When Good Field Trips Go Bad

Ferris Bueller didn't need to skip school to catch a mid-day major league game, he just needed to go to school in the greater Seattle area. 

In conjunction with Seattle's ABC tv affiliate, KOMO, the Seattle Mariners host a "Weather Day" every Spring.  This is an event held at Safeco Field and it involves a 45 minute discussion of meteorology by KOMO's lead meteorologist and a panel of various weather "experts", lunch, then tickets to stay for the Mariners' afternoon game.  Zach's school went last year but he and I were in Charlotte, NC at our karate training camp so we did not get to go.  So when the permission slip came home this year, I was like, heck yeah!  Sounds like a really cool field trip if you ask me. 

I signed us up and we were set.  Now most of Zach's field trips involve leaving his school at about 9am to get wherever they are going.  I can't do that because I don't drop Josh off at his school until 9:10am.  So we have an arrangement where if I have signed up for a trip, I just leave from dropping Josh off and meet Zach's crew at the destination.  Sometimes I keep Zach home and just drive up with him, occasionally I have dropped him at school and had him go with someone else until I can meet them. 

Yesterday was the day.  I had the paperwork regarding what gate we were to enter through, what times it was open, the schedule for the day, etc.  This time I was just going to bring Zach with me.  So here's the thing:  I've never actually been to Safeco Field.  I know where it is as it's right beside the train station where I pick up/drop off my mom all the time.  But I have never been to the stadium itself.  Haven't parked at it or near it, nothing.  I have parked up in Seattle many times in the Seattle Center area, which is further north, more in the heart of the city.  I figured it shouldn't be too big of a deal, huge stadium, bound to be parking everywhere since Qwest Field is right next door (where the Seahawks play). 

Now Josh gets dropped off at 9:10.  The weather day presentation was to start at 10am.  Timing was tight.  I always just assume I can do this stuff so I figured we'd be ok.  Close, but ok.  Josh hasn't been sleeping much at all this week so I was running on very little sleep.  I can do this, I am awesome like that.  We drop off the Toadie and I shift into "outta my way people" mode.  Um, yeah, have I mentioned that I have a teeny tiny problem with anger issues when I'm behind the wheel?  No?  *cough*  Ok, well, I do.  I know I wrote a whole piece for Momversation last week about being polite and I am, mostly, just maybe not so much when I'm driving.  I honestly don't know why or when it started, I haven't always been like that.  ANYWAY, since the universe likes to be funny, we end up behind several slow moving vehicles.  The speed limit was 50mph, they were going about 38.  Who does this?  Seriously, I understand speeding, but going well under the limit?  I just don't get.  So my blood pressure starts to hit the roof.  Takes us somewhat longer than I had anticipated just to get to the highway.  We did get there though, and after the initial merging traffic it seemed like smooth sailing.  I was starting to think we might just get there by 10.  No sooner had I started to relax a little about the time when I am headed toward a sea of red brake lights.... whoa... what the... bam.  Traffic had come to a dead stop.  Of COURSE it had.  Sigh.  OK.  No way are we going to make it in time now so I get on the cell phone to Zach's teacher.  She said she knew the traffic was bad, not to worry, call them when we get there and she'll send someone to come and find us at the gate.  Zach is cool, he's less stressed than I am.  Turns out there had been an accident, so when we managed to get past it we were on our way again.  Only there is this weird smell.  Pretty sure it's my car.  It smells like something is burning. Not oil, I know what that smells like. No, this was different, still not good, but different. Like a "your car is about to burst into flames or your engine is about to explode" smell.  There were no cars around me now so it wasn't someone else.  And it wasn't going away.  In a bit of a panic though trying to keep Zach from knowing how freaked out I was, I fixed my gaze on the dash waiting for some bad warning lights to come on, one eye on the hood of my car watching for flames. Zach could smell it too.  Nothing happened, but the smell lingered. I of course, kept driving.  WE HAVE A FIELD TRIP TO GET TO.  I follow the signs that tell me to get off at this exit for Safeco Field.  There was one more sign after I got off the highway... then nothing.  No more signs.  So this is how it is.  FINE. I can see the bloody thing so I just drive toward it.  Yes, I have a nav system in the car, however, Mr Nav Man Voice Thing has a tendency to lie, and I don't think it's funny so I opted not to use it this time. 

