Spring Training: Day One, The Bizarro World

I love baseball, so I am not sure why I have never gone to Spring Training in Arizona before. Phoenix is a two-hour flight from San Francisco, the weather is phenomenal, and so far I am having a blast.  I just left my hotel bar, where I had cocktails and dinner outside in front of a fire while staring up at stars in a fogless sky.  I did not need fleece to stay warm.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bay Area… but I could get used to this.

Day one of Spring Training started out great.  I arrived at SFO early, and landed in Phoenix right on time.  I called Hertz from baggage claim – there was a reservation in my name, right?  Confirmed!

I arrived at the rental car terminal to find a long line. After a few minutes two men stormed away from the Hertz counter yelling, “They have no more cars!”  What does that even mean?  I was about to find out.

Apparently Seinfeld was not a sitcom.  It was, in fact, a reality show.  Remember the season three episode in which Jerry reserved a rental car, but he and Elaine arrived to find that there were no cars available? It was one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever.  Today I lived that episode.  Hertz was out of cars.

The “waiting list” for those of us with reservations was approximately 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, I had a ticket for a Cleveland Indians game and I was already late.  Serenity Now!  When pressed, Hertz offered each affected customer a $5 food voucher at a wrap kiosk in the building.  My wrap plus a drink cost $9, so I was not exactly left feeling whole.

When my name was finally called, I looked at the paperwork and pointed out, “There’s no mention of a GPS here. I preordered it.  Will this car have GPS? “  I was assured there would be a GPS.

There was no GPS in my car.

I headed back to the service counter.   It was mobbed with irate customers who had been directed to parking spaces that not only had no GPS – they contained no cars.  They were empty. I felt kind of guilty complaining about the lack of a GPS, since at least I had a car.  But I held my ground because it’s no use having a car if you have no idea where to drive it.

Two men in their 60’s nearly got into a fist fight over who deserved the next available car more.  (The Greatest Generation, keeping it classy.)  I was so stressed by the time my car (with GPS) arrived, I would have left my suitcase on the curb were it not for a kind, quick-thinking fellow Hertz victim I had been commiserating with, who chased me down as I started to drive away.

Nevertheless, I arrived at the Goodyear Ballpark in time for the ninth inning of the Indians vs. Diamondbacks game.  The entrance to the parking lot was already closed, but the security man reopened it – just for me – and let me park for free.  And the cute guy at the entrance to the park couldn’t scan my ticket, but let me in anyway.  “You are already so late!”  I somehow doubt this would have happened at AT&T Park.

The vibe was relaxed.  The Indians won.  I picked up a lot of Spring Training swag at the Team Shop, and thus am way out in front of holiday stocking-stuffer shopping for my family.

Tomorrow I will see the San Francisco Giants play the Chicago Cubbies in Scottsdale.  I can walk there so I’ll be early enough for photos and soft serve ice cream from the Mister Softee truck.

Did I mention that I love Spring Training?

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