Monday, August 22, 2016
God has a sense of humor.
On the previous night, I had complained to Kari that, although my road trip had been restful and fairly entertaining to that point, there was certain lack of… adventure to it. I wanted something to happen that was really worth writing about. In other words, I was literally asking for trouble.
The day began peacefully enough. I slept in, read, and caught up on my travel notes. Leaving Riverside around 4:00 pm, I headed south for San Diego to see the Padres play my beloved Cubbies at Petco Park. Not surprisingly, I encountered typical big-city traffic, but arrived in plenty of time. Just a few blocks from the ballpark, I pulled into a multi-leveled garage. Reminding myself that I was parked on the second level, I headed down a nearby staircase and out onto a narrow plaza that separated the parking garage from the Metropolitan Transit Center. Rounding a corner, I joined a triumphal procession of Cubs fans as we streamed toward the park.
The atmosphere at Petco Park was much livelier than Angels Stadium and better attended, despite it being a Monday night. The weather, not surprisingly, was beautiful with cool air blowing in from the nearby Pacific. I decided to splurge a little on my ticket and purchased a close seat along the left field line. This turned out to be an excellent choice because many Cubs fans had gathered there. My overall view of the field was pretty good although my seat ended up being right next to an aisle where a constant stream of people went up and down.
A drunken Padres fan sat several rows behind me, and throughout the game, thought it absolutely hilarious to chant the names of random Cubs players who were no longer on the team.
“SAM-MY SO-SA!” He’d bray.
“NOOOO-MARRRR!” (in reference to former Cub Nomar Garciaparra.)
Apparently, in his own strange way, he was trying to provoke the Cubs fans in the section around him. When no one would respond to jibes, he loudly grumbled that Cubs fans had no sense of humor.
The Cubs played as well as they had all season. They won the game 5-1 with several home runs to boot. Pleased with the success of the evening, I followed the crowds out of the park and into the surrounding neighborhood. My contentment quickly evaporated when I realized that, just like at Angels Stadium, I had exited out of the wrong side of the park and had gotten myself turned around. I began to make the circuit around Petco, hoping to hit a familiar landmark that would point me in the right direction of the parking garage. Unfortunately, the neighborhood looked a whole lot different in the dark. I had a vague picture in my mind of where my car was but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember which street the garage was on. I walked up one street, checking on several parking garages along the way. Having no luck, I turned back and began exploring the side streets, stopping at any garage I came across. Soon, the crowds began to thin out and businesses began to close. I ran across a number of bar-hopping Cubs fan, eager to rejoice in the team’s victory. I pasted a smile on my face, but I was in no mood to celebrate. It was getting late.
Several more hours went by and I started to get panicky. Now even the neighborhood bars had closed for the night. I had gone over the same streets again and again, desperately revisiting all the parking garages. I cursed my absolute stupidity. I knew better, my inner monologue repeatedly yelled, how could I have been so foolish as to leave the garage without checking which street I was on?
Time continued to drag on and my fear grew. If I wasn’t able to find my car, how would I get back to Riverside? Was I condemned to wander the streets of San Diego for the rest of the night?
By 2 am, all rational thought had fled me. I called Kari several times, but she didn’t answer. I supposed that was just as well. What was I going to say to her? Sorry to wake you up, but I’ve misplaced my car. Could you drive an hour and a half to San Diego and pick me up? I next tried 911 (non-emergency, of course) and asked what should I do. The responder, who probably thought I was drunk, said that until the car was towed, the police would have no record of its whereabouts, and wished me luck on my search. Finally, I called for a taxi to take me back to Riverside. After a $300 trip, I arrived back at Riverside by 4 am, exhausted, unable to think straight, and sick to my stomach with worry.
What was I going to do?