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Gary’s Blog: “This is Walgreens Calling…”

By Gary Dickman.

The last thing you want to deal with on a trip to Las  Vegas or anywhere is thinking you might die. More on that later.

I know the main reason you are reading this is to hear more about the UH basketball team, the week they had and what’s ahead for them. This season has obviously been different, but one thing that remains the same is the dramatic finishes and exciting games that they are involved in. I’ve written how the schedule is very favorable for the last six games of Big West play. None of these games are against a team with a winning record. One of the main goals is to finish in the top six to avoid a play-in game of the Big West Tournament for the schools finishing seventh through tenth.

Hawaii went into last week’s games vs CSUN with a 6-6 conference record and in sixth place. A sweep would have had them in a tie for fifth. A split would have them between sixth and eighth. The game on Friday looked like it would be an easy win for UH, leading by double figures for most of the game, but CSUN kept chipping away and took their first lead of the game since being up 2-0. It was 74-72, UH got the ball back with under 25 seconds left. Justin Webster, the Big West Player of the Week, was scoreless in the first half, and was not with the team in the second half. All we know is that it was medical reasons, and UH would have to win without their captain and leading scorer. But Biwali Bayles bailed them out, pun intended. He hit a bank shot three-pointer with eight seconds left to win the game.

Now onto Saturday, where a  win and sweep over CSUN would have put UH in a very good position to finish in the top six and avoid the play-in game.  Again Hawaii had double-figure leads in both halves, in fact in all four halves of  the weekend. But there would be no magic this time, and our Rainbow Warriors lost in overtime, 88-80. So this is where we are right now: 6-8 in the standings, in a three-way tie for seventh place, but ahead on percentage points over the other two schools, Fullerton, and CSUN. I feel Hawaii needs to sweep Long Beach State this week at home, and at least split with UC Davis next week to finish in the top six. If they do, UH would be tied with the Beach in sixth place and own the tiebreaker. It’s going to be almost impossible to catch Davis at this point. Davis is 3-3, but plays Cal Poly twice this week, which means a probable sweep. If that happens, the only way UH can  pass them is to win all four of its remaining games. It’s going to be rough. Hope they can at least finish in sixth place, and that’ll be possible if they win both games this weekend vs LB State. Buckle up, it’s gonna be an intense, exciting next few weeks. That’s why they call it March Madness.

Okay, now for my week. I had arranged to go to Vegas last week, knowing that the UH game on Saturday February 13th, was a 5:00 p.m. start here, so I’d be able to make an 11:30 flight to Las Vegas. Then, my worst fears started to happen. Santa Barbara decided they wanted to spend the night here, so the game got moved to a 7:00 start. As you know, I host “The Fan’s Voice” after home games, and answer phone calls and texts, etc. I joked around that day that the game better not go to overtime. I was all packed and ready to go, thinking I’d get done with the “Fan’s Voice” around 9:45. I’d get home by 10. I live near the airport, so I’d make it in time. Except, worst fear number two happened. UH, down by 15, forced overtime and lost. Of course, a few video replays, and a lot of fouls in the last minute prolonged my agony. I raced out of the studio around 10:00, made it home rather quickly. And those lights all seemed yellow to me, I don’t recall any red lights that I went through. So I made it to the airport around 10:40, still having to check in a bag. An airline employee at the counter saw me, yelled to hurry up, I barely checked in my bag on time, and of course, my flight was delayed an hour. Which would have been funny, except, I missed my connection in Phoenix, now I was stuck there for five hours. What a way to start my trip.

Now, I needed to get my COVID test to be able to return home without a quarantine. I scheduled two appointments, just in case. You have to be in a car, the tests are drive-thrus. I did this in October, so I knew the routine. You take the test, and if it’s negative, you get the results in an e-mail within a day or so. If you test positive, they’ll call you and let you know where to go to be isolated, and what’s next. I took the test on Tuesday and awaited my results. On Wednesday morning, I checked my phone while half asleep. I saw two missed calls with a 702, or Las Vegas area code. I didn’t know who it might be. I looked at my voicemail, and read the message first. It said, “This is Walgreens calling about your COVID test.” I flipped out, my heart racing, knowing that this meant I tested positive. I got pretty emotional, wondering if this was the end for me. At my age, and with some health concerns, I know if I ever got COVID, it might not end well. All kinds of thoughts were going through my head, none of them happy. But then I read the rest of the voicemail. It said, “This is Walgreens calling about your COVID test. You have an appointment for later today. Just letting you know you can come in earlier if you want.” WOW, what a relief!

I know this sounds funny now. But for about two minutes, I was thinking the worst. It was like I was given a second chance of living. Again, funny now. But not so funny then, I really felt like I had tested positive. But I’m alive and well.I mean, if it was a positive test, who’d be writing this blog now and in the future?

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