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Michael Lewis

June 25, 2014
No matter how bad you have it, someone else is worse off somewhere else

RECIFE, Brazil -- A couple of things that I learned in life:

Everything is relative.

And someone always has it worse than you.

The last couple of days were perfect examples.

The U.S. Soccer media bus arrived at the Sao Paulo airport in plenty of time for us to check in and grab a bite.

Or so I thought.

It seemed that a few of us, including Washington Post writer Steve Goff and myself, were not on the GOL flight list from Manaus to this city, even though we had checked online several hours before. I had a copy of my boarding pass e-mailed to me, seat 29D, but the woman on the check-in line said there was no such name -- Michael Lewis -- in the system.

I don't know exactly what happened and who did it, but some Rhodes Scholar -- not from the airline -- changed some names. USA TODAY writer Mike Foss had problems checking in for an earlier flight because the name on his passport read Michael Foss. So instead of changing Foss' name, they erased mine and put in Michael Foss.

So, essentially, he was listed twice.

Goff's name was switched with one of the interns working for U.S. Soccer who wasn't going on the trip.

The GOL worker had me follow her to another counter and then to a backroom. Then we went back to the original counter. In the meantime, U.S. Soccer media coordinator David Applegate was on the phone to the proper people to fix the mess, which has never happened to me in the hundreds of flights I have taken over the years.

When something like this happens, you think it's the worst thing and that it will take forever to solve.

The best way to deal with it? Chill out and let the people take care of things. The 20 minutes or half-hour to resolve the problem probably took forever, but it was resolved. Heck, I even got the seat I had picked online, 29D.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning.

After boarding the bus to the stadium, an American who was ahead of tour group asked me if I spoke English. I said yes. He told me he was looking for his bus that was supposed to arrive an hour prior.

He then related a horror story or two that transpired in Manaus.

He had booked 400 tourists on a tour and 10 buses failed to show up.

For the USA-Portugal game, three of the buses left 10 minutes before the end of the game, forcing him to find transport back to the hotel for some 140 fans.

The poor man was blamed for all the problems.

Like I said, there's always someone else on this planet with bigger headaches.

I'm in Recife for Thursday's confrontation between the USA and Germany. What more do I want?

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