Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No, I haven't died; I've just been very busy

Now that the U.S. has been eliminated from the World Cup, I can post about this without fear of jinxing us.

I've been awed by how much the World Cup has captured the imaginations of people in the United States -- or at least people around me. I've seen die-hard baseball, football, and basketball fans, who swear that soccer is for sissies, watching World Cup games that the U.S. isn't even playing in. People who aren't even interested in sports under normal conditions have been heard discussing what win, loss, or tie will get the U.S. out of the Group Round; or indignant over that blown call in the England game.

Anyway, this is the World Cup story that I have to tell:

It was the morning of the U.S.-Algeria game. You may recall that this was a must-win for the U.S. Either a loss or a tie would have eliminated us. I happened to be in my car and was able to listen to the first fifteen minutes on the radio. Then I was back at work. I called up a site that was live blogging the game, but of course I had to work, so I only checked it from time to time. The score stayed tied. I checked at the eighty-sixth minute -- only four to go -- and the score was still tied. Discouraged, I went back to work.

My cube farm has a conference room on one side, and the cafeteria is on the other side of the conference room. I was deep into coding and had actually forgotten about the game a few minutes later when I suddenly heard the sound of a crowd cheering in the cafeteria. Cheering? My coworkers aren't the type who cheer spontaneously at odd times. And then it occurred to me: Maybe the game was on the televisions in there. I quickly brought up the live blog and hit refresh. Yes! U.S. goal!

But what really got me excited wasn't the U.S. victory. It was the realization that a crowd of my coworkers had been standing in the cafeteria, anxiously watching those final, nail-biting minutes.

Welcome, America, to the World Cup.

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