RandBall conversations: Eric Butorac, professional tennis player and ONE OF US, handles the Moroccan policePosted on May 27th, 2009 – 1:24 PM
By Michael Rand
We recently had a chance to check in via e-mail with Eric Butorac, a Rochester native who played college tennis at D-III Gustavus, for a Sunday Q&A. There was one answer that was just a little too long (OK, a lot too long) to fit in. So we thought we would share it now. Butorac, by the way, is the 45th-ranked doubles player in the world and will play in the first round of the French Open doubles tomorrow. Contrary to that cropped picture from a tournament he won a couple years ago, Butorac is not here to serve you booze in a giant container. His nickname is apparently “Booty,” which we don’t want to know about and didn’t ask about, even though it’s probably just something harmless about his name. He travels a ton (pretty much ever week to play in tournaments), hence this question:
RandBall: Any great recent road stories?
Eric Butorac: The travel goes much smoother than it did when I had to pinch pennies and catch trains from Lisbon to Paris or help my Serbian doubles partner sneak into the Czech Republic, but you still have the occasional “situation.” So, I played last month in Casablanca, Morocco, and when it came time to fly out, my flight left at 7 a.m., and the tournament wouldn’t take me before 6 a.m. So, I had to get a taxi … one problem … there was a taxi strike in the city. I asked the night before, and the concierge assured me he could get a cab if he ordered it the night before. I came down at 5:30 and the same concierge directed me to this shady looking car in the parking lot. It wasn’t like I had lots of options at this point, so I jumped in. Everything was going smoothly, this guy was surely not a cab driver, but maybe one of his friends who wanted to make a buck. As we were speeding down the road, we were pulled over by a policeman. I’m thinking great, hope this doesn’t take too long and I miss my flight. The “cab driver” starts to panic and telling me what to say to the policeman when he comes in. Apparently, not just anyone can be operating as a cab without a cab license. Lucky for me, I still speak pretty good French from my days of “vagabonding” around while playing French money tournaments. The “cab driver” explained to the Policeman that I was his friend and when asked why I was in the backseat, he told him that I was sick and didn’t feel well. The officer then confronted me and after denying that I spoke French, he opted for his poor English and asked many of the same questions. I stuck right to my driver’s story and we were back on our way. Then as we rolled in to the airport, he tried to stiff me for about four times what the cab fare should have been. I threatened to call the cops and price dropped right back to where it should have been.
Ah, yes, the glamorous life of a professional athlete. Feel free to share similar travel stories … or, if you like the “football,” Champions League finals comments are also in play.