Bruce Baird thinks that maybe somebody is out to get him. He doesn't know who it is, but he's keeping his eyes open.
Almost every member of the Utah delegation and the media traveling with them to the Democratic National Convention have horror stories about travel here and finding their way around this city of 2.5 million people.But Baird's is unique.
The first day the assistant Salt Lake City attorney and alternate delegate was in town he got lost all by himself. While jogging through the beautiful pines, he made a turn he didn't remember. Unlike Hansel and Gretel, Baird didn't leave bread crumbs behind.
"Every road here ends in a cul de sac. But because of the trees, you don't know that until it makes a turn into a dead end."
He finally found his way back to the hotel. In his other troubles, he was a helpless victim.
Tuesday, not trusting the special bus service organized by the Democratic National Committee, he took a taxi back from a breakfast. "They've changed many of the downtown streets into one-way streets or taken what used to be one-way streets and made them two-way. The bus drivers are confused." A DNC bus, making an illegal turn, hit Baird's taxi. Baird caught another taxi and made it back to the hotel.
Early Wednesday morning, on his way back from the convention, his bus with 70 people on board broke down on the freeway. Another bus was following it, but it, too, was full. "I've been on the Japanese subways. They're nothing compared to the jamming that took place to get on the second bus. Half of those people, who didn't get on, may still be standing on the freeway."
But Baird's odyssey wasn't over. After dragging himself into his room around 2 a.m., Baird found that his air conditioning had switched from cooling to heating. "The maintenance staff fixed it quickly. Even though things go wrong here, everyone is very polite."
The real mess-up is the DNC's bus transportation system. On paper it looks great. But many of the bus drivers were brought into Atlanta from surrounding towns, and rarely or never drove in Atlanta and its huge suburbs before.
They've learned their individual routes, but if they're called on to take a new route, they get lost faster than Baird jogging.
The troublesome shuttles and traffic jams made Rep. Wayne Owens, R-Utah, who is still trying to put together a compromise on the huge Central Utah Project funding bill, move from the delegations suburban hotel to a downtown Marriott. "I couldn't afford to miss any more meetings," Owens said.