Thursday, June 5, 2008

Substitute Driving Miss Daisies

I'm giving you a brief respite from my political stylings on this not-a-political-blog, so I can talk about ME again. ME, ME, ME. It's been a while. I couple of days, at least.

As you know, I rode the Old People's Gambling Bus to Harrah's yesterday. It was a short bus this time, but with more people. I suppose the gas prices are cutting into Harrah's's highway robbery. We also had a new driver. Listen to me. I sound like a regular. I've only ridden that bus once before. Then, it was on a Saturday, and we had an old white man around 75 driving, and it was a big Husky bus with a bathroom on board, and there were only 11 of us. This time, it was a short Holiday tour bus kind of thingy with no bathroom, with a 30-something black driver who did not know the route, and 17 passengers. One thing remained constant, though. I was the youngest passenger on the bus!

The majority of the passengers were old white women. We were Hillary's posse. There was one man on the bus when I got on. The woman behind me complained that there was no bathroom. "And he's got prostate cancer, and has to go a lot," she said, jerking her head toward the man in the back, who was not her companion. I'm sure he was glad he'd confided in her, what with her announcing it to the entire bus. These were some feisty ol' gals, by cracky! Not an oxygen tank or walker in the bunch.

Our driver's name was Dart. He announced it to us, "Dart. D-A-R-T. Just like the pointy object." He was wearing a name tag, too, with his full name. It was something like Dartagnon, a name I'd seen written before, but never knew anybody actually named that. That old guy who drove the route before just wore his Dickies shirt and pants, and didn't even announce his name. For all I knew, he could have been a passenger who took over the driving.

I felt a bit of sympathy for Dart. The Old Hag constituency treated him like a substitute teacher. C'mon...even though not all of y'all are teachers, you know what Miss Ann and I both know. Everybody thinks it necessary to tell the sub how things should go. After the complaints about the bathroom, (like Dart himself had gotten up early and removed the bathroom from the bus for their inconvenience), they started asking about the sign-in list, and the green cards. "Where's the sign-in list? We always have to sign in. We write our names and stuff. Then the driver gives us our green card. That way we get $5 at the casino." Dart didn't know about the sign-in list. He said we could do it when we came out. But by then, it would be too late to get the $5 free gambling money. Sweet Gummi Mary! Couldn't these people just be grateful that they were getting hauled 180 miles round-trip for FREE, with someone else worrying about the traffic?

Some of this sub-bossing was good. For example, Dart started to leave the parking lot by what most people would think is the normal way: get back on the street, and make a left. But no. Those of us who live around here know that the city put up a sign last year decreeing 'NO LEFT TURN'. So we directed Dart to drive out of the Hardee's lot, through the Dairy Queen lot, out the back exit, onto another street, make a left out of there, and hit the traffic light. Then we found out that while Dart had been told the towns and businesses where to stop, he did not actually know how to get there. So the white-hairs kindly directed him. You could tell there were some regulars on that bus.

When we arrived at the casino, they told him where to park. Then it started again. "Where are our cards?" Dart said he would go in and ask. Then there was minor skirmish between the 'I want to get off this bus and get to the bathroom' crowd, and the 'I want my free $5 crowd'. The pissy people left the bus. The money-grubbers decided they would rather have more time in the casino than waiting on the bus for $5, so they got up to leave. Then the argument started about the departure time. One of them told Dart, "We leave at 4:00. You bring the bus up at 3:45." But another one said, "No, we leave at 4:15. That's what it says on my paper." She flaunted a scrap of paper. So then the others and Dart decided that we would leave at 4:15. All I know is that last time, we left at 4:00. There are many bus routes run by Harrah's. Some of these people talked of driving to Festus, and catching the Husky bus. Perhaps it runs on a different schedule.