I managed to get to the stadium quite by accident.  By this time, the scary smell had faded enough that I stopped worrying about it. Now to look for parking.  Um, hmmm. There is nothing immediately obvious, oh wait, no that's the football stadium.  There's a self park right across from the gate we were to go in through.  Great, I'll just pop in there and hey, it's $30 to park when there is a game.  THIRTY. DOLLARS.  I kid you not.  Under normal circumstances I wouldn't pay that in a million years to park my car for a couple of hours. But we were late, this was for Zach, so yeah, you win mr parking extortionist.  I park the car, get out, and we head over to the machine to pay for the ticket.  Or, not.  Unlike its counterparts up in the city, this spot was cash only.  You had to fold up your bills and stuff them in the slot that corresponded to your car's spot.  Very antiquated. Very annoying.  I don't have enough cash on me.  I am so used to using my credit card for everything these days, including parking.  I had some cash, just not enough.  So, back in the car we get to find a place that took credit cards.  I passed about 4 more lots, all of which were cash only, including the actual stadium garage.  Cash. Only.  Since when did this become a thing?  I was starting to lose it a little, called Zach's teacher and told her parking was going to be a problem.  I finally found a small lot a couple blocks away that had a machine that looked like it would take the card... SCORE! Credit cards only at this one, so I parked the car and Zach and I made our way to the stadium in the rain. 

We get to the weather talk about 30 minutes late so we really only got the last 15 minutes of it.  I felt badly for Zach, but he didn't care that much, he was excited for lunch and the game.  We were not the only ones late, so I didn't feel too horrible.  Safeco Field is lovely, by the way.  If you like baseball and are ever in Seattle, I highly recommend it.  It's fairly new and has a wonderful retractable roof, perfect for this part of the world with all our rain.  Now I have to confess, the last time I attended a Major League baseball game was back in 1992 in Houston, the Astros vs the Montreal Expos in the Astrodome.  I'm not even sure if that exists any more.  I do know this - grounds keeping has been cultivated in to a fine art, it was fascinating to watch the crew working on the field before the game.  It looked too pretty to mess up when they were done, I can tell you that.  We ate our lunch in seats along the first baseline.  Very cool, so close to the field.  This was Zach's first live sporting event aside from some martial arts tournaments and training camps.  So he was taking it all in - with a giant, red, foam finger, of course.  Had to get a foam finger, it was all he wanted.  I realized while we were eating that the seats we were sitting in to eat were NOT our seats for the game.  I looked at our tickets.  Uh, wow.  Section 311. Row 19. Seats 13 - 14.  Without even knowing the stadium layout those numbers should suggest a notion about where we would be sitting for the game.  Indeed, at the farthest end down the first base line and waaaaaaaaaaay up at the very top.  Crazy.  They sat all the schools in this nosebleed section, over 1,000 kids.  Alrighty, then. So we made our way, all the way, up up up and in to our game seats.  Well, we could see the whole field, without any obstructions so that was good. 

Normally I enjoy live sporting events.  And I had been excited for this one.  But as we were waiting for the game to start, I got very cold. VERY cold. I could see my breath it was that cold.  The stadium is not enclosed so whatever the temperature is outside, it is in the stadium too.  May 26th and it's so cold you can see your breath... it was bizarre, and cold.  My hands were white and looked like wax.  Then there was this overwhelming smell.  No, not my random car-exploding smell, but, well, garlic.  Lots and lots of garlic.  They serve garlic fries at a number of the food vendors and the smell was insane.  Non-stop garlic.  Of course then the cotton candy guy came around and 1,000 kids swarmed at once.  When the carnage was over, cotton candy guy retired a rich man and I was now surrounded by cotton candy... and garlic fries.  I kinda wanted to hurl. The little girls behind us kept screaming randomly and as loud as they could, for Ichiro. Honestly, with what I deal with at home with Josh you'd think this would be a cake walk for me.  Funny, I guess with Josh it's a context, state and environment that I'm used to.  Josh wasn't there, I suppose I expected things to be a little more, well, normal, lol.

We made our way out of Safeco early, since I had to make sure I got back in time to get Josh from school and after the morning's traffic escapades I didn't want to take any chances.  Took us about 10 minutes just to get out of the stadium from way up where we were.  As we were walking back to the car, there were a number of establishments, shall we say, in this long building along the side street we were on.  There was a place called "Showgirls".  Because I'm a bit of an ass-hat I said to Zach, "hey, we've got some time, let's go in to Showgirls over here and get a drink."  Zach just rolls his eyes at me and shakes his head. "Do you even know what that is? " I asked him.  "I assume it's a strip club" he said, in a perfectly non-chalant manner.  I said, "good job!" and patted him on the back.  He was like, "mom, did you really just tell me 'good job' for knowing it was a strip club?"  "Sure did. See, sometimes I'm afraid you're not worldly enough. But dude, strip club, nicely done".  He started giggling.  You had to be there.

We made it home in plenty of time and Josh is now enjoying the enormous bag of popcorn we brought home from the game.  All in all, despite all the tribulations, it was a fun day, mostly because I was with Zach.  But absolutely one of the cooler field trips I've ever volunteered to attend.