of New Jersey, where we were staying. And, there was a toll stop ahead. All of our bags were in the “bag van” which meant, no one had money in their pockets.
Task No. 1, find out where the other vans were and why they weren’t behind us. Easy enough, our driver decided to give one of the other coaches a call on her cellular device. As soon as she begins the call a player screams out, “You can’t use a cell phone in New York while driving.”
Like any coach believes, that rule didn’t apply to her. But, the other two coaches didn’t answer her calls. The no-answering incidents, plus the impending toll booth and its flashing lights, forced us to deal with Task No. 2, how to pay without money. The coach mentality of ‘rules don’t apply to me I can just run through this’ was certainly considered, but our driver wisely decided to make the toll stop and negotiate a pass. Amazingly, she managed to get us through.
Task No. 3, figure out how the hell to get to our hotel. Or just New Jersey. I scrounged around and managed to find a map in the glove compartment. Being female and fitting the stereotype perfectly, I couldn’t read the map. I didn’t know where we were and every time I thought I found a marker, I would get mixed up and confused. We drove in circles.
Becoming nervous and starting to sweat, I spoke up and ordered the players to help us. “I’m looking at the map. It seems as though we need to find George Washington BR, but I’m guessing that means George Washington drive. Everyone look and let us know if you see it.”
One of the passengers, not a player (a trainer or manager), had called her aunt for directions. Why she didn’t call earlier, or didn’t trust my map reading skills, I did not know. But, a quick explanation of what was around us, what we were driving towards and where we were trying to go provided enough detail for assistance. Her aunt said we needed to find the George Washington bridge, cross it into New Jersey, go about 11 miles and the hotel would be on the right.
So, we did that, but not before I was totally humiliated and took a laughter bashing from everyone because I thought BR was a typo on the map, instead of an abbreviation for bridge.
I’m guessing that Cooper Sch Rd meant Cooper School Road, but I obviously struggle with abbreviation interpretation. What do you think it means?