Yes, it was only for a few seconds. Yes, he didn't say much to me, or look me in the eye for more than half an instant, or even say thanks after I wished him a great season. But I met Mike Hart, and have proof of this meeting which shall forever be memorialized on an authentic Schutt Pro-Air 2 Michigan football helmet (thanks eBay!) inside UV resistant glass casing fit enough for the Museum of Modern Art.
My journey through Hell to meet Mike Hart all started Friday morning when I found out Northwest Airlines had not processed the reservations I made for myself and my girlfriend almost three weeks ago.
I went into a panic at my desk at work after I got off the phone with one of Northwest's customer service peons because the airline was going to screw me out of my only chance to meet my favorite player of all time on his last fan day at the University of Michigan. I scrambled around the internet like Vince Young, racing from one discount travel site to another in hopes of finding 2 semi-affordable plane tickets to Detroit for that very same day.
So at 4:30 PM on Friday my girlfriend and I started our trek from Brooklyn to La Guardia airport in Queens. This included an hour subway ride, and then we had to transfer to a bus - only the bus never came. (Damn you, NYC public transportation!!!!) By some miracle, I was able to score an empty cab while standing on a highway in Queens during rush hour and get my girlfriend and I to La Guardia airport just in time to make the flight.
The plane boarded half an hour late. The cab ride miracle was superfluous. Why was the flight delayed? It turns out some stewardess wasn't where she was supposed to be and held up 200 people from getting to their destinations.
"Ummm, I don't think so. It's not really realistic. But hey, there's always hope!" she stupidly giggled. I silently swore to myself then and there that if that bitch kept me from meeting Mike Hart, I would tackle her on the runway harder than LaMarr Woodley ever tackled a quarterback in his entire life. Vengeance would be mine. Blood would be spilled. Justice would be served.
The connecting flight to Detroit boarded on time. (A United Airlines miracle!) We taxied to the runway, and then the plane stopped. One of the stewardesses (what is it with these women!) thought she smelled leaking fuel and alerted the captain. The maintenance crew was called to the scene, but they couldn't fix the problem on the runway and the plane had to be towed back to the gate with all the passengers inside. Mike Hart seemed to slip further out of my grasp.
45 minutes later, the leaking fuel problem was solved. But the plane had lost so much gas, we needed to have a fuel truck come over and give us a fill-up. 30 more minutes passed. I was about to explode like Alan Branch did on Anthony Morelli last year.
To top it all off, when the fuel truck was filling the plane, some jackass pilot double parked his jet in back of the plane in which we were riding. I didn't think it was possible to double park a jet aircraft because of all the tower supervision, but apparently the imbeciles at United Airlines had found the secret. 45 more minutes passed while nobody moved the offending aircraft. I was ready to knock some heads like Crable did to Troy Smith 9 months ago. Rage! Rage! Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage!
Long story short, the trip from New York to Detroit took 10 hours. My girlfriend and I arrived at her parents' house (bless their souls for picking us up from the airport at 1:30 AM) at 2:30 AM. We were in bed by 3 AM, and were out the door at 6:45 AM to get to Michigan Stadium and get in line to meet the players. We got 3 hours and forty-five minutes of sleep after that hellacious ordeal. But you know what? I would have went on no sleep at all for the chance to meet Mike Hart.
Seemingly an eternity later, it was my turn to meet Mike Hart. It was the moment of truth. It was the holy grail of the Michigan Fan Day experience.
If Mike Hart knew what I had went through to meet him, maybe things would have been different this morning. Maybe he would have been happy to meet me too, and maybe he would have said how honored he was that people are willing to come from halfway across the continent just to say a few words to him and have him write his name on some of their stuff.
Am I upset? Not really. How can I be? I realize that this was a hectic day for him, and that he can't concern himself with the troubles of pissant fans like me. He has an entire program to carry. He has thousands of smiles to put on a nation of Maize and Blue faces. He has an archenemy to defeat, a bowl game to win, and a championship to claim. I'm just a grain of sand in the Mike Hart desert. A drop of water in the Mike Hart ocean. A smiling face that he'll probably neither see again nor remember.
Was it all worth it for 6 seconds?
Hell yeah! I GOT TO MEET MIKE HART!
Plus, I also got autographs Donovan Warren and Junior Hemingway before the ushers kicked me out of the stadium. Sweeeeeeeet.