Well, I made it to the Olympics.

I caught a brief glimpse of the Olympic torch after waiting 90 minutes in sub-freezing weather.

I caught 10 minutes of a women’s hockey game β€” was it Kazakhstan vs China?

And I caught a cold.

Those will be my memories of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I started planning for my Olympic experience months ago when I signed up to work in food service at one of the venues.

I intended to be right in the middle of it all and make a little money at the same time. It’s just that nothing ever works out quite the way I plan it.

For starters, the sit-down job they promised me turned out to be 6-hour shifts standing behind a counter.

I had envisioned myself as a cashier for the athletes’ dining room, where I’d get to meet all the medal winners.

Instead, they had me selling beer, hot dogs and nachos to ordinary folks who somehow found the money to take their family to an Olympic event.

Like you, my best view of the Olympics was on my television set after I got home from working my shift.

Unless a person’s got several thousand dollars to spend on travel, lodging and event tickets, the TV is as close as average Americans will ever get to watching international competition.

Even if it ends up in your home town, the majority of Olympic events are definitely made-for-television entertainment β€” most are all about how fast the athletes can move through space. You could blink once and miss all the excitement of what you stood in line for hours to see.

So don’t feel bad if you weren’t in Salt Lake City for your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Olympics up close.

You didn’t miss a thing β€” except snow, cold, crowds, traffic, security checks and waiting in lines for $400 tickets and $5 hot dogs.

Ok, so you missed meeting fascinating foreign folks from all over the world, but I was right here and I missed them too.

And I’d had all that Spirit-of-the-Olympics training on how to be friendly to visitors from different cultures.

I must have sold a lot of them nachos and beer, but foreigners don’t wear signs. They look just like us.

The only ones I met up close were a couple of strangers who had flown in for the Olympics and were having a little difficulty getting around town on the city bus.

We started chatting and got acquainted waiting at the bus stop together. I gave them my bus schedule and helped them connect with the right bus.

They were grateful for my help, and I felt like I’d made some new friends when they left.

They were from California.

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Dea Smith