Championship week is behind us. I hope you all basked in the glorious week that hosted non stop thrillers between South Dakota State and Omaha or whatever other mid-to-low majors you enjoyed during Championship Week. However, some brave souls ventured to the world beyond Big South or Big Sky championships. I’m here to tell that sad tale.
It all starts very innocently. “Let’s go to Punta Cana for Spring Break!” What a silly phrase. Because outside the comfort of a South Jersey home with Wifi and TVs lies a barren wasteland where no amount of piña coladas can solve the insurmountable obstacles of the islands.
The problems don’t just start once you actually get to the islands. The problem lies in the preparation, too. Your parents don’t check the passports of you and your younger sister. The travel agent doesn’t either. It’s Sunday and while you sit on your couch soaking up the basketball rather than the sun you hear, “Oh shit! They’re expired!”
How could this have happened? A travel agent has one job: make sure you can leave the country. How did your parents not check the passports either? The answers are unclear, but regardless basketball has been put on the back burner. It’s time to problem solve.
After some googling you realize that a place in Philadelphia can get you and your sister two new passports in 6 hours or less. They aren’t open on Sundays, but that’s not a big deal. Instead of a Monday-to-Friday trip, it’s a Tuesday-to-Saturday. This means you’ll miss your rugby game on Saturday, but once again, no big deal. You weren’t feeling a concussion that weekend anyway. All looks well. You and your family will wake up early, go to the passport place, and crisis averted. Boy, you’re an idiot for thinking that.
You get special priority Monday morning because you are flying out in under 24 hours. Perfect. You fill out the paperwork with some help from your mother because despite being 20 years old, you’re a dependent child. While you’re filling out the paperwork you notice the line hasn’t moved since you got here. People look panicked. A lady comes out and announces to everyone, “We are having some issues with our computer systems. This should be resolved shortly.”
She is being bombarded with questions, so naturally your dad feels that she needs just one more.
“How long has this ever been down for?” What a pessimistic question.
“It has been down for up to 4 or 5 hours, sir.”
Not that bad. But definitely not good. This means you’ll still get them today, but it’s a day stuck in the passport place on 2nd and Chestnut in Philadelphia. There’s basketball to be watched. Teams are playing their hearts out for a chance to dance and you are at the cafeteria of a passport place. Good.
Eventually it’s time for another announcement. “We don’t know if we are going to have this up and running today. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
As all dads do, your dad lets out a frustrated grunt then breathes deeply to himself while the rest of your family awkwardly stands around him trying not to laugh. He’s got a lot on his plate.
The paperwork is filled out and you and your sister sign a document allowing your parents to pick up your passports for you. This means that now the trip is a Wednesday-to-Saturday trip. Still acceptable. Everything will figure itself out.
Sure enough, the passports are finally in your possession Tuesday. Time to relax until the flight Wednesday morning.
Tuesday night gives you D-Day. Lucky for you, Jack’s stephpocalypse bunker will work just fine for the Daum’s Day. Mike Daum reigns terror upon your beloved Counting Crows song, “Omaha.” It’s good ol’ fashioned Championship Week action. The world makes sense for a couple hours, but tomorrow will be the beginning of the end for your sanity.
Wednesday goes well. No problems in the airport, during the flight or even getting to the hotel. Upon arrival, you are greeted with the one thing you have longed for: a piña colada.
Everything looks great. Wednesday is relaxing and filled with drinks of all kinds. The first horror of many happens when you flip on the TV. Soccer. Just soccer.
Okay, WatchESPN. That’ll work. But as the game loads a message pops up telling you that because you are in another country, no WatchESPN for you.
You figure that you’ll hit the bar and there will be games on. You don’t stress over it. You just relax and enjoy your Wednesday.
Thursday brings great things. You find out about a casino in the hotel. They have a sports book. Time to gamble. Your dad even fronts the bet. What a time to be alive. You’ve drank by a pool or on a beach all day, avoided sunburn (miraculously), and now you can gamble and drink the night away in a casino that finally brings you basketball. Things have turned around. For now.
Friday… 8 am… The early wake up has come with the feeling of various shots, piña coladas, and El Presidente beer on its way up. You yak. Beautiful. Back to bed.
9 am. Oh boy. It’s back.
Hours pass and the vomit does not let up. In fact, it lasts all day. You think that this might not be a hangover, but an actual illness. Then you remember all you drank last night and quickly conclude this is most likely the disturbing mix of beverages you forced down. It was worth it.
Friday was a wash because, well, you puked all day then ate whatever you could stomach at a shitty Hard Rock Cafe. But that’s okay. Saturday means you sit on the beach all morning, pack up, and head back to watch the late games in beautiful South Jersey.
The beach is relaxing. Naturally, you have to fight off a number of Dominican women and other spring breakers that are flocking to you. But that comes with the territory.
At the airport everything seems fine. The plane is set to take off at 3:30 and set to board at 2:50. Everything is on time and you start piling into the plane.
Oh my goodness. It’s a steamy 110 on the plane because the AC is broken and firing hot air onto the plane. The attendants tell you it’ll cool off in the air, but you are perspiring mightily.
After 30 minutes on the oven with wings the pilot announces, “We are having some difficulties on the plane. We are trying to get maintenance here, but everything is a little slower in the islands.”
You don’t want to hear that shit from him. You want this bird to fly. But you sit on this plane-turned-sauna and play some “mmm fingers” on your phone.
All of sudden your dad is puking. This isn’t great. Flight attendants figure it’s from the heat, so for everyone’s sake, they pop open the emergency doors on the plane because, ya know, Punta Cana in the afternoon is cooler than a plane. Makes Sense.
Hours pass. Your dad continues to puke. You continue to suck it up at “mmm fingers” because your hand is sweaty. It’s not your fault. And the plane remains on the ground.
Finally, 6:30 rolls around. The pilot has brought great news after 3 hours and 40 minutes on the death trap: the plane is ready to fly. The finest minds in the world have come together to fix the plane and you can fly.
Naturally the plane doesn’t actually leave the ground until 7:30, 4 hours and 40 minutes after you boarded. Once you get high up enough for passengers to move around, the pilot announces, “Is there a medical professional on the plane?” It’s for your old man. He’s still hacking up the airport Wendy’s he ate and just about anything else that he has ingested. They take him to first class and shortly after they take your mother up there too. Oh good. You and your sister get to chill with the commoners while your dad pukes amongst kings. You’re a king, though. But, you spare the attendants instead of unleashing your fury like the gusts of a thousand winds. You can be just fine in coach.
Finally you land in Philadelphia. The pilot announces that medics have to get on the plane for your dad, who is still puking. Your family knows that it’s just the same thing you had, which means you were not just hungover on Friday (though, the alcohol must not have helped the situation).
Once you land in Philadelphia, you get your bags (which is a struggle because your sister is next to useless, your mother is tipsy from the wine in first class, and your dad is, ya know, sick). But it’s just not that easy. At customs your dad gets stopped for questioning. At this point, he’s being pushed around in a wheelchair, so he gets wheeled into a room and questioned for Lord knows what. This has happened before. He must have the same name as a terrorist or something, but oh well. You don’t worry about it. Let them ask whatever it is they need to ask and let’s be on our damn way.
After questioning, you have to make the long trek to the car. It’s about 20 degrees outside, but you find the car and go back to pick up the rest of the family.
It’s midnight and you have everything in the car and you are driving the family home. Finally. You arrive just in time to order some Domino’s and watch Oregon lose. You quack nonetheless, eat your cheesy bread, and hop right in bed. You swear that you will never even consider leaving your house again during good ol’ Championship week.