Dec 20, 2010

Cowboys vs Eagles

Several months ago, my uncle (my mother's brother) invited my family to Texas for a secret event. We had no idea what to expect except that we were instructed to be in Dallas by Sunday the 12th. Naturally, rumors as to what the event could be spread like wildfire through my immediate family and our cousins. As the date of the event drew closer, I suggested that the event could be something related to sports. I was shouted down initially, but upon further review and research, it was revealed that the Dallas Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles that Sunday at the new Dallas Stadium. I'm glad to say I was proved right.

Game Day
The day of the game, I flew from Boston to Dallas and was picked up by my aunt and her boys from the airport. I landed around 2:30 p.m. Texas time and was promptly dropped off at my uncle's house, along with the boys, so that we could watch the Patriots-Bears game which came on at 3:15 p.m. My cousins and I watched the 3:15 game together for about 25 minutes before they got up and left. Since they are from Chicago, they did not appreciate the beat down being administered by the Patriots. I loved every moment of it until CBS stopped showing the game in the third quarter because it was so one-sided.

Game Time
A few hours later, the entire group of family and friends headed out to the football stadium to watch the Cowboys-Eagles game. To say I was excited doesn't do my feelings justice. I was beyond excited. I couldn't sit still in the ten minute car ride to the stadium and I couldn't stop grinning.

Being in the stadium reminded me of being in a large mall. There were "stores" on each level, each selling various types of Dallas apparel and what felt like several hundred food vendors sprinkled liberally on each level. People milled around the numerous lobbies trying to figure out the quickest way to their sits or just taking in the larger than life "Gigantic Mega-Jumbotron." This thing has to be seen. Sure, the many shots of it during games and photos online show it's big. But in person, it's bigger. Trust me. A friend of mine joked that even if you have tickets on the 50-yard-line in the first section, you'd still stare up at the Gigantic Mega-Jumbotron screen to watch the game instead of looking at the action in front of you.

I watched the game from one of the suites that makes up a ring that runs around the field about 200 feet above the field of play. The ring of suites acts as a divider between the lower deck seating and the upper deck seating. The suites are equipped with movie theater style seating as well as some bar stools, chairs and tables as well as a sitting area with couches. I counted four flat screen TVs in the suite so that no matter where you were in the suite, you could watch the game.

The new Cowboys stadium has some interesting features. One of which is that both teams enter the field by walking through field-level bars on opposite sides of the field. If you're in the bar area, you can watch the players run through. It's pretty cool. My uncle, two cousin, my girlfriend and I rushed downstairs on the Eagles side of the field to watch them pass through the bar.

It's a little blurry but you can see the entire Eagles team run out to the field. Mike Vick is much shorter than I thought and Andy Reid is a lot bigger than I thought.

We spent the National Anthem in the field-level bar behind the Eagles bench. It was cool being with 20 feet of Eagles players as they stalked up and down the bench area psyching themselves up for the pending game. Vick was seated just outside of the photo on the left on one of the trainer's tables getting stretched out. Despite taking some big hits, he had a decent game. I think everyone has been impressed by his comeback this season. As it turned out, the Cowboys were honoring several past Cowboy teams which included Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Cheerleaders have never been a thing for me, but I can admit that, up close, they are quite attractive and tall. Really tall. After the Nation Anthem, we headed back up to the suite for kickoff. I hadn't realized how far we had walked around the stadium until we attempted to get back to the suite.

The Eagles' bench and field-level bar is on the opposite side of the stadium from the suite and several floor below it. We thought we found a short cut when we happened upon an elevator that went up to the ring of suites, but while the ring appears to encircle the field, access to the ring is split. Our suite was on the Cowboys side of the field and therefore we couldn't just walk around the ring to reach our suite. Instead, we took the elevator back down to the mezzanine level and walk around the stadium to the Cowboys side and then take another elevator up the ring of suites. During the walk, we passed sections of "Standing Room Only" area. Tickets for those spots are $30 a piece! I won't lie, I would pay $30 to "stand" in the Cowboys stadium. With the Mega-Jumbotron and the layout of the "Standing Room Only" areas, there is not bad view.

