The USA Men’s team arrived safely and in great spirits to the Olympic Village on Friday. Our bus from Heathrow took us straight through downtown, by Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, etc. It was a majestic entry into the city and the Olympic Games.
We were received into the Village with little fanfare by the fantastic USOC staff. Upon entering the Village you are issued your Olympic Credential, an Oyster Card, and a Powerade “magic key”.
One’s credential becomes a fairly permanent part of one’s being during the Games. When one retires for the night one might remove one’s false teeth, crown jewels, and Olympic credential. In the morning the teeth go in, the jewels are placed, and the credential goes on. One mustn’t go about the day without it.
On the credential are letters that indicate your status. Aa is for athletes, Ao is for officials—or non-athletes. (AA is for aristocrats, Ax is for ex-cons, AJ is for those who are just happy to be here.)
Also on the credential is the obligatory mug shot. In my case my photo truly does look like a mug shot. I didn’t really pay attention to it until members of our team began laughing hysterically whenever they glanced at my credential. I look like I should have the Ax on my credential. It is so bad that I am slightly offended that they don’t stop me at every security checkpoint to question my affiliation with the man whose photo appears there. A couple of times I have considered asking the person scanning my credential, “C’mon—does that really look like me? Are you telling me that I resemble the man in this photo? Who is your supervisor?”
Speaking of scanning, there is a bar code on the credential. When scanned, the computer screen shows the photo that is supposed to be on the credential. (For me the bar code is just another opportunity to be mocked.) I think the bar code also reveals some personal information like “favourite colour”, “most embarrassing moment”, and “primary school mascot”.
There are codes on the credential that determine what kind of access you have to Olympic venues. VO means I have access to all Volleyball venues, and OLV means I have access to the Village. The most coveted symbol is the Infinity symbol, which gives the bearer access to every venue at the games. (Somehow they can detect if you have written the infinity symbol on your credential with a Sharpie.)
Finally, there are icons on the credential. The icon that matters most to me is the Knife and Fork, which allows you to enter the main dining hall in the Olympic Village and eat all you want 24/7. Chris Jackson astutely pointed out that the common spoon is mysteriously absent from the icon. We aren’t sure if this is just a slight to the inventors of the spoon (whoever invented soup must have invented the spoon), or if we are only to use a knife and fork in the dining hall. We did find some spoons, however, but we didn’t make a scene over it for fear of getting our knife and fork revoked.
The Oyster Card that we were issued is a valuable possession indeed. It allows you to use all public transportation scot-free. (I presented it as a payment method at J Sheekey Oyster Bar, but was rebuffed out of hand.)
Powerade Magic Key
The Powerade Magic Key is truly enchanted. If you wave it in front of any one of the many beverage vending machines in the Village, out comes a Powerade, water, Fanta, or Coca-Cola. I have heard stories of lucky villagers getting milk shakes, m&m’s, mangoes and Pomeranians to come out of the vending machines. The legend of the Powerade Magic Key grows by the day.