I'm Done With Shuttles
Once, when Georgia and I were buying groceries, she made an utterly profound observation about the ridiculous waste of time and energy that this activity demands:
George: Think about it, Mom: You put the groceries in the cart; then you unload the groceries onto the conveyor belt, where they're loaded into bags; then you put the bags back into the cart, roll the cart out to the lot, where you then unload those bags from cart to car. After that, you drive home, take the bags back out of the car and into the house.
TR: Dang! I never really thought about it. You're right.
George: There's GOT to be a way to eliminate some of those steps. It's ridiculous.
The only other practice that compares is shuttling. If you attend a concert or festival or fair in a venue that doesn't have adequate parking with a short walk to the fun, that means a gadzillion people are expected. And that, in turn, means: You fight traffic to find a parking space near the shuttle area, then wait in line for the shuttle, after which you get packed like ghost poo into a school bus, or a trolley, or a Red Flyer wagon that smells like old peanut butter sandwiches and Aquanet, which in turn sits in traffic, crawling to the site.
I have a long history of bad shuttling experiences, but the most memorable happened many years ago, when my first-batch was five and under. My friend Leslie, who had a two-year-old and an infant, and I took the kids to the beach, which is its own story--enough to fill a memoir the size of Anna Karenina. But I'm sticking to the shuttle for today.
To the point: Me (right, I), Leslie, a five-year-old, a three-year-old, TWO two-year-olds, and an infant are vacationing at the Sawgrass Resort, a fancypants place we clearly do NOT belong but where my then-husband has (kindly) arranged for us to stay in order to keep us from coming home early when my father's free condo turns out to have a six-lane highway in the front yard (like I said, a memoir). The resort itself has all to do with golf, so it is situated well off the beach that you must drive to. Or shuttle.
It takes us probably 45 minutes to an hour to get everything we need packed for the beach: diapers, bottles of formula, towels, crackers, juice boxes, sun screen, port-a-crib, umbrella, cooler, baby seat, chairs...and yet we still make it down to the waiting area with 15 minutes to spare. And we're the first ones in line for the shuttle that arrives every half hour.
During that fifteen minutes, people begin trickling down--women in Adrienne Vittadini swimsuits and Jimmy Choo flipflops, men like peacocks in Alexander Julian. And there we are, wiped out and dishevelled from the relocation, wearing knock-off Humbros and t-shirts, with our tired, diapered little snotties: two moms riding herd as we wait for the tram.
What happens next is a cartoon--or an episode of Keystone Cops: The shuttle finally pulls in, and before we've picked up the first beachbag full of Cheerios and Enfamil, it is chock-crammed with golfers and Junior Leaguers. Having poured past us faster than a keg drains at Sig Ep, they are now looking down on us from the open windows.
No one offers to help, no one offers his seat. And the whole smug shebang drives off, leaving us in a cloud of exhaust.
END OF STORY
So fast forward to last Saturday's apple festival, another shuttle-event. We are directed by boy scouts to a parking lot at the Ellijay Primary School parking lot. We walk over to the crowd of people congregated for the school-bus-cum-shuttle. We wait at least 20 minutes...The rest is as I've already described.
But it's the return trip that breaks this camel's back. So let me declare here and now: I WILL NEVER SHUTTLE AGAIN. And I mean it. I know there are things I've sworn off and gone back to-- Mellow Mushroom, my own family dinner table, Perez Hilton--but I'm serious this time.
This is where we waited for the return shuttle for over an hour on Saturday. We were, luckily, closer to the front than the back. The pic with the back of the guy's head is of the line ahead of us. The other is the stretch behind:
When we got back to the campground, we had this exchange with the Martha Stewart family, who had also attended the festival--mom, dad, THREE KIDS UNDER FIVE:
MS Mom (in her treacle voice): So, what did you think of the festival?
TR: I'd give it a six--subtract five for the shuttle.
MS Mom: Oh, we just walked the three miles back and beat the bus.