Amazing Race's Ron and Bill: We Couldn't Recover From Two Bad Cabbies
Ron Zeitz and Bill Smith
Flight attendants and domestic partners Ron Zeitz and Bill Smith started Leg 2 of The Amazing Race 19 in last place and stayed there, eventually becoming the second team axed in the show's first double elimination. Their fate was sealed when they were one of the eight teams who missed the additional clue at the orphanage, but the bad luck started with not one, but two bad cab drivers. Find out what you didn't see on the episode and what they think of the extra clue hidden in plain sight.
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You were in last the whole leg. Why did you get off to such a bad start?
Bill: We make no excuses at all, but — you hear this all the time on the Race — because they can't show everything that happens, you don't see what cab works, what cab didn't. But when we arrived in Jakarta, we were first at the train. The second we landed in Yogyakarta, it was downhill with taxis. Both of our taxis, which were the significant rides of that leg — nice drivers — could never get ahead. ... We never made a mistake until the orphanage. We just had the worst luck — again, it's not an excuse, but just a fact of what happened. With spelunking being a task that has to be done in the order of arrival, there's not a lot of opportunity to make up time. We just had a hard time recovering.
You changed cabs once, but couldn't change again?
Bill: No. One was in the middle of the night in an area we knew nothing about. The cab was lost. He was nice and all, but he pulled over and got on his cell phone for help. That put us behind. Then leaving to get to the caves, our cab driver was so afraid of all the activities that he wouldn't pull out to leave, so we ended up as the sixth cab in the line and we were in the second group. The whole time, he tried to pass people, but it was morning rush and there was no way to get around. We were stuck in that 11th spot that entire time.
Ron: The only time our cab really kicked it in was when we left the spelunking and headed into the city center to do the dancing ... and then he flew right to the orphanage. He was just on it at that point, but of course, we had a lot of ground to cover. The showgirls were maybe two minutes ahead of us [leaving the Roadblock]. We knew we were right behind everything.
It seemed like you were by yourselves at the Detour, or were you just at a different street corner?
Ron: There were three different corners we could dance at. Jeremy and Sandy, and Marcus and Amani were just finishing when we were coming up. ... I don't know if the bikes were easier, but we were able to fly through dancing. It took, like, 15 minutes ... We knew we were still in last, but we felt like we could still make up some time.
Bill: The fact that they were still there — Marcus and Amani were in the first group to leave spelunking — we were happy to see them knowing we left last. The ride from the caves to the next task was over an hour, and that's where our cab driver made up time.
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What do you think of the extra clue twist?
Bill: Early in the race, they said, what's cool about The Amazing Race is that they're always adding new twists, and I think that's what makes it so exciting and why we've loved it all these years. When you're a longtime fan, you're always looking for that clue box. When they gave us that emblem, that was what the clue box was, and that's what was so cool about this season. Nothing was what you expect it to be. To tag onto that with the sign — never in my wildest dreams would I have thought to look at a sign in a frame. It was a shock to us when we realized we missed it, but as racers, we never thought to look for it. We truly had to say to ourselves afterward — and I'm sure viewers did — "You now have to look at the entire surroundings because anything can be a clue." That was probably the biggest the moment. It wasn't just a clue or a clue box that could give you directions. It could be anything, including what we just thought was part of the desk. We didn't even notice it.
So you never even glanced over?
Ron: I think we were feeling excited that we had completed the task pretty quickly. We didn't know where we stood and then you walk in, your adrenaline's pumping, you see these young girls and you start chatting with them and you feel good about what you've been able to do. I'd say, as eight teams missed it, it was really easy to overlook.
Bill: At that moment, because we knew we were 11th, we were so about taking in the moment. When we walked in and saw all those girls and the teachers, and they're clapping and yelling, I mean, truly, that moment was what we were there for. ... We were having a great time giving it to them and seeing their excitement. We should always be thinking game, but we weren't thinking game at that second because we knew what the task was. So we missed the clue, but I'll be honest, at that moment, I wasn't thinking about searching around the room for clues.
Had you seen it, you would've been in ninth and safe. Does it the charity aspect of the task make it easier to swallow that you didn't?
Ron: Absolutely. When we went back, we knew we were done. As we were running to the Pit Stop the first time, we saw other teams running back. We were thinking that the leg was continuing. Of course, no one's going to tell you they were turned back.
Bill: When we went back, we were like, "We're back!" At that point, it was completely about the orphanage. We knew our Amazing Race was going to end, so we took the time to give it to them and wish them well because now it was just about, "Let's give them all this money. We can't change our destiny." We couldn't change anything and even if we could, it wasn't what that moment was about. Now we're giving them $300 U.S., so it's a great gift.
How far behind Ethan and Jenna were you?
Bill: Not far at all. They were checking in when we got to the Pit Stop. We had to wait to check in.
Ron: I think there was probably 10 minutes between everyone checking in who had to go back. We passed each other going back and forth. It was also brutally warm and humid. I think part of the adrenaline in me was saying, maybe somebody was so tired they had to walk and we would miraculously pass somebody.
Bill: We were struggling too and at that point, it would take an Olympic sprint to overtake somebody even 15 minutes ahead of you.
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What are you up to now?
Ron: We're back at American [Airlines]. We're making people happy in the air. I also do home loans, so I continue to do that. ... We're waiting for Crest Whitestrips to call us because Bill was so impressed with how white our teeth were! We know Crest is going to be calling us any day now! [Laughs] But just enjoying life and taking care of our family. The reason we went on the Race was because there were a lot of medical issues with our family and they were kind of were at a nice place when we went on the Race. Now we're having some major setbacks with cancer battles, so that really is our priority as a family.
Bill: We're also getting some really great messages and texts from our friends and family and [coworkers], so it's great to feel that that support too.