Just finished 3 days of orientation in sweltering Galveston, TX, and our medical team is prepped and ready to go after a fine presentation by the UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch) polar ops group. My intro to the group was well received as I passed out chocolate and described myself as the 5th dentist in the fabled 4 out of 5 dentists who recommend sugarless gum in the old Trident ads, since my philosophy is if you want the taste of real sugar you should go for it and not settle for that cancer causing artifical sweetner. Our visit to Galveston culminated in a tour of the level IV biohazard lab on campus where the collective thinking is that despite the building being in the sweet spot of hurricane targets it was designed to handle anything mother nature could throw their way, and there didn’t seem to be concern about the trivialities of the Japanese tsunami nuclear reactor disaster or Katrina. UTMB housed us at the opulent Galvez hotel and spa in order to ease us into a false sense of comfort before the reality of dorm life on the ice sinks in. I had called a week before to scope out some ping pong in Galveston, but the concierge came up empty handed, so I had to do my own recon by a hotel provided bicycle, and succeeded in finding a table at a nearby inner city rec center. I set up a match for the following day with one of the locals, Don, who questioned my abilities, and I assured him I would do my best to give him some competition. In fact I routed him and his two buddies for over an hour, and I heard him call one of his friends on the phone and discuss how some “white guy” named Bob was running the table. When I returned to the hotel to report my success in finding a table for future guests, the customer services rep surprised me with a lovely plate of cheese and crackers along with a fine bottle of wine to share with my co-workers, so it was a win all around except for Don and his bewildered ping pong cadres.
I built on my new found reputation and getting over my rumored shyness by breezing our group through the airport check-in with my American Airlines priority access, and then got some good seating on the plane by offering the harried ticket agent some well deserved chocolate. So we set off for New Zealand with high hopes and 30 hours of flying ahead of us.
White guy Bob