Luke DeCock

Bom dia: Aisle seats, figuratively and literally — DeCock

A Brazilian photographer (pictured lower left) captured this picture of me riding in the aisle of a full bus, sitting on a photographer’s gear case.
A Brazilian photographer (pictured lower left) captured this picture of me riding in the aisle of a full bus, sitting on a photographer’s gear case. Courtesy

I'm going out to Deodoro today for the pivotal U.S. field hockey game against Great Britain, which will decide the winner of their group, a crucial distinction because it means avoiding the powerful Netherlands until the gold-medal game.

The bus ride to Deodoro is the same one where my driver got lost last week, famously, and I had no idea how much danger I was really in. That's the same route where, a few days later, a bus had its windows shattered by gunfire (according to passengers who heard shots and another who spent time in Iraq) or rocks (according to local organizers, the same local organizers who yesterday insisted “Chemistry is not an exact science” when explaining why the diving and water polo pools had turned green).

Since then, not only have Deodoro buses been escorted by the army – they travel on a toll road that's not yet open to the public that passes through several dangerous favelas – but there's been a rush on aisle seats on all media buses. I forgot that last night taking a bus back to Copacabana that takes a different route past the infamous City of God favela, grabbing a window seat, although the aisle seat thing does seem to be somewhere between an overabundance of caution and paranoia.

Sometimes, an aisle seat is a literal thing. After several buses didn't show up Friday morning, there was a long line to board the one that finally arrived in Copacabana. I was the last to board, courteously letting several pushy journalists push past me, only to find that the seating capacity of the bus had been exceeded. By one.

So I spent the hour-long ride sitting in the aisle on the gear case of a friendly Canadian photographer, far from the windows, but also far from comfortable. So uncomfortable that a Brazilian photographer took the photo included here, to prove to his boss he wasn't making it up.

Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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