Jun 242010

Dear Danny,

Many thanks to you and Julie for letting my wife and I stay at your house. I am writing to ask your help in settling some old accounts.

As you know, around mid-April, my good friend Gorttimer T. Spotts and I began laying bets on your downtown Lexington Trolley Lines. The games first started at Taste of Thai when Spotts and I, while on a dinner-date with our wives, began laying odds on the over/under for passengers riding by on your city’s rugged COLT faux trolley busses. This being within the first weeks of the COLT line’s opening, it soon became apparent to the both of us that anything other than the under on any passenger line was a loser.

The bets quickly dried up and the game died, until a month later when Spotts and I mysteriously began frequenting Sidebar for lunch and drinks on the front porch facing the courthouse. What began as an honest hobby of trolley spotting soon developed into weekly gambling sessions involving the shuttling back and forth of hundreds of dollars. Through our trolley spotting, we began to notice patterns for specific trolleys and times of day. Jockey 1 on the north/south running Green Line, for example, was cautious with his COLT, stopping at all major yellows for as far as we could see. This resulted, we both noted, in lap times that were slightly longer than Jockey 2.

Unless they weren’t, of course, because traffic on South Upper was bad, which sometimes happened between 12:15 and 12:30. Or because a wreck (unseen to us) occurred near South Limestone and Maxwell, bucking the COLT from its 20 minute average schedule. Even the unthinkable could happen: it could have to slow to allow passengers to embark.

There were always variables, which inevitably led to our renewed interest in gambling. By week 2, Gorttimer had begun printing up special “sheets” which provided all sorts of information he claimed were “helpful” in setting lines and making bets. These included anything from the analysis of courthouse press releases, used to gauge the always latent potential of TV stations to arrive suddenly and create time-draining traffic barriers, to dew points, pollen counts and seismic activity.

By last week, my last here in Lexington before embarking for home, Spotts and I had spent quite a considerable amount of time betting on the COLTs. By this time, we had both perfected the odds and added on a considerable architecture of side-bets. Using the Short Street traffic light as the starting line and the Sidebar front porch as the finish line, one could bet on split times, attempt a three-trolley trifecta, double up on time-coordinated passenger over/unders, etc. The sky was the limit and Spotts is a known gambler. Accordingly, we traded IOUs and other papered instruments of debt back and forth as we gambled throughout the lunch hours.

Things were all even until the last couple rides of the day, when I lost $200 on COLT Jockey 2 as he got caught at the top of Bank of the Bluegrass (BoB) Hill, at the Lime/High Street traffic light. In our betting log, this split occurred at 1:07pm. I had a sure victory with a 1:10 bet, and Spotts was going to be on the line to me for two c-notes. Then the COLT got gunked up at Vine for a light. Then the Main Street light. Spotts, nearly blind drunk by this time, roared with increasing delight and derision at every stopped light. COLT Jockey 2 crossed the Sidebar line at 1:11 PM, a 22 minute round trip, a dismal 4 minute backstretch split, and absolutely no passengers. I lost $200.

Absolutely stunned and stupidly feeling my manhood challenged, I loudly called for a second bet, twice as large at $400, taking the over on an 18 minute round trip for Jocky 1, who was already somewhere enroute having passed the starting line (our betting logs indicated) at 1:02 PM.

It was a sucker’s bet and I didn’t expect Gorttimer, that filthy retch, to take it. Jockey 1 had been running average all day at about a 20 minute round trip. Given the frothy get-back-to-lunch traffic conditions at 1:00 PM and reportedly poor traffic light-alignment conditions on North Upper all the way through Main Street, this was a pretty impressive time, but it was no 18 minutes, a record under the day’s conditions.

Gorttimer, however, still aglow from his previous miraculous victory, took the bet. And wouldn’t you know it, Jockey 1 ran an all-time course record, 16 minutes; I lost another $400, bringing my total paper owed to the old chap to $600. I’m curious if you could take care of that with me until my return sometime later this summer, when I plan to return and enjoy your generous hospitality again. Love to Julie.


Northrupp Centre

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  One Response to “Lunch at the COLT tracks”

  1. Jolly good accounting, Northrupp. Can’t wait to get back to merry ol’ Lex and snipe a pound or two more from your rapidly dwindling coffers!

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