As the trauma of winter is being put behind us, tourists have returned to Salem. It’s a fun game to play, separating the locals from the visitors (not physically, mind you). But it’s not so fun when they make it so flipping obvious as this young couple was doing for me and the rest of Salem just a few days ago.
It was a warm sunny day. This couple were standing on the curb near the Visitor’s center, where the Trolley Tours start. I noticed them before, but it wasn’t until I heard a loud dinging sound that I really took stock of them. The dinging happened three times.
I stopped, turned around and saw the trolley driver pulling the bell cord, which couldn’t have been louder if it were a boat whistle. These two just stood there, oblivious to the massive trolley behind them.
What’s that, Hindsight Detective? You think the trolley driver should have just gone around them? Well, here’s the thing, Essex Street is a pedestrian street. So even though cars can and sometimes do drive down this way, it’s still a pretty narrow space with lots of people, including performers and vendors, making the driving route even more narrow and difficult to navigate.
The trolley tours have been going on for quite some time and their route is planned very well, so as not to allow a lot of room for deviation and therefore minimizing the risk of running headlong into a human being.
“Excuse me!” I shouted. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but there is a very large vehicle behind you.”
The couple gave me the worst look of indignity possible for calling attention to their obliviousness, before turning around and acknowledging the presence of the massive red vehicle of glass, metal and wood that was patiently waiting behind them.
And the part that terrified me most? They were distracted by their small child, who was looking at the map posted just a few short steps away from them (which was well out of the path of the Trolley). It wasn’t just one parent that wasn’t paying attention, but rather both parents, who were completely unaware of the massive bell ringing trolley that was close enough to them that the tour guide could have leaned out and given them a back rub.
Holy crap, I thought. That oblivious gene now exists within their offspring.
I can only assume that this is why Daniel the Striped Tiger and Trolley are the only surviving characters from the Land of Make Believe segment of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.