The following tale appears in the 2014 Autograph University Yearbook – a collection of stories written by the autograph community. Get your free copy of the Yearbook.
March 7, 2008
I’ve never been so disappointed to see an NBA team outside a hotel.
Chicago Bulls players were streaming out of the Four Seasons and across its horseshoe driveway toward the game time buses. Over a dozen collectors and I shuffled back and forth between them, ready with Sharpies and photos in our hands. But these towering athletes weren’t our targets—they were in the way.
Our eyes were trained on the revolving door at the hotel entrance, waiting to catch a glimpse of a man with more star power than the entire NBA team combined. He wouldn’t stand out like the basketball players—he had no superhuman physique to give him away. White male, average height, dark suit. There are a heck of a lot of those walking out of the Four Seasons.
The black SUV pulled up around 6 p.m., obscuring the doorway. We scrambled for a better view but we all knew it would be only moments until we saw him. Odds were good we weren’t even going to get close but he had a reputation of being a friendly guy. Maybe we’d get lucky.
The door spun and Tom Hanks walked out into a cacophony of shouting collectors who surged toward him.
“Sorry guys, I’m late,” he said with a wave and stepped into the backseat of the SUV behind the driver. The door slammed shut.
We saw him for five seconds.
Hanks was in town for a screening of the John Adams HBO mini-series he co-executive produced. The event was being hosted at the Boston Public Library four blocks away in Copley Square. It was a straight shot down Boylston Street from the hotel…on foot. Due to a number of one-way streets I knew Hanks’ car would have to zigzag its way back through a number of side streets and traffic lights. I just might make it in time if I hurried. I watched as the vehicle rumbled out of the driveway and sped past the hotel. I had no time to calculate. I ran.
Coming straight from work I wasn’t well-dressed for a half-mile sprint. It wasn’t the leather-soled shoes clacking sharply on the sidewalk that caused me problems, it was the heavy corporate-issue laptop clanging violently off my hip bone. I wasn’t the only one who was stressed by the situation. I projected my anxiety onto every pedestrian I passed/weaved through/cut off. It’s always a bit unsettling to see someone running full bore at you, particularly when they are not wearing exercise clothes. In those moments of madness there is one thing abundantly clear. Something is wrong.
Down the sidewalk I chased a car I couldn’t see, praying Hanks and Co. were held up at red lights and traffic on the adjacent side streets. I sped by the Arlington T stop then passed Berkley and Clarendon. Copley Square came into view, the library’s façade and its rows of arcaded windows in the distance. Hundreds of people were already lined up along a red carpet. Even if I beat the livery vehicle it would still be a challenge to get a favorable spot. My chest was heaving and my forehead and armpits were dripping sweat as I made a quick turn past Trinity Church and the skateboarders practicing kick-flips by the fountain. So close.
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