Report #3 - The Bus will be Here in 10 Minutes… Maybe

Team processing is an important part of the Olympic experience. This is where you get your shwag… You know, the booty, loot, goodies… etc. This is the stuff that future Christmas presents are made of. The press officers and other staff participate with the athletes, so we get to see the inspirational video (it always makes me cry) and hear the lecture about treating the flag with respect after you’ve won your race.

I was supposed to attend team processing on my third day in Greece. Unfortunately, the travel alarm I had received on a previous trip decided to stop in the middle of the night and I slept right through until 8 a.m. instead getting up at 6 a.m. like I was supposed to. So I tried again the next day, having thrown away the alarm clock, and woke up to the dulcet tones of my cell phone.

I went out to wait to catch the shuttle to the American College of Greece, which is where processing takes place. I waited and waited and waited until I saw my colleague Jeff Howard, who was also waiting for it. Finally, we were able to flag down a cab. After finally getting the driver to understand where we wanted to go, we were on our way.

This year’s collection of stuff is not a prolific in past years, which was actually OK. There was no need for us to get the Opening Ceremonies uniform or other uniform elements that the athletes would be wearing. I would personally like to thank the USOC and adidas for finally realizing that women DO NOT want to wear giant men’s polo shirts. Even if we do wear them during the Games, we will never want to wear them again. This time they outfitted us with several fitted shirts in fabrics meant to keep us cool. The adidas shorts we got still don’t fit me very well, but the shirts are great.

We also received a warm-up suit (not really necessary in Greece in August), tennis shoes, flip-flops, pins and a variety of other stuff donated by sponsors. Thank you sponsors.

To get back to the Main Press Center, I took a bus with a bunch of the athletes to the athlete village, knowing I could get a bus back to the MPC from there. While on the bus, I watched one athlete draw an afro onto her picture on her credential with a Sharpie. Hmmm, I wonder if that will get by security. Needless to say, the bus rides are usually eventful… unless I’m taking a nap.

Getting a bus isn’t always easy. Sometimes a driver will be sitting on the bus you want to take, but will not let you on until he’s done with his cigarette. Sometimes the drivers are sitting off the bus with some of the volunteers, in which case the volunteer will tell you, “the bus will be leaving in 10 minutes.” I can’t tell you how many buses I have been just 10 minutes early for.

Once, when I was trying to leave the swimming venue and asked a volunteer for directions back to the MPC, he demanded that I take a bus because the walk back to the MPC was “more than 2 kilometers.” Even after I explained to him that I had walked TO the venue just fine and was just trying to figure out which direction I needed to go to get back, he persisted: “Please, just take the bus.”

On Wednesday, I decided it was time to try to see the triathlon venue, which is in Vouliagmeni. Basically, it might as well be west of nowhere, it is so far south. The area is beautiful and much less crowded than Athens, with less smog and beautiful beaches. But let’s face it, if the events in Athens are having trouble gathering crowds, I can’t imagine anyone making a special effort to travel to Vouliagmeni. Especially not after they try to take the three different buses to get there.