Diary of a Special Envoy at the PGA Championship (2)
Getting from my motel in Muskogee to the official PGA hotel – where a bus later picks us up to take us to the Southern Hills (half an hour) – takes me about forty minutes in the rental car if the robotic voice of Google Maps points me all right. the detours and I pay attention to him. Without your instructions and with my lack of sense of direction, I could leave Oklahoma and not know about it. The truth is that we have gained some confidence after so many hours together. Of course, I’m going in an automatic Chevrolet, ‘Chevy’ for friends. Who has not wanted to say that at some time, like a B-movie actor? Given my fair height and in contrast to the size of the car, the first thing I had to do was raise the seat so that I could see the road well and above all so that the rest of the drivers would see me, lest they think that they had come across an unmanned vehicle.
The first day that I traveled the forty miles that separate both hotels –I already speak in miles, feet and yards in an obvious attempt at self-integration– a curious thing happened to me that later, when I told it in the press center, unleashed hilarity among my friends. American colleagues. In fact, it is still cause for joke. “It’s that one, the short one,” and they laugh with a certain degree of condescension. The fact is that I was so calm behind the wheel when I noticed the glare of a flash. I thought that a radar had detected me at an inappropriate speed. Even, what power does the cinema have, I imagined a policeman hidden behind a large billboard on the hunt for hapless drivers. With a giant hamburger and coffee on the dashboard, of course. I checked the speedometer. It was going well. But minutes later I felt another flash. And a third near my destination. Three tickets in forty miles? Phew, what a mess.
The harshness of the US authorities with those who break traffic regulations is so ancient that, I have to admit, I was worried. I thought that two agents would show up at the golf club and call me on the public address system. “Do you drive a dark automatic Chevrolet?” But no. The American journalists explained to me with laughter that on my journey I crossed three toll booths on as many highways and that in each of them they photographed my license plate to transfer the fees to my credit card. Almost every car here has a device on the windshield to get charged that way. And then I remembered the employee of the rental car company urging me to include in the price an I don’t know what device that was used for I don’t know what and that was highly recommended. And the look of surprise on her face when I turned him down. I didn’t really know what he was offering me.
We special envoys tend to reinforce ourselves and repeat our adventures with a certain dose of heroism, emphasizing the time they have taken us. Plan eleven hour flight, an hour and a half to get the car, another four to get from Dallas to Muskogee. And on top of that another forty minutes a day until the bus picks us up. And another half hour to the field. I was in those thoughts, still with a point of concern about the episode of the photos, when I greeted the bus driver in an English that would sound like Esperanto. “How was your day?” I said. Don, more than 70 years old, looked me in the eyes, smiled, thought for a few seconds and answered in a deep voice: «Living the dream» (living a dream). For him to participate in the PGA, even if it is taking journalists to the Southern Hills, is a source of pride. What a slap to my ego.