The casino itself was a bit anticlimactic after the bus issues. And believe me, there is more to come on that. I spent my $15 free money that Harrahs' sent me in a mailer, and my free $10 food coupon, and parked my big fat butt in front of a 50-cent Triple Cherry machine. Oh, don't think I won. I played for 2 hours on $20, which is pretty good for a 50-cent machine. It had a progressive jackpot of $25,000-something. I know the odds are not as good on progressive machines, but I just KNEW I was going to win the big jackpot. Because it's all about ME, you know, and I'm psychic, and my horoscope said I would be having a good week with my new moon in Mars or something. But alas, the universe is conspiring against me, just like my poor fallen candidate. After lunch, I was down $120. With 20 minutes left to gamble, I hit a triple cherry, double cherry, bar thingy, and then another little jackpot that boosted me to 203 credits. I played the 3, then cashed out $100 to make me a mere $20-loser for the day. I don't count the free money. That's free money.

Just in case, I got back on the bus at 3:45. Wouldn't you know it? All the other old fogies were already on it. My aunt, who had believed the 4:15 faction, climbed on at 3:58. They had all been clucking that she was missing. I guess we missed the 4:00 memo. Dart said he had talked to the other drivers, and they showed him the sign-in printout, and told him where to get the green cards. Of course, nobody wanted their green card then, because it was time to leave. Because Harrah's had not given Dart a printout, he had written the info on a notepad for us to sign. Then the biddies started sub-treating him again. "You mean we have to write on that little paper? How can we write without lines? I'm not giving my Social Security number! You can't be too careful about that." Let it be noted that Dart did NOT ask for our SS #s. He had written 'number' at the top of a column. That meant our player's card number off our Harrah's card. But you know how students like to complain to a sub. Oh, and when that one old gal was complaining about the SS#, another one tried to ease the tension by pulling Dart's leg. "You know, the other driver sang and danced for us."

Our misadventures were not yet over. I had been leery about going to the city on a Wednesday. I do not like rush hour traffic. I feel trapped. Of course, leaving at 4:00, we were right in the thick of it on I-270. We were stopped in the fast lane. I couldn't look out. I had to make conversation to keep from throwing up my arms and screaming, "We're trapped! We're all going to die!" Perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but just let it be noted that I have anxiety about being trapped in traffic. Traffic didn't seem to phase Dart. In fact, the biddies clucked about it from time to time. "He's a good driver. Yes he is. He knows what he's doing." He earned high marks in my driver category because I did not think about his driving. By that, I mean that he didn't swerve, or grind gears, or make people honk, or run off the road onto those noise-making bumpy thingies. All of which my HH does when he drives, because he's busy turning his head to look at things along the road. Another plus for Dart...I didn't worry about him dropping dead at the wheel like I did with that old guy. There I go, bringing ageism into my blog. Shame on me! Shame on me from the second paragraph on!

While we were stuck in city traffic, my cousin called my aunt to report a wreck on the highway we would take after dropping some people off in North Podunk. Don't go to Google Maps. That's not an actual town. Anyhoo, I called HH, who was just leaving work, and told him a 5-minute section of highway had taken Cuz 90 minutes. HH took an alternate route home. We on the bus thought it might be cleared up by the time we got there. Oh, and before we even got there, we got stuck in traffic for a different wreck, involving two crunched pick-up trucks and an SUV on its side. When we got to the major wreck, the Life Flight copters were gone, and the cars, and the cab of the semi truck with its bloody door (Cuz is a bit graphic in his descriptions), and there were MoDOT vehicles and law enforcement and rescue workers cleaning up the aftermath, with the northbound lanes of the highway closed, and our southbound lanes stopped to divert the northbound traffic onto an outer road road. Poor Dart. I hope he didn't think it's like this all the time.

We were mighty happy to get back where we started from without incident. Without incident to US, anyway. By now, the people had warmed up to Dart, and forgiven him for taking that old guy's place, and daring to show up in a bus without a bathroom, and not knowing about the green cards. Everybody that got off the bus before I did thanked Dart for getting us there and back safely, and told him he did a good job. Dart says he's driving the Saturday route, too.

Now he's a veteran.

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