Next Caller Takes Dallas

contributed by Ryan Cash

After a Q3 of hard work by the prospectors, the Next Caller team took a trip out to Dallas, Texas as a celebration of achieving our goals.  The trip there was by no means a unified effort. Individuals from the team were scattered about the United States, taking flights at different times from different locations, to congregate at the hotel. Each Next Caller employee entered the hotel at a different period throughout the night, droopy-eyed, messy haired, and equally un-presentable. Eventually, the concierge just stopped inquiring about our identities at check-in. Instead, a comment like, “Ah, you must be with the Kirchick party,” was commonplace.

The team napped through the early morning and hit late morning head-on, the healthy way, with a balanced breakfast of egg mcmuffins, hashbrowns and caffeinated beverages out of a can. Today was Texas State Fair day; a congregation of thousands of people joining together to eat fried food, listen to country music, check out the livestock and consume some choice adult beverages. In typical tourist fashion, the team decided to Uber over to the fair, much to Texas native Sam Espinosa’s dismay. However, the Uber did not disappoint Sam nearly as much as Jeff’s purchase of a cross-laden cowboy hat from the local 7-Eleven… When asked his thoughts, Sam said he was “disgusted.”

The Texas State Fair proved to live up to all of the hype. It was the day of the Red River Showdown, hosted at the Cotton Bowl, which pits two of college football’s most elite teams and rowdy fan bases against one another. It was a sea of crimson from the Sooners of Oklahoma and burnt orange from the Longhorns of Texas as far as the eye could see. Aside from Longhorn fan Sam, Next Caller played Switzerland and went with their home light blue colors, not having an affinity for either side. After some failed scalping attempts to get inside of the stadium for the sold out event, we gave up and decided to explore the rest of the fair.

While wandering around the massive fair grounds, the team encountered challenging, though provoking questions throughout the day, such as: “Would you like that fried or deep-fried?” and “Should we get one more corn dog?”  Ian’s responses were predictably: “the latter” and “yes.” Finally, once the number of corndogs consumed had become 3x larger than the number of people in the group, everyone was thoroughly satisfied.  Or thoroughly sick to our stomachs is probably a better term. This was more than enough to send everyone into the proverbial food coma, and they made their way to the stage for some sun-soaked midafternoon naps.

Midafternoon turned to late afternoon and the marginal value of more corn dogs had dropped significantly for all parties.  There were a few who switched over to fried chicken sandwiches (Ian) to induce some self-loathing, but otherwise, the feasting was basically over. Everyone headed back to the hotel for some relax time to recharge before heading out to spend a fun night out in Dallas. Jeff decided he was going to skip out on the night’s events, as he needed to rest up in order to properly root on his beloved Patriots and man crush Tom Brady the next day in their contest against the Cowboys. He stuck to his guns and ignored the onslaught of insults and persuasion by everyone else. As a purveyor of persistence, he is apparently immune to its effects.

Due to the State Fair and the impending Cowboys v. Patriots game the next day, there were people in droves at the local bar scene. Locals and tourists were everywhere, amicably socializing and recounting the exciting events from the day. There was an exhibition wrestling match held between Sam and Ryan.  Some would say the results could be summed up by the saying “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Others could say that 14 years of training had some influence. Either way it ended in a handshake and a late night trip to McDonald’s.  Under the unreasonable assumption that the food for the day had been digested, Leo decided to combine a McChicken and a McDouble into one sandwich.  Leo still believes it was a great idea. Others do not agree.

The next day, everyone hopped out of bed to get ready to tailgate the big NFL game.  Jeff and Sam put friendships aside for the day, sporting their respective allegiances to the Patriots and Cowboys. Colleen, trusted carrier of the Party Pass tickets, showed up just in time for everyone to get a good standing spot for the bum rush. Thanks to her extensive Dallas connections, Colleen had the opportunity to sit smack dab at the 45-yard line, avoiding the impending mayhem and having some of the best seats in the house. The tailgating festivities had live music and drinks, before an eerie quiet came over the crowd.

Everyone stood at the ready with 5 minutes until 1 o’clock. The second the doors opened, it became an “every man for themselves” bum rush to the best seats. Gianni turned sideways, and his slender frame allowed others to brush straight past him, leaving him unscathed, while others were trampled in the madness. A few of the quicker Next Caller team members darted out ahead to get a great standing location, and made themselves as wide as possible to secure our seats. With some great real estate secured, everyone settled in to watch the contest. Adding insult to injury, Sam owed Jeff his first $50 of food and drink, as the Patriots handily took down the Cowboys. Gianni decided to take a nap. Being an engineer from Italy, he could’ve sworn this was a “fútbol” game, and took more liking to the marvel of the stadium than the players in the contest.

Once the game ended, it was time to head back to the hotel and crash after a long weekend of fun. Members of the team parted ways on Monday at different times, leaving in similar fashion to their arrival. This time, everyone was a little less disheveled, and full of a few more memories… and corndogs, than when they came. Leaving the only unanswered question remaining, “where in the world will the next Next Caller trip be?”