Chapter 24: Thanks and Farewell for now…
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Sunday June 23, 2013 Zagreb, Croatia
My trip to vienna started out exactly as our season ended…a disaster. It was about a ten minute walk to the trolley stop and because my “Catch the Tolley” karma is what it is, my number 13 trolley trundled by as I was about 100 yards or a 30 second sprint from the stop. I declined to embaras myself with an attempted run. So naturally, it was another twenty minutes before the next one arrived. I passed the time reliving my final moments at a certain very small college. I’m not sure anyone was awake yet in the neighborhood but I didn’t care as I cussed my trolley luck and the pseudo intellectual jackasses at said college. Fortunately I had given myself enough time, knowing what my chances of a one or two minute wait would be. I had time to spare as I disembarked directly in front of the train depot.
Then, as I approached the train I could see a large group of mostly teenagers waiting in a mob near my intended car. Fortunately I found my compartment and my seat before the horde descended. But, it wasn’t long before three teenage girls speaking a language I didn’t understand obviously needed assistance in locating their seats. I was little help. But I did point out that these were reserved seats and they should try to find theirs. They left thoroughly bewildered.
But it wasn’t long before another group arrived. Teenage boys and a couple of adults. One of the women adults looked at me like I shouldn’t be where I was and mumbled something in broken English about the boys being together. I said sure but I’ve got a reserved seat and I’m sitting in it. That didn’t make her very happy. Anyway the boys crammed into the compartment with more luggage than the place was designed for and after a fair amount of jostling and rearranging of my luggage managed to wedge their collective baggage in the above the head racks. About that time the male adult stared at me like I was from Mars and I asked him if he had a question. Again, something about the ‘group’ being together and my answer, “I really don’t give a shit, I’ve got a reserved seat,” got a large laugh out of the boys but a reprimand about watching my language from the adult. I magically managed to suppress my desire to fire an F-Bomb at the jerk as sudden better judgment won out and I simply smiled at him.
About five minutes before our departure time a conductor arrived and had in tow a family of four. Actually it was a mother with her five or six year old son and two mid aged adults. It seems the ‘reserved’ seats were theirs so the ensomble of teens grabbed their luggage and moved on. Nice beginning! After about ten minutes the two adults stood, smiled at me, grabbed their bags and also moved on. Maybe I should have taken two showers this morning. The gang of teens were going all the way to Vienna while mom and son might be but the quiet of the in comparibly near empty compartment was music to my ears. It turned out mom and son were going to vienna and we had a nice discussion about train travel and its challenges.
They quickly got into cyberspace and I continued to write this blog while listening to my favorite country western music on my headset. Who says I’m out of tune?
Our season came to a halt on the same field that two years ago I was introduced to the team at our first practice. Back then the field lights didn’t work and because the practice was to begin at 7 PM it was a large issue. We finally moved to an adjacent empty lot and under the dim wattage of a nearby street light went through the offensive basics I was going to impliment.
The good news is there are only two teams in croatia that qualify for the championship. The bad news is we were one of the two. We were down to twenty three players and our QB was among the missing having just undergone surgery on a wisdom tooth and his dentist insisted he forgo the opportunity to get thrashed.
There was a time during the second quarter as another player limped off not to return that I wondered if we would have enough healthy bodies to complete the game. More bad news, we did. Our QB showed up near halftime, defying his dentist who most likely never played a down or ran up and down a court, and played most of the second half. It didn’t matter as by that time we were hopelessly behind in score and thourghly dispirited.
After the game as we tried to refresh in the small picnic area next to the field all the players came up and thanked me for the season and wished me well. Of course I returned the favor as I closed the door on another coaching experience in Europe. Win or lose the aftergame ritual never varies.
The following paragraph is an email I received after last weeks game. It should tell you a bit about what coaching in Europe is like.
Hey Coach, Robi here, the quarterback for the Maribor Generals. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk a bit more after the game in Maribor. I’ve heard how much you’ve done for the Vienna Vikings and the game of American football in Europe and I just wanted to say it was a real honor to play against you and your team. I checked out your website and blog. It’s really well put together and I can see the real love and passion you have for this wonderful game. Hope this season won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth after such a successful careerwomenen ! I know how frustrating it its to have guys not show up at practice and come unprepared on game day. That’s exactly why we lost against the Alp Devils. Hope you guys pick it up and finish the season with a big W. oh , and I also heard you left the Panthers so the players wouldn’t have to take a pay cut – what a class act! I have a lot of respect for you, sir! With best wishes, Robi Fiser
Ps. Thanks for the compliment after the game@ means a lot!
My days in Zagreb were a lot of fun. Good guys, good town that mixes old and new well.
I like them both!
I hope you have enjoyed this series of Blogs about my spring/summer adventures in Europe. It began in Prague, passed through Vienna and finished in Croatia. I’d say I was a pretty lucky guy!