Locusts on the Garden Tour
June 29, 2010
The Barely Extended Family came to visit for our island’s garden tour. Only the very elite gardens are featured on this tour, and competition to be chosen is very intense. The Friendly Neighbours, gardeners extraordinaire, were selected. (The competition is very intense, and beneath the surface of immense politeness, fairly passionate, and even downright nasty…)
Mrs. Random became a docent for the tour. I was chosen to help guide visitors on where to park their Mercedes, BMWs, or Lexi.
Tickets to the tour are fairly expensive, hence the high proportion of visitors driving luxury cars. All the money from the tickets goes to charities. The visitors get to slake the need for natural beauty in their lives, and ease their guilt at being well off in a world of immense suffering.
Mrs. Random is very shy and very introverted, so it was only natural that she be assigned to help guide people. I have been a teacher and learned to act like an extrovert, so to keep me away from victims trapped in the garden, I was assigned to parking.
Parking at big events such as this–over a 1,000 people came on one Saturday, is amazingly complicated. If not handled well, one could film a movie full of car crashes, shoot outs, carjackings, and the like.
While I could write a novel on the day, I will limit myself to a short sketch describing my taking advantage of the opportunity to do stand up comedy as I helped guide visitors to an appropriate parking spot. Many of the rich visitors are elderly. They are easily confused and do not want to walk a long distance. Some are handicapped, with mobility limited by hip replacements and the like.
In the battle plan, using cones and crime scene tape, we laid out the private dirt road with one-way parking, facing out, to make escape easy. Six parkers spaced over a mile of road carried walkie-talkies and wore road worker vests. Typical helpful advice I provided:
“I am going to have you turn around here and send you the other way. I will guide you so you don’t end up in the ditch while you are turning around.”
“As a special bonus for visiting the garden, you will get some cardiovascular exercise. It’s good for your heart. To make that possible, drive down to the next parker.”
A lot of pedestrians walked in the middle of the road in a fairly clueless manner. Naturally, I warned people as they drove on the narrow road, “If you can hit at least ten people as you drive to your parking spot, we will provide a 50% refund of your ticket price.” [Seriously, one of the parking guides did suffer a mild, glancing blow from one of the drivers, but was not injured.]
My best effort was, “You will need to drive a long way. Then you will get to turn around and get closer. It looks worse than it is. Except, it is worse than it looks.”
The parkers working down the road reported the drivers had a very glazed, confused expression on their faces and obeyed instructions in an obedient, almost robotic manner.