If you tune to local convention coverage featuring dispatches from your favorite television political reporters (and your humble servant as well), you may notice something tonight: bloodshot eyes. You see, sleep was a bit hard to come by last night. Is it because we were out late into the night perusing the various after-hours fundraisers? Not exactly. Is it because we decided to jump off the grid, head to the famous Ybor City district and enjoy the fruits of Tampa's nightlife? Ahh, no.
You see, Tampa had a bit of a logistical problem as convention organizers tried to shuttle everyone back to their hotels scattered across the region. As soon as Gov. Chris Christie's keynote address ended, we made a beeline toward the exit. We were shuffled into long, long lines to board one of the many buses that would eventually take us to OTHER buses that would eventually take us home.
"After a 16-hour workday, I gotta wait in line for this shuttle?" tweeted ABC-7's Charles Thomas.
I was lucky enough to board one of the first shuttles. After an endless wait and a route that took us back over the same thoroughfares over and over again (due to intense security constraints), we arrived at the Raymond James Stadium. Once we got there, we sat. And sat. And waited, single file, as hundreds of buses let off convention-goers to connect with a second bus that would take them to their hotel.
I boarded my second bus for the Sheraton Sand Key, off of Clearwater Beach. And we sat. And sat. Emotions were rising. Tempers were flaring.
"Tampa needs to learn how to handle logistics," I bellowed, as if my frustration would somehow resonate with the driver, who would somehow relay my message to the organizer, who would heed my logistical expertise, fix everything and make it better. Eh. Sometimes a little vocal frustration is cathartic.
I pulled in at about 1:30 am after a two-and-a-half hour excursion. And what could possibly be worse than being on a bus for that long? Being seated next to a stranger who saw our time together as a wonderful opportunity to talk and talk and talk. He talked about Todd Akin; about the St. Louis Cardinals. Nice enough person, don't get me wrong. But I was ready for quiet time. I tried to position my backpack as a pillow to send the message. It wasn't getting through.
I was one of the lucky ones, though. I found Craig Dellimore of WBBM Newsradio bright and early this morning.
"How you doing?" I asked.
"I'm hurting," he said.
Dellimore left the convention center at midnight. He pulled in to the hotel at 2:30 am. Others didn't make it in until 3:00 am.
Carol Marin and NBC-5 Producer Don Moseley reveled in the good fortune that they were able to make it in by 1:00 am, but were up quickly for a 6:00 am morning show appearance.
The rest of us woke up soon after for another day chalk full of events, climaxing with the much-anticipated Paul Ryan convention speech.
"I understand some of you may be bleary-eyed," Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady announced to the assembled crowd for this morning's breakfast events.
"I'm really sorry, we're going to get it fixed. We have to,” he said.
Encouraging sentiments, but it might be too late for some.
"I don't mean to sound like a prima donna," said the Daily Herald's Kerry Lester. "But I'm not boarding another bus."