Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Humanitarian Award #2

As many of you know, the biggest accomplishment of my life was winning the Mt. Pleasant Elementary School Humanitarian Award in 1990. Well, the Guangzhou City Council in their infinite wisdom has awarded me my second humanitarian award. This lady in the video nominated me.


The best word to describe the world team table tennis championships: domination. The Chinese Men and Women's team destroyed everyone. Apparently the women's team hasn't lost since 1993. That's a comparable run to the Livingston Lightning during the late 80s and 90s. The Men's team has the top three players in the world and made quick work of the Koreans in the finals. The energy of the stadium wasn't nearly as exciting as I had pictured it in my head. I think the Chinese expected to win and thus were very casual about rooting. The best story though of the competition didn't happen at the competition. Look at the picture above. That picture was taken right after I picked up our tickets at the Emma Ticketmaster box office. At the end of that giant square is a giant stadium with a billboard that reads, "The 49th World Table Tennis Championships." The billboard is enormous. What you can't see are three things:

1. There is another huge stadium to my left.
2. There is another huge stadium to my right.
3. Down the block was my hotel that I booked because it boasted about being near the Tianhe Sports Center.

So, here's the story: As I mentioned in entry #1 I like to be on time. So Mark and I planned our day on arriving twenty minutes early to the arena. We got there and approached the stadium--it was locked. We asked a local and he pointed us at one of the other stadiums. We walked to the next stadium and were stopped by a police officer as we tried to enter. We showed him our tickets and he pointed at the third stadium. At the third stadium we were laughed at by two girls who called over their boss who spoke a few words of English. He looked at our ticket and sent us back to the first stadium and gestured that it was open on the other side. We walked back to the first stadium. The doors were still locked. We asked another local who pointed at stadium #2. At stadium number two were were pointed again to stadium number three. In essence the locals were playing ping pong with us. We went back to the box office and asked the person working there where to go. His response was interesting, "Oh, you need to take a taxi to get there. Very far." Well, he was right. It was very far. About twenty five minutes far.

Let me just give this analogy. Imagine ordering Springsteen tickets from Ticketmaster. You're told to pick them up at the Madison Square Garden Box Office. You get to Madison Square Garden and the marquee has a gigantic picture of the boss and says, "Springsteen Tonight!!!"...only to find out that the game is in the boondocks--Nassau Coliseum.