Living Retired — ‘Cast of Characters’
Living Retired — ‘Cast of Characters’
By Gary Chalk
The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round — but ONLY IF the driver knows how to start the friggin’ engine! Here is what I mean…
Jan and I returned last week from a cruise from Montreal down the St. Lawrence River, around Newfoundland and the Maritime provinces to Boston.
In Quebec City we boarded a bus excursion to Montmorency Falls and rode a cable car to the top to view the water crashing down to the St. Lawrence River. That is when we discovered the bus driver was, well, wet behind his ears. He appeared disengaged, without a worry in the world. I whispered to Jan that I was naming him ‘Mr. Who Cares.’
“Gary, that isn’t nice; besides you should not talk behind his back.”
“Jan, when you are riding a bus you are always talking behind the drivers back!”
The tour guide was a pleasant middle-aged woman. “Good morning everyone. We are about to depart. Is anyone else hot? I’ll get our driver to turn on the air conditioning.” She frantically waved her clipboard to fan her face. The name I gave this middle-aged woman was ‘Mrs. Hot Flash.’
The tour bus hadn’t even left and Mrs. Hot Flash and Mr. Who Cares huddled near the dashboard trying to figure out how to work the cooling system. No luck.
Mrs. Hot Flash apologized. Mr. Who Cares put the bus in drive. And with that we were off.
For the next hour Mrs. Hot Flash fanned herself, complaining about no air conditioning. Her rant continued until she proudly announced, “At Montmorency Falls a new bus with air conditioning will meet us. Hurray.”
Easy peezy, right? No so fast Ralph Kramden!
When we were seated on the new bus Mr. Who Cares realized he had no clue how to start the engine because — get this — IT WAS A BRAND-NEW BUS AND HE HAD NOT BEEN TRAINED HOW TO OPERATE THIS NEW BUS!!
Once again Mrs. Hot Flash joined Mr. Who Cares on their hands and knees looking for anything that resembled the ignition switch. No luck!
In the seat in front of Jan and I, a disgruntled couple — I named them Mr. & Mrs. I Cannot Believe This Is Happening — shook their heads in disbelief. Near the back of the bus, an irritated passenger — Mr. I’ll Look It Up On Google — opened his iPad. This prompted another passenger — Mrs. Technology — to speak into her iPhone, “Siri, how to start a bus?”
Passengers were losing their patience. Mrs. Hot Flash fanned her face. Mr. Who Cares remained nonchalant. From the back of the bus a thin, studious-looking man with a shirt pocket full of pens and wearing a Notre Dame ball cap — I named him Mr. Notre Dame Nerd — emerged. “I am a retired electrical engineer.”
Soon, Mrs. Hot Flash, Mr. Who Cares, and Mr. Notre Dame Nerd were falling over each other examining every switch, knob, and dial. They look like they are playing Twister at a New Years Eve party! No luck.
By now the passengers were becoming rowdy and one piped up, “QUICK before the bus parked in front of us pulls away ask that driver if he knows how to start our bus!” All the passengers clapped. The poor guy seated behind Jan and I leaped up to give a standing ovation — WHACK! — he smacked his head on the overhead luggage rack!
Mrs. Hot Flash furiously flagged the other bus just as it began to pull away. WHEW! The driver stopped.
Soon, our new hero — Mr. Fix It Bus Driver — stepped on our bus and placed his hand near the steering wheel. Before you could say ‘This Vehicle Is Now In Motion’ the engine started. Everyone clapped! — except the passenger behind us who remained seated while his wife held a tissue on his bleeding forehead.
Mr. Fix It Bus Driver showed Mr. Who Cares where the switch was to start the air conditioning. Within minutes Mr. Fix It Bus Driver was waving to us as he drove his bus away. This is when it happened…
With Mr. Who Cares seated at the steering wheel, and Mrs. Hot Flash beaming, Mr. Who Cares struggled to close the bus door. He looked desperately for the button. A switch. A knob. No luck!
Mr. Notre Dame Nerd was summoned to the front of the bus. Mr. & Mrs. I Cannot Believe This Is Happening groaned. Mr. I’ll Look It Up On Google began searching on his iPhone, while Mrs. Technology asked Siri, “How to close bus door?”
Soon, Mrs. Hot Flash, Mr. Notre Dame Nerd, and another passenger who was yelling and swearing about throwing Mr. Who Cares under the bus, managed to swing the big door shut.
At last! Mr. Who Cares put the gearshift into drive and with that our bus violently jerked forward! We all fell back into our seats except the poor fella with the bleeding forehead behind Jan and I — I’m thinking he suffered whiplash!
You can’t make this stuff up. If this was a play this cast of characters would be recast.