Monday, August 25, 2008

Conventional Wisdom: Denver Arrival

I ARRIVED safely. No small feat given the three-hour delay on my connecting fight in Chicago due to engine trouble on the Boeing 777.

Almost the entire plane was full of convention goers. All of us were frustrated. It was bad enough the flight into Chicago from Portland had to sit on the runway for 45 minutes while we waited for our gate to open up. When we finally touched down in Denver, I almost applauded. Remember when people did that?

I don't check luggage even if I take a two-week trip. I have no good luck with any of that. Coughing and fatigued, I reached the ground transportation depot. The Super Shuttle I boarded was almost full.

There was a Los Angeles reporter from CBS, a Washington, D.C. print reporter who confirmed the media would outnumber the 4,000 delegates by four to one, an aesthetician from New York who had been called to Denver at the last minute by an organic skin product company putting on the first wellness center at a political convention, a Denver local on his way home from California sports camps who would be headed right back out of the city the next day. He rented his home to Coors for $700 a day for the convention.

Nice work if you can get it.

There were a few other women who I didn't get to talk to but they seemed quite relieved a certain other women didn't get onto the shuttle. Apparently, she was denied access because of some discrepancy with her payment for the shuttle inside the terminal. I don't know the details, but as the shuttle bus pulled away, we heard this giant yelp.

We looked around and saw the woman running toward the shuttle. She was clearly beside herself. She beat on the windows of the bus pleading with the driver, who just happened to be training on his second day on the job, to not leave her behind. The CBS reporter encouraged the driver to pull away. After a brief heated exchange through his rolled-down window, he finally got moving, leaving the hysterical woman yelling in the middle of the street.

I saw her on the flight from Chicago. Everyone has a breaking point. And a three-hour, engine-trouble delay clearly broke her.

The sore throat that worsened beneath my Adam's apple after too many hours in a stuffy airplane almost broke me.

Denver is a beautiful clean city. I've been here three times before and even at night the crisp air scented with honeysuckle is a marvelous welcome. I was one of the last passengers to be dropped off downtown at the Hilton Garden Inn where the Maine and Kentucky delegations are housed.

Too late to get a cocktail, I had to settle for a mug of hot tea in the hotel room. Probably better for my cold anyway. The clock read 1:45 a.m. My body knew it was 3:45 a.m., almost time to get up back home and take care of morning farm chores. I was so exhausted I couldn't even sleep.

The sun is shining now. The sky-blue sky clear as a Maine lake. My roommate just arrived bearing codeine-laced cough syrup, Alka Seltzer Cold and Cough, and various other medicinal sundries. He too is suffering from a bad cold. I guess you could call our room the infirmary.

I gave him a Benadryl and within minutes, the deep loud snore he warned me about rises from his T-shirt covered face like prayer.

Later, we'll drag our drugged up selves to the official delegate welcome reception at the Convention Center before attending a Soulfare celebrating the success of the Civil Rights Movement at the Performing Arts Complex. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly will perform live.

If that can't fire me up, make me forget about my cold, and get me ready for the official beginning of convention activities Monday afternoon, nothing will.

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