The Barcelona Olympics in the Summer of 1992

My dad's "Saturday Special" on his blog this past weekend was a list of random things that he learned on the internet. Number 9 was "Bad decisions make good stories". At first I just had to ponder this for awhile to test if I also found this true, but eventually I decided that I do. Especially when I realized that it coincided with the story I was planning to tell here today. A bad-decision story. Well, not so much a bad decision, just a small oversight. So, we'll call it a "Small oversight" story.

This story was brought to mind over the past weekend with the arrival of the Olympics. We (our family) love the Olympics. We watch all that we can. We try to visit Olympic sites when we travel. One year we even decided to actually attend the Olympics.

It was the summer of 1992. Jason and I had been in Prague for the summer on a six-week English-teaching campaign. We planned way before we arrived in Europe that after the campaign was over that we would travel across Europe, and end our time in Barcelona and see an Olympic event.

I don't know if you know this, but at least at that time, when you try to get Olympic tickets, you tell them the top two or three events that you would like to see. Then there is some big lottery-type drawing where they draw names, and then honor people's requests, if possible. I can't even remember what events we chose, and what order we chose them in, but we ended up getting tickets to a Women's basketball game. (Looking back on it, I think our top even might have been diving, but I think half the population of the world wanted to see that, so we didn't get it. Or perhaps it was Men's Basketball, because that was the year of the USA "Dream Team", but we didn't get those either.)

Of course, we didn't have the tickets in hand - they held them for us at a Will Call office in Barcelona. So, after who knows how many train rides through various European cities, we arrived in Barcelona travel-weary, tired, and on the edge of being late for the game. From the train station we had to find the Will Call office, which was somewhere in downtown Barcelona. Once we got to the Will Call office, we had to wait in a very long line to get our tickets. Once we got our tickets, we had to get back on the subway and ride way, way to the Barcelona suburb of Badalona, where the basketball games were being held. This ride seemed to take forever, and we were pretty sure that the game had already started at that point. However, we amused ourselves by looking at our tickets. They had nice little holograms of Cobi, the Barcelona mascot, and we flashed his little holographic body all around while riding.  I also remember looking at the metro map displayed in the train car.  It had all the subway lines, and by each stop was the Olympic event being held here.  Want to get off at stop X?  They're doing swimming there.  Or you could stop at stop Y and check out the marathon.  It made me just feel so - there.  At the actual Olympics.  In the midst of it.

Finally, finally we arrived at our stop, and jumped off to the train, exhilarated that we were actually going to the Olympics. We weren't five steps off of the train when Jason stopped, gasped, and choked out, "I left the tickets on the metro...", and SLAM the metro doors closed and off went the tickets - sitting on the seat where we had been, with holographic Cobi all alone.

To my credit, I was very calm at this point. I didn't verbally or physically abuse Jason in any way - accidents do happen, you know. We quickly decided that the only thing to do was to get the next metro train to the next stop, which was the last one of that line. Our only dim hope was that they might hold the train in a parking area at the last stop before sending it off down the line the other direction, and perhaps we could communicate enough to the workers to let us look for our tickets.

When the next train came, we jumped on and anxiously made the ride to the end stop. We ran up the stairs to the street above, ran across the street, and then down the stairs into the other side of the metro stop - just in time to the see the metro car that we had been on head down the track the other way, back into the city.

We were crushed. All of our frantic, rushing efforts to get to the Olympics had been in vain, and our tickets were gone. (It was at this point that I began to feel not as kind and gentle with Jason as I had been a few minutes earlier.) We turned to go, and as a last resort, walked over to two workers standing in their little booth doing their "end/beginning of the line" duties. Jason headed over to them as a last chance effort to ask if they possibly had walked through the train cars to check for items...and suddenly noticed that one of them was were holding something in his hands. He was moving it back and forth, as if moving a little hologram around...and there they were, our Olympic tickets.

I supposed we looked touristy and panicked and despairing enough that they had no doubt that we were the true ticket owners, so after one last glance at Cobi, they handed them right over.

As a result, our efforts to go to the Olympics were not in vain after all. We hopped back on the metro, went to the Pavello Olimpic, and watched the remainder of the basketball game. In truth, the game was not that exciting. I have no idea who they played, or even if they won. Walking around the Olympic areas afterwards were more exciting, but even this paled in comparison to the whole idea of having attended the Olympics at all. Which we did by the skin of our teeth.

Plus, we got a great story to tell for many years afterwards, one that doesn't have to begin and end with, "Yeah, we went to a basketball game at the Olympics once."  All because of one small oversight - which yes,  makes a pretty good story.

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