Always befriend chocolate sales reps; a baseball drive around USA

     Five billion years ago when I was in college, a friend and I drove in a 9,500 mile (15,500 km) circle around USA (dipping into Toronto) to see as many baseball games as we could in a month. We did it on the ultra-cheap in a way only college students can pull off without shame–and without sanity as few people would risk taking a painted-up 1969 VW Bug on such a journey. My friend didn’t even have his driver’s license yet.

     We lacked no reserve in chatting up every bridge and highway toll booth worker or parking lot attendant to try and get everything free; “Isn’t this the coolest car you have ever seen? We’re two poor college guys driving around the country and…”
     Every night when we needed to find a place to sleep, we drove to the nearest university and asked if we could sleep on a couch or behind a couch or anywhere warm.
     Late one night after a game in Chicago we rolled into Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and parked the car in a noticeable spot so we could point to it from inside a dorm building and lend credence to our otherwise semi-unbelievable story. We needed anything to ingratiate ourselves as I looked like a bushy-haired, wooly mammoth.
     We weren’t getting anywhere with the severely reticent guys in the dorm who seemed nervous about our presence and ready to call campus security, but a guy named Bobby overheard us telling our story and he volunteered that we could stay with him at his sister’s place.
     We never turned down anything offered, so we gladly took a spot on the floor in the living room by the front door. Only problem was, it was late when we arrived and his sister was already asleep, so the next morning I awoke to an agitated woman staring down at me, arms akimbo, demanding to know who I was and what I was doing in her house.
     I could only stammer, “B-B-But Bobby said it was OK.”
     Bobby turned out to be a sales representative for Hershey’s chocolate and he loaded us down with a big box of chocolate bars as we left for Detroit. Unfortunately, it was a hot day and we couldn’t keep it from melting. Hot day + eating too much chocolate = nausea.
     This story appeared in the school newspaper—bribery (cough!)—and is on my website here. I bring it up now because through the power of the internet, after a zillion years Bobby found me last month. He has emigrated to Australia.
     Bobby, this photo’s for you!

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