Monday, September 04, 2006

On the Road...With Sarge

So I was standing around in Washington, D.C. waiting for the Vamoose bus to arrive to return me to New York City. We were supposed to begin boarding at 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. departure. At 8:53, one of the potential passengers called the company on her cell and the person who answered was...unconcerned. He told her that the bus was NOT late since it wasn't 9 a.m. yet. When she told him that the instructions on the reservation asked that passengers arrive 15 minutes early in order to be guaranteed a seat, he answered, "Do you always follow the rules to the letter?"

The 17 of us gathered together, and quite bonded by now, looked at each other sheepishly and realized that we probably do succumb too much to authority. I spoke up and said that we should really learn to be rebels about some things. As a group we decided that since the Vamoose organization seems to be so lackadaisical about timetables, we would make sure to have an authority-free good time on the bus because our driver probably would turn out to be a cool laissez-faire sort of guy, given his apparently cavalier relationship with the clock.

At 9:05 the bus arrives. Then we meet McNeil. Once we were all seated, he spoke into a microphone and spelled out the, er, rules that we were all to follow. To the letter. He had a deep, booming voice that did not really need that microphone.

McNeil: My name is McNeil. I am estimating we will arrive in New York at 1400 hours. Sooner, maybe. Depends on what the police are doing today on the road. We have three movies to choose from. Ocean's Eleven, Shark Tales, and Maid in Manhattan. If you don't want to see a movie, just say so. My feelings won't get hurt.

Us: *appalled at selection*: Well, no thank you. We don't want to see a movie.

McNeil *scowling with...hurt feelings*: Fine! You will see Ocean's Eleven. Anyone not in agreement?

Us *thinking this would be a good time to rebel* Uh. Yes. Yes. Ocean's Eleven is fine. Thank you.

McNeil *still scowling*: You may use your cell phones. ONLY FOR A MINUTE OR TWO! If you stay on longer than that and I have to hear your conversation, I will ask you to turn it off. If you do not get off, I will call the police. I have the right to do this. And I will do this, I promise you that!

Us *not getting the hang of the rebel thing yet*: O.K. No cell phones. Thank you.

McNeil: We will stop at a rest stop for EXACTLY 20 minutes. You get 20 minutes because that's what I get. If you are not on the bus, I WILL LEAVE WITHOUT YOU! Understood?

We nod. Hey at least we get two more minutes than we got during the drive down to D.C. And we didn’t have to hear a repeat of the Bob’s Big Boy story. That’s something.

So off we vamoose, headed for boot camp NYC. When we stopped, McNeil announced that it was "11:07 and I am leaving at 11:30. With or without you."

Well, that actually made it 23 minutes that we were stopping for, but I wasn't going to say anything to McNeil. I didn't want to have to drop and give him 50!

Back on the bus, we are in the middle of watching the movie when my cell phone rings.

Holy shit! I answer it quickly. My bus mates look over apprehensively at McNeil. He has not heard. Whew. I end the call very quickly and think to myself that when I finally, finally, get this rebel thing going, I am going to be such a force that people will live in fear of me. I mean, right?

We did arrive at 1400 hours. Apparently, even the police know to turn a blind eye to a speeding Vamoose bus with Sarge McNeil at the wheel.