Sunday, February 03, 2008

DASHing About Town - Am I A Tourist?

Recently, one of us had to get to a meeting downtown. After walking half way there in beautiful , fresh, crisp weather, which helped to clear the mind, it was decided one of the local loop DASH busses would shorten the second half of the walk. This worked out well with the DASH trolley dropping me off just a few steps from the front door of the office building near King and Market. However, after leaving the meeting, getting back into Mt. Pleasant was just a little trickier. I grabbed the DASH on the corner of King and Market for a quick ride back to Ann Street to the major bus-lines. Apparently the DASH busses are mainly used by tourists. I instantly found myself on a tour of King Street. Looking around, it was easy to recognize that the three couples were middle-aged Baby Boomers. They were proudly enjoying our weather in their Hawaiian shirts with fully-loaded fannie packs hung safely around each males' waste. The ladies carried plastic bags most likely containing standard vacation gifts, like plastic refrigerator magnets pressed neatly with the recipients’ name in bold letter staged on a square plate with a header modeled after Rainbow Row, the words, Charleston, South Carolina scrolled under the plastic painted streetscape of these famous town houses. Oh boy, I thought. No doubt, I’ll have to make this time up at the office. Dashing, we were not. The tour guide/bus driver went into full tour chatter. “And, here on the left you’ll see Berlin’s Department Store! We love to drive by Berlins! They always have the prettiest gowns and trendiest suits on display in their windows.” Next we passed what she identified as the “wedding cake house.” Yes, I was also confused, as you may be now. I’ve never heard anyone call Number Two Meeting Street, the wedding cake house, but maybe this is a widely known sub-title among bus drivers, or something . The house is breathtaking, but the tourists didn’t get to see very much. The house was being painted, so the view was of a bunch of workers smoking cigarettes and painting amid flapping sheathes of hanging plastic suspended from the upper walls of the house. No elegant cake house here. Shortly thereafter, one guy pulled the string, signaling they wanted out. Time to meander along the Battery. After they departed I began changing into my walking shoes (didn’t want to do that in front of the tourists and destabilize Charleston’s reputation for hospitality). Suddenly I hear the microphone grind on. “Chrrrrrccccchhh…you live here, right?” Having to yell over what ever the hell kind of engine that DASH bus runs on, I bellowed back a , “yes, ma'am,” to the driver as we turned the corner toward East Bay Street heading (finally) back to the main bus terminal. The driver’s microphone announced, “ok, well, then I’ll spare ya the details.” HA! WTF? What if I was enjoying the tour? Did I maybe look like I didn’t care for the historic Charleston refresher course? Maybe I'm not cut out for the small bus. Luckily I only had to wait a short while between connections to catch the “normal” bus back across the pond (the Cooper River) toward Mount Pleasant to the office.

The trek ended up taking about fifteen minutes longer than hoped. But, hey we got a great story out of it anyway. We’ll be working on broadening our familiarity with the DASH bus system since our regular bus passes are honored there too. Yippee! We can run around town continuing to elude those gas prices while occasionally catching a tour. That is if the astute driver doesn't recognize us as locals.

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