I work in the medical device industry and recently had the opportunity to travel to the Washington D.C. area to speak to the FDA. Being the pool nut that I am, of course I carried a pool cue with me. After my flight landed at BWI, I got a rental car and traveled a few miles east to the city of Glen Burnie, Maryland. I figured most billiard establishments in the area would not have a full kitchen, so my first objective was to score a fast dinner before hitting the pool halls. When I got to Glen Burnie, I eventually found a Checkers Burger joint and quickly dove into a couple greasy burgers and an order of fries. Nom nom nom!
After satisfying my fat and carb crave, I headed over to Big Daddy’s Billiards. My pre-trip Google search had revealed that Big Daddy’s is the annual home of the Maryland State 14.1 Championships, so I figured this place probably had some pretty decent equipment and some good local players. I figured Monday night would be a relatively slow night and I was thinking I could get in a little practice time and then possibly lock horns with some of the local talent. I got to Big Daddy’s just as the sun was setting and a heavy rain set in. Darn East Coast weather! I sat out in the car staring at the Big Daddy’s neon sign for a few minutes, then decided I probably wouldn’t melt, so I went inside. Talk about a shock…the place was absolutely packed! Monday night must be a big APA league night as every table in the joint was taken and several people were standing around waiting for tables. I went to the front desk and asked about getting a table, and I’m not exactly sure how I managed it, but I somehow got a table immediately. Beginner’s luck?
I ended up shooting solo for about three hours. I was on a nine-footer with somewhat generous pockets (between 4.5 or 4.75 inches I think). All the tables around me were taken with APA league matches. I got into my mental trance mode and was shooting pretty darn good. I occasionally paused to drink coffee and scan the room looking for anyone who was non-APA and who might be looking for a game, but no such luck. The place was packed with leagues and I didn’t see anyone that I thought would be interested in a game. After checking my watch and realizing it was a little after 10pm, I finally decided it was time to head over to Silver Spring, Maryland to check into my hotel. On the way out, I flashed my APA membership card, got a 15% discount (Bazinga!), and headed out the door.
So there I was, 10:30 at night, driving in heavy rain in an unfamiliar area, headed to an unfamiliar city, with no map and no directions. But hey, fear not, I have my trusty iPhone right? I looked up the hotel address and Google mapped it. The hotel was only about 30 minutes away, but then I noticed my iPhone battery indicator was at 8% battery life! Crap! I reached into my travel bag for my car charger…WHERE’S MY CHARGER? Evidently, it was still plugged into my car in California. DOUBLE CRAP!!! Time to implement a battery preservation strategy: (step 1) Glance at map, (step 2) memorize the next 3 turns, (step 3) turn off phone, (step 4) fear getting lost, (step 5) turn phone back on, (step 6) go to step 1. After several iterations, I finally got to the hotel with 1% power remaining. WHEW!
I checked into my room, unpacked, got my stuff ready for a meeting with FDA in the morning, and then realized I was hungry again. (After all, I hadn’t eaten in over two hours!) Time to search for food! It was after 11pm, so I was guessing most restaurants were closed. I sought guidance at the front desk and they told me there’s a McDonald’s relatively close by, so I headed out searching for grub. Now, the funniest thing happened to me on the way to MickeyD’s. I was in downtown Silver Spring at 11:30pm and was about to cross the street when guess what I saw? On the other side of the road I saw four guys walking together as a group and they were headed away from me…and all of them had nice leather cue cases on their backs! WHAT?! Had I made it to the Promised Land?! The light was red and I couldn’t cross, so I yelled at them, “Hey Poolplayers! Where’s the pool hall at?!!” The last one turned, and yelled back, “Galaxy Café, right over there!” He pointed to my left, so I turned in that direction and realized I was standing about a hundred feet from the Galaxy Billiards Café…sweet serendipity!!! I thought I heard angels in heaven singing and strumming harps…or maybe that was just my imagination. Regardless, it was too dark to take a picture of the exterior of the building (I got the picture the next morning) so I went inside to check it out. The place was filled with players…serious players…like manna from heaven, my hunger went away! I hung around for about 30 minutes, watched a few matches, but I didn’t have time to play. I needed to get up very early in the morning so I had to pass on this one. The next time I’m in the area, though, I’ll definitely hit Galaxy and find a game or two.