Changing Lanes

We're on our way to watch Oakland play Detroit at the Oakland Coliseum. The traffic on Interstate 880 is heavy, and I wonder if we'll make it on time. Hegenberger Road, the exit, is still miles away, but already cars are moving over, positioning themselves for the turnoff. My brother ignores them and their slow crawl forward.

I'm starting to worry. “You need to get over,” I say. He doesn't seem concerned.

“Don't worry,” he says.

I can see the turnoff up ahead. There’s a solid line of cars to our left. Will someone let us cut in line, knowing he's jumped ahead? He signals and starts easing over. No one is leaving a crack. They creep bumper to bumper, like a giant caterpillar. And then, amazingly, he gets the nose of the car in front of a white Mercedes. His mud-covered Trooper festooned with dings, scrapes, and dents, forces its way, inch by hateful inch, in front of the Mercedes. The driver honks, but it is a honk of defeat, not defiance.

We make it to the ballpark in plenty of time, find our seats, and grab a couple of beers. We're playing the Detroit Tigers, and there are Tigers fans sitting behind us, enjoying the day. The crowd is doing the silly wave. I don't stand. I continue sipping my beer. “I hate the fucking wave,” I say to no one in particular, but a nearby fellow turns, smiles, and says, “It's better if you're riding it.”

Oakland takes to the field, the crowd cheering, and the Detroit fans behind us start chanting: “Horse's ass, cow's titties. We're the boys from Detroit City.”

The Tigers bat first. Their leadoff hitter lines the first pitch into the gap in right-center field, but Henderson is quick to track it down. The runner takes first wide and accelerates toward second. He and the ball get there together, but the second baseman has blocked his path. The runner, Pettis, tries to slide between his feet, but Phillips has dropped his knee to the ground, not worried about dings, scrapes, or dents to his body. The umpire calls Pettis out.

The Detroit fans boo, we cheer, and the wave once again circles the stadium—and I stand as it sweeps us away.

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