9 1/2 Teams

by M. Giant December 10, 2009

Someone is grilling Big Easy about the Kafka Road Block, asking if he understood that there were only 120 possible combinations, 24 if you know F is the first letter. Big Easy is probably tired of talking about this, but he'd good-natured about it. In a "let's put it this way" tone of voice, he says he's got four levels in his house, including the attic. In the attic is only one item: his FRANZ form. Brian (in case you think I'm spending the night following him around, it's not that; it's just that he's everywhere, not drinking anything by absinthe) busts Big Easy a bit, pointing out that when he got into the supervisor's office, he ran his letters past Big Easy, who let him continue thinking that the F was an S. Luckily for Brian, he had marked the phones outside in the main room and went back out to double-check, and that's when he got the F. Otherwise he'd still be there.

I remark to Big Easy that his penalty must have been the longest four hours of his life. "More like seven," he says, and I laugh before realizing that he's being literal, counting the time he spent on the Road Block before opting out. I also ask if it occurred to him that Dan might be lying to him about the position of the F, and he shakes his head and tells me it all happened so fast. So maybe it wasn't the longest seven hours of his life after all. I compliment his hometown, he invites me to come back down to New Orleans soon, and we part company. And then I crack my neck back into shape after craning up to look at him. Not only the nicest racer there, but the tallest person, probably in a ten-block radius. I don't really get to talk to Flight Time. From what I hear I would have had better luck had I been a lady.

I get to have a little chat with Jessica, who along with her partner Garrett was eliminated at the end of the second leg. Or, put another way, they were the first team to get Philiminated outside the U.S. She says I look familiar to her for some reason. Later, I recall that she looked familiar to me when I first saw her on the show. Perhaps we went to grade school together or something. She asks me what I thought of the season, and I diplomatically say that it's hard when you like almost everyone -- you find yourself hoping for a non-elimination leg every week. We talk about how people are so different here than on the race, where the constant stress and urgency starts to tell on people. Here the most urgent situation is the understaffed bar. I learn from her that season 15 is the one that's known as always keeping in touch and continuing to be friends. Apparently that's a first. Like everyone else I talk to, she'd do it again in a second given the chance (although I'm not sure about her chances for a slot in the All-Stars). She enjoyed her time at the Elimination Station, and even got engaged. "To Garrett?" I refrain from asking, because there's no upside for me in that question and I can check later. When I do, I learn that she is in fact engaged to Garrett. I remember Garrett describing her on the show as "fiery" and "dramatic," but she doesn't seem that way at all. In fact, she's probably the nicest racer I talk to.

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