Even though Dallas lost the game, being in the stadium was much more of a treat than anything else. Since I'm moving to the area soon, I'm looking forward to going back. Hell, the way the Patriots are playing, I might get a chance to be there in February!

Dec 7, 2010

Brushes with the Law

About a month ago, I was pulled over for "running a red light." I put the infraction in quotes to highlight my innocence. I did not run a red light, if anything, I'm guilty of not slowing down at a yellow light. With this in mind, I set about to fight the ticket. This required sending the ticket (through the mail only) to a specific division of the Registry of Motor Vehicles so that they could process my claim and set a court date for me. The week before last I received a letter in the mail telling me that my court date was set for a date last week and that unless I wanted to forfeit my hearing I needed to show up at least ten minutes early and be prepared to pay the court fees, cash only, exact amount only.

I decided to log my time going through the court system because I've heard many horror stories. I've even seen some of the drama of court played out the few times I've sat in a session to observe the proceedings. The following is a time log of the events I witnessed while I waited for my hearing.

10:50AM - I arrive at RTC (Roxbury Trial Court), go through metal detector and am pointed towards cashier to pay court fees... Ten minutes early. So far, so good.

11:00AM - Several people join me waiting at the cashier. No one is behind the window. A woman named "Maria" begins talking to me about fighting her ticket. Her nervousness is evident. I nod politely. I don't think she's going to win...

11:10AM - Someone finally comes to the cashier's window. Fees are paid, receipt slips are given out. Maria is showing photos of the street where she was pulled over. She is now speaking Spanish to a young Latino couple that is also waiting. Maria hasn't stopped talking since she walked up to the wait for the cashier.

11:15AM - Upstairs, on second floor, it's packed! People mill about waiting to be called into a court room. I'm wearing a gray suit, a collared button-down, without a tie. I think I look fairly professional. Other black people and ethnicities are dressed like they're waiting to get in the club...

11:30AM - An officer comes out of a court room and calls a name. A person sitting on a bench near me gets up and follows the officer into the court room. It dawns on me that there are at least 16 people, including me, here to fight traffic tickets.

11:36AM - Oh snap! There goes Charles Ogletree!

11:45AM - The court officer comes out to the court room lobby and asks everyone who is fighting a traffic ticket to give him their cashier receipt. He is mobbed by several people handing him receipts and demanding answers to questions. I hand him my receipt after the commotion dies down. I can't imagine how taxing his job must be. I want to offer to buy him a cup of coffee. Is that allowed? I'm not sure.

11:50AM - Maria is complaining to no one in particular about having to feed her parking meter. I smile to myself. I parked in a lot. No meter to worry about.

11:55AM - The court officer comes out and calls my name... Wait it was someone else. Never mind.

12:15PM - I think Maria is cursing in Spanish. I guess she's frustrated by the wait. Almost everyone who was waiting ahead of my group has been called. I've been in the RTC for an hour and twenty-five minutes.

12:20PM - Sitting and waiting reminds me of the time I went to the RMV to get my license renewed. I was there for close to two hours, but at least I had a book. I wish I had a book now...

12:25PM - A young woman comes out of the first court room in tears. She sit down next to a man with a child and begins to sob uncontrollably. She reaches for the child and hugs him. A court officer comes out and asks her to come with him. She begins to cry harder. It's painful to watch families get separated due to the system.

12:40PM - Maria gets called into a court room. The lobby is suddenly very quite except for the young Latino couple who appear to be talking about Maria, in Spanish, and laughing.

12:50PM - Maria comes back out of the court room, flooding the lobby with expletives, in both English and Spanish... I think she lost her hearing!

1:00PM - After two hours and ten minutes, I'm called by the court officer. I stand arrange my papers and go into the court room. Time to face the unknown.

1:10PM - My case is "farmed out" to a different location and jurisdiction because of my mother. Another day, another court. Will I have to pay court fees again?