Quite an adventure.
I started by taking a $26 cab ride from the train station in Philly to the First Union Center. The last time I did the trip, it was $12. The cabbie took a somewhat circuitous route on the Interstate to "avoid downtown traffic". Not really having the energy to argue, it was a $14 lesson that when visiting a city and taking a cab, it's important to let the cabbie know in advance that I am aware how much the ride should cost...
Waiting for Ali to make his arrival from D.C., I wandered around outside the First Union Center for a bit. The most entertaining thing I saw was a guy in dunking booth mocking a little girl who was trying to hit the target to dunk him. They raise 'em tough in Philly, it seems.
I was also approached by a guy as I was waiting for Ali. He asked me if I was a betting man, and after I answered "no", he proceeded to offer up bets of "$5? $2? $1? A quarter? Gentlemen's bet?" that the guy he was waiting for would arrive before the guy I was waiting for.
Ali showed up, and we made it to our seats for the opening faceoff. As he said before the game, "I have a feeling we just paid $100 to see a post-game handshake." Unfortunately, he was right. The game itself was putrid. The Leafs did not show up, and got pummelled 6-1.
The Philly fans were... well, here's a sample cheer, directed towards a brown guy in a Maple Leafs jersey:
"Go back to Canada, Bin Laden!"
The "Go back to Canada" cheer was the most common one, followed quickly by "Bring on Ottawa"--the Flyers' next opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Apparently, irony is something many Flyers fans fail to recognize, even when it's beating them over the head with a hockey stick.
After the handshakes, which I love about hockey--these guys were trying to *kill* each other during the last 7 games, and now they're shaking hands and hugging--Ali dropped me off at the train station.
The train home was an hour late leaving Philly, and it arrived in New Haven at 4am.
A strange thing happened getting to my car...
Some sketchy fellow is hanging around outside the station, and after I'm about 20 metres away from the station, he asks me to stop. I'm caught in no-man's land--there's nobody around, and I'm still a good 400 metres from the parking garage, which is tucked away in a dark street off the main street that I'm on.
I keep going. The guy jogs to catch up with me, and feeds me a SOB story about sleeping through the Grand Central stop, how he left his bookbag on the train, etc.
I'm exhausted, and have a 45 minute drive ahead of me. I reach into my pocket, and offer him $5. He pauses, scans the area around us, and puts his hand into his jacket pocket. He then asks me how much it is to get to NYC. I'm pissed off, and respond "it's either $5 or it's nothing."
He takes it and jogs off... but walks behind me on the other side of the street until I turn off the main drag.
Not a mugging, but somehow a fitting end to the day.