March 08, 2007

Smoking gun

As the Greyhound bus pulls out of New York heading for Baltimore, the driver greets us and issues instructions. Among other things, he tells us that there's no smoking on the bus. But for those who would like to smoke, he does suggest a way out.

That's right, a way out. He says, just come tell me that you want to smoke. I'll pull over, we'll let you off, and we'll continue on our way. Next stop, Wilmington Delaware.

As the Fort Sumter Tours boat pulls out of the Charleston dock heading for the fort, the PA system crackles to life and a man's voice greets us. He issues instructions too. There's a whole slew of kids, from Ridgeland Elementary School, aboard. So he urges all aboard to take care of the kids.

In particular, he says, watch where those kids go. They have a tendency to find a way into the barrels of the cannons on the fort. But it is the genius of the National Park Service, the Federal Government and all of us that we've found a good way to get them out. We load up the gun with ten pounds of explosive, point it out to sea and shoot. Welcome to Fort Sumter, ladies and gentlemen!

Near me, one of the kids, Tony Pusha, is peering curiously up at me. He asks, do you have the cake?

Since I don't have the cake, I say no, I don't have the cake.

Tony is not happy about this. He turns to his friends and I hear him muttering, I didn't say cake, I said candy!

And all through the trip out to Sumter, he gives me strange annoyed looks. But he doesn't try climbing into the cannons.


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Either you've been reading Bryson or he used to read you.

Any road, we gain. More!


Bicyclemark said...

the culture of greyhound is in itself a very strange tradition. Theres almost no such thing as an uneventful ride on that bus.

Oh and you'll be proud to know, as in some way you inspired me, Im heading to New Orleans and Im driving along the gulf coast until florida, stopping everywhere to do a series of reports.

Dilip D'Souza said...

JAP, thanks! I'm not a Bryson fan actually, but I shall gracefully accept the praise anyway.

Mark, great to know about your upcoming trip! I can't wait to read your reports. We should see if we can do a joint trip one of the days.