The United States of America: Roll Tide Country
I was invited by our parent company, Townsquare Media, to attend a conference in Dallas with my boss, Todd Livingston. I jumped at the opportunity to see firsthand some of the exciting new features 95.3 The Bear will soon be offering our listeners.
After an uneventful flight (unless one considers watching your boss attempt to move a massive ball of gum around in his mouth in a futile attempt to prevent his ears from popping 'entertaining') we touched down in Dallas and made our way to our hotel. After checking in, unpacking and wandering aimlessly around in the parking deck below the Doubletree for forty five minutes while pretending we knew EXACTLY how to find the street, we ended up at the neighborhood grill, Humperdink's.
The atmosphere was fun and lively and the food smelled delicious. While no amount of persuasion could tempt me to try the Dink chips, I was wooed by the large Kobe Beef cheeseburger. We ate and watched Julio Jones have his way the 49ers in the first few minutes of the NFC Championship game (the Falcons were eventually robbed). Naturally, Jones being a former player of Alabama, Todd and I soon found ourselves discussing the BCS Championship game with the other patrons, who seemed genuinely interested in the fact that we were from Tuscaloosa. We were in a sports-themed restaurant watching a football game, so discussing the newly-minted college football Dynasty...once more...Dynasty... didn't appear unusual.
But later that night, as we boarded the large charter bus ferrying us, and a hundred or so of our Townsquare co-workers from across the country, we heard a softly uttered 'Roll Tide'. At first, I assumed haters were hatin', but time and time again, the conversation immediately turned to the Crimson Tide whenever the fact that we were from Tuscaloosa was revealed. Each time, the reaction was the same:
'So, where are you from (Kimberly/Todd)?'
'Oh, hey! Roll Tide!' More often than not, the salutations sounded more like 'Role Tied', but the intent was sincere.
Matt Sunshine, the brilliant gentleman leading our workshop, joined us at our table and confirmed my suspicion that while warm, friendly and in possession of a wicked sense of humor, isn't one to waste time with a lot of idle chit chat.
'You guys enjoying the workshop? Yeah? Working out for you? Good. So, Mizzou got killed this year in the SEC, huh?' Being a gently-reared, Southern-bred lady and since Matt held the power of my potential public humiliation in front of the the group the next day in his hands, I refrained from voicing my opinion that God's sense of humor was confirmed when Missouri's defensive tackle, Sheldon Richardson, got the mitochondrial DNA beat out of him by that 'old man football' we play in the SEC. Still, Mr. Sunshine was a nice guy with obvious admiration for his team, the conference and since he was a great ambassador for the sport, I decided to forgive Missouri. After an interesting conversation that ranged from how many seniors Alabama would lose to the JOKE of the $500 million dollar stadium expansion at UNLV, Todd and I issued an invitation to Matt and his family to experience a game at Bryant Denny.
From Minnesota to Michigan, each time one of our name tags listing our hometown was read (side note: my name tag bears a shiny star for exemplary performance; my boss's does not) we were given enthusiastic 'Roll Tide's'.
The icing on the Crimson Tide cake occurred during our final day at the workshop. Matt asked everyone to flip to the 14th tab in the binders provided to us at the beginning of the training. As my eyes settled on the text in front of me, I heard trumpets (I could be confusing the sound of trumpets with the earth celebrating the opening of a large bag of chipotle-flavored beef jerky by the gentleman sitting across from me). The contents behind the tab featured an article about former Alabama head coach, Paul W. Bryant. 'If you want to know how to win,' Matt began, 'You need to know how the Bear did it.'