My Uber driver, “Fernando” picked me up at the Huntsville, Alabama airport within 5 minutes of my internet ride request. As we engaged in conversation, I thanked him for showing up so quickly. “You’re welcome,” he said, “I just dropped off some people at the baseball stadium, for the Trash Panda’s game tonight. Wait…that can’t be right, I thought. “Trash Pandas?” He can’t have said that, it doesn’t make any sense. Then this chain of rationalization thoughts quickly ran through me head… he sounds like he has a spanish accent…I can’t hear well out of my left ear…and we’re both wearing masks…ahh, maybe he must have said something like, “Tres Pantas.” It’s a little strange that a minor league baseball team from Huntsville, Alabama would have a spanish name meaning “Three Plants”, but these minor league teams often have unusual names…yes, that must be the answer.
As we drove to the hotel, Fernando and I continued our conversation for another 10 minutes or so. Apparently, a few years ago, he and his wife had fled the political turmoil in Venezuela, where he worked as a veterinarian. They were living here in Huntsville now to be close to their daughter and her family. He said that he and his wife loved it here and that they were going to be applying to become naturalized citizens next year. When he dropped me off, I thanked him for the ride and the conversation, and I wished him well on his citizenship journey.
Later, I was watching the local TV news in my room. When the sports segment came on, they switched to a live broadcast from the local baseball stadium, where they said the “Rocket City Trash Pandas” were getting to play their home opener against the “Chattanooga Lookouts.” The mystery solved, and my over-thinking was exposed! Apparently, even with his accent, my bad ear, and our masks, I had heard him correctly. ”Trash Pandas”…Wow!
The Moral of the Story: Sometimes, even if it doesn’t make sense, if it sounds like a duck, it might just be a duck.